The trio behind the newest cuvée from Germany’s Weingut Bergkloster doesn’t fit the “classic” mold for wine professionals—and they like it that way.
Düsseldorf-based artist and muralist Steffen Mumm, perhaps better known by his street art handle, Hoker One, hadn’t put much thought into wine until all that recently. That is until 2018, when he found himself in a wine tasting with wine educator and consultant Toni Askitis, aka #asktoni, a proud “Düsseldorf Greek” and skateboarding enthusiast who brings a hip-hop emcee vibe to his “wine is uncomplicated” tastings—and who was most recently spotted sabering (skatering?) a bottle of Charles Heidsieck Champagne … via “backside bordslide.”
Askitis was speaking Mumm’s language, and the two became fast friends. “I fell in love with his work,” Askitis told Wine Spectator, and the two started talking about a collaboration. “If you see him or me, no one recognizes us as ‘wine people,’” Askitis laughed. “I told him, ‘If we do something, you have to go to the wine region and feel the struggle to understand the wines.’”
“I like beautiful things that have quality, including wine bottles,” said Mumm. “I often like the beautifully designed labels … [but] I didn't want to design the label for some industrial wine, so I asked Toni if he knew anyone. In the summer of 2021, we took a tour through Rheinhessen.”
”[Toni] came over with Steffen,” says fifth-generation Weingut Bergkloster winemaker Jason Groebe. “We hung out, had some good bottles and some good food together. We clicked.”
The result is Bergkloster Rheinhessen Hoker x #asktoni Cuvée Weiß 2020 ($25, 38 cases made, available at asktoni.de); the label stars one of Mumm’s popular Heads series of characters. The 10.5 percent ABV minimal-intervention, partial skin contact blend of Huxelrebe, Bacchus, Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling was aged in a mix of oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for nine months, and bottled unfined, unfiltered and without sulfur. A mouthful, to be sure.
“The only thing we added to the bottle was love,” says Groebe, whose hair fluctuates between aqua blue and bleached, whose vineyards are organic and whose winemaking adheres to the "natural" philosophy, aiming for a style that’s “as raw and real as possible.”
Askitis describes their final blend with his characteristic uncomplicated enthusiasm: “It’s mega-drinky juice!”
Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.