(From left to right, Nikalas, Ute, Thomas & Lara)
Thomas Haag (Father), Ute Haag (Mother), Lara Haag (Daughter), Nikalas Haag (Son)
Rieslings from Grand Cru sites with a focus on purity and low manipulation techniques for very long aging.
- 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.
220 different vineyards 30 ha, all Grand Cru sites
- Graach: A unique village and set of vineyards downriver from Wehlen on the right bank of the river. It has the same blue Devonian slate as its neighbors but a layer of loam for more water retention. There are also natural springs under the hill providing water to the vines, even in the driest of years. It is set a little further back than some of the other villages making it slightly cooler as well. There is a very specific flavor profile from these sites, an earthy-peach note that comes through in the wine no matter the producer. Home to Willi Schaefer.
- Himmelreich: fruity, charming, delicate and elegant, more easy going.
- Domprobst: Darker, herbs, darker fruit, earthier, takes longer to open up, ages even longer.
- Brauneburger Juffer: Decomposed Devonian slate. Usually lighter, more delicate wines, similar to Wehlen but they tend to open up and come around sooner.
- Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr: Decomposed Devonian slate; the “filet” piece of the Juffer
- Wehlener Sonnenuhr: Blue devonian slate soils and a continuation of the Zeltinger Sonnenhur. The same steep slopes in most places, same altitude, same rocky meager stop soil. Different sundial. These can be some of the most gossamer, intriguing and yet perfectly fruity wines in the world. Home to J.J. Prum.
- Piesporter Goldtropfchen: 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.
- Bernkastler Doktor: An iconic 3.2 ha vineyard in the Mosel, Schloss Lieser leases some parcels from this impossible to buy site. Composed of blue & gray slate.
- Lieser Niederberg Helden: Decomposed, soft slate with deeper soils
Grape Varieties |
- 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.
Sustainable, Practicing Organic in some vineyards
- Working towards fully organic viticulture
- Need more manpower, as Lara and Thomas spend more time at the winery, there are more hands to make the work.
- Will spray fungicides if absolutely necessary
- Harvest cant take 4-8 weeks as each parcel is picked 3-4 times for ripeness and perfect quality levels
Cellar Work |
Low Intervention, Reductive
- Low yields, mostly from old vine sites
- Very light pressing and no skin contact for very light pure wines
- Sedimentation after press, so clear juice goes into the fermentation tanks
- Spontaneous fermentation always
- Can take 6-10 weeks, but will allow it to go as long as it takes to happen, very complex wines
- First racking after fermentation into stainless steel tanks on fine lees
- Will use some old wood barrels in cool years
- Matures as long as it needs to 3-18 months normally, tasted every day until Thomas feels it is ready.
- Racked and settled again a few more months.
- No fining, filtering
- Very little sulfur needs as wines are reductive and have had a lot of time to stabilize
About the winery |
One man (and a woman) gives up his birthright to revive a historical name becoming the greatest estate in the Mosel, along with Egon Muller in the Saar. This is a story worth knowing.
This 119 year old winery is in its heyday thanks to Thomas Haag. Established in 1904 by Freiherr von Schorlemer, who had a stunning collection of 100 acres all along the Mosel and Saar Valley. He used the famous neo-Renaissance castle built in 1875 as his winery and press house.
The whole operation was sold in 1970, changed hands several times, and spent the next 25 years falling into decline. Most of the vineyards were sold off and the wines came to have a very poor reputation. But in 1992 Thomas Haag was hired as the head winemaker and director, with only 6 hectares and 1 Grand Cru site left, but since then their fortunes have been on the rise.
Five years later he bought the place with Ute, his wife, and they’ve been investing heavily with 24 hectares of all the best Grand Cru sites in the Middle Mosel now represented. The castle is owned and operated by Marriot, but they live and work right next door in a 100 year old stone compound.
Thomas Haag is the first born son of Fritz Haag, a very well respected winemaker in the valley. Thomas was expected to take over as was his birthright, but when Fritz retired in 2004, Thomas wasn’t ready to give up on all the hard work he’d put into the estate. His brother Oliver took over the family domaine and now there are two Haags each with a legacy of their own.
Now Lara, Thomas’s daughter has taken over the business side of things, and son Nikalas has finished at Geisenheim to help his father with operations. With this much talent and dedication, Schloss Lieser looks set to have another 100 years to look forward to.
What do the wines taste like?
Light and sharp, chiseled but not jagged, with fruit, but dominated by minerality. They feel unpolished, alive, real, but so silky and elegant. These are unique wines, with a reductive purity, a little locked up in their youth but with whispers and promises of very long lives ahead of them.
Really magnificent craftsmanship, site specific, complex and intense.
Wines on Offer |
Schloss Lieser, Niederberg Helden Auslese, 2022 $61.99 $54.55
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Feinherb, 2021 $37.99 $33.43
AP number 07 22. Creamy flirtation – caresses the palate like a feather. Great balance in this off-dry wine. Purity on the finish but perhaps too traditional for some palates? 16.5 pts -- Jancis Robinson, MW
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Feinherb, 2022 $37.99 $33.43
Lemon laser beams, floral yellow flowers, blue slate, light, fine, delicate, yellow sunshine, juicy just picked off the tree, red berries, violet candies. Spherical, like a globe, with the Earth, water, and air swirling together, dense center, wispy edges, citrus ripe lemon. 10% abv.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Brauneburger Juffer Kabinett, 2022 $35.99 $31.67
😀Much more flinty, matchstick, sulfuric, yellow again like sunshine and daisies plus, violets, potpourri and berries. Juicy Fruit gum and grandma perfume. How to not love this? 2.95 to 3.1 pH.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Estate Feinherb, 2022 $23.99 $21.11
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Estate Kabinett, 2022 $30.99 $27.27
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Estate Trocken, 2022 $21.99 $19.35
★★Lemon-lime sprite, slate, yeast, water, salt, a whole lot of wine for very little money. 11% very hot just before harvest, cooled down and the rain came. Bottled end of April.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Juffer Grosses Gewächs, 2022 $67.99 $59.83
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Juffer Sonnenuhr Grosses Gewächs, 2022 $71.99 $63.35
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Juffer Sonnenuhr Spätlese, 2022 $40.99 $36.07
From a parcel in the center of Hill, warm for ripe fruit, but so stony for crazy minerality. 7% abv and no botrytized berries. Dense, purple, regal, a great balance and slightly sponti. A super light, pretty Spätlese with the texture of a Kabinett. LIke purple glitter.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Niederberg Helden Auslese Goldkapsel, 2022 $86.99 $76.55
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Niederberg Helden Feinherb, 2022 $37.99 $33.43
13 g/l residual sugar, 10% abv (both low for feinherb). Mint, tarragon, licorice and citrus. First thing to drink while GG’s are aging. Pair, cut grass, menthol toothpaste. These are all so light and chiseled but not jagged. lovely, airy fruit, green Tic Tacs, long finish.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Niederberg Helden Grosses Gewächs, 2022 $71.99 $63.35
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Niederberg Helden Kabinett, 2022 $35.99 $31.67
Yum. Very precise and focused, slightly sponti, blackberry raspberry, deep, dark lemon soil, slate, salty chocolate peanut butter. That sponti wild yeast aroma tends to show up when the wines are young and from a cooler more mineral driven vintage. It will blow off with some time in the bottle.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Niederberg Helden Spätlese, 2022 $39.99 $35.19
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Niederberg Heldenstuck Trocken, 2022 $37.99 $33.43
Intensity turned up a notch. Burnt match, crackers, lime, slate, more stone than fruit. First time for a “Village” wine, between the estate and GG bottling. From a selection of grapes below the GG on the hill, 30 to 45 years old, like a “baby GG”. Bottled end of April 12% abv.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Feinherb, 2022 $37.99 $33.43