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The people behind Fio

People |

Partnership between Philipp Kettern of Lothar Kettern and Dirk (father), Daniel (son) & Marco (son) Niepoort

Focus |

New winery, with an old-fashioned ethos of wines made with time.

Country |


Map of Germany

Region |


Map of the middle Mosel

Village |



Climate |

Cool Continental


  • Defined as very cold winters, hot, short, fairly rainy summers, with long, cool, dry autumns.
  • Until climate change this was the very northern edge of where grapes could ripen fully, but only about 7 out of 10 years.
  • Now: winters are usually not as cold, summers are much hotter, drought is a serious problem 4 or the last 5 years, and autumns start later and are often much wetter than they used to be.
  • The unpredictability is what makes Mosel wines especially vintage sensitive and creates havoc (and high costs!) for winemakers.
  • Cool climate wines are high in acid, low in alcohol, light in body, and often show a lot of mineral flavors rather than fruit.
  • Usually white wines are made, but some light reds, like Pinot Noir can also ripen enough.
  • Warmer vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2015 produce wines with lower acidity, higher alcohols, and richer fruit flavors.
  • Cooler vintages: 2021, 2013, 2010, 2008 produce what are now considered “classic” cool-climate wines
  • 2022 is an enigma. It was hot and very dry for most of the growing season, but rain and long cold fall ended up giving us wines that taste more like “classic” cool-climate wines than rich, ripe wines.

Vineyards |

A collection of vineyards in Piesport and Liewen (where Carl Loewen is based) of old vines, single stake trellising, from steep sites.

  • Piesporter Goldtropfchen: Philipp Kettern’s slice of home. One of the most famous sites in the Mosel along with Bernkastler Doktor and Wehlener Sonnenhur. This perfect, mainly southern exposition amphitheater sucks in the day's heat, for intensely concentrated wines. The majority hillside was replanted in the 90’s but a few choice parcels were kept and Adam has a 700 sqm plot, planted in 1908, ungrafted, of course. Weathered Blue slate, clay, sandstone, these are dark fruited wines that still matter to show a regal, liquid gold like of opulence, balanced with a purity hard to achieve anywhere but the very best vineyards. Even in these warmer vintages Goldtrophchen is proof that terroir trumps all. 

Piesporter Goldtropfchen

Goldtropfchen from the middle of Piesport and Philipp’s balcony

(Goldtropfchen from the middle of Piesport and Philipp’s balcony)

Grape Varieties |

  • Riesling: 
  • The King of White Grapes. 
  • High acid, semi aromatic
  • A huge variation in style potential from very light and dry, sparkling to the most unctuously sweet wines on the planet. 
  • Divisive for its high acidity and sugar retaining capabilities
  • Perfect in its dynamic nature, ability to transmit the slightest nuance of terroir and being capable of aging for hundreds of years. 


  • Pinot Noir: ​​
    • German Pinot Noir wines are vinified as dry red wines with complex cherry aroma with subtle hints of smoke and almond, slight tannins, and high acidity, with a long finish.
    • Had a poor reputation thanks to high yielding, work-horse, clonal material.
    • Now Burgundy clones dominate vineyards for the best producers showcasing this incredible variety's true potential.
Pinot Noir

Farming |

Practicing Organic

  • No herbicides
  • No chemical fertilizers
  • No pesticides
  • Sheep graze the vineyards for weed control
  • All vines are staked in the traditional, single stake method

Cellar Work |

Time, Natural, low intervention

  • They take all the time in the world, needed, for the wines to hit their true potential
  • Almost everything is aged 1-3 years, sometimes more
  • In old neutral barrels
  • On the lees for reduction and stability
  • Most are not filtered
  • Very low amounts of sulfur, sometimes none is needed
  • New cellar, old methods
Inside the cellar

About the winery |

Dirk Niepoort is one of Portugal’s most esteemed winemakers, historians and philosophers. His family is one of the few of Portuguese descent to actually make Port in the Duoro valley, and since the early 1800’s, and was one of the first to start on still red wines as well. He also now has exciting projects in Bairada and Dão, arguably the two most exciting regions in the country for cool climate winemaking.

He’s now known all over the world for his partnerships with winemakers in other regions as well as Austria, Spain (Telmo Rodriguez and Raul Perez), and South Africa. As well as the open partnership wines under the “Nat Cool” labels. They are sulfur free, natural wines, that can be from anyone who wants to follow the hands-off traditional ethos. 

The story of Fio actually starts Dirk’s friendship with the Mosel-master Wilhem Haag, who taught him that wines didn’t need to be rich and powerful to be good. Since then, he’d been on the lookout for the right partnership to try and make wines in the Mosel valley.

Philipp Kettern, is the head of his family winery, Lothar Kettern in Piesport. They’d been farming here for 200 years, and his father had been making wine for decades. In 2009 Philipp took over the estate, which was run very conventionally at the time. Many low-lying, flat sites, a mix of grapes, with the normal conventional agriculture and highly technical winemaking.

As luck would have it, Dirk met Philipp Kettern over a week of wine dinners and classes with collectors in the Virgin Islands. They bonded over their love of Riesling, great wine and the Mosel Valley. But then Dirk, not one to beat around the bush, told Philipp he didn’t want any more of his Lothar Kettern wines, they just weren’t what he wanted out of Mosel Riesling.

Philipps was flabbergasted, but instead of being offended, he took the criticism, and committed to making the changes he knew his winery needed. He wanted to make the types of wines he and Dirk bonded over, but he also knew he couldn’t change his family’s established brand in a day.*

So the two started their own collaboration, along with Dirk’s son’s Marco and Daniel. Fio means thread in Portuguese and there is now a string tying them all together. 

One of their main inspirations was a quote from a very old Riesling wine making manual they found which stated that the best Mosel Rieslings needed 20-30 years in the barrel. It was this gift of time they felt was missing from the Rieslings of today, often bottled within 6, even 3 months of harvest, never being allowed to show their true potential.

What do the wines taste like?

The gift these wines bring is like no other. All steep sites, many very old vines, from incredible vineyards, all natural winemaking, where time is allowed to filter and stabilize the wines. 

They taste like nothing else in the valley. And even though they all have very fun, eye-catching labels, each bottle, each label, each wine tells its own story. There is a playfulness to the non-Riesling wines. The Pet-Nats are some of the best I’ve ever had, more like Champagne or Jacky Blot’s triple zero, than glou-glou. The orange wines are great versions of an often thrown away style.

But sometimes, with the Rieslings, especially the top bottlings,  you have to be patient while you drink them, they need to open up, some need to age further. They are not fruit forward, they are almost all dry, not austere, but sometimes a little stern. 

At the very least I think everyone should try them. They won’t be for the masses, but I’m hard pressed to imagine that there isn’t something for everyone in this line up.

*Philipp has drastically changed the style of his family wines. He’s traded his flat vineyards for those uphill the steepest, coolest sites. Viticulture is now organic and biodynamic practicing, but without the shackles of certification. The focus is on light bodied, elegant Kabinett and Spatlese, with low levels of RS. They are wines that make you smile. I imagine Dirk is very proud.

Wines on Offer | 

Fio, Cabi Sehr Nett Riesling, 2019 ( 3-btl min.) $44.99 $39.59

Fio, Colheitas, NV $69.99 $61.59  

Fio, Fabelhaft Alkohol Free, 2022 $20.99 $18.47

 Quite good with fresh acid, bright fruit, even some mineral notes. Easy to drink with a tart finish and a tiny bit reduction. Only 20 g RS, less than a Kabinet, alcohol removed low pressure distillation vacuum.


Fio, Glou Glou Orange, 2022 $25.99 $22.87

 Reduction, tannic, earthy, orangey, yeasty. A blend of Muller Thurgau and Pinot Blanc. Four weeks on skins, half in stainless steel and half in wood. The idea was to make an easy drinking orange wine that didn’t suck. They succeeded.


Fio, Jo Jo Orange, 2021 $30.99 $27.27

 Higher elevation vineyards. This had a dense clay texture, plenty of ripe peach, some flora notes, with a cooler impression, tighter, more tannic. Four week maceration, ferments semi-carbonically, into a press into a wood barrel. Wanted to make an orange wine that was serious and capable of aging. This needs another year to shed the baby phat and then will be great with food.


Fio, NatCool, NV (1L) $21.99 $19.35

 Green olive juice, briny pickles, lots of reduction, but very high acid, fresh herbs, fresh as the wind, no filtering, all natural from the 2020 and 2021 vintages. Fermentation of 50% whole cluster bunches with 50% juice for a semi carbo style. Really starts to open up after 10 minutes and very quaffable.


Fio, Piu Piu Pet Nat, NV $27.99 $24.63

 A pop or smokey reduction leads to a baked bread, yeasty undertone. Clean and toasty palate with a fresh tart cherry and sprinkle of Pinot spice. Fine prickly mousse, toasty, fresh and a long clean finish. Really interesting method, which contributes to the above average pet-nat. A solera started in 2010 of Pinot Noir makes up ⅓ of the finished blend every year. This is based off of 2019 and 2020 Pinot, aging for 4 and 3 years. Then very low pH, early harvest Riesling, ferments in the coldest part of the cellar, until it tastes right, with just the right amount of RS left. Everything is blended and finishes fermenting for 4-6 months in bottle before disgorgement.


Fio, Piu Piu Pet Nat Rosé, NV $27.99 $24.63

 ★★★ 100% Pinot Noir. Wow, this is really good! My kind of rosé, my kind of pet-nat. The kind where you could just be drinking young, very high quality Champagne, but it doesn’t take itself so seriously. From 2020 and 2021 vintage a mix of fruit from their Piesporter vineyard & a bit purchased from friends who farm like they do. Bubbles are super fine, mousse is so elegant, and the fruit so energetic, like a raspberry with a hot wire running through it. A serious edge of earth, toast, yeast, svelte fine-grained tannin, lacey delicate acid and a long mineral finish.


Fio, Riesling [Trocken], 2015 $64.99 $57.19

 Wow the acid on this baby! From a .8 ha site on Goldtropfchen. Spent at least two years in barrel with no S02 or filtering, then another 3-6 in bottle before release. Dried herbs, dried citrus fruit, crazy acid and structure, with a touch of kernel, but not oxidized, all the slate and elegance comes through with mature riesling flavors and fresh structure of a new wine. Pretty crazy.


Fio, Riesling Fabelhaft [Trocken], 2021 ( 3-btl min.) $20.99 $18.47

Fio, Riesling Falkenberg [Trocken], 2018 ( 3-btl min.) $42.99 $37.83  

Fio, Riesling Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Trocken - Extended Elevage, 2017 $119.99 $105.59

 11% alcohol, really old vines from .8 ha site in on the Goldtropfchen into one 500 L barrel. Only made in the very best vintages with a minimum of five years in barrel. Bottled one week ago. Wow, here we go! This is what I’ve been craving, the sort of purity and depth from the greatest sites. These wines really just all need more time, which is the name of the game here. Red and yellow fruity lies underneath the pure spicy slate notes. Not filtered and no sulfur at all. Squeaky clean and ready for action.


Fio, Riesling Rätzelhaft [Trocken], 2020 ( 3-btl min.) $21.99 $19.35

Fio, Riesling Socalcos [Trocken], 2020 ( 3-btl min.) $30.99 $27.27

Fio, Riesling Teppo [Trocken], 2020 ( 3-btl min.) $27.99 $24.63  

Fio, Urabo [Flor], NV $64.99 $57.19

 Wow, yummy almond, salty flor, excellent acidity, like Fino Sherry in the Mosel, or Fino on Slate. Give me more.