Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt | Vintage reports

Vintage reports

  • 2020

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    Total area
    67 hl/ha

    With the exception of some notable rain in mid-February, it was a very dry winter.

    Dry and warm weather in spring was the signal for our vines to wake up quickly from their winter slumber.

    Aided by very kind temperatures, bud burst was a rapid, straightforward affair – occurring at the start of April in our steep vineyards on the Mittelmosel and around seven days later on the Saar and Ruwer.

    Frosts in April and May inflicted damage on two of our vineyard plots in the cooler tributary valleys of the Saar and Ruwer. Many of the affected vines produced new shoots thereafter, their grapes ripening slightly later as a consequence.

    Subsequent flowering from early to mid-June went smoothly, resulting in almost zero yield losses.
    Apart from the odd torrential downpour in some villages on the Mittelmosel, we experienced another dry summer in 2020.

    A sudden heatwave at the beginning of August – and the intense sunlight that came with it – caused sunburn on some of our fruit. However, the consistently high temperatures also meant that our vines were spared almost any fungal issues.

    When picking began in the balmy late-summer conditions of mid-September, our grapes were therefore in a more or less pristine condition, showing perfect physiological ripeness.

    During the second half of the harvest, temperatures fell to an average of 10°C as rain set in.

    After holding fire for three days, we finally picked a Trockenbeerenauslese in a wonderful quality fruit in our Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Grosse Lage to conclude the 2020 season.

    With grapes of perfect ripeness producing average must weights of around 85 degrees Oechsle, we once again have an outstanding basis for a varied array of unique, terroir-inflected wines.

    True to the Kesselstatt ethos, our fruit was carefully selected and picked by hand before being gently vinified in our modern cellar.

    We look forward these tremendous wines in the making – a fascinating 2020 vintage of stellar quality from entry level to Trockenbeerenauslese.

    Morscheid, December 2020

  • 2019

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    Total area
    35 hl/ha
    Meticulous selection pays off.
    We were all still revelling in the sunny, abundant afterglow of 2018 when the new growing season began. Only a moderate amount of rain had replenished our dry soils in the winter months. We therefore decided to work our vineyards in a way that would optimise the root surface area and consequent water uptake of our vines, so as to keep any nutrient deficiencies or drought stress to an absolute minimum during the new season.

    The buds began to swell in mid-April amid temperatures 2°C warmer than the long-term average. This was the first sign that growth was imminent. Then it finally happened during Easter weekend: green shoots appeared in all our vineyards within a matter of days.

    Such an early bud burst – an undeniable symptom of climate change – increases the risk of spring frost damage. And, lo and behold, the mercury fell below zero on 5 and 6 May. Just a few hours of frost were enough to kill many fledgling shoots, cutting our crop by around 25% even at this early stage. Our vineyards on the Saar and Ruwer were particularly affected, whereas the Mittelmosel came away unscathed for the most part.

    Spring and summer were very sunny, and flowering turned out to be a very swift affair from the middle to the end of July in all three river valleys. Fruit development was excellent in our old vineyards, even though we could have done with a few more litres of rainfall as opposed to two heatwaves. Temperatures in the Saar Valley hit a record high of 41.6°C at the end of July, while a spike of 35°C also occurred at the end of August. This led to further crop losses, with sunburn inflicting serious damage to all exposed grapes and stems.

    By the end of summer, the grape skins were quite firm and unyielding due the scarcity of water available to the vines during the initial cell-division stage of berry development.  Grapes  started  splitting  once the rain  set in at  the  beginning of the

    harvest, because the bunches became saturated  and could no longer withstand the pressure. The fruit kept on splitting as unfavourable weather continued during picking. This inevitably led to grape rot. We therefore had no choice but to select meticulously, passing through each vineyard several times to obtain the quality (and ripeness levels) that we wanted.

    The harvest began on 23 September and ended on 17 October, yielding 35 hl/ha of juice. Oechsle levels were generally between 90 and 110 degrees. We also brought in a Trockenbeerenauslese from Piesporter Goldtröpfchen that reached 233 degrees Oechsle.

    Our wonderful team of pickers deserve a huge thank you. They worked tirelessly in challenging weather conditions and were indispensable in ensuring that fruit of the highest order arrived safely at the winery.

    As Euripides once said: “Much effort, much prosperity.”

    Rest assured, 2019 is an exceptional vintage. We can all look forward to intricately structured wines showing vibrant, delicate acidity and concentrated fruit.

    Morscheid, 2nd December 2019
  • 2018

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    Total area
    63 hl/ha
    A year of superlatives
    Sun-blessed – there is no better way to describe the fantastic vintage just passed. The dreamy days of summer 2018 will live long in the memory. Our grapes enjoyed the sun as much as we did, the extra warmth resulting in exceptional levels of ripeness, flavour and minerality as well as excellent quantities.

    The year started very wet with what seemed like three months of non-stop rain. In hindsight, this was a godsend – as if Mother Nature already knew what was to follow. The precipitation helped to replenish our water tables before the new growing season began.
    Spring was warm and dry – ideal conditions for an early bud burst. As if on cue, the first shoots already began appearing on 20 April, which was even earlier than the previous year. More than ever, we held our collective breath and prayed for those late frosts to stay away. Luckily, our prayers were answered.

    With plentiful groundwater and sunshine at their disposal, our vines shot up in no time – so much so that they had already begun to adapt to the weather by the time it came for us to prune the leaves. All our vines on the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer developed at the same pace. From a prolific fruit set came wonderfully loose clusters, thanks to perfect weather during blossoming. The mercury rose and the weather became lovelier with each day. Our summer was Mediterranean-like – more Monaco than Morscheid.

    Only our youngest vines were a little less happy, as their roots have not yet reached the necessary depth to get through dry periods completely unscathed. Our older vines on the other hand – blessed with generous and, crucially, deep root systems – had no problems coping at all. On the contrary, the grapes that we picked from these venerable holdings were golden yellow, sweet and fully ripe, with unerring acidity and fruity succulence. Add to this the gratifying size of this year’s crop, and it is no wonder we are over the moon.

    Our fruit was outstanding at all quality and Prädikat wine levels. We were fortunate enough to select Trockenbeerenauslesen – the pinnacle of any vintage – from a number of different sites including Kaseler Nies’chen. Oechsle levels reached up to 260 degrees.  At cool cellar temperatures, the natural ferments took a while to kick into action. However, our embryonic wines already show pure fruit expression and promising spontaneous fermentation aromas. We really have a marvellous vintage in the making.

    Morscheid, 12th November 2018
  • 2017

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    25 hl/ha
    Total area
    31 hl/ha
    A year of challenges

    Looking back, there is something unique about every vintage. ‘I’ve never experienced a year like it’ is a well-worn phrase that held true in 2017 – another eventful season in which Mother Nature again showed who was boss. Faced with weather extremes such as frost, heat and drought, as well as the knowledge that rain will fall sooner or later, a vintner must keep calm and deal judiciously with the circumstances that they encounter.

    The year began with a very warm spring that resulted in an early bud burst. Late frost posed a big threat – and three cold nights in April confirmed our fears, damaging shoots that were already well developed. Winegrowers and fruit farmers were badly hit throughout Europe. A spell of fine weather thereafter helped the secondary shoots to grow quickly, partially mitigating the frost-related shortfall. Conditions were near perfect during flowering, with moderate temperatures and very low rainfall in June.

    The spring heatwave also had a sting in its tail, however, with our young vines in particular suffering from considerable drought stress, given that the water balance in our vineyards was already negative following a dry winter. On the other hand, our old vines benefited from the longer growing cycle thanks to their deep roots providing sufficient water nutrition. Time seemed to fly, and before we knew it our grapes had more or less ripened two weeks ahead of the long-term average – although a wet July and August had unfortunately caused some premature botrytis.

    We mustered a 52-strong team of men and women to begin the preliminary harvest on 21 September – thus making the 2017 picking season the earliest in the estate’s history. Above all, we focused on meticulously selecting grapes for our Trockenbeerenauslesen and Beerenauslesen, as well as separating healthy from botrytis-affected fruit, and unripe from ripe grapes.

    This hard work gave us stunning results. Piesporter Goldtröpfchen posted 192 degrees – our highest Oechsle reading on the Mosel. During what was a relatively short harvest, acidity levels fell from an initial high of 13 g/l to 9-10 g/l. Our grapes’ aromatics also changed day by day, shedding their vegetative notes and developing ripeness and concentration. The fermenting musts and fledgling wines are very fresh and fruity, with thrilling tension on the finish. Our Grosse Gewächse, sourced from plots with minimal pruning, are already showing impressive power, persistence and terroir expression.

    Ultimately, 2017 was a year of extremes that threw up a wide range of challenges and conundrums in our three winegrowing valleys, the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer.
    However, the results owe everything to the terroir at our disposal, Mother Nature, and the hard work of our team.

    Another exciting, characterful vintage is in the making.
  • 2016

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    25 hl/ha
    Total area
    33 hl/ha
    The 2016 vintage taxed many wine maker’s and their machine’s patience. Although the beginning of the year was rugged, the results of it were extraordinary surprising.

    It started off with an atypical mild winter, with only few frosty days and nights. This raised the fear of a plague of insects, without knowing what the rest of the year would entail. After the last vintage 2015 had been sun spoiled, great expectations toward the vintage 2016 were raised. Unfortunately these expectations did not prove true at first.
    Spring started off to be very wet and in average cooler than the preceding year. Extensive rainfalls impeded not only the trafficability of the vineyards, but also influenced negatively the blooming habit of the vine.

    The tremendous amount of precipitation in Mai, June and July provided perfect conditions for downy mildew, which lead to a rapid dissemination.  The combination of wet grounds, the dissemination of fungal attacks and the disposability of agricultural pesticides contributed to a worst-case scenario. As if this wasn’t enough, the exclusive Kesselstatt location “Josephshof” was hit badly by a hailstorm. The outputs were reduced to less than 15 hl/ha. These wines are very rare in this vintage.

    The long blooming period, the hailstorm as well as the downy mildew lead in part to tremendous losses of crop. Thus, quantitatively speaking, this vintage is the third smallest within the last 30 years, causing it to almost be written off.

    However, within the last-minute the old winemaker slogan: “The wine is not yet in the cellar” got a new meaning: A dry August was followed by a glorious sunny and very warm September, which lead to the growing of golden yellow grapes. Fortunately, the deficits of the previous months were compensated.  The cool and dry October enabled a relatively late and long harvest that entailed physiological ripe and above all healthy vintage. The distress of the summer took a back seat.

    Summing up one can say, that the small yield positively manifested itself in an excellent grape quality and defined concisely the expressive attributes of this year’s vintage. The technical modernization of our wine press, with its focus on pure quality through gentle manufacturing, brought us must that inspires through its multifarious fruit aroma, ripe acidity and expressive minerality. Thus, the optimal proceeding of spontaneous fermentation reflects the uniqueness of our vineyards.

    Share our excitement of this extremely fascinating and extraordinary vintage.

  • 2015

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    19 hl/ha
    Total area
    40 hl/ha
    “When there’s little, there’s even less.”

    Once again, this old vintners’ saying aptly describes the size of this year’s crop. Overall, our harvest was very good – although yields varied considerably from vineyard to vineyard. Our preliminary estimates were seldom so off course.

    The growing season began with little moisture in the soil, followed by a dry spring and a hot, dry summer. It wasn’t until August and September that there were any significent quantities of rainfall. Yet by then, growth was basically completed. The result: small, golden-yellow berries with extremely little juice.

    Based on the experience of recent years, we began picking earlier than usual this year, too. We started on 28 September 2015. Our experienced harvest team – primarily from Romania – was able to select grapes of varying degrees of ripeness throughout the entire autumn. We picked the grapes from our top sites using three separate buckets, whereby the shriveled berries were sorted again at the vat. These efforts enabled us to achieve top levels of ripeness of up to 181 degrees Oechsle.

    Thanks to very cool and primarily dry weather, we were able to harvest at a relaxed pace. For the most part, musts ranged between 85 and 95° Oe, with 9 to 10 g/l of acidity. Healthy, ripe, fruity aromas and fine, yeasty notes of spontaneous fermentation are already perceptible in our cellar.

    The harvest of the grapes destined for our Grosse Gewächse was really rewarding. In the GG sites, we began reducing individual shoots very early and continued before and during blossoming. After flowering, the remaining clusters were divided and in August, foliage was removed from the vines. The result: healthy, golden-yellow berries with Oechsle readings between 92 and 100° and sensational fruit aromas. The fermenting musts are already showing enormous concentration and a wealth of fruit.

    In short: you can already look forward to an outstanding vintage! The only disappointment is the small size of the harvest – yet, this contributed to the high quality of the crop.
  • 2014

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    35 hl/ha
    Total area
    49 hl/ha
    Once upon a time ......... the start of a fairy tale ......... vintage 2014

    Everyone knows the tale of Cinderella, the young woman who sat at the hearth sorting out the good from the bad lentils that her stepsisters had thrown into the ashes.

    In 2014, vintners faced the same task: sorting out the good from the bad. Berry and cluster selection was decisive for good quality.
    Due to warm, damp weather, vintage 2014 was replete with challenges.

    Here, a brief résumé of the growing season.
    Winter was warm. Apart from yield reductions due to frost and hail in the Saar Valley in early April, the weather remained very favorable. Temperatures were optimal to foster healthy grapes and early ripening.

    Blossoming began on 9 June, i.e., quite early.
    Foliage removal immediately thereafter proved to be just the right thing to do this year. Once again, we divided clusters in our Grosse Gewächse parcels to improve grape quality, a measure that is particularly important in these vineyard sites.

    Even as late as August, growth and development remained about four weeks ahead of schedule compared with the long-term average.

    The grapes were picture perfect by the end of September, and yields were also promising – a welcome relief after short crops in 2013 and 2012.

    However, heavy rain in early October suddenly forced us to step up the pace. In order to pick our Riesling grapes precisely at the right moment, we had to ask a great deal of our harvest team. At times, they worked from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

    This year’s harvest was marked by a very labor-intensive selection: painstakingly sorting out the good from the bad. The stringent selection led to reduced yields.

    Nevertheless, the extra effort more than paid off. We were able to bring in wonderfully fruity Riesling grapes from our Grosse Lagen (very best sites) at the start of the harvest. With the onset of botrytis in the course of the harvest, must weights reached ripeness levels suitable for Spätlese and Auslese wines, sometimes exceeding 100 degrees Oechsle.

    Because the quantity of completely healthy, fully ripened grapes needed for Grosse Gewächse (our very best dry wines) was limited this year, supplies of these wines will be equally tight.

    In all: despite the media’s negative expectations and prognoses about vintage 2014, preliminary tastings show wines that are very ripe and fruity.

    Join us in celebrating the new vintage. There’s much to look forward to.
  • 2013

    Vintage report

    Start of harvest
    End of harvest
    Total area
    Mosel 45 hl/ha - Saar 24 hl/ha - Ruwer 19 hl/ha
    It was quite an odd year...amid fluctuating temperatures...

    Due to an extremely cold spring, bud burst didn’t take place until the end of April. Thereafter, shoot development and initial growth were normal and/or quite satisfactory. Ongoing cold, wet weather until the end of June delayed blossoming along the Mosel (3 July), Saar (7 July), and Ruwer (10 July). In addition, the development of individual berries within clusters was uneven. Last but not least, hail damage reduced yields on the Ruwer in June.

    From July through August, a long period of very hot and dry weather partially offset delays in growth during spring. In late summer, we still expected a normal harvest even though berries remained small. Grapes in the best sites began to ripen at the end of August.

    Wet weather resumed in autumn. Particularly along the Saar and Ruwer, there was considerable rainfall. Yields declined rapidly in early October when the first berries began to burst. The warm, damp weather fostered the development of botrytis. By 10 October, the first clusters were already infested, whereby the greatest damage was along the Saar and Ruwer. These circumstances led to an additional, extensive reduction in yields.

    This year’s harvest began earlier than planned – on 14 October – and proved to be very complicated and time-consuming. Our core team of local workers was supplemented by our 45 loyal pickers from Romania. They were a tremendous help and enabled us to harvest clusters very selectively.
    In our finest sites, harvesting in several stages is a matter of course. Pickers always have two buckets to simplify separating ripe, healthy grapes from those infested with botrytis as well as to sort grapes of varying degrees of ripeness.
    Extremely low yields not only made this task “easier,” but also explains why the harvest only took two weeks. It was the shortest in the history of our estate.

    Thanks to selective picking, we will be able to offer a relatively good quantity of Kabinett wines in coming months. Nevertheless, given the small volume of grapes available for Spätlese and Grosses Gewächs (only 3,000 liters), supplies will be limited.

    In the Goldtröpfchen site, we were even able to harvest grapes ripe enough (153° Oechsle) to produce a Beerenauslese.


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