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Dr Loosen has been in the same family for more than 200 years and its present guardian, Ernst Loosen, is one of the great characters of the wine world. He assumed ownership of the estate in 1988 and immediately realised that, with ungrafted vines averaging 70 years of age, in some of Germany's best-rated vineyards, gave him the raw materials to create stunningly intense, world-class wines. To achieve this, he dramatically reduced his crop size and stopped all chemical fertilisation, preferring only moderate use of organic fertilisers. And, most importantly, he turned to gentler cellar practices that allow the wine to develop its full potential with a minimum of handling and technological meddling.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr was rated “First Vineyard” (Erste Lage) in the 1868 Prussian classification of the Mosel, and “Great First-Class” in the Wine Atlas of Germany by Hugh Johnson & Stuart Pigott (1995). In 2012 it was classified as Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) by the VDP, Germany’s top growers association. This precipitously steep, rocky vineyard consistently yields some of the most elegant and sophisticated white wines in the world. 

The mineral-rich, blue Devonian slate soil gives the wine a crisp acidity that perfectly balances the pure peach and lemon fruit. With the lightest soil of all the vineyards on the long hillside from Bernkastel to Wehlen, the famous “sundial” vineyard produces the quintessential Mosel Riesling: delicate and refined, with racy minerality and endless charm. The early picked Kabinett Prädikat (ripeness level) is the lightest and most delicate style of German Riesling that is possible to produce. Nothing can compare with its elegance and subtlety, as this wine proves with its fine fruitiness and exquisite balance.

Richer than the Bernkasteler Lay, but doesn’t have quite the same nervous energy and finesse; a very good wine, and in Dr Loosen heartland, but… Drink to 2020; 7.5% alc; screwcap; $39; Rating: 94 points; James Halliday

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