2018 Weingut Monchhof, Riesling Auslese, Erdener Pralat, A.P. Nr. 2602 029 009 19, Mosel Germany.
It’s always with great expectation and reference getting a chance to taste wines from the Erden Pralat vineyard, it’s one of Riesling’s most sacred and holy sites, a slate driven place of legends on the famed Mosel River near the town of Urzig, so getting a sneak preview of Monchhof’s version is extra exciting spine tingling experience! One of Germany’s greatest traditional winemakers, Monchhof and sister winery J.J. Christoffel’s Robert Eymael makes some of the world’s most iconic off dry and sweet wines and his latest Erdener Pralat Auslese is one of the most stunning examples I’ve tasted, it’s absolutely gorgeous with exotic tropical fruits and has a dreamy perfume, this 2018 is a hall of famer in the making. The dramatic terroir of the Erdener Prälat always influences the wines here, an almost unrivaled combination of an incredible extract or power with subtle complexity and length, this complexity and consisting opulence comes from the confluence of geology with the violent meeting of crushed iron rich red slate of Urziger as in Wurzgarten, the spice garden and the grey weathered slate of Erdener Treppchen. The famed Dr. Loosen, who makes both sweet and dry version of Riesling from this heroic site, says Erdener Pralat is a small slice of perfection, the four-acre Erdener Prälat (AIR-din-er PRAY-laht) vineyard produces some of the greatest wines in the Mosel valley. Adding, its 100 percent south-facing slopes, red slate soil and extraordinarily warm microclimate yield wines of unequaled power and nobility. The vineyard’s exposure, combined with the warming effect of the river and the massive, heat-retaining cliffs that surround it, ensures exceptional ripeness in every vintage. Rieslings from this place tend to age well and this 2018 should go decades, and may have a 25 to 30 year window of stellar drinking pleasure.
Mönchhof dates back to 1177, with the new cellar going back to the 1500s and while Robert Eymael ’s ownership only goes back to 1994 this is a place with a long star studded family history and their parcel at Erdener Prälat set on Devonian Red & Blue Slate is only just .25 hectors, is maybe the most prized, while their main two sites at Ürzig Wurtzgarten (red) and Erdener Treppchen (grey) make up the most of the production for this famous estate. Rudi Wiest notes, Mönchhof, formerly a possession of the Cistercian Abbey at Himmerod it is one of the oldest estates in the Mosel region. Saved documents show that as early as 1177 documents from Pope Alexander III show that the Roman Catholic Abbey owned vineyards in and around the village of Ürzig. After secularization Eymael’s ancestors in 1804 purchased the estate from Napoleon at an auction in Paris. The estates top vineyards are comprised of the very steep Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Treppchen and the mentioned “filet” piece in one of the jewels in the Mosel valley, he Erdener Prälat. All Monchhof vineyards, which are farmed eco friendly, are planted 100% to Riesling all grown on their original rootstocks. The cellar work here is conventional with about 70% of the wines only seeing stainless steel tank fermentation and aging while a limited number of the wines like this one gets some old wood (1,000L casks), 20-30 years on average, aging on the lees with now about 60% the Rieslings being off dry or sweeter in style, though it seems the wines are significantly drier than a few years ago, which is the common trend. Besides this beauty, be sure to check out Eymael’s Kabinett(s), in particular his flinty/spicy 2018 Urzig Wurtzgarten, which I also just tasted.
Robert Eymael’s Monchhof 2018 Auslese already drinks fantastic and feel much less sweet than you’d expect, it possesses incredible palate balance with the high residual sugar resulting in a rich textural form rather than cloying sweetness and it shows an inner energy that is riveting, this is a very special wine. Imported by Rudi Wiest, considered the Kermit Lynch of German wines, Monchhof still for some reason flies under the radar in America with only a small, but cult like following, and though less well known Eymael is one of the elite winemakers in the Mosel who along with the mentioned Loosen joins Prum, Selbach, Molitor and Loewen to name a few as the regions superstars. Having recently tasted the outstanding upcoming releases of 2018 wines from Carl Loewen and Selbach-Oster, also in Mosel, I can tell you that the 2018 vintage is spectacular and one that Riesling lovers are going to cherish for decades, and it is a year to stock up on throughout the various price levels and degrees of sweetness as almost every level excelled, meaning the over all quality is truly amazing, and this Monchhof Erdener Pralat Auslese will certainly end up a classic and a treasure in some lucky persons cellar. Layered with yellow fruits ranging from fish apricot to dried pineapple this glorious Riesling has it all with bright intensity, a dense mouth feel and sexy floral notes adding saline, mineral and Asian spices. The lightly golden Monchhof expands in the glass with apple, peach, tangerine sorbet, quince and rosewater as well as a touch of wet shale/stone, passionfruit and a sensation of white cassis. I can imagine so many cuisine options, from briny things to cheeses, but don’t think this as a desert wine, it will be outrageous with Vietnamese, Korean, Singaporean chili crab, hot and or spicy curry, sweet and sour shrimps and Chinese red pepper (oil or roasted) dishes.
($45 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive