Punderich may be one of the most beautiful villages on the incredibly beautiful river Mosel but, in wine terms, until the rise of Clemens and Rita Busch in the 1980s and 90s, was widely thought of as average, at best. Today its reputation is dominated by Clemens and Rita – they have set the bar extremely high.
Things are changing and a new generation is coming up. Gerrit Walter, our friend and ex-intern who lives in the neighbouring village of Briedel, also has vines in the Pundericher Marienburg and has been making exciting wine for his Edition G Marienburg bottling.
We found ourselves at something suspiciously like the Punderich Village Summer Fete last July. It was an all-day event, culminating in an evening of Flammkuchen (a super-thin pizza with onion, cheese and lardons) and dancing (Hoedown followed by Oompah and Techno). The main theme was the “Riesling Kartell”, a group of six young growers from the village. One was Johannes Busch, son of Clemens and Rita, who is working alongside Clemens in the cellar. No prizes for guessing how good the wines were!
It was around this time that some other visitors arrived; Kilian Franzen from Bremm, who was about to become a father a few days later; Gerrit Walter and his girlfriend Julia. As we were piling through our second bottle of Busch’s Marienburg GG, we asked Gerrit if there was something we should be trying. “Try this” he said, passing a glass of Kabinett trocken. It was proper Mosel – light, delicate, floral and yet with backbone – all about herbs and salty, slate minerals and racy, running water. Lovely. What is it? It’s Nico Simonis’ Rotschiefer Kabinett trocken 2014. He’s young and learning a lot, working a few days a week at Franzen.
Needless to say, we visited Nico and his parents Elke and Elmar soon afterwards. It’s a very small winery with just 3 hectares of vines.
Nico (25 when we visited first) did his practical vineyard studies at Bad Kreuznach in the Nahe an internship at the Buschs’ and now splits his time between his family’s winery and Franzen.
He is very proud of his Rotschiefer Kabinett trocken, the wine that brought us to his door, because it was the first wine that his father let him do entirely his own way. It turns out that his father, Elmar, was very nervous about Nico’s wine. Nico was using wild yeasts and long lees contact, like he’d seen at Franzen’s. By contrast, his Dad was taught a very different style of winemaking – super clean, super safe, zero risk. The results in the bottle and the reception locally suggest that Elmar may let Nico do more going forward – or at least try to look the other way!