Daniel Kiowski (Weingut Markus Molitor): Riesling under the skin
The first time I met Daniel Kiowski, he was working as a sommelier at “Victor’s fine dining by Christian Bau” it’s a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Nennig, near Remich. I was impressed by the “Riesling” tattoo he had on his arm. Winner of Germany’s Best Sommelier in 2015, he left the restaurant to join Weingut Markus Molitor, one of the best wineries in Germany. Interview.
How did you end up here?
I was born in Berlin and started working in a 5-star Hotel, the apprenticeship took three years. After that I moved to Munich to work in a fine dining restaurant for one and a half years. My will to work in a wine-producing region, close to nature, grew – therefore I changed place to be a Commis Sommelier in a 1-star Michelin restaurant in the Kaiserstuhl region in the south-western part of Germany. After that I had the opportunity to experience daily work in a wine-estate: I was allowed to have an insight to all divisions of the winery: vineyard, cellar, office, Vinothek, etc. Then I joined the restaurant run by Christian Bau, my mentor. During these six years of working as Head Sommelier, I expanded the wine list from 27 to 350 local wines (plus 500 additional wines from all over the world).
During a winery visit at Markus Molitor´s estate, Markus Molitor himself asked me what I would like to do after having finished work at Christian’s restaurant but I had no idea. A year and a half later, I asked him what he had in mind and we started to talk in detail. The role as an ambassador for the exceptional wines from the unique Mosel valley immediately appealed to me. Today Weingut Markus Molitor sells wines in more than 40 countries all around the world and I am able to travel there to infect people with my passion for Riesling. This job is like a dream come true, honestly.
"Seven years after we made Luxembourg our European hub, our clients are benefiting fully from our multi-domicile and one-stop-shop approach."
How would you describe the role of a Sommelier?
Over the years, Christian and I visited several great restaurants together. I remember “Le Bristol” in Paris, where everything was just perfect, particularly the bottle of Auxey-Duresses suggested by my counterpart instead of serving us a three times more expensive Meursault that we were asking for. This recommendation really impressed me because it inspired confidence. The way how I recommend wines can be described as rather old fashioned: I always prefer traditional, authentic, classical things and wines who show comprehensibly their origin. The business card of a Sommelier is an exciting and precise recommendation for wines by the glass which always includes matured wines as well. I think a sommelier’s main role is to listen and to make guests happy. If a guest wants to drink red wine with fish, I’m fine with that because you never know the reason for his choice. But if he or she asks for my advice, it is a different situation. Too many of the younger Sommeliers just want to push their own ideas.
What did you do after winning “Germany’s Best Sommelier” in 2015?
Nothing special, you can trust me – life hasn´t become any easier.
When did you meet Markus Molitor for the first time?
In 2010, when I started working at “Schloss Berg” I began to discover the Mosel wine-growing region.
I got to know Markus Molitor’s incredibly passionate nature and the strength of his beliefs. Over the years I became a specialist for Molitor´s wines and included more than 60 of them in my wine list at Victor`s fine dining by Christian Bau. Markus always says that a wine should demonstrate the individual character of the vintage, the terroir and the Prädikat. You’ll find him in the cellar every day because he is still the one and only winemaker in his estate. His philosophy, passion and his way of life still impresses me! Every decision in this winery is taken by him. He started out with 1.5 hectares and an incredible vision. Today, the estate owns 100 hectares spread across 100 kilometres, including 20 Grand Cru vineyards.
How does Markus Molitor manage to dream so big?
When he started out in the 80s, German wines weren’t “sexy” or even successful. He succeeded simply by working hard and accepting nothing but the very best. In 1985, he invented the star system on the bottle’s label with its own assessment of the wine’s quality. Uncompromising cultivation by hand and absolute respect for nature are hallmarks of Markus Molitor. Due to a late harvest and strict selection of the individual grapes extremely low yields are achieved. A very important part of his philosophy is naturalness, terroir, complexity and ageing potential. All wines are fermented spontaneously in the traditional manner in large wooden barrels without the use of stabilizing measures or additives. Markus Molitor wines incorporate the almost infinite range of flavors and styles found in Mosel Rieslings – a unique balance of fruit and minerality, sweetness and acidity.
What makes such a quality white wine?
It’s purist winemaking. Because of how we work and how much effort and energy we invest the wines are very stable. This indication is necessary to have an idea about the ageing potential of a wine. That means that all our Riesling wines can be kept open (just close the bottle with a cap and keep it chilled) for many weeks, the top ones even for months. You can enjoy our entry-level range, Haus Klosterberg, which has the region’s distinctive taste and all the typical characteristics of Riesling and which can be kept for up to fifteen years, for less than 10 euros. And at the higher end of our range, we guarantee for the Auslese*** at least 30 years of ageing ability.
8th generation of winemaking in the Middle Mosel Area
International renowed as one of the best producers of Germany
Awarded as “winemaker of the year” by several magazines, wineguides, etc.
Top ratings in all German wine guides
Robert Parker ratings during the last six years:
8 x 100, 9 x 99, 23 x 98, 21 x 97