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Knebel is located in Winningen in the lower Mosel, or the "Terassen" Mosel, where the vineyards are among the steepest and most vertigo-inducing. The family has grown wine grapes in this remote, austerely beautiful location since 1642. Since 2009, Matthias Knebel, the son of Beate and Reinhard Knebel, has been in charge of the winemaking for the dry, off-dry and fruity wines. His mother Beate makes the noble sweet wines (and very well, we might add). Their main vineyard holdings are in Uhlen and Röttgen with smaller parcels in Hamm and Brückstück. Here the vineyards are practically all gray, blue and sometimes red slate with little soil. The vineyards are minimally treated with sulfur and copper only. Approximately 80% of them are terraced; motorized monorails snake up the slopes at angles of more than 70% steepness, transporting workers and materiel. Matthias enjoys terrifying visitors by giving joyrides on these rickety machines!
The grapes are passed by gravity into the pneumatic press often having a brief maceration on skins. No sulfur is used at this stage. Fermentations start spontaneously and most of the wines ferment and age in stainless steel tanks (although Matthias is beginning to experiment with large-format barrels of Austrian acacia).
Five cru wines are produced at Knebel with the best grapes of each vintage: Röttgen, Uhlen, Uhlen R (from a portion of the terrace with red slate called Rothlay), Hamm and Brückstück. After an initial sorting, the secondary selection of grapes from all sites are fermented separately. The tanks that are showing best are then blended together into the Von den Terrassen, and the remainder into the Riesling Trocken. Yields from Knebel's 7ha in 2014 were low at around 30hl/ha (just 20hl/ha in 2013!!), thus the total production here is exceedingly small.
Knebel's wines are particularly graceful and easy on the palate. Very different from the Mittelmosel Rieslings which are generally reductive and more linear in form, the Knebel wines fill the mouth, offering a distinctive richness and full-blooded quality from extended skin contact and generous exposure to oxygen during vinification.
For more information, visit Knebel's website.