Clemens Busch looks a bit like Jesus. He certainly has intensity and conviction! He started making wine in the late 1970s and was the first to show that, with meticulous work in the vineyards, 100% organic/biodynamic viticulture and if you pick late enough, you can make amazing dry Riesling on a river best known until the turn of the millenium for its sweeter styles. He and his wife Rita have transformed everyone’s expectations of the Punderich vineyards. Punderich was just another village in the middle Mosel churning out dilute, wishy-washy wines with yields of over 100hl/ha. The Buschs crop at around 40 hl/ha. They own more and more of the Marienburg (Virgin Mary’s Castle) and Nonnengarten (Nun’s Garden), which used to belong to the Cloister. They have renovated Clemens’ grandfather’s old house built in 1663 on the riverfront, but continue to make their wines in the cellars up the hill, away from the water’s edge. On one of our early visits almost a decade and a half ago, we asked Clemens about the distinctive and fascinating nose on his wines, reminiscent of aged Rieslings, and he revealed that, in the search for further layers of complexity, he allows his grapes to oxidise slightly before fermentation. A highly unusual technique back when he started doing it. He also picks insanely late. Often 2 weeks later than everyone else. He is the last of the late pickers.
His elevation to the VDP (Verband Deutscher Pradikats – und Qualitatsweinguter/the official Premier League of German growers) seven years ago brought with it added recognition and status from the Old Guard, but it also means Clemens now has to play the politics game. Tinkering with labels and classification – something that occasionally borders on “fiddling with skis” in our opinion.
It’s easy to forget the bureaucracy as you stand outside Clemens and Rita’s 17th Century picturebook house on the riverside, looking up at the overwhelming wall of vines on the opposite bank. Truly one of the most stunning views in a beautiful river valley.
There is nothing of your average Mosel about these wines. They show definition, poise and intensity and set a benchmark of quality for others to aspire to.
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