Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Ruwer

Van Elkan (Mertesdorf)

We have frequently searched along the Ruwer, the small tributary that joins the Mosel just east of Trier, where the wines have remarkable delicacy and race. A tip from Marco Winterberg, a teacher and part-time wine importer in Holland brought us to Marco van Elkan’s door. He works full-time in a social research project at Trier University, so our appointment had to be early. Very early – we were tasting dry Riesling at a bracing 8.30h in the morning.
He bought a miniscule parcel of abandoned vines in the Kaseler Nies’chen vineyard in 2001 and nursed the 70 year-old vines back to life. First vintage was 2003. The vines were grateful and, with some guidance from Peter Geiben (of Karlsmuhle) and Ludwig Breiling (former wine-maker at Karthauserhof), the results are pure Ruwer. Clear, herbal and fresh, like a fast-running mountain stream.
In 2008, he and his wife built a striking new house that includes holiday apartments and his cellar. Marco now has four parcels of vines totalling half a hectare (still tiny) which produce a meagre 3,000-4,000 bottles a year. We bought 4% of his 2011 production!