When looking at the walls of vines on the opposite shore of the river, one can be thankful for the majestic beauty of the landscape, and for the craziness of the Romans who decided a few centuries ago to arrange vineyards on the very steep slopes of the Mosel. If the lights hits just right and you take a closer look, it is even possible to see where the slate soils colors are changing and fading into one another. This wall of vines has a name, it is the magnificent Marienburg vineyard, very closely related to the name of one winemaker: Clemens Busch.
He is undeniably one of the most famous characters in the German wine world — and arguably in the wine world at large — and his name is a white flag that brings together people from all camps, whether they be progressive or more on the traditionalist side. The wines from Clemens and Rita are distinctive in many ways. First the color of the glass, with its unique shade right between blue and green, with a simple yet tasteful label printed in the shape of a banner. Then, the genius idea of the foil that indicates the color of the slate the vines grew on. And finally, what they contain: eloquent rieslings who translate their terroir gracefully into the glass.
It is quite rare to claim ownership on such a bit plot of land in the same place in the Mosel — or anywhere really. Clemens made his way on the cru slowly, by buying and renting numerous little parcels; they were handed over or even sometimes abandoned by vintners around. Blame it on the tough work and the lack of successors. Marienburg used to have a 25ha surface on the hillside, but ended up greatly enlarged by the 1971 law that consolidated a vast part of German vineyards. Unfortunately, what was annexed to Marienburg reflected the singularity of the place poorly, because it was mainly flatlands in disappointing locations. In the historical heart of the vineyard that is in the prime location, Clemens owns 17ha of vines. He bottles them according to the traditional names they were know to have pre-1971, and according to the slate color as said above: Farhlay (blue), Rotenpfad (red), Falkenlay (grey)(and the small section of older vines named Raffes) and Felsterassse (grey).
Ever the iconoclast, Clemens Busch was one fo the first to defend organic agriculture in Germany, and still has that flame burning bright. In the 80s, he stopped using pesticides and herbicides. He has embraced biodynamic viticulture since the mid-2000s, and has proven to many that despite having challenging work conditions in a dramatic landscape, it is still possible to make it a priority to do good to nature. Clemens Busch is never static, and always open to experimenting with winemaking. He has been bottling a low-sulfur riesling (LS) for many vintages now, crafted with love for the Quebec market. We can’t get enough, especially in magnums.