2018 was kissed by the sun and yielded many ripe and blousy wines ... as well as some stunningly racy and elegant ones! Here are the key facts in a nutshell.
A cold and wet winter was followed by an unusually early start in the spring and a very early bud break. The weather remained beautiful throughout spring, which made for a record early (and mostly even) flowering. The dry weather almost prevented any pressure from diseases.
The summer proved one of the hottest and driest in living memory. This led to spells of drought, whereby some areas were lucky and regularly got some much needed rain. Overall, the vegetation progress was remarkably fast and ahead of long-term average by over a month by the end of the summer.
The vegetation progress during summer made most Estates start their Riesling harvest already by mid-September, another earliest ever. The harvest conditions were almost too good, as the weather remained essentially warm and dry right until October. This gave the growers the breathing space to make the necessary selections.
With a few notable exceptions, little botrytis developed but growers were able to nevertheless harvest quite some shriveled grapes. Some Estates even managed to produce some Eiswein ... at the beginning of 2019.
The 2018 vintage is about ripe fruits and mild acidity. This makes for wines which are very easy to enjoy young. Many of the fruity-styled wines are bigger and sweeter than usual and are often heavily declassified. However, the wines from a few top growers completely defy the vintage and are among the most playful and elegant Mosel Riesling ever produced.
Despite the little botrytis, 2018 yielded quite some noble-sweet wines which are aromatically pure but often very sweet at this stage.
The Saar and Ruwer wines have a slight edge over the Mosel but not as much as usually in hot vintages: In 2018, the grower made all the difference.
Lovers of acid-driven and playful freshness in their Mosel Riesling should plunge on the incredible collections dished up by a few of the top growers ... or back-buy from the great 2017 vintage.
Beyond these few growers, 2018 did not yield much light Kabinett, but lovers of fruity-styled Mosel will find many attractive Auslese-styled wines sold as Kabinett and Spätlese. The finest noble-sweet wines will be stunning and worth the plunge if one has the patience to wait for their sweetness to integrate.
2018 yielded some fine dry Riesling but it is worthwhile to have a good look at the back label and get advice before buying any Mosel Riesling above 12.5% of alcohol.
Finally, 2018 proves a major vintage for the off-dry category, they are among the most subtle and refined which we have ever tasted.
All in all, 2018 has much to offer but is not the universally great vintage praised by the press: One needs to be selective.
A detailed report of the above summary, complemented by 20 detailed Estates reviews and over 500 tasting notes, was published in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 46 (Jun 2019) which covers Part I of our extensive 2018 Mosel Vintage Report.
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© 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.