The Mosel produces some of the world\u2019s most iconic wines. It\u2019s a region that incites fervor among sommeliers, critics and collectors alike.\r\n\r\nBut among wine-loving Americans, it\u2019s often pigeonholed into staid stereotypes. The Mosel conjures images of ancient castle towns and quaint village scenes. Its wines, sold in ubiquitous long necked bottles made from green glass, are often conceived as easy, sweet and fruity.\r\n\r\nA closer look at the Mosel, however, reveals a land and range of wines that are much more diverse and dynamic.\r\n\r\nThe nearly 22,000 acres of vines that span the region yield wines that extend from the most familiar to the exceptionally unique. Beyond the cheerfully sweet whites with which it\u2019s often associated, the Mosel produces extraordinary white, red and sparkling wines of varying styles and varietal composition.\r\n\r\nVineyards here have been painstakingly studied and cultivated since the Romans first established winemaking in the area. Yet, despite that, the unique terroir continues to spark discovery and renewal. It\u2019s a region that embraces tradition but also the challenges of evolution.\r\n\r\nLed by an eccentric old guard and an entrepreneurial generation of emerging winemakers, the modern Mosel deserves a new spotlight.\r\n\r\n\r\nInimitable Terroir\r\nThe Mosel wine region is a serpentine stretch of vineyards and medieval villages that winds along the Mosel River and its tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer. Originating in France, the river meets Germany at a border shared with Luxembourg, then travels 150 miles northeast before it converges with the Rhine.\r\n\r\nAt about 50 degrees north latitude, this is one of the northernmost winemaking regions in the world. But warming effects of the Gulf Stream, combined with jaggedly steep slopes and river valleys, form an environment suitable for quality winegrowing.\r\n\r\nWhile the Mosel boasts a historic diversity of wine production, 62% of its vines are devoted to Riesling. It\u2019s also one of the rare regions where the variety expresses itself in a brilliant spectrum of styles. Here, Riesling varies from lusciously sweet to bone dry and everything in between, though often with similar, well-defined minerality and acidic tension.\r\n\r\nThese styles can also differ in weight and texture, from lithe, dry trocken wines to zippy, barely sweet halbtrocken (half-dry) or feinherb bottlings and fruity, sweet kabinett or auslese. Almost nowhere else can Riesling ice wine, or eiswein, made from grapes frozen on the vine, and beerenauslese or trocken\u00adbeerenauslese, crafted from botrytized grapes, be produced on a consistent basis.\r\nAuthentically Mosel \u2014 Sweet or Dry?\r\nThe sweet, simple wines often associated with the Mosel are just one facet of the region\u2019s winemaking legacy.\r\n\r\nThough the region has a long history of dry-wine production along with fruity wines that contain residual sugar, its sweet, mass-produced offerings were popularized after World War II.\r\n\r\nMore recently, German consumers have exhibited a preference for dry wines, which triggered a revival of similar selections from the Mosel. According to Ernst Loosen, owner and winemaker at Dr. Loosen, these bottlings have been less known globally because they were consumed almost entirely in Germany.\r\n\r\nNik Weis, winemaker and owner of Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof, says that sweetness, like fashion, swings on a pendulum. When he began working at his family winery back in 1997, 90% of the wines produced were sweet. He now crafts almost equal proportions of dry and sweet wines.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere\u2019s an increasing demand, particularly among younger consumers, for kabinett again,\u201d says Weis. Kabinett-level wines are not necessarily sweet, but balanced and racy, with just a touch of residual sugar.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s a shift that Weis finds heartening. \u201cIt wouldn\u2019t be good for the Mosel to produce 90% dry wines because at that point, the Mosel just becomes interchangeable,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Red Rising\r\nBeyond Riesling, the Mosel offers a range of wines that continue to evolve. In recent years, red-wine production, once banned, is a category that has experienced a renaissance.\r\n\r\nUlrich Stein, winemaker and owner of Stein, is known as a stalwart traditionalist. He produces Riesling from ancient vines planted on the steepest, most perilous vineyard in the world, and his persistent efforts to revive Sp\u00e4tburgunder, the local name for Pinot Noir, led to repeal of the ban on red-wine production in 1986, which had been in effect for nearly 50 years.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn the 19th century, 15% of the region was planted with red grape varieties,\u201d says Stein. \u201cIn the Middle Ages, over 50% of the grapes were red.\u201d\r\n\r\nToday, red varieties, led by Sp\u00e4tburgunder, compose almost 10% of the region\u2019s vineyards. Stein named his zippy Pinot \u201cRedvolution\u201d and introduced regional anomalies like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well. His focus will always be on the \u201cracy and mineral Rieslings typical for our region,\u201d he says, yet, \u201cwe also love exploring other new or old styles.\u201d\r\nRecommended Dry White Wines\r\nDr. Loosen 2016 Graacher Himmelreich Alte Reben Dry Riesling GG (Mosel); $54, 95 points. While the nose is subtle here, suggesting faint whiffs of crushed slate and lime, exuberantly concentrated grapefruit and tangerine flavors await on the palate. Medium bodied and dry, yet silky and penetrating, it finishes long with invigorating strikes of minerals and grapefruit bitters. It's a lovely wine already but likely to improve through 2030. Loosen Bros. USA. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\nZilliken 2016 Rausch Riesling GG (Mosel); $80, 95 points. Light bodied and nimble, this zesty dry Riesling seems initially quite demure. It's delicately perfumed with just a hint of blossom, and its fruit profile is understated, suggesting crisp yellow-apple and cantaloupe flavors. But it's a silk-textured wine that should develop in concentration and richness with time. Hold till 2021 and enjoy for many years further. Rudi Wiest Selections. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nReinhold Haart 2016 Piesporter Goldtr\u00f6pfchen Riesling GG (Mosel); $65, 94 points. Mineral intensity and textural richness are the foundations of this dry, intensely steely Riesling. Its fruit profile is restrained, offering bracing concentrated hits of lemon, green apple and lime. The palate is rich and silky yet deft, lingering with a firm phenolic grip. It's a taut nervy wine to hold back till 2023 and enjoy for years. Rudi Wiest Selections. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nDr. H. Thanisch (Erben M\u00fcller-Burggraef) 2016 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Trocken GG (Mosel); $35, 93 points. Smoke and slate mingle into luscious peach and pineapple in this lithe yet concentrated dry Riesling. Piercing lemon-lime acidity and honed strokes of steel build a feeling of tension on the palate with each sip. Gorgeous already but likely to intensify in complexity through 2030. Winesellers, Ltd.\r\n\r\n\r\nRecommended Off-Dry White Wines\r\nMaximin Gr\u00fcnh\u00e4user 2017 Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett Grosse Lage (Mosel); $34, 94 points. The nose offers more spice and mineral than fruit here, but the palate introduces layer upon layer of juicy white grapefruit, lemon and tangerine. It\u2019s joyfully semisweet, yet bracing in acidity. This is an ethereally light yet concentrated wine to enjoy now\u20132028. Loosen Bros. USA. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\nEgon M\u00fcller 2015 Scharzhof Riesling (Mosel); $54, 94 points. While feather light in stature, this semisweet Riesling stuns with intensity. From nose to finish, dark earth tones and luminous stone fruit and cherry flavors meld seamlessly. It\u2019s intensely ripe, almost tropical in tone, but an electric tang of acidity and minerality keeps it rooted firmly in the Mosel. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\nDr. Pauly Bergweiler 2017 Berncasteler alte Badstube am Doctorberg Old Vines Riesling Kabinett (Mosel); $27, 91 points. Dark shades of earth, candle wax and pollen lend nuance to fresh, primary white grapefruit, peach and apricot in this forward but nuanced Kabinett. Delicately off dry in style, it's a penetrating, juicy wine offset by racy acidity. Enjoy now\u20132024. Enjoy now\u20132024. Winesellers, Ltd.\r\n\r\nSt. Urbans-Hof 2017 Nik Weis Wiltinger Riesling Kabinett (Mosel); $21, 91 points. Ethereal yet deeply penetrating, this light-footed wine offers layers and layers of yellow peach, apricot and tangerine intensity. It's luminous and ripe yet racy and lip-smacking, finishing on smoky notes of slate and crushed mineral. A powerful, electric Kabinett to enjoy now through 2028. HB Wine Merchants. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\nConsidering Climate Change\r\nWhile climate change poses threats around the world, the warmer, longer growing seasons here have been largely a boon, helping winegrowers in the cooler extremes of the region who have historically struggled to ripen their grapes.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn my grandfather\u2019s generation, people were happy if they got three or four ripe vintages in a decade because the other three to five vintages could be disasters,\u201d says Loosen.\r\n\r\n\u201c[Difficult vintages] would produce dry wines that were thin and acidic,\u201d says Weis. Today\u2019s riper harvests have produced higher-quality wines with greater consistency. Higher potential alcohol levels also facilitate the production of drier, fuller-bodied wines.\r\n\r\nWarmer temperatures endanger classic wines that are dependent on cold weather.\r\n\r\nClimate change is not without peril, however. According to Loosen, it\u2019s increased erratic, unpredictable events like spring rains, devastating hailstorms and new disease threats.\r\n\r\nWarmer temperatures also endanger classic wines that are dependent on cold weather, like eiswein, and zesty, low-alcohol feinherb and kabinett bottlings.\r\n\r\nAdditionally, many winemakers consider racy, light-bodied Rieslings central to both their production and the Mosel\u2019s identity as a whole. And as hotter, riper vintages become the norm, \u201cproduction of these wines is increasingly difficult,\u201d says Stein, who relies on the style.\r\n\r\nRather than resorting to manipulations like acidification or abandoning a trademark style, Stein is determined\u00ad to adapt.\r\n\r\n\u201cOne just has to work a bit harder in both the vineyard and the cellar,\u201d he says.\r\nRecommended Sweet White Wines\r\nFritz Haag 2017 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese Grosse Lage (Mosel); $44, 97 points. Intensely ripe aromas of pineapple and blossom perfume this exuberantly sweet auslese. It's a stunningly concentrated, intoxicating wine, laden with sweet honey and stone-fruit flavors balanced by streaks of zippy lime acidity. Fresh and primary now, it is nuanced enough to gain complexity for decades to come. Loosen Bros. USA. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\nJoh. Jos. Pr\u00fcm 2017 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese (Mosel); $33, 94 points. Silken layers of honey and tropical fruit burst from this light-footed yet powerfully fruity Auslese. It\u2019s lip-smackingly sweet and palate clinging but balanced zestfully by streaks of lime and lemon. Spicy mineral tones and hints of chestnut-pith linger long on the finish. It\u2019s a lovely wine already but likely to meld and improve through 2035. Valckenberg International, Inc.\r\n\r\nSchloss Lieser 2016 Thomas Haag Niederberg Helden Riesling Auslese (Mosel); $60, 94 points. Layers and layers of pristine sweet honeydew, watermelon and white peach collide in this light-footed sweet Riesling. It's spine-tingling and feather light yet unctuous and rolling in texture. An intensely fragrant, fruity wine now that should intensify in complexity well through 2035. Rudi Wiest Selections. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\nDr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler 2017 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese (Mosel); $33, 93 points. High-toned aromas of lemon and lime zest introduce this laser-edged, penetrating wine. It\u2019s light as a feather yet lip-smacking and sweet, offering loads of pristine, ripe honeydew, grapefruit and tangerine flavors. Electric acidity shines a spotlight through a long, dazzling finish. Enjoy now\u20132030. Miller Squared Inc.\r\n\r\n\r\nProgress and Preservation\r\nModernity has posed distinct challenges for ancient viticultural traditions of the Mosel. The region\u2019s iconic slate vineyards, some angled up to 70 degrees, are among the steepest and most labor intensive in the world. Many have been worked exclusively by hand for centuries.\r\n\r\nWhen demand for inexpensive Mosel wines increased dramatically after World War II, widescale land restructuring was done to increase plantings, yields and efficiencies.\r\n\r\nEfforts to revitalize forgotten vineyard sites and protect the region\u2019s traditions have intensified in recent years.\r\n\r\nA series of laws intended to streamline and simplify the wine industry were also passed. Mosel vineyards were expanded outside of traditional steep slopes to flatlands that were better suited for mechanized farming. Many vineyard owners opted to have tiny, disparate land holdings consolidate\u00ad into more convenient single plots. And vineyards were reshaped and replanted to allow installation of access roads, modern trellises and machinery.\r\n\r\nBut these laws were not without negative effects. Many of the region\u2019s historic slopes were abandoned for more convenient, often lower-quality vineyards. Precious old vines with low yields were pulled and replaced with newer, higher-output plantings. The consolidation of thousands of single-\u00advineyard sites, often with less prestigious plots, wiped away centuries of knowledge on vineyard specificity.\r\n\r\nPresent-day vineyards in the Mosel are often a patchwork of ancient landscapes juxtaposed by modern reconfigurations. Jagged slate slopes with old vines that date from the late 19th century can be found adjacent\u00ad to fine-shaved slopes and terraces lined with young vines on wired trellises.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nEfforts to revitalize forgotten vineyard sites and protect the region\u2019s traditions have intensified in recent years. Throughout the Mosel, winegrowers like Stein and Weis work to acquire and cultivate abandoned vineyard plots. A movement coined bergrettung,\u00ad or mountain rescue, has also been developed by the Klitzekleine Ring association, a community of about 10 producers located in and around the town of Traben-Trarbach, with a mission to recover and maintain steep slope vineyards.\r\n\r\nWeis, who also operates a nursery business, traversed ancient vineyards for years to preserve cuttings of the region\u2019s oldest pre-\u00adphylloxera vines. He describes the collection as \u201ca Noah\u2019s ark of Riesling genetics\u201d that will help preserve the region\u2019s historic vine diversity.\r\n\r\nThe modern Mosel is best epitomized by a complex collision of past and present forces. It\u2019s a wine region that\u2019s deeply connected to its unique, ancient winemaking traditions, but also fueled by a passion for quality and innovation.\r\n\r\n\r\nRecommended Red Wines\r\nStein 2015 Waechter Sp\u00e4tburgunder (Mosel); $45, 93 points. Ripe, concentrated blackberry and cherry flavors are shaded by savory tones of bramble, dried herb and fur in this surprisingly weighty Mosel Sp\u00e4tburgunder. Rich and deeply textural,\u00ad the Waechter is a marked contrast to Stein\u2019s more zippy, ethereal Red Light Pinot Noir bottlings. It maintains the producer\u2019s trademark freshness and electricity as well as a long, lingering finish edged by spice. Vom Boden.\r\n\r\nMaximin Gr\u00fcnh\u00e4user 2016 Pinot Noir (Mosel); $72, 93 points. Subtle whiffs of violet and beetroot accent ripe blackberry and cherry flavors in this surprisingly unctuous full-bodied Mosel Pinot Noir. It's a rich but pertly balanced wine, with soft ripe tannins and delicate hints of vanilla and spice on the finish. Ready now, but it should drink well through 2030. Loosen Bros. USA.\r\n\r\nBisch\u00f6fliche Weing\u00fcter Trier 2015 Kanzemer Altenberg Pinot Noir (Mosel); $28, 92 points. Violet and bramble tones perfume this lavishly floral red. Brisker and brighter than Germany's warmer-climate Pinots, this Mosel Pinot Noir offers concentrated but crisp black cherry and berry flavors rimmed by a fine edge of bitter tannins. It's silky in texture, with a long, lingering finish. Drink now through 2025 to enjoy its freshness. Schmitt-S\u00f6hne USA.\r\n\r\nG\u00fcnther Steinmetz 2014 Kestener Paulinsberg Unfiltered Pinot Noir (Mosel); $43, 91 points. Plump with ripe black-plum and cherry flavors, this single-vineyard wine offers a greater density of fruit than the producer\u2019s entry-level Pinot Noir. Still, it shares a ghostly elegance marked by faded whiffs of dried violet and lavender, dusty spice-box and earth notes. Vibrant acidity lends finesse to the palate along with a meandering finish of fine grained, bitter tannins. Broadbent Selections.