Mosel: The Next Generation
New releases from Philip Lardot, Ulli Stein's heir-apparent
The future of Mosel wine is unclear. Though it's reputation is held to the highest esteem by yours truly, it's seen as old-fashioned in Germany, a region making wines for ones grandparents. And while opinions of fashionable wine drinkers in Berlin are fleeting, there is a longer history of Mosel sites being shunned by scions of the region itself, as young people are more likely to choose an office job in tech in Cologne than they are to take over a lifetime of backbreaking manual labor in steep vineyards for low pay and questionable glamour.
Luckily there is Philip Lardot, a Mosel transplant born in Finland and raised in Amsterdam who loves the work and the wines that come from it. After working for Bernard Baudry, Henri Milan, and Clemens Busch, Lardot landed with the wily Ulli Stein, who liked Philip's outsider status and his lack of a formal winemaking degree. While Lardot is Stein's right-hand-man and the heir-apparent to Ulli's truly special estate, he is also making his own wines. Though he of course makes Riesling, we just got a new drop of his Müller-Thurgau "Kontakt" with skin maceration and a Pinot Gris made like a light red. I'm really into these. They are a refreshing, and much-needed, pair of wines to bring the Mosel's charms to another generation. The impressive thing is that they still show off racy energy and minerals: the Mosel's calling card. This is not an example of natural wine style over substance. But you can chill and chug these nevertheless.
At a time when we're all adjusting our palates and what we think of as typical for a region — climate change and natural winemaking have shaken things up quite a bit — it's crucial to have figures like Lardot who care deeply about a region's history but can simultaneously pivot and bring a fresh perspective.
I got to visit Philip in the Mosel right before he released his first vintage and it was clear he was on to something. With this third release, I can see he is developing a potent ability to combine his devotion to the Mosel with a winemaking style that is transcendent and delicious on a primal level. He's tapped into the region's fundamental strengths while escaping the baroque trappings of your grandparent's Mosel. I mean, my grandfather was almost strictly a Miller High Life guy, but I like to imagine he'd enjoy crushing a bottle of Phil's "Kontakt" just as much.