Great Grosses Gewächs from Clemens Busch

Rita and Clemens Busch (Photo: Via Clemens Busch website)

Clemens Busch is the latest in a procession of Mosel Valley wine producers showing their sensational 2015 wines in Australia. They have been keen to capitalise on the superlative quality of the ‘15 riesling harvest.

Busch himself was in Sydney recently to pour his 2015s at a trade event, and the wines were impressive, especially the 1er Grosses Gewächs wines, which are the crème de la crème with prices to match.

Busch himself is the fifth generation of the family to run the domaine, which is all on one single site at Pünderich on the Middle Mosel, named Marienburg. Busch has worked his vines biodynamically since 1984 and the property is certified biodynamic by Respekt. He himself looks somewhat biodynamic, with wild hair and ample beard.

The miracle is that in this one site, the Marienburg, there are three types of slate which give slightly different styles of riesling. They are red, blue and the more common grey slates. Busch keeps these wines separate and bottles them under their historical names: Fahrlay for blue slate, Falkenlay for grey slate, and Rothenpfad for red slate. The capsules are also in different colours.

Busch does two levels of these single-slate wines. At AUD $57 we have Trocken rieslings ‘vom blauen schiefer’ (from blue slate), ‘vom grauen schiefer’ and ‘vom roten schiefer’.

Above these at around AUD $120 are the three 1er Grosses Gewächs bottlings – all magnificent: your preference would be a personal thing. I cut my losses and bought a couple of bottles of each. They are all from old vines of between 60 and 65 years of age.

Busch also makes a generic Marienburg 1er Grosses Gewächs (AUD $105) riesling, which is from younger vines on the original Marienburg site, on grey slate immediately below the Marienburg monastery.

The Grosses Gewächs (GGs) taste near enough to dry, but sometimes have a few grams of sweetness: German law limits sweetness on GGs to 9 grams per litre. At Clemens Busch there is never any botrytis in GGs: Clemens doesn’t want any, and if he sees it he cuts it out. This was not an issue in 2015 anyway, as there was no botrytis. Indeed, he says, if you wanted to make botrytis wines in 2015 you lucked out, but that didn’t bother him because he is focused on dry wines.

All of these ‘15s are high-acid, minerally wines which ideally should be cellared for a few years before you drink them.

Here’s Busch on the stellar ’15 season.

“Everything was perfect in 2015. The flowering was early at the start of June; the summer was hot. There were some problems with drought at the end of July. There was a little bit of rain a week before the start of the harvest, but no botrytis problems, and a long slow ripening. There was no chance to make sweet botrytis wines, but that is not so important for me.”

The importer is Vinous Imports.

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