One of the most well-known and highly-regarded producers in Germany, Dr. Loosen has done much to restore and reinvigorate the reputation of German wines, particularly the stunning Rieslings of the Mosel valley.
The estate has been in the hands of the Loosen family for over 200 years, but it was not until Ernst Loosen took over in 1988 that the producer began to establish their worldwide renown. Ernst immediately recognised the potential for quality that lay in the Loosen family’s plots of very old, ungrafted Riesling vines scattered throughout some of the Mosel’s absolute finest vineyards. The vineyard practices were completely overhauled to emphasise quality over quantity. Yields were reduced, strict selection at harvest was introduced and the use of all chemical fertilizers was stopped.
Riesling is the sole grape variety grown by Dr. Loosen and it is produced in a broad spectrum of styles. The German Pradikat system classifies wines based on the ripeness (sugar levels) of the grapes at harvest time and this generally corresponds reasonably closely to the sweetness of the finished wines. Kabinett wines are made from grapes harvested earlier and thus tend to be less sweet than Spätlese or Auslese made from later-harvested, riper grapes. Dr. Loosen produces Rieslings that range from bone-dry Trocken wines, to off-dry Kabinetts, medium Spätlese and sweet Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein.
Dr. Loosen has around 25 hectares of vines in six of the Mosel’s most highly regarded, ‘grand cru’ vineyards, Bernkasteler Lay, Graacher Himmelreich, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Treppchen and Erdener Prälat. These steep, slate and volcanic-soil vineyards lining the banks of the Mosel river are key to the quality of Mosel Riesling, offering maximum exposure to the sun. The river reflects sunlight and heat onto the vines and the slate soils also have excellent drainage and heat retaining properties. All vital elements in successfully ripening grapes in this cool climate area. Many of the best vineyards have virtually no topsoil at all, being comprised completely of weathered slate and volcanic rock. This soil has proved to be an inhospitable home to the phylloxera louse which decimated European vineyards in the 1800’s and necessitated the grafting of European vines onto phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks. Because of this many very old ungrafted vines exist in the Mosel’s vineyards, including those of Dr. Loosen.
Single-vineyard wines of varying styles are produced from all six of the ‘grand cru’ vineyards along with blended wines, such as the entry-level ‘Dr L’ Riesling which always offers excellent value. Though styles and sweetness levels vary, each of the single vineyards do possess a unique character that carries through into each of the wines.
The Bernkasteler Lay vineyard lies between the Loosen estate house and the village of Bernkastel. Its slate soils are slightly heavier and its slope gentler than many of the Mosel vineyards and the wines tend to be dense and richly textured with racy acidity.
Graacher Himmelreich lies between the villages of Bernkastel and Wehlen. It’s a steeper slope than Bernkasteler Lay with deep, slate soils. The wines from here always possess a strong mineral structure and citrus flavours.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr is perhaps ones of the most highly regarded vineyards of the Mosel. The grapes from this pure blue slate soil produce elegant and complex wines with very fine acidity and a mineral streak running through peach and citrus fruit flavours.
Ürziger Würzgarten is a very dramatic vineyard. An extremely steep slope of vivid red volcanic rock. This is home to Dr. Loosen’s oldest vines and the wines produced here are uniquely exotic with ripe, tropical fruit flavours and strong spicy notes (Wurzgarten translates as ‘spice garden’).
Though directly adjacent to the vineyards of Ürzig, the vineyards of Erden produce quite different wines. The wines of the Erdener Treppchen vineyard produce big, quite dense and powerful Rieslings from these iron-infused red slate soils.
Also in Erden is the Erdener Prälat vineyard, one of Dr. Loosen’s most prestigious holdings. this tiny 1.6 hectare vineyard is completely south facing, giving this very steep red slate slope a uniquely warm micro-climate that ensures excellent ripeness in every vintage and allows for the production of stunningly concentrated and rich Ausleses with great aging potential.