A bottle of 1990 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese, tasted in 1992, made the young Daniel Vollenweider, a Swiss guy with no family connection to winemaking, decide he wanted to make wine in the Mosel. After a number of winemaking stints in Germany and further abroad, Vollenweider purchased a small, 1ha (now in 2015, increased to four hectares total) plot of vines in the once-famous Wolfer Goldgrube, a steep wall of gray slate that is a genetic gold mine of old, un-grafted vines up to and beyond 80 years old. The winemaking philosophy is as simple as it gets: there are no short cuts, no compromises. The estate is 100% Riesling and 100% steep vineyards awash with slate. The work is all done by hand and the vinification is as hands-off as possible. That’s it. Daniel clearly has the touch for "fruity" wines. They are full-throttle Rieslings with dense mid-palates and seductive curves. They have weight, yet also have 100,000 volts of electricity coursing through them and this gives them a lift, a verve, a length that is uncommon.
Riesling "Goldgrube" Kabinett
This Kabinett was harvested at a moderate 85° Oechsle. A whiff of sulfur quickly gives way to a show-stopping nose of yellow fruits, cassis, grapefruit, pear and mint which epitomizes the freshness-ripeness tension of great Wolfer Goldgrube wines. Juicy and ripe acidity comes through on the palate, making the wine seemingly dance on the tongue. The finish is crisp, sharp and focused, as one would expect from this Kabinett, with its sweetness still noticeable, but already well integrated.
Riesling "Goldgrube" Spätlese GK
Only older vines are used, up to and older than 80 years. The density, the extract, is outrageous. This is a fortress of a Spätlese best buried deep in the cellar.
Vollenweider’s Wolfer Goldgrube Riesling Spatlese gold capsule represents a lightly botrytis-affected selection from his oldest vines. Golden Delicious apple and almost overripe Persian melon in the nose mingle with slender rivulets of honey and caramel on a luscious, silken, expansive palate. This unapologetically sweet, buoyant Riesling doesn’t offer interplay or refreshment, but instead concentrates on offering enveloping richness and a soothingly sustained finish. Greater complexity and definition may well arrive with time in bottle.
Riesling "Steffensberg" Spätlese
For Vollenweider, the Steffensberg tends to display a more reserved, calm style of Riesling – a “fine sense of delicacy.” It may not achieve the grand heights, the sort of dizzying passion of his Goldgrube wines, but there is a slinky, sexy finesse and compactness that is undeniable. The nose is fresh and pretty, polished and clear stone fruits that are absolutely crystalline. This is such a perfectly poised wine; it’s so bright and tart it almost belies its Prädikat level, feeling like a dainty Feinherb that dances across the palate, if it weren’t for the length and depth of the wine.