It is in times like this when we wish for a cure, a remedy and a “magical” solution to all our plaguing problems. Modern days bless us with technology and advanced medical science – towards that we sincerely wish that medical experts and doctors worldwide will soon gain better knowledge of this mysterious virus and have the situation contained. Hundreds of years back, legends and stories often told of the role of religious faith and “magical” happenings that brought people from illness back to health. One of such happening took place 660 years ago in the year 1360 in Late Middle Age Germany. A winegrower “magically” cured a seriously ill Bishop by presenting to him a keg of his best wine. The Bishop swiftly recovered and sought to reward the winegrower. Legend had it that the winegrower only asked for the vineyard where the wine came from be named Doctor. This Doctor vineyard lies in the heart of the town of Bernkastel in Mosel Valley, Germany.
Today, this 3.27 hectare tiny vineyard continues to raise some of Germany’s finest Riesling. The sheer quality of the vineyard was recognized not only by folklore but also modern history. In year 1900, a vintner acquired some parts of Bernkasteler Doctor at a mindblowing ~25 million euros per hectare (revalued to today’s standard)! Today, this 3.27 hectare, highly prized vineyard was shared by 2 classic producers: Weingut Wegeler and Dr Thanisch. 4 other wineries also made some wines from it now: Lauerburg, Markus Molitor, Schloss Lieser, and lastly the charity Heilig-Geist Armenspende.
The vineyard, locating on the steeper side of the town of Bernkastel-Kues, faces south to southwest. The vineyard begins at 125 metres and extended upwards at a gradient of 60% to 200 metres. The soil comprises of weathered slate and deep stone-loam-schist soil. Specifically, the age of slate goes all the way back to the Devonian period (400 million years ago). In addition of the superiority and great history of the vineyard site itself, the vineyard’s guardians, namely the two classic producers, have done an admirable job maintaining the vines. Weingut Wegeler, owner of 34% of Bernkasteler Doctor, has been able to keep all “Doctor” Riesling vines at an average age of 80 years old, with some reaching over 100 years, mostly in ungrafted conditions.
We are not saying that drinking one of these Bernkasteler Doctor rieslings is going to cure us of any mysterious diseases we may fall prey to in modern days. However, given the sheer quality and complexity of Rieslings from this special site, enjoying a bottle of Bernkasteler Doctor will surely cheer just about anyone up.
For those who’d like to explore more than just one prized site from Mosel, these other two are right up there on top charts, very much thanks to the excellent Riesling crafting skills of the father-and-daughter duo Dr Manfred and Dr Katharina Prum. The two vineyards worthy of special mention are Wehlener Sonnenuhr (Sundial of Wehlen) and Graacher Himmelreich (Heaven’s Reign of Graach). Wehlener Sonnenuhr is generally remarked for its expansive, generous amount of fruit with underlying fine slatey perfume. Graacher Himmelreich, on the other hand, is known for its lifted, ballerina-like refined fresh fruit profile, with a pronounced crushed stone mineral backbone.
In dark days like these, happiness is certainly an essential supplement, even if it is not the ultimate cure. Let that be the reason why we should drink, and make a toast to great Rieslings!