Daniel Vollenweider, 1970-2022
Posted by YiXin Ong on
Personal post by YiXin
I'm still in shock, half a world away. Daniel passed away last Friday at around 10pm local (Mosel) time, and three days later, somehow I'm hoping that the next email will be from him. Without him, KOT Selections and Analogue Wine Merchant would not exist.
We first met at Dr. Loosen in 1999 (more here), and immediately recognised each other as a weinfreak (a typically accurate German compound noun, especially for Anglophones). Working for him over several seasons, he not only taught me unsparingly about Riesling and the Mosel, but was quietly inspirational in his "show, don't tell" manner. While I remember joking with him when the winery finally turned profitable and had to pay taxes, it took long enough that anyone else without his determination would have quit before that point.
That willpower shows through amply in all his wines, which have a forceful edge in youth, but most of all his debut vintage in 2000. I will never forget the smell of rot in the vineyards (and cellars!) in that rain-sodden autumn, and how drastically poor some of the wines were (especially from the top estates). But Daniel soldiered on, sorting out all the affected bunches, and made some of the most thrilling Rieslings that year. There wasn't much, of course, but every single wine across the prädikat range was majestic. I don't think anyone else could have done it.
There are so many more stories - affixing capsules to 2 pallets of wine (over a thousand bottles!) in a single night by hand, prog rock in the background; drinking filthy (literally and qualitatively) wine at the local harvest festival; never-ending debates about Jever and Bitburger as the more appropriate post-work drink (two very different German beers); inane but unprintable jokes about Weinhaus Porn in Bernkastel (a much-liked client!); advising a French vigneron on how to make a kabinett-style Viognier - but it was the sense of purpose and satisfaction that stands out most clearly. When the Park Hotel sign finally came off the wall of the winery facing the river road (Daniel had been contractually and financially obliged to keep it on for several years), he proudly told me that the winery was now truly his.
It'll always be, my friend. Rest in peace.