Karl Erbes (Urzig)

Urziger Wurzgarten (spice garden) is a striking vineyard in the middle Mosel. It has a Hollywood-style sign high in the vines and is probably the largest concentration of red slate in the Mosel. It owes its red colour to the iron oxide suspended in the slate which gives Riesling an exotic, flamboyant overtone. We have often stayed in Urzig and have dabbled in its spicy wines. We happened to be in the Mosel valley one weekend in June when the annual Mythos Mosel tastings were on. There were people we needed to see. High point of the day was the only dry wine on Karl Erbes’ table: Urziger In der Kranklei Riesling Spatlese* trocken 2022. Exotic, herbal, viscous. So we picked up a parcel when we were back there a couple of weeks later. Stefan Erbes, who runs the estate, has a bunch of older Rieslings for us to taste when we next visit. Stefan reminded us that our mutual friend Knut Aufermann would often help in the tasting room. Knut is an experimental electronic musician who, with his girlfriend Sarah Washington (also in electronic music), was a key anti Mosel bridge protester when it was a hot issue around 2008-2012. Unfortunately the unnecessary and under-used bridge was built. But that is another story.
The vineyard has vines up to 80 years old and sits precariously above the sundial close to Erdener Pralat. The name is intriguing. “Krank” usually means “sick” or “ill” in German and “Lei” (same as Lay or Ley) is derived from the Celtic, meaning “slate” or “slate rock”. Apparently “krank” has nothing to do with “sick” in this case but is a purely phonetic development from “grande” (often pronounced grang in German) to “krank”. Shame. We quite liked the idea of “sick slate” in the contemporary application of “sick”. That’s some sick Riesling. Anyone?