Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany!

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

The following day we attended Winzerkeller Ingelheim to attend a Pinot Noir tasting with local producers.

This historic building epitomized Ingelheim’s history as the “red wine town”. Winzerkeller Ingelheim has just finished a three-year renovation project and we were lucky to visit it, upon its completion! Winzerkeller Ingelheim is not only home to a local vinotheque of 24 Ingelheim winegrowers, it’s also a distillery, restaurant, and a tourist information center.

We participated in a Pinot Noir tasting with the following wineries:

Winzerkeller Ingelheim website: www.ingelheimer-winzerkeller.de

Next on our visit was the wine festival in Siefersheim “Tage der offenen Weinkeller”.  Here we visited local wine cellars, tasted regional culinary specialties, and sipped some wonderful Rieslings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Siefersheim?

Siefersheim is a village southwest of Bad Kreuznach, in Rheinhessen This quaint village has a population of 1,300 and it lends its name to a number of vineyards, two of which, Heerkretz and Höllberg, are highly regarded sites with VDP classifications. Of the district’s 628 hectares, 172 ha are under vine, with Riesling occupying the bulk of the vineyards.

On our next stop we visited Weingut Thörle, which is in the village of Saulheim. Saulheim is located in the north-eastern fringes of Rheinhessen. Thörle is a family-run estate since the 16th century and is regarded as one of the best producers in the region.

Now leading the winery are two brothers Christoph and Johannes. They tell us that their focus is mainly on Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The vineyards are managed organically, and the estate has taken a biodynamic direction. The Soils are also varied with light clay, limestone, red sandy loam with some flint and schist. In our conversation, we learn that they obtain their distinctive, sappy Riesling characteristics and delicate Pinot Noir from the calcareous limestone-soils of Saulheim’s single vineyards Hölle, Schlossberg and Probstey.

 

Their wines are full of character, possess a depth of flavor and boast a high potential for maturing. Thörle’s wines have received international acclaim by leading wine guides and critics, as well as been selected by first-class airline wine programs.

Weingut Thörle website: http://www.thoerle-wein.de

 

At the end of the day, we attended a grand tasting at Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate.

Weingut Hofmann is jointly led and owned by the winemaker couple Jürgen Hofmann and Carolin Hofmann. This couple have taken over their families’ wine estates, Jürgen in 1999, and Carolin in 2001. Since 2006, both wineries have come under one roof, hence the two names: Weingut Hofmann in Weingut Willems-Willems.

Weingut Hofmann was founded in 1971 in Appenheim, when Jürgen’s parents converted their mixed agricultural operation into a winery  Jürgen pushed winemaking at Weingut Hofmann to new levels, by investing into new wine cellar equipment, focusing on the best vineyards, and planting new grape varieties, as well as built an ultra-modern winery including a tasting room.mHofmann’s 14 hectares. vineyards are limestone based.

Jurgen produces Riesling as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Silvaner. His Rieslings and Sauvignons that really wowed me. The limestone dominated soils surrounding Appenheim in his Riesling burst with stony spice and minerality. Aromas of dried apricots and exotic spice dance hand in hand in a racy yet breathtakingly elegant tango.

Jurgen’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes are harvested sequentially from multiple sites (as each vineyard reaches its own optimal ripeness). Tasting notes include notes of gooseberry, elderberry, and green asparagus blend with a tropical breeze reminiscent of the variety’s origins.

Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate website: www.schiefer-trifft-muschelkalk.de

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 1 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany.

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest wine-producing region and also rich in history – the area was ruled by archbishops throughout the Middle Ages up to the French Revolution.

Mainz, the capital of Rheinhessen is also one of 16 states in the Federal Republic of Germany. Its unique location in Rheinhessen (also known as “The Land of the Thousand Hills”) makes it ideally suited for growing wines. There are over 3,500 winegrowers in the region producing some of Germany’s best white varieties such as Dornfelder, Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Rheinhessen (or Rhein District) is located north of the Rhine River going west from Wiesbaden and ending around Rüdesheim. The Rheinhessen wine region is 35 kilometers from east – west, and 3 kilometers from north – south. Almost 80% of wines from this area are Rieslings, other white wines account for 10% of production, and Pinot Noir accounts for 10% of all production.

The top vineyards are concentrated long the steep west bank of the Rhine, known as the Rheinterrasse (Rhine terrace), and towards the south towards the town of Worms, and around the village of Westhofen.

Our Rheinhessen experience began with a vineyard walk and tasting at Roter Hang – Brudersberg “Schönste Weinsicht”.

The view from the Niersteiner Brudersberg was absolutely stunning!  It was awarded by the German Wine Institute “The Most Beautiful Wine View” in 2012 across all 13 German wine-growing regions. From the vantage points, we saw spectacular views of the Rheinhessen wine landscape. From Brudersberg we had optimal views to Hessian Ried to Frankfurt (east), looking northeast the Taunus with the Great Feldberg, and looking southeast to the bend in the Rhine at Oppenheim to the Odenwald with the Melibokus. We were also in the middle of Oelberg, Kranzberg, Pettenthal, Hipping and Spiegelberg, Brudersberg which are also located on the Red Slope of Nierstein –  its Rieslings, are among the best in the world.  We had the privilege of tasting with a group of five energetic, young producers and winemakers, who are committed to breaking free of the region’s bulk-based past and exemplifies Rheinhessen’s wine revolution.

–  Weingut Guntrum – www.guntrum.de

–  Weingut Raddeck – www.raddeckwein.de

–  Weingut Schätzel – www.schaetzel.de

–  Weingut Huff – www.weingut-huff.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was quite a remarkable and memorable tasting due to the historical location and sipping local wines!  The Weingut Raddeck wines stood out. I found out by the producer that the wines are not only sustainable, they use geothermal heating, solar panels as well as recyclable rainwater. The Raddeck Family and their ancestors have been winegrowers for over 10 Generations.

The Guntrum vineyards are located on one of the most exciting terroirs for Riesling in Germany, the Roter Hang (or Red slope hillside). The Rotliegend was created over 280 million years ago in a very hot and dry period. By some geologic activity 45 million years ago, this red rock came up to the surface. The soil is high in iron and the wines from this area have a distinct minerality and elegance which certainly showed through at the tasting.

The next stop on our venture was Weingut Domhof and Grape Escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This historic wine estate has not only been a family-owned business since 1874 it now serves as the birthplace of great wine for the fifth generation. Since 2004, Domhof has been owned and operated by Alexander Baumann, the great-great-grandson Schmitts, and his wife Chris. At least 35% of their 10 hectares is Reisling, along with other white varieties: Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Kerner. The red varieties include: Schwarzriesling, Pinot Noir, Portugieser, Regent and Dornfelder. The philosophy of Alexander, the head winemaker, is reflected in his vineyard maintenance, and consistent yield reduction.  The historical house motto states “quality arises in the vineyard”.

Domhof produces nine Rieslings from their vineyards, which are located in Guntersblumer Himmelthal, Niersteiner Heiligenbaum, Niersteiner Paterberg and Niersteiner Pettenthal. Each Riesling I tasted impressed me with their individual character, and expressive bouquet.  Alexander Baumann explains to us that it’s due to the microclimate and the characteristics of the three soils in his vineyards: Löss limestone and the sandstone slopes of Roter Hang.

Also located on the premises is the three-star hotel “Schlafgut Domhof”, an event area for wedding and family celebrations, and Grape Escape. This award-winning concept is an escape room which is a wine-focus adventure game involving solving puzzles and riddles, using clues, hints and strategies.

The Domhof winery was awarded the second “Best of Wine Tourism Award 2019” by the Great Wine Capitals in the category “Architecture, Parks and Gardens”

https://weingut-domhof.de/

In the afternoon we headed to Gut Leben am Moorstein to attend a specially designed workshop led by Romana Echensperger, MW on the Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen. Romana guided us in 5 Flights with 5 wines in each flight and discussed the soils and varieties of the area.

From the diverse soils to the above-average sunny days and varying microclimates, Rheinhessen produces many varieties. Silvaner is common here as well as the Pinot varietals: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.

The terroir ranges from red soil, sandstone, to gravel, chalky, soils with pebbles, which produce wines with earthy qualities. Whereas, the vineyards around Westhofen largely consist of marl and calcareous soil, which can have some tinted red due to the high concentration of iron. The wines of this area are well -balanced and tend to be soft, and medium-bodied.  Ingelheim is well-known for its Pinot Noirs.

Wineries presented that reflect the region’s unique taste of place, include:

– Weingut Klaus-Peter Keller – www.keller-wein.de

– Weingut Seehof – Florian Fauth- www.weingut-seehof.de

– Weingut Rettig – Katja Rettig – www.weingut-rettig.de

– Weingut Katharina Wechsler – www.weingut-wechsler.de

– Weingut Gutzler – www.gutzler.de

 

PART 2 TO FOLLOW …Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]

Wine Enthusiast names Germany’s Mosel Valley as “2019 Wine Region of the Year Nominee”

Wine Enthusiast magazine has named one of Germany’s 13 wine regions – the Mosel – as a Wine Region of the Year nominee for its esteemed, annual Wine Star Awards.

Each year, the awards honor the outstanding achievements made by individuals, companies, and regions in the wine and beverage world. This year’s 20th annual Wine Star Awards features 16 categories, including the prestigious Wine Region of the Year award.

“If you’ve ever been to the Mosel Valley, home to some of the steepest and most spectacular vineyards in the world, you’ll never forget the valley’s breathtaking landscapes and iconic wines,” says Monika Reule, Managing Director of the Deutsches Weininstitut (German Wine Institute). “The Mosel’s designation as one of Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Regions of the Year nominees is just further proof of its incredible winemaking prowess.”

In the nomination announcement, Wine Enthusiast describes the Mosel as “Germany’s most iconic wine region” and as a “classic cool-climate winemaking region.” Regarding wines from the Mosel, the magazine writes that they “represent both an enduring historic gravitas as well as a contemporary renaissance” and are “renown for Riesling, but also an increasingly diversifying portfolio of other white and red wines”.

“The wineries of the Mosel are honored by the nomination,” says Ansgar Schmitz, Director of Moselwein e.V. (Mosel Wine Promotion Board) “Our producers are grateful for the recognition from both wine critics, like Wine Enthusiast, and wine lovers, especially in the United States, our biggest export market.”

This Marks the First Wine Star Awards Nomination for One of Germany’s 13 Wine Regions.

“I was thrilled to hear that the Mosel has been nominated as Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast,” says Ernst “Ernie” Loosen, Owner and Winemaker of Dr. Loosen, one of the region’s renowned wineries. “The Mosel is a very special place, producing a vibrant and intense style of Riesling that is just not possible anywhere else in the world, and it’s very rewarding to see this recognized by an important U.S. wine magazine.”

The Wine Star Awards winners will be announced in Wine Enthusiast’s special “Best of Year” issue later in 2019 and honored at a black-tie gala in San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts on January 27, 2020.

German Wine Institute: www.germanwines.de

The main vintage has started in Germany

The main vintage has started a little earlier than originally expected in many German wine-growing areas. The German Wine Institute (DWI) announced yesterday, the vines have experienced an enormous development spurt during the very sunny days in late August and early September.

Promising vintage 2019 expected

The ripeness of the grapes are ahead of the long-term average. The summer brought lots of sun and was rain-free. The grapes are still very healthy at present. The weather forecast predicts warm days and cool nights. This favors the formation of aroma in the grapes. In terms of quality, the German wine producers are looking forward to a promising vintage in 2019.

Among the first grape varieties that are harvested for the actual winemaking, include the precocious Müller-Thurgau or the Frühburgunder. Pinot Noir is currently being harvested for rosé and sparkling wine. The Riesling grapes, which dominate the Moselle, the Rheingau or the Middle Rhine region, generally mature a little longer, so that the main harvest of these varieties is expected later on in September.

Volume: presumably below nine million hectolitres

The heavy precipitation from last weekend has had a positive effect on dry vineyards and the juice content in the berries. Before, the grapes were still relatively small-berried due to a summer with little rainfall. In addition, sunburn damage to the grapes and regionally limited hailstorms have brought a slight yield-reducing effect. According to current estimates, the 2019 vintage is unlikely to reach the level of an average crop yield of around nine million hectoliters.

Japan Overtakes Germany in Champagne Export Market

Japan has overtaken Germany in export volumes of champagne for the first time in history, according to recent data provided by Comité Champagne.

Japan imported 12.8m bottles between 2016-17, which is a 21.3% increase on the previous year, leapfrogging them above Germany into third place.

“Over the past 20 years, Japan has produced 3,000 sommeliers and the country has a real passion for champagne,” said Vincent Perrin, deputy direct general, Comité Champagne.

“Japan has a strong distribution network and benefited from the free trade agreement announced with the EU.”

The US remains the number one for exports in terms of value, with more than half a billion Euros recorded in 2017, however the UK imported almost 28m bottles over the same period, a global high despite recording an 11% decrease in volumes.

Perrin adds: “There is an uncertainty with the UK due to the effects of Brexit, however the French economy is in a good place so we’re expecting big things for 2018, specifically in the on-trade.”

China grew 76.7% in terms of volume in 2017, the largest increase globally and the country is now ranked 15th in the world.

“These are promising signs from China, but I think they need educating on wines that aren’t Bordeaux reds before they become truly influential,” said Perrin.