This beauty underlines how low intervention and a return to traditional winemaking can be a truly winning combination. Here some background on this exciting development.
Few vintages have been as hyped as 2015, and there is some truth in it. 2015 yielded some stunning wines, and this in all stylistic directions.
But not everything that shines is gold. At its heart, 2015 is a ripe vintage, pepped up by glorious zest, with many wines on the powerful side. Only the very best wines will turn into classics in a decade or two.
One such wine turns out to be the stunning 2015er Piesporter Riesling Trocken Fio by Fio Wines, a wine which is about to be released commercially.
Fio Wines find its origin in an encounter at a wine-tasting event ... on a Caribbean Island, over a decade ago. The protagonists were one of the most high-profile wine growers in the world, Dirk Niepoort (who absolutely loves Mosel wines), and a child of the Mosel, Philipp Kettern, the latest of a long dynasty of Kettern in Piesport. They talked, and it clicked, as Philipp recalled: “Dirk put my ideas upside down and got me on the path to produce elegant Mosel wines made in the traditional way.”
Philipp Kettern changed his approach at his family Estate, and implemented these new ideas: “Mosel is about elegant and lightness, why try to make heavy wines. So I brought the harvest forward. I still harvest ripe grapes, but with lower sugar potential. We want alcohol to be in the background and the wines to retain aromatic freshness. I also abandoned any pre-fermentation cold soak, which also adds power and presence. We prolonged the fermentation and aging in the cellar and do this without any intervention, except for a little sulfur and possibly a light filtering at bottling. Under the impulse of Dirk (we were in constant contact, also visiting each other), I wanted to return to old tried methods.”
This approach rings true with the research we have carried out on how Mosel wine was made in the 19th century, before the modern days. Key elements included no pre-fermentation maceration and very extended fermentation and aging (for 2-3 years) in cask before bottling. We reported on these findings in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 49 (Jan 2020).
“On a visit to my Estate in 2012-2013, Dirk Niepoort was bowled over by a particular cask of 2012er Piesporter Goldtröpfchen,” Philipp recalled, "and Dirk decided to buy it and let it age on its lees, without any sulfur for over 2 years. He did the same in 2013." And then his son Daniel Niepoort moved to the Mosel. It was soon time to give this set-up more structure: The Fio winery was born. Fio stands for common thread and refers to the community of minds between the three.
The top wines are often aged for long in cask and are therefore only released much later than the year after the vintage.
Right from the start, the flagship wine of the Fio winery has been its Piesporter Trocken Fio. This Riesling comes from fruit the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, mostly from the sector called the Müsterter Berg which forms the eastern and south-facing part of the vineyard (the part in the center background on the picture here below).
The 2015er Fio also comes from this part of the Goldtröpfchen. It was harvested at moderate levels of sugar density in the grapes, pressed without pre-fermentation cold soak, before being transferred for spontaneous fermentation and aging in cask, without any other intervention including no sulfur, for 2 years. It was bottled with only a little 30 mg/l of SO2 at the end of 2017.
This wine is still a little bit reduced and shows definitively more presence on day two. But the underlying presence and elegance are simply stunning. The remarkable thing is that the wine does only have 11.5% of alcohol: “Expressiveness in Riesling does not need alcohol,” says Philipp Kettern.
This remarkable wine is still patiently aged in the cellars of the winery and will only be formally released later this year. Generally speaking, whoever seeks elegant and racy expressions of Mosel Riesling without weight or alcohol strength should keep a close eye on the releases by this fine address.
The recent releases of low-intervention wines by Fio Wines were reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 49 (January 2020). You are a subscriber and miss this Issue? Simply send us a request by email and we will be happy to send you a copy. You are not yet a subscriber and wish to get this Issue? Subscribe free of charge by registering yourself here below and ask us for a copy by email.
Piesporter Riesling Trocken Fio
The 2015er Piesporter Fio comes from the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, and was fermented and aged without any additive or other intervention in large casks for 24 months before being bottled unfiltered and with minimal sulfur added (30 mg/l). It will be commercially released at the end of 2020. This bright-yellow-white colored wine offers a superb nose made of ripe herbs, fine spices, a hint of slate-infused reduction, candied grapefruit, and chalky minerals. The wine proves packed with engagingly fresh and multi-layered flavors on the beautifully light and tart palate (the wine only has 11.5% alcohol). It proves gorgeously long and beautifully refined. A touch of hard tartness still needs to integrate in the after-taste. But the potential is immense. Lovers of light-footed and elegant dry Riesling should plunge upon this! 2023-2030+
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.