When I first visited Bollig-Lehnert’s family estate in the Spring of last year, the tour was over in a matter of minutes: The old, underground cellar was no larger than my living room, with barrels lining the wall and various winemaking tools scattered about. Every possible nook was stashed to the brim with ‘shiner’ bottles. At the time, owner Stefan Bollig briefly mentioned a tiny sparkling (sekt) project. I prodded a bit more and eventually learned that he had a few hundred bottles of Champagne-method sparkling wine—made of 100% Riesling from the historic Hofberger Grand Cru—that were 10 years in the making. Assuming there was a language barrier, I held up two fingers. He smiled while holding up all 10 fingers. Ten years!
Turns out, it was a vintage sparkler from 2008 that had been aging in bottle, on its fine lees, for a decade and counting. Then, he told us the absurdly low price, and we immediately asked to purchase some. He coyly shook his head. Not yet. Fast forward to Spring of this year: We met Stefan again, and, again, he shook his head. Not yet. It wasn’t until three months ago, that his importer finally surprised us with a bottle at my office. The experience was well worth the wait: This is a vivid, softly layered, mineral-loaded sparkler that comes to you at a logic-defying price. To find a bottle of Champagne-method sparkling wine with this much age, holding beloved Riesling fruit from one of the Mosel’s ancient Grosse Lage vineyards is a once-per-lifetime experience. Don’t miss out on this cellar-direct exclusive!
Founded by Günter & Josepha Bollig in 1960, Bollig-Lehnert, more than likely, is a name unknown to most people, largely due to the small production coming out of this family-run estate. However, family records indicate that their ancestors were crafting Riesling here way back in the 1600s! Prior to their marriage, Günter Bollig had vineyards in Trittenheim and Josepha Lehnert owned vineyards in both Dhron and Piesport. Upon saying their vows, their surnames and vineyard holdings merged. Currently, Stefan Bollig and his wife have been running this humble estate and its 18 acres throughout the aforementioned towns for over 30 years. All three towns follow a contiguous vertical line down the Mosel river and each of their holdings are situated on vertiginous slate slopes. Despite their tiny size, the Bolligs have made heavy financial investments, making sure to tend their vines by hand and extract only the purest juice in the winery with the addition of new stainless steel equipment.
One of the vineyards of prominence in the sleepy river town of Dhron is Hofberger, a time-honored site (the Prussians noted its extraordinary quality in the 1800s and Roman artifacts have been unearthed nearby) that is now recognized as one of the Mosel’s prestigious Grosse Lage sites. Bollig-Lehnert’s little sliver of south/southeast-facing vines here are buried in a colorful mixture of weathered Devonian slate and they make sure this ancient terroir is aerated via gentle plowing. After hand harvesting these grapes in 2008, they were transported to the winery in small bins to avoid any premature bleeding and/or fermenting. They were lightly pressed and fermented with native yeasts in 1,000-liter fuders for several months. After bottling, Stefan laid this small batch to rest, where it underwent secondary fermentation and remained untouched, for 10 years, until disgorgement in 2019!
In the glass, the wine releases vigorous bubbles and radiates brilliant silver-yellow hues. No need to wait for this to open up: Just allow a few moments to pass for the mousse to dissipate and stick your nose in to reveal the raw beauty of top-flight Riesling injected with fine carbonation. Subtle waves of white pear, peach skin, underripe mango peel, tangerine peel, kaffir leaf, lemon blossoms, pineapple core, and honeysuckle roll out alongside loads of crushed wet slate and a hint of petrol. The palate is soft, pillowy, and hums with the electricity of Riesling. A touch exotic, mineral-loaded, and marked with a delicate dosage, this is the ideal wine for the start of a party—one that will turn heads, too. Serve in all-purpose stems and keep the drinking temperature around 45-50 degrees. No need to rack your brain for a pairing, keep it simple and enjoy!
Village of Dhron / Hofberger Vineyard
Vinified in 1,000L Fuders
Loam, Weathered Slate