From the Fischerei plot, the 2020 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese is clear, fine, and stony on the bright, crunchy, always delicate nose. Round and lush on the palate, this is a crystalline, saline and finely sweet yet filigreed Spätlese with remarkable finesse and elegance. The finish is tight but aromatic and highly stimulating in its purity and salinity. Natural cork.
Johannes and Sebastian Selbach from Selbach-Oster took over the business from Alfred and Rolf Merkelbach in 2020 and started with two excellent vintages.
The 2021 Kabinett and Spätlese Rieslings from both Ürzig (Würzgarten) and Kinheim (Rosenberg) are fabulous, especially in the cool and later-ripening vintage of 2021, whereas in 2020, the two Spätlese selections from the Würzgarten are shining.
Drink 2025 - 2045
Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (October 2022)
About this WINE
Octogenarian brothers Alfred and Rolf Merkelbach have been running their two-hectare Mosel estate since they were young men and, rather than contemplate retirement, their eyes are set on expansion. Many put their contentment down to the fact that neither has married.
Their Urzinger Würzgarten site, downstream from Zeltingen, has a striking reddish clay and slate topsoil, producing particularly spicy, aromatic, weighty wines – hence the vineyard’s name, which literally translates as “Urzig spice garden”.
The brothers use traditional old oak Fuder for vinification. They bought their last in 1970 and firmly believe that each cask imparts its own individual style to the wine it holds. The Merkelbach wines are disarmingly subtle, yet redolent of a plethora of flavours: bacon fat, blackcurrant leaf, briar and rose petals, to name but a few.
The Mosel wine region in Germany is renowned for its high-quality white wines, especially Riesling. Its unique terroir of steep slopes, slate soils, and cool climate contributes to the wines' distinctive character.
Riesling dominates the vineyard plantings, and the region follows a vineyard classification system based on ripeness levels. Historic vineyards, such as Erdener Prälat and Wehlener Sonnenuhr, produce exceptional wines.
The Mosel offers various styles, from crisp Kabinett and rich dessert wines. The region's wine culture is celebrated through multiple festivals, making it a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts.
Riesling's twin peaks are its intense perfume and its piercing crisp acidity which it manages to retain even at high ripeness levels.
In Germany, Riesling constitutes around 20% of total plantings, yet it is responsible for all its greatest wines. It is planted widely on well-drained, south-facing slate-rich slopes, with the greatest wines coming from the best slopes in the best villages. It produces delicate, racy, nervy and stylish wines that cover a wide spectrum of flavours from steely and bone dry with beautifully scented fruits of apples,apricots, and sometimes peaches, through to the exotically sweet flavours of the great sweet wines.
It is also an important variety in Alsace where it produces slightly earthier, weightier and fuller wines than in Germany. The dry Rieslings can be austere and steely with hints of honey while the Vendages Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles are some of the greatest sweet wines in the world.
It is thanks to the New World that Riesling is enjoying a marked renaissance. In Australia the grape has developed a formidable reputation, delivering lime-sherbet fireworks amid the continental climate of Clare Valley an hour's drive north of Adelaide, while Barossa's Eden Valley is cooler still, producing restrained stony lime examples from the elevated granitic landscape; Tasmania is fast becoming their third Riesling mine, combining cool temperatures with high UV levels to deliver stunning prototypes.
New Zealand shares a similar climate, with Riesling and Pinot Gris neck to neck in their bid to be the next big thing after Sauvignon Blanc; perfectly suited is the South Island's Central Otago, with its granitic soils and continental climate, and the pebbly Brightwater area near Nelson. While Australia's Rieslings tend to be full-bodied & dry, the Kiwis are more inclined to be lighter bodied, more ethereal and sometimes off-dry; Alsace plays Mosel if you like.