Weingut Fürst - Elbling Sekt
Elbling is the oldest cultivated white grape in Europe. Named “Vitis alba” by the Romans, meaning “white grape”, Elbling was brought to Germany over 2,000 years ago and thrived across the continent from the Middle Ages to the 18thcentury. Its decline started as soon as less expensive varieties came onto the market. Today, Elbling accounts for only 578 hectares in Germany, almost all of which are in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region.
DNA profiling shows that Elbling is the offspring of Gouais Blanc and a cross between Traminer and an unknown varietal. This is the same parentage as Riesling and there are many similarities between the two varieties. Elbling produces wines which are low in sugar, high in acidity and fairly neutral in flavour making them the perfect base for sparkling wine.
In terms of viticulture it is a prolific early ripener and is susceptible to many diseases including powdery and downy mildews, botrytis bunch rot and desiccation of the stems. It’s also at risk from grape moths.
Fürst Elbling Sekt
Style: Extra Brut
Grape Variety/ies: 100% Elbling
The Fürst family have been cultivating their estate in the small town of Metz since the 13th century. Situated on the picturesque border between Germany and Luxembourg, the land was originally given over to farming and housing livestock, but as the centuries progressed so too did the land under vine.
The Sauer valley provides ideal vine-growing conditions with a mild climate and limestone soils. The vines are trellised with wide spaces in between to enable optimum air-flow and ventilation to protect against disease and aid ripening.
Michael Fürst is a third generation winemaker. Aged 16, he began his wine studies and partook in two internships with prestigious winemakers near Trier. By 18, he was ready to join the family business.
Steeply sloping vineyards on slate soils are iconic to the Mosel region of Germany and the Fürst family’s estate is no different, being situated on the Sauer tributary. In the 1970s, Michael’s father made his first bottled wine. In 2006, the Fürst family sold the last of their livestock and began to focus solely on viticulture and oenology. Michael has now been head winemaker for 16 years whilst his sister designs the wine labels and focuses on the marketing side of the business.
The grapes are mechanically harvested in order to react quickly to the precise optimal conditions. Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes are macerated in temperature-controlled vats for up to two days to aid extraction of flavour. A long, slow fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks. Secondary fermentation takes 24 months. Every few months the family gently tilt each bottle and rotate it slightly by hand in a traditional riddling technique.
Appearance: Bright golden tones with quite large prolific bubbles and a long, lasting mousse.
Aromas: Rich, bold and enticing honied lemon and caramel aromas with delicate white floral top notes. Elderflower honey and a gentle orange peel core. A touch of Riesling-esque mineral sweetness.
Palate: An elegant, rich mouthfeel in a very classical style. Crisp tart lemon zest is balanced by silky honied meadow flowers and a wisp of smoky depth. Very well-balanced.
This is a really lovely style of wine and a nice change from Riesling. It’s wonderful to see a family taking such care of their heritage and indigenous varieties.