With a label that looks like a vintage ad for Mosel Airways and a name that sounds like Robert Plant’s retirement gig when he’s not touring with Alison Kraus, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Max Ferdinand Richter is some faux hipster winemaker more interested in marketing than in producing wine of any real consequence. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
If the label seems to convey a sense of history and nostalgia, that’s because this estate has, well…history: It’s been passed from father to son for 300 years, with the 9th generation of the Richter family currently at the helm (and Dirk will soon pass the reins to his son Constantin). And while I’ve already made multiple requests for a poster-size print of the perfectly vintage label to hang prominently in my home, the artwork it features is more than just kitsch. Instead, it’s a nod to the history of the wine being poured in the luxurious restaurant on the airship “Graf Zeppelin” in the 20s and 30s (it was even poured on the Hindenburg!), with artwork designed by local painter and member of the famous Bauhaus movement, Hans Schlösser.
Beyond the label, this is serious stuff, made of fruit with outrageous pedigree. The Mülheimer Sonnenlay vineyard sits nestled in a dry riverbed valley, formed during the last ice age 250,000 years ago, which until that time was the original bed of the Mosel river. Farmed sustainably, entirely by hand, and with the respect that 300 years of tradition affords, this is equal parts charming summer crusher and elegantly textured, nuanced stuff (aka the kind of wine that Riesling fanatics, myself very much included, lose their minds over). A touch off-dry to balance that electric Mosel acidity and densely packed mineral core, the palate is a delicate interplay of lemon verbena, green apple skin, lime leaf, and ripe white peach.
The first line of my notes on first tasting seem to sum things up quite neatly: "So good. Just perfect. Don't want to stop drinking. I love Riesling.”