Markus Molitor Zeltinger Himmelreich R. Spätlese 2001
Since 1984 the Molitor estate has been run by Markus, who assumed responsibility from his parents when aged just twenty years. The family vineyard was a tiny affair, just 3 hectares of vines, hardly a going concern. Markus, however, clearly had ambition. Not only does the estate today enjoy a good reputation, it is also a considerably larger being. Markus now owns 38 hectares of vines, of which 33.5 hectares are scattered throughout some of the most desirable vineyards of the Middle Mosel, whilst the remainder look down upon the Saar from the Niedermenniger Herrenberg vineyard. This makes Markus Molitor's vineyard the largest of any on this section of the Mosel.
Of his numerous plots of vines, the one in the Zeltinger Himmelreich vineyard - at 2.9 hectares - is one of his largest, beaten on the Mosel only by his holdings in the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr (5.1 hectares) and Wehlener Klosterberg (6.4 hectares) sites. This latter vineyard is notable for also being the site of the family home, Haus Klosterberg, which sits at the top of the vineyard, the vines running up the slope, towards and around it. The Himmelreich vineyard does indeed have some very steep slopes, and the Molitor vines tend to be concentrated here rather on the less desirable, flatter sections. Molitor himself regards it as a source of a more full-bodied wine with plenty of slatey character, interesting comments in view of my thoughts when I tasted the wine itself.
The 2001 vintage was an extraordinary one for the Mosel, and I must confess I have snapped up almost every wine of this vintage that comes my way, in addition to those that I acquired upon release. As always it was the combination of ripeness with maintained acidity that made the wines so exciting, and every wine I have tasted since carries this characteristic most convincingly.
This week's wine, the 2001 Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese from Markus Molitor, is yet another example. It has a decent depth of colour on inspection, showing a very typical green-tinged hue. There follows a gloriously expressive nose, and the aromas are all very much in the mineral vein. Possessing a slaty, rocky, vibrant minerality, the wine almost effervesces with a vigorous and punchy bite. There's also a little residual sulphur to it which still needs to dissipate despite the wine's six years in bottle. It is full and fleshy on entry, fresh and stony although not as obvious as on the nose, although this initial thought fades through the midpalate which is like sucking a sweet, floral, peach-flavoured pebble. Sweet, with good acidity, it is sufficiently rich that tasted blind I would probably have opted for somewhere on the Rhine over the Mosel, reflecting Molitor's opinion that the wines are more full-bodied than others from this region. It also has a firmer grip than I would expect, so that there is a fine, sappy, drying element to the finish. Overall though, this is a delicious wine which needs time, and will surely improve in the cellar for many years yet. Very good indeed. 17+/20 AP number: 2 576 609 05 02 (21/4/08)