Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof

There are many who would make the case that the Scharzhofberg vineyard is the very best riesling estate in Germany. A steep south-facing slate slope in a side valley just off the Saar river, it has excellent drainage and warms quickly in what is a relatively cool location. Here the riesling grape ripens slowly and evenly to develop wonderful concentration and complexity.

Egon Müller IV took over the stewardship of his family's share of this famous estate from his father in 1991. Born in 1959, he comes from a long, long line of winemakers there, dating back to 1797 when Müller's great-great grandfather Jean-Jacques Koch bought the land from the Republique Francais who, at that time, occupied the Electorate of Trier.

The winemaking philosophy is one of minimal intervention. Egon Müller, like many a winemaker intent on producing the very best wine they can, believes that quality can only be created in the vineyard. He harvests late, unsurprisingly by hand given the precipitous slope, with a team of forty pickers who each carries two baskets - one for the healthy grapes and one for grapes infected with botrytis which will go to make superb sweet wines. Each parcel is vinified separately, and fermentation in old 1,000-litre fuders can carry on into January. The wine then matures in the Fuders until March at which point it is bottled. Though this is relatively early to bottle, Egon wants to capture the freshness of the wines and he says that they drink beautifully for the first three years before closing up a little for a further ten. The structure and complexity to allow them to mature even further has been provided by the site and Egon Müller's care, and the longevity of the estate's wines is legendary.

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