Philip Lardot, a natural wine story spanning half my life.

Philip Lardot, a natural wine story spanning half my life.

In wine it doesn’t get more personal than through the friendship and inspiration with Philip Lardot, a natural winemaker in Germany’s Mosel area.

A dear friend, a talented winemaker, an ancient wine region and tons of minerality, all in one. Discover the range of wines that Finnish-Dutch winemaker Philip Lardot creates in the Mosel from old vines and steep parcels.

​Believe us, the steep slopes of the Mosel are not for the faint-hearted: close to Philip’s house is the world’s steepest vineyard, the Bremmer Calmont. Pretty much a cliff with vines on them. And even though pretty much everybody in the world agrees this area is home to some of the world’s greatest Rieslings, it’s an area in decline. ​

Vines are being ripped out by old vintners whose children either have moved to Berlin or just can’t be bothered, selling them is hardly worth the trouble. Philip is one of the few that still sees the true potential and is painstakingly working these slopes to create mineral, rich, voluptuous, terroir driven, natural wines. Riesling of course, but don’t miss the Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir.

I have known Philip since 12 years old (2000), pretty much growing up together in the city of Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Definitely the smartest kid I knew, fluent in at least four languages and freewheeling through school, spent a year surfing and snowboarding afterwards before finishing Hotel Management school.

At some point we were both working this terrible wine sales job when we took a weekend trip to the Mosel in 2013; a 3 day harvest with Clemens Busch turned out to be enough to convince Philip to give up his life in Amsterdam and for him to pack up and move to Pünderich, an ancient village on the banks of the Mosel river.​ He started working at Clemens Busch, followed by a short stint in Montlouis-sur-Loire with Bertrand Jousset, after which he came back to the Mosel and worked different jobs before starting to make his own wine in 2016.

9 years after that first weekend pick there’s a Mosel child born, a house, a dog and a winery which is growing steadily but is still far from producing any major quantity. But, there’s a special move on the horizon: Philip is set to take over the Weingut Stein in a couple of years.

Philip employs his own style in making wine, creating Rieslings (and others) that are both completely unique + different and classic at the same time. Making non-intervention wines means that the wines will always ferment dry and will undergo malolactic fermentations, reds of course, but also the whites. All indigenous yeasts in used but relatively new barrels, with a little experimentation with concrete eggs and acacia barrels in the mix. Since the 2019 harvest the Rieslings get an extra year in barrel, meaning the wines are released around a year and a half after harvest.

This all creates rich, voluptuous, seriously mineral wines that show the full (and unique) potential of its place. Where the Mosel standard often means high acid, low alcohol, cleanly filtered wines, Philip’s wines basically are the opposite. But at the same time, they might be as ‘Mosel’ as it gets, seeing that this is how the wines were made before modern techniques entered the game.​

Der Hirt, Der Graf and Der Bauer are all references to single vineyards such as Grafenberg and Hirtenberg that Philip can not name under German law, since he decided to release his wine under the Landwein classification. We’re not playing favorites here, but these are truly singular wines. In the last years Philip has been slowly acquiring more parcels in the village of Sankt Aldegund, where Stein’s infamous Palmberg is located. As we write this Der Bauer is the only Riesling on the market coming from those vineyards, but others are already in the barrel and expected in 2022–23.

Seeing Philip craft his path in an area that isn’t always the most welcoming of outsiders with different opinions is truly inspiring, maybe helped by his Finnish heritage in keeping his head down and stubbornly working on building up a respectable company. With basically only four vintages on the market it is remarkable to know that these wines are already on the market in Japan, Korea, Italy, the U.S. and Brazil, amongst many others, especially after having been a spectator on this journey for over twenty years. Being able to self-import those wines into a sense of Place only means we’ve come full circle, for now. We can’t wait to see what the future brings and spend many more hours in these ancient, steep vineyards.

instagram.com/p.lardot

 

Markus Praat, founder at ASOP Wines