Enderle & Moll
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In Germany, many insiders consider Enderle & Moll the country’s single greatest producer of Pinot Noir. That’s a wild claim to be sure, but then you taste the wines and you think to yourself, “…yeah, alright, well maybe…” The wines are that compelling.
Sven Enderle and Florian Moll fly in the face of just about every conventional estate in Baden. It’s hard to emphasize how contrarian (and even confrontational) their vineyard and cellar work appears to the powerful co-ops of the region. These co-ops pursue efficiency, ripeness, size, alcohol, and new oak. The results are rather showy, concentrated wines. Enderle and Moll do not wish to make showy, concentrated wines nor to imitate Burgundy. Their goal is to make fresh, singular Pinot Noir that expresses its terroir and renders the complexity and personality of their old vines grown on Buntsandstein (colored sandstone) and Muschelkalk (limestone). Their wines are transparent and clearly translate the under-appreciated terroir or Baden.
Sven Enderle and Florian Moll met in 2003 when studying to become winemakers. After finishing school and completing apprenticeships in Baden and the south of France, they decided to make their own wines. Enderle & Moll’s first vintage was 2007. Today, they have around 12 different parcels totaling around 1.8 hectares. The vineyards are located in the village of Münchweier, in Baden’s Ortenau region, on the western fringe of the Black Forest, some 60 kilometers southeast of Strasbourg. Their vines are among the oldest Pinot Noir vines in Baden. Most grow in red sandstone (Buntsandstein) of the south-facing Münchweier Kirchhalden Vineyard. They have a small parcel (a mere 0.045 ha) of 60-year-old Pinot Noir planted in shell limestone (Muschelkalk). Sven and Florian have tremendous respect for their vines; all vineyard work is organic and biodynamic and done by hand. Walking through the vineyard, it is easy to see where the Enderle & Moll plots begin and end.
Sven and Florian are hands-off in the cellar. Grapes are crushed in an old wooden basket press and then go into secondhand Burgundian barrels for 12 months. They have a direct line on barrels from Domaine Dujac – the barrels range from one to over five years of age. Most of the reds have a 2-3 week period of maceration/fermentation. All parcels are vinified and aged separately. Around two months before bottling the individual barrels are blended together. Bottling, like everything else, is done by hand. There is no fining, no filtration, and no pumping.
Because they don’t care for the quality criteria for Pinots in Baden—namely the fixation on must weights, Oechsle, and the Prädikat system—they’ve decided to declassify their Pinot Noir as a Tafelwein, or table wine. Florian Moll thinks it foolish to automatically equate higher Oechsle levels with better quality and that doing so often leads to overripe, high-alcohol wines with lots of extract and a shortage of acidity and delicacy. Declassification legally disallows their right to put the single-vineyard Münchweier Kirchladen on the label. Instead they name the wines after the differing soil types red sandstone (Buntsandstein) and shell limestone (Muschelkalk). The ‘Muschelkalk’ Pinot and the ‘Buntsandstein’ Pinot are the estate’s two “grand crus.” The ‘Liaison,’ a sort of middle-wine-premier-cru-style, is a blend from younger vines (45 years) in the grand cru sites. The ‘Basis’ is from the youngest vines around 30 years old.
The Pinot Noirs are masculine, broad-shouldered, powerful Pinots. Yet, they are also wildly detailed, bright, energetic, ethereal, and satiny. Thus the mystery, the beauty, and yes, all the buzz. If you appreciate Burgundy, then these wines are worth checking out. Not because they taste like Burgundy, as they don’t, but because they share a similar aesthetic of lightness matched to intensity, filtered through soil.
While the red wines have established the reputation of the estate, the white wines are getting better and better every year. The white wines are textural and complicated, yet also elegant.