Riesling, the flagship of German wine, is grown in the south but it tends to be the less sweet kinds because of the warmer weather. Acidity is not as high as in Mosel and hence doesn’t need the sugar to balance it. However, there is more than just Riesling here. The mild climate allows red grape varieties to flourish, the most notable being Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder), although Merlot and Cabinet Sauvignon are also grown.
I was with a group of sommeliers and journalists from Hong Kong and China. We visited eight wineries in three days, including:
Weingut Albert Glas, Essingen, Pfalz
A family winery established in 1950 and run by three generations. Grandson Dominik Glas is the one in charge of this 15ha vineyard located in Pfalz—considered the ‘Tuscany’ of Germany because of its mild climate. With a small production and limited resources, Dominik realised he should not spread himself too thin to cover all export markets so he focuses only on one, China. Bravo Dominik!
I like his wines because he clearly made them with the consumer in mind. Secco Passionfruit (a sparkling wine with...erh... passionfruit flavour, a surprisingly refreshing wine dismissed by wine snobs but loved by young consumers); Just Rosé ‘Black Label’ 2013 (a QbA category wine made with 100% Merlot and loaded with red fruits —and fun, according to Dominik.)
We were later taken in the back of his truck to the vineyard for a tasting of his eiswein with a view, and then treated to a homemade lunch by his parents. Their enthusiasm is visible everywhere. I wish them the best of luck in China!
Weingut Salwey, Oberrotweil, Baden
Another family winery also founded in 1950, the vineyard is located at Kaiserstuhl (Emperor’s Chair), a range hills of volcanic origins about 600m high. Owner Konrad Salwey first took us to the terraced vineyards via a steep and winding road where we were rewarded with a panoramic view and Konrad's explanation of the geography and soil type in the area, before returning to the cellar to taste samples from tank and barrel.
Weingut Dr. Heger, Ihringen, Baden
Winemaker Markus Mleinek showed us the cellar and I was surprised to learn that the German oak barrels are not toasted. The purpose of toasting is to remove harsh wood tannins but it will, at
|Winemaker Markus and owner Joachim|
We tasted 10 wines, including all colours of pinots (Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder and Spätburgunder). I particularly liked the 2012 Dr Heger Ihringer Winklerberg Weissburgunder
Dr Heger is available from Schmidt Vinothek.
Riesling no doubt is the king of wine in Germany, but don’t overlook other equally interesting wines!