I have wanted to taste the wines of Julian Haart for several years. Flicking through a newsletter from Mosel Fine Wines is always an informative experience, but it can be hard to tear yourself away from the familiar and famous names. I now have a rule that I rigidly apply to self; read what you don’t know first. I’m already familiar with many wine producers of the Mosel, and its remarkable that such a classic, established and lets be honest, incomparably great wine region can still throw up new producers, wine styles and emerging icons.
Speaking of icons, Julian has worked with Klaus Peter Keller, Rheinhard Lowenstein (Heyman-Lowenstein), Werner Schonleber (Emrich-Schonleber) and Egon Muller, before his own domaine’s beginning in 2010. Curiously, if you are to benchmark Julian’s wines against his mentors, in particular those of Klaus Keller, with whom he shares a warm friendship, the twin threads of influence and independence are certainly evident when tasting the wines. All producers exist within a context and I have not found a better example for comparison. Comparisons of styles and where they differ, but also differences of vineyard resources and where they fit into the complex dynamics of German wine.
Vineyards and Beginnings
Julian’s accrual began in the village of Wintrich, purchasing in 2010 a small parcel of 50 year old vines in the Grosse Lage vineyard of Ohligsberg. The site is steep, even by Mosel’s standards, and as the vineyard rises away from the river, it becomes cooler. The aspect is west to south west and the soil is blue and grey weathered slate. The darker soils are a valuable store of heat, and I find the wines of Ohligsberg, particularly the further up the slope, have cooler, more intense fruit profiles, coupled with a chewier texture. Presumably, the skins are slightly thicker here, with some potentially terrific results from producers who wish to extract texture and muscle.
The addition. in 2011, of the Grosse Lage sites of Schubertslay and Goldtropfchen, brings Julian’s total holdings to a minuscule 3 hectares. They are, however, very special parcels indeed. Schubertslay is a tiny Grosse Lage, about half a hectare, and warm due to the stone walls terracing the site. Some of the oldest vines in the Mosel are here, and Julian’s plot of vines is over 100 years old and un-grafted. Julian has, however, swapped the management of this site with none other than Klaus Peter Keller of the Rheinhessen. In return, Julian manages and produces a wine from the Grosse Lage Frauenberg. Schubertslay is a great, great vineyard, but because of its size and the difficulty of working the site it is almost unknown. Until Keller got hold of it!
Goldtropfchen is huge in comparison to Schubertslay. 70 hectares of grandeur, with many owners and growers. It too is a warm site, but its size, multiple owners, varying gradients, aspect and soils, makes for great differences. The Clos du Vourgeot of the Mosel. Unlike the Clos du Vourgeot however, Goldtropfchen is an extremely consistent vineyard, with a great many excellent producers and examples. It is a warm site, that performs extremely well in cool vintages and drought years. The soils are denser than many Mosel vineyards, ensuring radiant heat and water retention. For me, Goldtropfchen makes broad, generous wines, with abundant citrus, orchard and exotic fruits. I will talk more on the generalities we accord to vineyards later.
Lastly, we have a vineyard, that is not in the Mosel at all, but the Rheinhessen. Frauenberg, in the village of Florsheim, is planted to both Riesling and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir). The soils are rich and deep in comparison to their Mosel counterparts and contain limestone and Marl. Frauenberg’s aspect is south east, profiting greatly from the sun’s gifts. The vineyard performs well in drought, due to the richer soils, and despite its excellent exposition, the vineyard is buffeted by cold winds, lengthening the ripening period with the consequent effect of thicker skins. Frauenberg’s rieslings are about power and texture, with a fascinating interplay of cooler citrus and orchard fruits, threaded with texture, herbs and spice. The best Frauenberg’s provide a very complete vinous experience due to their size, complexity, presence and complexity of flavours. Utterly different from Julian’s Mosel offerings.
Wine professionals and wine lovers in general, are apt to cast generalisations of vineyard characteristics which, if we are talking in generalities, are largely true. Equally important, however, is the hand and craft of the producer – their dedication, in other words, to producing the most tremendous wine any given vineyard may offer. We must also consider the producers preferences of style; which may be in keeping with the traditions of an estate, a winemakers interpretation of what they think a vineyard should taste and feel like, a pragmatic response to the vagaries of critic scores and fashion, or most purely, a wine style that the producer loves for themselves. For it is this last factor that encourage a person from the roots of their emotions to an immensity of effort, self criticism and fastidiousness, from which the finest wines are born.
Julian Haart’s wines certainly share stylistic similarities with the wines of Keller. The Pradikat wines, from Kabinett to Auslese, possess ripe, succulent fruit and precise, integrated acidity. Indeed, this for me is what benchmarks the best Rieslings of these styles; luxurious fruit, tertiary complexity from flavours such as herbs, mint, earth and the essential cutting acidity. The palate, forever fresh and buoyant, never tipping into the realm of ‘blousiness’. This can only come about from the most particular viticultural practices; vines bathed in the atoms of sunshine and bunches cooled by leaf. Another feature of all his wines, is the precision of flavours. I am not sure how this occurs, but the flavour profile of these wines is vivid and if I can put it another way, ordered. You’re not left sitting with your nose in the glass, straining for epithets and qualifications. The information comes quickly and succinctly.
The dry wines are different altogether, as they should be, and they share with the Pradikat wines a sense of completeness. Rich, unctuous and generous with ripe acids and a delicious chewiness. Some extraction from skins is becoming more and more common with Riesling producers all over, but rarely have I found such a degree of extracted perfection.The skin’s spice and herbs are a fine detail, but not a dominant feature. Volume, presence and amplitude of fruits, with a complex woven structure of texture and precise acidity.
Wine without feeling might be all very well, but I would hardly go to the effort of writing this if the wines of Julian Haart hadn’t stirred a pot of excitement. They are wines of contemporary classicism, with their brightness of fruit, clinical precision and filigreed tension. They seem to me to possess the intensity of feeling of a Clemens Busch and the formal mastery of Joh.Jos. Prum. I am not a forecaster of futures, but if I were to imagine the times ahead, I would very much argue that the wines of Julian Haart will be amongst the icons of the world.