Egon Muller

Given the fame of this estate now run by the fourth consecutive Egon Müller – not to mention the notoriety of its iconic Scharzhofberg vineyard – it might be argued that neither requires any sort of introduction. But it is still possible to offer some perspective that may strike most readers as novel. Despite rendering only a single wine each year that is sourced neither from the Scharzhofberg nor the Braune Kupp, a wine labeled simply “Scharzhof Riesling,” the Müllers are landholders in four other varyingly prestigious Saar vineyards, all of which inform that one generic bottling: in order of acreage, Saarburger Rausch, Oberemmeler Rosenberg, Wiltinger Kupp and Wiltinger Braunfels. It is also worth noting – as reflected in my assessments of Müller wines over the decades – that the Scharzhof’s sibling estate of Le Gallais and its wines sourced from the steep, riverside Braune Kupp are among Germany’s most impressive, yet suffer unjust neglect no doubt due to their intimate association with the Scharzhof and Scharzhofberg. And speaking of being overshadowed, enormous credit for the continued outstanding quality here is due Egon Müller’s cellarmaster since 2000, Stefan Fobian. Wines other than the Scharzhof Riesling ferment spontaneously in traditional thousand-liter casks, and not only does this apply to those labeled “Kabinett,” but Egon Müller is also keen to emphasize that he treats that term as equivalent to the pre-1971 notion of un-chaptalized “Naturwein” and thus as referring to the mainstay of his production rather than to a specialized and especially delicate category of residually sweet Riesling, the meaning that “Kabinett” has taken on for the vast majority of his fellow Mosel winegrowers.

Among the most remarkable yet generally overlooked aspects of this venerable estate is Egon Müller’s dedication to achieving not only the best possible results from any given vintage but also results that uniquely reflect each growing season. Put that way, my claim may seem like a cliché. Or it might even seem questionable, considering that this estate owes much of its fame to selectively harvested nobly sweet wines. But when one takes a closer look at what Müller’s approach means, vintage by vintage in the glass, one realizes that few winegrowers have the willingness or the wherewithal to so rigorously apply the principles of optimizing both quality and vintage character. DAVID SCHILDKNECHT