Within the Sonnenuhr vineyard in Zeltingen, Rotlay is the single best parcel (and some people might argue also within Wehlen). Rotlay is an old, local term for a unique piece of vineyard tucked between a massive wall of slate as the upper border and the large water surface of the Mosel with its mirror effect as the lower border. On the sides it is open and flows into the other local parcels, Kakert and Lehnschaft, though some large outcroppings of rock in the border areas, create a unique geographic scenario, similar to a clos in France, with a rather unique microclimate. The slope that comprises Rotlay faces straight south and the soil is very stony, covered with big chunks of blue Devonian slate. The slate is the compressed silt of the ocean seabed that once covered most of the earth some 450 million years ago alongside the single continent Pangea. The vineyard grade ranges between 45 and 60 degrees. Hand labor is a must. Rot in German means red and some people interpret this as the soil´s high mineral contents. It is visible where iron components, exposed to the elements, actually rust. Rodt in older German orthography, also stands for "cleared" in the sense of barren, stripped of vegetation; some people say it's the massive wall of rock and the surrounding outcroppings of rock, which are barren and indicate a bald spot in the slope. Either version has it's justification since the vineyard is a steep, barren, rocky, hot piece of dirt where only deep root systems can survive the always warm, at times hot and arid microclimate. Drought is often a concern here, as there is no irrigation. Rotlay was classified in the rare class 1 in the old Prussian classification of 1868. Selbach-Oster owns the biggest piece of the "terroir" Rotlay and, in 2004 we began to pick Rotlay in one single picking run.
No selective picking in separate passes, but all grapes are picked together in one single process. This brings the unique, diverse mix of greenish-yellow, golden, slightly overripe copper-coloured, as well as botrytised berries together, creating a truly wholesome wine which reflects the true expression of this great site’s “terroir”, without the influence of human selection.
We refrain from skimming through this vineyard but rather prefer a long hang time to pick at optimum ripeness without pushing for "over the top" sugars.
2004 was the first vintage we applied the single block picking concept