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]

International Wine Challenge: 2019 Trophy winners

The International Wine Challenge, a British-based wine challenge has revealed its 2019 Trophy winners.

 The Process
Several hundred sommeliers and industry professionals blind-taste over 13,000 entries in three tasting rounds during a two-week period. The wines which score 85 points and over, in the initial round, advance to the second round, where they are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. The third and final round is exclusively for the gold-medal winners, to assess which is the trophy winner of its class.

Here are some of the winners!

Four years in a row: Syrah Trophy win for New Zealand

New Zealand has been awarded the International Syrah Trophy for the fourth year in a row. The best Syrah has been named as Te Awanga Estate’s Trademark Syrah 2015, which won the Hawke’s Bay Syrah Trophy and International Syrah Trophy.  The Te Awanga Estate wine was also awarded the New Zealand Red Trophy, fighting off stiff competition from New Zealand’s world-famous Pinot Noirs.

IWC co-chair Peter McCombie MW said: “There isn’t much Syrah planted in New Zealand but what there is makes world-class wine. Stylistically closer to Rhone Valley than Barossa Valley, we expect New Zealand Syrah to have abundant fruit and remarkable freshness. Te Awanga, winner of the New Zealand Red Trophy, is a brilliant example of this style.”

Own-label supermarket wines 

Two supermarket own-label wines were awarded Trophies this year:

  • Waitrose Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018 won the Provence Rosé Trophy; and
  • Tesco took home the Amarone Trophy for its Cantina Valpantena’s Tesco Finest Amarone 2015.

Italy crowned Rosé champion

Provence may be the most famous rosé region in the world, but a Sicilian rosé made from Nerello Mascalese has been awarded the International Rosé Trophy. Torre Mora’s Scalunera Etna Rosato 2018 scored 96 points on its way to receiving both the Sicilian Rosé Trophy and the International Rosé Trophy.

Top Chardonnay

The top Chardonnay is from France’s Chablis region:

  • Domaine Christian Moreau’s Chablis Grand Cru les Clos 2017 won four Trophies – Chablis Grand Cru Trophy, White Burgundy Trophy, French White Trophy, and International Chardonnay Trophy.

Top Pinot Noir

  • France’s Burgundy region also produced the top Pinot Noir in the competition, Château de Santenay’s Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2017 which won the Clos du Vougeot Trophy, Red Burgundy Trophy and International Pinot Noir Trophy.

First red success for China

To celebrate the increase in quality from China, the IWC judging panel awarded a Chinese Red Trophy for the first time this year, with the top gong going to China Great Wall’s Five Star Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.

Winemakers of the Year shortlist

The IWC has also announced the shortlist for its Winemaker of the Year 2019. The winner will be announced at the IWC 2019 Awards Dinner on July 9, 2019, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

The shortlist shows that the 2018 Winemakers of the Year in each category are putting up a strong fight to retain their titles (namely Hervé J. Fabre, Didier Séguier, Sergio Martínez, Cherie Spriggs, and Helmut Lang).

Shortlisted IWC Red Winemaker of the Year 2019

  • Bodegas Fabre – Hervé J. Fabre
  • Bird in Hand – Dylan Lee
  • Edouard Delaunay – Christophe Briotet
  • Wolf Blass – Chris Hatcher & Steven Frost

Shortlisted IWC White Winemaker of the Year 2019

  • La Chablisienne – Vincent Bartement
  • McGuigan – Neil McGuigan
  • William Fevre – Didier Séguier

Shortlisted IWC Fortified Winemaker of the Year 2019

  • Emilio Lustau – Sergio Martínez
  • Morris Wines – David Morris
  • González Byass – Antonio Flores

Shortlisted IWC Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 2019

  • Nyetimber – Cherie Spriggs
  • Charles Heidsieck – Cyril Brun
  • Domaine Chandon California – Pauline Lhote
  • Champagne Rare – Régis Camus

Shortlisted IWC Sweet Winemaker of the Year 2019

  • Weingut Helmut Lang – Helmut Lang
  • Hans Tschida – Hans Tschida
  • Weingut Horst Sauer – Horst & Sandra Sauer

IWC Own Label of the Year Shortlist 2019

  • Aldi
  • Berry Brothers & Rudd
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Tesco

Full list of awards found here:  www.internationalwinechallenge.com

Larkin Launches Premium Canned Wine

Larkin Wines, a boutique Napa winery which specializes in premium wines, has launched the first super-premium canned wine range to hit the UK market. The wines are aimed at specialty food retailers, drink retailers and event specialists.

The range includes: Larkin Napa Valley White 2017 is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Roussane; Larkin Napa Valley Red 2017 is a 100% Merlot; and Larkin Napa Valley Pink 2018 is a 100% Pinot Noir from Carneros.

Grapes have been sourced from the same small plot vineyards used for Larkin bottlings.

How the idea came about:

“The idea for Larkin came about when I was at the beach with friends and we had no wine due to the no glass policy. I started researching alternatively-packaged wines already on the market, and quickly realized there was no offer within the super-premium category” said owner/winemaker Sean Larkin.

UK distribution will be through James Hocking Wine, the new specialist boutique Californian agency. The cans will retail in UK at £9.99 for 37.5cl.

http://jacklarkin.com/

jameshockingwine.com

Wine Review: La Crema Sonoma Coast 2015 Pinot Noir 

 

Varietal:        Pinot Noir (100%?
Region:          Sonoma Coast
Producer:      La Crema Winery
Alcohol:         13.9%

This wine exhibits a deep ruby color with promising aromas of red cherry, blackberry and red pepper with some hints of spice; in the mouth, it offers multi-layers flavors of berries, plums, cherries with hints of blood orange and exotic spice; nicely focused finish.


Suggested Food Pairing

Beef, Veal, Game, Poultry

liz-palmer.com – October 1, 2017
Rating:  91points

Notes
Vintages#: 719435