Andrew Guard

Brauneberg - Mosel

Stefan Steinmetz is a soulful man; he doesn't look it though and has a powerful, imposing presence. He has the build of a cage fighter and is apparently covered in tattoos. But when you listen to him speak with gentle affection to his wife and stroke the mane of his beloved cat Ramses you see his passionate, soulful nature; in fact he is a real renaissance man underneath.

The famous Juffer vineyard that overlooks the calm town of Brauneberg is one of the most famous vineyards in Germany and 150 years ago it's wines used to sell for the same price as First Growth Bordeaux. As we know, much has happened in between (including the controversial 1971 wine laws), but the quality of the terroir is evident and that, together with the skill of the vigneron, is the cornerstone of any wine's quality. With that in mind, the Rieslings of the Mosel when produced by the best growers are without doubt the greatest bargain left in the world of wine today - wines that will live and breathe for half your life, the best for longer.

Stefan inherited (from his father) a lot of good vineyards on steep sites but also 5ha on flat, fertile land that were planted to Kerner - whilst banal to him these are highly prized by those producers who want to farm with a tractor and crop big (>100 hl/ha) yields. That Stefan has been able to swap his flat land sites for steep, stony sites like ‘Geierslay’ and ‘Sonnenlay’ - planted to Riesling - in the various side gullies surrounding his village is incredible and a little bit sad too as it reflects the current economic difficulty in the Mosel. Nobody wants to work hard on the steep slopes when the economic yield is not what it could and should be so it is now up to the younger generation to re-establish themselves and the reputation of their region. The mind truly boggles when the price of mature vineyards not more than 1km from the Juffer is only 1 euro per square metre...

Stefan's wines make you sit up straight and pay attention; that is probably the best way to describe them but they are not brutish, instead they are somewhat Gothic in architecture and style. In the mouth they are strident, rigid with detail and powerfully flavoured. They make you take notice. As uncompromising as they are, they have a dramatic potency to them that makes them such a joy to drink. This is an estate on the rise producing concentrated wines without all the sickly sugar and excessive sulphur common in the region. I am happy for Stefan that his efforts have been rewarded by respected critic David Schildknecht and proud to sell his wines in Australia.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 16, 2012