Before I left for Germany last year, my friend Collin -- an enthusiastic and passionate importer of German wines -- would not shut up about Philip Lardot, the man who has recently been tapped as heir to Ulli Stein. I want very badly for someone to continue the work of the aging Dr. Stein -- but, come on, those are huge shoes to fill. Stein is a scientist, an eccentric philosopher, and a renegade winemaker all in one. Who could match this? Ulli and his wife have no children, and the clock was ticking for Ulli to find someone to take his historic and infamously challenging vineyards into the next generation.
In August 2018 I finally met Philip, and Collin's enthusiasm made sense; it was immediately apparent that Stein's legacy is safe in Philip's careful, determined hands. However, the real surprise was Philip's winemaking side project. He may just be the most innovative and refreshing voices in the Mosel, and we're incredibly excited to be the first store in NYC to feature this tiny side project.
Philip is not from Germany, let alone the venerated Mosel. Born in Finland and raised in Amsterdam, he didn't study winemaking at Geisenheim like most of the Mosel's best and brightest. Instead, he worked stints with Clemens Busch, Bernard Baudry, and Henri Milan before returning to the Mosel. Philip's outsider status and openness to new ideas was likely appealing to Ulli Stein, and they have been working together since 2016.
While working for Ulli, Philip found time to lease and work a few parcels of his own vines. From these he produced this first batch of natural wines that transcend the trendy categories and actually capture the Mosel in an exciting new way. Philip will use small amounts of sulfur if necessary to express the wine and the place as he feels it. In the Mosel, using these levels of sulfur is still very rare, so there are few very other wines to even compare to Philip's, which is one reason they are so exciting. They don't taste like Ulli Stein's wines, either, which is oddly reassuring. Maybe that's because it's proof Philip is retaining his own heart and soul in his wines while internalizing the brains of Dr. Stein. Quite the combination.
Given that this is the first vintage for Philip, the future looks pretty damn bright -- for Ulli Stein as well as the whole Mosel region. Hopefully we'll see more of Philip's wines in the US next vintage, but for now, this may be your only chance to taste these, so act fast.
Pinot Gris with nine days on the skins, from trellised vines in the Piesporter Falkenberg. The skin contact adds a stony crunch to the wine, and brings out more earth and umami. Almost resembles a still Pet-Nat, with notes of strawberry daiquiri, clove, and mint. This is not like any other skin contact wine or any other Mosel wine out there. This transcends the trend of "orange" wine and employs the Mosel's nervy finesse to great success. 16 g/L sulfur added.