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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese

Germany (Mosel)


You have to start with Dr. Loosen himself. That’s Ernst Loosen, who, it’s been said, ‘single-handedly put German wine on the world stage in the 21st century.’ Considering the limp reputation of German wine just a couple of decades ago, that’s a considerable compliment, especially coming as it did from the erudite wine critic Jancis Robinson.

Friends tell me of a time when the German wine of choice was either ‘black or blue’ — Black Tower or Blue Nun. Easy drinking for the wine philistine, sold by the truck load. As palates improved, the German estates failed to catch up. It took someone with the surefire energy and determination of the wild-haired Loosen to lead the way into refocusing winemakers’ attention to quality.

Loosen, whose academic background is archaeology, turned to winemaking when his father fell ill in the mid-1980s. He transformed the winery on his own terms, refocusing its operations to meet organic standards. He cut the crop size, and aimed for fully mature fruit, with minimal intervention once the grapes were harvested. He strove for distinctive regional expression in his wines, and this he has achieved, spectacularly.

The Loosen estate is among the choicest along the Mosel, with some vines dating back a hundred years. The site of this particular wine is Wehlener Sonnenuhr (the sundial of the town of Wehlen), notable for the steepness of it slopes, ultra-thin topsoil, and ‘the purest blue slate in the Mosel valley.’

Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2005

German wines are classified, not on the basis of region like French wines are, but on sugar content. This is an Auslese (select harvest) riesling. It is non-dry (as opposed to dry or sweet) from an exceptional vintage. The wine glows pale yellow in the glass. The nose, although not as strong as I anticipate, draws wine-loving attention with its soft fruit aromas, peach especially, touched by lemon rind. What is held back on the nose is more than compensated for by the taste. Delectable is understating it. Concentrated creaminess, but edged very nicely by the acidity and mineral notes. Nectar coats the palate, a slight effervescence playing against the sweetness. Indeed, it is, in two words — mouth-watering.


The alcohol level is a mere 7.5%. Its character draws it near to some lighter dessert wines. There is a fine interplay of acidity and fruitiness. Great with spicy foods or to savour on its own terms.  $$

Riesling is a hard sell in some quarters. That wasn’t always the case. At one time it rivalled in price the best Bordeaux. It seems to be making a comeback. In doing so it doesn’t try to be all things to all wine drinkers, unlike what one might say of the chameleon chardonnay. It seeks believers. In rain, in shine.






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