MOSEL VALLEY - GERMANY
Making Riesling on the Mosel is something most people do; of course, the region is famous for that. But Daniel Twardowski had something else in mind. As a wine merchant, he had developed a growing passion for fine French Pinot Noir which was not available in his homeland. Why, he asked himself, couldn’t Pinot Noir grapes also thrive on the banks of the Mosel?
After extensive of experimenting and consulting with specialists, the right clones and techniques were identified. The result was a red wine that tasted just as he had dreamt it: homage to the great wines of Burgundy. The raven and the nut on the label remind us of his unconventional approach and what was unusual about this risky project. The birds were inspired to snatch nuts from an old tree on the edge of the vineyard. They let them drop from great heights onto the hard slate floor between the grapevines. And finally - crack - the inner seed lay exposed.
The single Grand Cru vineyard, Hofberg, is located in western Germany on a tributary of the Mosel, called Dhron by a village of the same name. Daniel has been planting special Pinot Noir clones here since 2006 on a little more than 7 acres on steep slopes with ideal exposures. All effort goes into making just one wine each vintage.
The complex soil is reddish and traversed by iron oxides that lend the wine its typical minerality and a certain salty tone. Compared to the more southerly situated Burgundy region, the climate here is somewhat cooler. The result is a strong acidity as the backbone for the fruitiness and purity of the wine which is darker and more colour-stable than conventional Burgundy.
The best is just good enough to satisfy Pinot Noir, the queen of the red wines. The painstaking techniques include: selective harvesting by hand, ecological soil cultivation without chemicals and preparation and bottling done in the old French style - in a basket crusher without mechanical pumping.
The pressing and preparation all take place traditionally, without filters and mechanical pumps. After two weeks, cool mash fermentation prepares the wine for maturation in French oak barrels from Rousseau du Francois Freres. Each barrel holds 225 litres with medium light toasting and two thirds are new. They are kept in a cool place under low must enrichment and alcohol levels between 12.6 and 13.3 percent are reached. After bottling with natural corks from Trescasas, the bottles are stored in our cellars for at least two more years. Based on the structure of the wine, there is further ageing potential for 10 years or more.
Though distinctive with their own characteristics, the three vintages of 2011, 2012 and 2013 all captivate the nose with their fresh berry and floral aromas; on the velvety palate, there is tension between finesse and richness coupled with the perfect balance between fruit, alcohol and acidity.
Daniel Twardowski Pinot Noix 2012
18 points, Jancis Robinson MW -“Medium-deep cherry red with tile-red highlights. The good news is that with only the second vintage of the Pinot Noix, Daniel Twardowski has already managed to hit the jackpot of hedonistic pleasure. The bad news is that with fewer than 800 bottles produced, not many people will be able to share it. A fast learner, Daniel has managed to curb the enthusiasm of the tannins to a structural support role, which allows the ripe cherry fruit to enter into a juicy alliance with ample acidity without getting ambushed by undue astringency. An astute employment of oak ageing adds some fine spices, while a gentle dusty notion reflects the ardoise (slate) connection.”
Daniel Twardowski Pinot Noix 2013
17.5 points, Jancis Robinson MW -“2013 was a challenging vintage which rewarded the patient who took a gamble on harvesting late. It is quite clear that Daniel Twardowski felt that this vintage was too delicate to allow oak-derived aromas to leave much of a mark, and the absence of roasted or smoky notes benefits the fruit, which in its richness is reminiscent of Black Forest gateau. A mere smidgeon of nutmeg is all the barriques were allowed to express. Great purity and invigorating acidity result in a truly energising Pinot Noir.”