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Wine Star: Nik Weis

The third-generation German winemaker shares an entire crop of rare St.-Urbans-Hof dessert Riesling
Nik Weis was all smiles before giving away an entire vintage of $1,300-a-half-bottle Riesling.
Photo by: Rick Wenner
Nik Weis was all smiles before giving away an entire vintage of $1,300-a-half-bottle Riesling.

Emma Balter
Posted: October 23, 2018

Trockenbeerenauslese, roughly translated as "dry berry selection," is a concentrated dessert wine made from botrytis-affected grapes and painstakingly picked berry by berry. It's one of the rarest wines in Germany: The noble rot requires very specific climatic conditions to grow, and botrytized grapes yield highly limited quantities of wine.

So it was all the more special when Nik Weis poured his St.-Urbans-Hof Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Mosel Leiwen Laurentiuslay 2015 (96 points, $1,300/375ml) at the Wine Experience. "I'm showing just one wine, and I'm showing about all of it today—that's all I made," Weis said, to laughter and grateful applause. Indeed, he had only made 160 half-bottles of this specific bottling.

Luckily for him—and for wine lovers—he makes about 30 different wines per vintage, from bone-dry to off-dry to sweet. Weis called Riesling from the Mosel "the sports car" of white wines: It has a lightweight frame with an elegant and beautiful body on top, he said. He also remarked on the incredible aging potential of trockenbeerenauslese Riesling. When a friend recently served him an 1893 blind, Weis exclaimed, "This is still fresh for a '93," not realizing it was in fact a century older than he’d been led to believe.

After recounting the deep viticultural history of his estate and region, which dates back to Roman times, Weis concluded with a nod to the future: "When people ask me about my idea of sustainability, I always say when you're doing viticulture in a vineyard that's 1,800 years old, you don't want to be the idiot who ruins it."

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