Geography: Mosel, Germany
While Dr. Ulrich "Ulli" Stein’s wines are not widely known in the U.S., he has nothing less than a fanatical following in Europe. He could likely sell every last bottle to his friends in Germany alone, yet there are places of some importance, like Noma in Copenhagen, that put in sizable orders for Stein wine. He farms meaningful parcels of land that have a few important things in common: They are not easy to work. They are commercially unknown. And, most importantly, Ulli loves them. In fact, Stein is more than a winemaker – he is a passionate advocate for the traditional, steep, slate vineyards of the Mosel. In 2010, Ulli published a manifesto warning of the threats to the region’s 2000-year-old viticultural tradition. Winemaking with Ulli is refreshingly light on “style,” instead focusing on what the vineyards say to him. Certainly there is a focus on wines that are dry; lightness and zip are more important than gobs of fruit. Complexity is good, but not at the expense of the whole – better to be simple and well done than overdone and, well, a mess. Cut is more important than size.