TheWineBuzz had the pleasure of meeting Johannes Selbach, owner of Selbach Oster winery, during his recent visit to Ohio. Selbach carries on the 400-year family tradition of making wine in the Mosel valley of Germany, focusing on the traditional whites of the region – minus the ice wine once produced here. Global warming, Selbach says, has virtually eliminated ice wine from the German wine portfolios. Now his grapes need to be picked before they become over-ripe and lose the acidity that keeps the wines crisp and bright. These days he aims for lower yields and better fruit.
But climate change isn’t this winemaker’s only challenge. The extremely steep slopes, unique micro-climate and sparse slate soil help to create wines rich with minerality, elegance and complexity. The warmth reflected off of the Mosel River and slate stones keep the vines warm during the cool nights. The mostly south-facing vineyards are planted in ungrafted vines (98 percent Riesling, 2 percent Pinot Blanc), some of which are over 100 years old. Vineyards are worked and grapes are picked by hand, which is quite a feat on the 60-degree slopes.
Selbach prides himself on hands-off winemaking, letting the wines develop characteristics derived from the terroir from which the grapes were grown.
Johannes says that it takes top vineyards and cooperation from Mother Nature to produce high-quality wine.
Selbach Oster wines range from completely dry with what Johannes calls “crunchy minerality” to sweet and lush – all with relatively low alcohol. Something for every palate and every meal.