Hermann Ludes has awed us with their masterful Riesling gems: We’ve offered a ’95 and a ’10, both of which zipped out of our warehouses at breakneck speeds. Today’s 2015 Kabinett feinherb is the final wine we brought over from their cellars—and there’s a reason we saved this inexpensive treasure for last.
Not only is nearly dry to the tastebuds, its pulsating with brilliant energy that channels Mosel’s famous slate soils in the mega-blockbuster 2015 vintage. Further, they’ve also managed to capture pedigree by way of a historic vineyard site: During the first half of the 20th century, the “Ritsch” vineyard was among the most celebrated sites in the Mosel Valley. If you wanted the best Riesling had to offer, this hair-raising precipice was undoubtedly part of the discussion, and then...it was all but forgotten. Hermann Ludes, however, never forgot or doubted its importance. Over many years, they continued crafting intense, beautifully composed Rieslings with exceptional aging potential. That’s what prompted the independent publication Mosel Fine Wines to call Thörnicher Ritsch “Mosel’s Best-Kept Secret.” Today, you’re getting the freshest take on this historically important vineyard. It is one of the most poignant, unabashedly delicious Rieslings imaginable for under $25. Go wild—this is the very last of our Hermann Ludes inventory!
Ludes isn’t a household name in the German wine world, but the family has been in the wine business for some 400 years. The main reason for its obscurity is that the estate itself wasn’t established until the mid-1900s. Further, the large majority of their vines were divvied up among 11 siblings, leaving Hermann Ludes with next to nothing. Over the decades, he and subsequent generations have worked tirelessly to buy back all these parcels. Back in its heyday, Weingut Hermann Ludes was in a cadre of high-quality Mosel producers that is now colloquially known as the “Bernkasteler Ring” (they left in 1993). Many estates in this group are highly celebrated to this day, but some, like Hermann Ludes, remain under the radar. Thankfully, the love for Riesling has made a tremendous resurgence and, as such, Ludes’ is embracing it with open arms.
As the crow flies, the town of Thörnich is less than five miles southwest of world-famous village of Piesport, but if traversing by boat, it’ll take you much longer along the ever-bending Mosel River. Truth be told, I had to do a little ‘dusting off’ myself and open a few old German wine books for a “Ritsch” refresher. Turns out many of Ludes’ prized parcels in this site are creeping towards 100 years of age and, amazingly, some are still self-rooted! They’re also situated on some terrifyingly steep grades, consisting of thin, brittle slate soils, that make it so no road could ever stand a chance up here. Acid retention is impressive here, too—from current winemaker Julian Ludes: “We describe the Ritsch as the Saar Valley. We have on average two grams more acid than the top sides on the Middle Mosel. That’s so unique for the Ritsch. That’s why the wines taste so light and elegant.”
Their traditional work in the vineyard should logically mean the same in the cellar, and that’s exactly how this wine is produced. Only ambient yeasts were used for fermentation in stainless steel—which took months—and then it was allowed to develop further before bottling. It then aged in their cellar until the beginning of 2019. Note: Kabinett is the first ripeness level on the Prädikatswein scale and feinherb is an unofficial German term that is most similar to an halbtrocken (half-dry) style, which contains 9-18 grams of residual sugar. So, the wine has less sugar than a traditional Kabinett but a touch more than a dry style. This kiss of sugar brings the wine into the realm of Mosel perfection.
Herman Ludes’ 2015 “Ritsch” Kabinett feinherb explodes with aromas of white peach, apricot kiwi juice, green mango peel, cured lemon peel, kaffir lime, and crushed slate, all of which lie on a bed built from citrus blossoms, acacia, and honeysuckle. Insane levels of acid instantaneously cleans up the small amounts of residual sugar on the piquant, vibrantly layered palate. The result is a wine that tastes dry with ripeness from the ‘15 vintage giving it plenty of richness and depth. This is such a live-wire wine—the moment it touches your lips it sends jolts of electricity racing through your neural system (I kid you not: when I tasted it, the hairs on my arms stood up like I was under a clapping thunder cloud). Besides this bottle, there aren’t many “simple” things in life that deliver such immense pleasure. Serve around 50-55 degrees in all-purpose stems and gather everyone possible because although you’ll want to tackle a bottle by yourself, sharing this SommSelect exclusive will only bring more joy—just watch their faces light up. Cheers!
Village of Thörnich / Ritsch Vineyard
Weathered Grey & Blue Slate