The cellar of the Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier
The cellar of the Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier is located directly under the center of Trier’s old town. The cellar covers about 30,000 square meters and can be traced back to the year 600 AD. If you descend down in the historical vaulted cellar, built by the Romans, there is an impressive view – 240 traditional Mosel casks, called Fuder, are stored here. Running through the oldest part of the cellar is an historic water line from the Romans. It once led, over 1,400 years ago, directly to the nearby Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen).
Depending on the vintage, the cellar master, Johannes Becker, vinifies 40 percent of the wines in Fuder, the traditional Mosel 1,000-liter oak casks. The wines ferment at cool temperatures and relatively slowly with ambient yeasts. In essence, the cellar master’s work is mostly focused on this traditional vinification of the wines, including tasting and knowing when to find the right moment to bottle the wines. Rieslings fermented in Fuder have very good structure. The wines aged in large casks have a gentle aeration on the lees, which, along with the ambient yeast ferments, gives them durability.
The Fuder, which are used mostly for Riesling as well as for Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and red varieties, come from Holzküferei Hösch, one of the few remaining cooperages in Germany. Hösch gets its wood from the Palatine and Hunsrück forests. The wines are given time to mature and harmonize in these big oak cask. The Spätlese and Auslese wines are bottled not until June till August of the following harvest year.
Over many decades, the Fuder are filled anew with fresh grape musts each autumn, but not to impart wood aromas, as is widely used with toasted new oak barrique barrels, which have about 225 liters’ capacity. On the contrary, the typical and – depending on the site and vintage – pronounced fruity-aromatic components of the Riesling grape remain until bottling and for many years to come by vinifying a wine in Fuder.
The remaining grapes are just as expertly vinified in stainless-steel tanks. The quality of the wines in stainless steel is the same as in Fuder. Only the type of wine is different.