Abi Duhr rightly has his reputation as the enfant terrible of Luxembourg wines - and for good reason. Not for him the conventional, conservative and traditional winemaking of his neighbours, he is always prepared to push to the limit to gain that extra bit of quality out of all his wines.
Steeped in winemaking tradition and still responsible for final blending at the long-established family vineyards (Domaines Aly Duhr), his main work is at his Ch. Pauqué, in the picturesque village of Grevenmacher on the banks of the Mosel, which is 100% owned by him.
Château Pauqué is a small estate of about 5 ha which has vineyards spread over 6 villages from Schengen to Wasserbillig.
Two lines of wines are produced - the classic one (Riesling & Pinot Gris) and one with Burgundian characteristics, focused on wines fermented and aged in oak barrels.
The grapes are normally harvested from the beginning of October to mid November in order to get the best possible maturity.
The botrytised grapes do not see skin contact. Long fermentations, (the 2008 finished their fermentations only in July 2009) with natural yeasts give Châeau Pauqué wines a characteristic creamy harmony.
Over 70 % of the vineyards are located on the steepest hills of the Luxembourg Mosel Valley. With over 50 % of Riesling (some of the vineyards have been planted more than 60 years ago) the Châeau Pauqué Estate has one of the highest Riesling percentages in Luxembourg. Additionally, Abi grows Elbling, Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
What sets Abi apart from other wine producers, is his inherent ability to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear - time and time again.
He makes a large range of wines - but just a few hundred bottles of each - starting with his entry level Bromelt, made from the normally boring Elbling grape, but even here, he manages to give it a “lift” like no one else has been able to do.
A quintet of Rieslings starting with wines from two different location - “Gravenmacher Fels” and “Paradäis”, show delicate finesse and good length, with the “Gravenmacher Fels” showing more mineral characteristics than the “Paradäis” which has a bit more citrussy fruit.
The “Gravenmacher Fels” is available in moelleux in the 2006 vintage, whilst there is a Veilles Vignes version of the “Paradäis” with more intensity of fruit.
A straight Veilles Vignes is also made from vines planted in 1942 and here the wine reaches an apogée of class with great spätlese characteristics which would make it a wonderful accompaniment to foie gras.
There is again a “Paradäis” Vendange Tardive, which does truly bring the wine into an auslese quality.
Whilst Riesling can be said to be the mainstay of Mosel grapes, it’s what Abi achieves with other, native and non-native grapes which is truly remarkable.
Pinot Gris “Paradäis” shows good varietal spiciness and “Fossiles” is another great blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, nutty and with good length.
It is in the treatment of the Auxerrois, however, not normally noted for its noble character, which takes on a new dimension under the “Clos du Paradäis” label. 100% Auxerrois with full, rich, nutty, intense and creamy complexity, it is a masterpiece.
And to see what can be done with Chardonnay at so north a latitude, confusingly labelled just “Château Pauqué”, is smooth and rich, but with a great tannic structure displaying perfect balance between the fruit and the acidity.
A new Chardonnay cuvée tasted en barriques (old ones at that) shows great promise. Finally “Montée des Seigneurs” is a late harvest Auxerrois, smooth and unctuous without being sickly sweet but an absolute must for drinking with your puds!
Abi’s wines are not cheap, but you won’t see them anywhere except in the best places - the best restaurants, the best wine shops and in the best homes - stop by and add your home to the list - it’s a delightful trip to Grevenmacher, wherever you are coming from.
Abi Duhr - Ch. Pauqué, 73 Route de Trèves, L 6793 Grevenmacher, Luxembourg.
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