Toni Jost

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I first met Linde Jost when she visited San Francisco with a group of German winemakers organized by Stuart Pigott in 1990.  What surprised me was how modest as well as how clearly accomplished Linde was. She had worked in journalism but decided, with her marriage to Peter Jost, that wine suited her better. I could hardly wait to visit.

When I did, Peter and Linde were the most friendly people I could have imagined. My wife and I got a complete tour of Bacharach, an almost impossibly beautiful Hansel and Gretl village on the Rhein, with ancient walls, a ruin of a castle and a beautiful ruin of a chapel, not to mention medieval walls and towers. It is, of course, a tourist trap in the Summer, the kind of place, like Carmel, for example, you’d want to avoid as much as possible, but in the off season, you’d probably want to stay. I go between March and June, and thus avoid most of the madness.

At any rate, Peter and Linde and I  became fast friends, and I a happy purchaser of their wines, then being imported by Terry Theise. I first met Linde Jost when she visited with a group organized by Stuart Pigott in 1990.

I visited Peter and Linde every year after, often a little sad that some of their wines were not chosen  for import. Then, in 2008, Terry called me and said that they were no longer going to import the Jost wines and would I be interested? Oh yes, I said, and spoke with the Josts and it was soon done. What a pleasure it is to bring in wines from a couple you are deeply fond of. The main vineyard here is the Bacharacher Hahn, a side of a hillside off the river, facing pretty much due south. They own most of the vineyard now and have even expanded it a little. It is planted in Riesling, slate and rock and not a whole lot of soil. It is quite steep, 45 degrees or more in places. In fact there is a story of many years ago, when they were either preparing the vineyard or else fixing it up. Way up high, they discovered a huge stone, probably the size of a small cottage, much too difficult to remove the usual ways. So they stopped, went back home and checked the railway schedules (at the bottom of the vineyard there is room only for the road and railway tracks, and then the river. Getting all the information correctly, they stationed a couple of men down on the roadway to stop traffic, and then, up in the vineyard, pushed the immense stone where it rolled down the slope, crossed both the road and railway tracks and plummeted  into the river. Problem solved.

The Bacharacher Hahn and Jost wine are noted for their pure expression of fruit. Do not expect a mineral monster, say, like Dönnhoff. No, these wines are fabulous expressions of fruit, grapes of course, but also peaches, papaya, guava, pear, pomegranate and cherries. I defy anyone not to love them. Sometimes, at the Josts, maybe in the late afternoon when the light is failing and I am looking through the stained glass panes in the warm, golden light, I think this is exactly what Romantic Germany, or the dream of Romantic Germany must be like. So often with these wines I feel I am drinking the essence of Northern Summer, so fragile and mysterious.

Some of the great pleasures of Jost’s wines that I now can offer to you are dry wines. They have the same lovely fruit quality but are perhaps better suited to the table. I would recommend especially the beautiful ‘Devon S’, named after the Devonian slate that forms the bedrock of the vineyard and ‘S’ for Select. These are Spätlese level wines but vinified dry. They are lovely.