Tuesday, January 26, 2010

German Wine: The Wines of the Gault Millau Wine Guide Shooting Star of the Year - The Baron von Gleichenstein

Picture: Baron von Gleichenstein and his Wife

The Baron von Gleichenstein is currently one of Germany’s hot wine makers. He is this year’s shooting star of the renowned Gault Millau Wine Guide Germany and he won the prestigious Pinot Noir Award of the wine journal VINUM. See here and here.

The Gleichenstein Estate was founded in 1634. However, it is only in recent years that the Estate has taken off under the young Baron Johannes von Gleichenstein. "Increasingly, he uses the great potential of the prime locations in Oberrotweil for excellent Burgundy,” editor Joel Payne of the Gault Millau praised the Gleichenstein wines. With his 2007 Pinot Noir, Gleichenstein moved into the top range of German red wines, and with his Pinot Gris from the Oberrotweil Henkenberg into the top range of German whites.

Baron Johann von Gleichenstein, the eleventh generation on the Estate, has been the head of operations since 2003. His father, Hans-Joachim Freiherr von Gleichenstein, took over the business in 1959 as a mixed farming outfit and transformed it into a pure wine making operation. The Estate is located in the Kaiserstuhl region in Baden, the southernmost German wine-growing area, across the Rhine river from Alsace. The Kaiserstuhl region is known for its Pinot wines - both red and white.

The tasting was conducted by

Dr. Christian G.E.Schiller, Schiller-Wine, Washington DC and Frankfurt am Main, and

Katharina Schiller, Restaurant Venus, Berkeley, USA.

Picture: Katharina and Christian G.E.Schiller

The prices are in Euro at the winery in Germany. The exchange rates ares currently BP 0.88 = Euro 1 = US$ 1.41 Where no price is indicated, the price was not available.

Tasting Notes

Sparkling wine

2007 Pinot and Chardonnay Extra Brut, 12.5% alc. Euro 12.50 (88 Points)

A blend of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.

Methode Champenoise extra brut – many of Germany’s top wine makers produce one or two sparklers to round up their wine portfolio. These Sekts tend to be very well made, of course in the Methode Champenoise. In terms of dosage, this is an extra brut (= brut de brut) which can have up to 6 gram remaining sugar per liter.

Tasting notes: Numerous small and fine bubbles topped by succulent mousse reveal the noble character of this sparkler even before tasting it. On the palate, this Sekt displays a convincing intermezzo of refreshing fruit and vibrant steeliness.

Dry White Wines

2008 Hofgarten Mueller Thurgau Qba trocken 11.5 % Euro 4.50 (86 Points)

In a traditional German flute bottle with a screw top.

Müller-Thurgau is a cross of the Riesling and Silvaner grapes, created by Hermann Mueller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in 1882. It matures early and tends to be a high yielder.

QbA trocken – a dry Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) wine where the grapes had a sugar level at harvest that allowed the wine maker to chaptalize the wine, not to increase the residual sugar level, but to increase the alcohol level to 11.5 %.

Hofgarten - deep soil from eroded loess and weathered volcanic rocks.

Tasting notes: in the glass, straw yellow with green shades. A wave of tropical fruit on the nose, a light-bodied wine with green apple, citrus and floral aromas. This is a pleasant party wine with surprising lip-smacking acidity on the finish. Mueller-Thurgau wines are generally simple everyday wines and this is a prime example of such wines.

2008 Hofgarten Grauer Burgunder Kabinett trocken 13% Euro 7.00 (87 Points)

In a light Bourgogne bottle with a screw top.

Grauer Burgunder - Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio - is a white wine grape thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot Noir grape and has a grayish-blue fruit. It is enjoying a wave of popularity in the US.

Kabinett trocken - a dry premium wine, where chaptalization is not allowed and the alcohol content (13%) is the result of the sugar in the grapes at harvest.


Tasting notes: Lemon yellow with a shade of copper-pink in the glass, floral bouquet, a medium bodied wine with hints of pear and apple aromas. Good structure, satisfying and soft finish.

2008 Hofgarten Weisser Burgunder Kabinett trocken 13% Euro 7.00 (87 Points)

In a light Bourgogne bottle with a screw top.

Weisser Burgunder – Pinot Blanc: Historically a popular grape in the Bourgogne and the Champagne, but now widespread in Alsace, which is on the other side of the Rhine valley from the Estate.

Kabinett trocken, with 13% alc.


Tasting Notes: Light straw yellow in the glass, hints of green apples and peaches on the nose, a medium-bodied wine with refreshing and fruity aromas on the palate, including ripe pineapple, apricots and pears, and with a lingering finish.

2008 Oberrotweiler Eichberg Muskateller Spaetlese trocken 13.5% Euro 9.90 (88 Points)

In a German flute bottle with a screw cap.

Muskateller - an exotic grape: This fragrant grape probably originated in Asia and is considered to be one of the oldest existing varietals. Barbarossa, who reigned as Roman Emperor from 1155 to 1190, appreciated this wine and it is also mentioned in the Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs), which was written during this period. It now accounts for just 1 % of the cultivated vineyards in Germany.

Spaetlese trocken (13.5 % alc.) - has a somewhat higher sugar content at harvest than Kabinett trocken and cannot be chaptalized.

Oberrotweiler Eichberg - a vineyard with a lot of exposure to the sun. The soil consists of weathered volcanic rocks.

Tasting notes: straw-yellow with green shades in the glass and beautiful legs, burst of white pears, pineapple, papaya and fresh lime on the nose, a full-bodied and hot wine that ends on a note of green apple with a light fizz.

2008 Oberrotweiler Henkenberg Grauer Burgunder Spaetlese trocken 13.5% Euro 12.50 (89 Points)

In a light Bourgogne bottle with cork.

Grauer Burgunder.

Spaetlese trocken (13.5 % alc.).

Oberrotweiler Henkenberg - The name derives from the vineyard’s being the former site of the manorial gallows. The south-facing vineyards comprise 53 hectares of volcanic weathering soils (ash and tuff) with basalt layers.

Tasting notes: dark straw yellow in the glass, a bit timid on the nose, spritzy and a hint of sweetness on the palate, very crispy with hints of kiwi, good acidity, with a hot, almost spicy, finish.

2008 Oberrotweiler Eichberg, Weisser Burgunder Spaetlese trocken 14.5% (89 Points)

In a light Bourgogne bottle with a cork.

Weisser Burgunder.

Spaetlese trocken (14.5 % alc.) - this is close to the upper limit for the alcohol content of a wine; if you want to go beyond that you would need to fortify the wine.

Oberrotweiler Eichberg.

Tasting Notes: A wine that, initially, timidly displays its greatness, but when opened up shows great promise. Full bodied with a lot of lime and citrus, high in alcohol, but very elegant. A hint of petrol adds to its attraction. When open for a while, it blossoms into honeydew melon flavors, with a hot and spicy finish.

2008 Oberrotweiler Henkenberg Grauer Burgunder Spaetlese trocken 13.5% Baron Louis Barrique (92 Points)

In a heavy Bourgogne bottle with a cork.

Grauer Burgunder.

Spaetlese trocken (13.5 % alc.).

Oberrotweiler Henkenberg.

Barrique - The barrique is a wooden barrel with a capacity of 225 liters. The longer a wine spends in the barrel, the more of the oak flavor it will take on. There are dozens of other barrel shapes and sizes.

Tasting notes: dark straw yellow in the glass with legs that won’t quit. An attack of mango and Caribbean rum on the nose- you feel like you’re inside a Gauguin painting. A full bodied wine, it elegantly combines the wood with fruit and lots of spices.

2008 Oberrotweiler Eichberg Chardonnay Spaetlese trocken 13% Barrique (92 Points)

In a heavy Bourgogne bottle with a cork.


Spaetlese trocken (13 % alc.).

Oberrotweiler Eichberg.


Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller

Tasting notes: Showcases the best aspects of an old world style Chardonnay - very different from Napa Chardonnays. Attack of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves on the nose, hint of mashed bananas, musky on the palate, with a hot and spicy finish.

Red wines

2008 Oberrotweiler Eichberg, Spaetburgunder, QbA trocken, 13.0% (86 Points)

In a light Bourgogne bottle with a screw cap.

Spaetburgunder - In Germany, the Pinot Noir is called Spätburgunder. It is to red wine what the Riesling is to white wine: the cream of the crop. In the US, Pinot Noir shows great promise in Oregon and California. The reputation that gets Pinot Noir so much attention, however, is owed to the wines of the Bourgogne in France, where it has probably been cultivated since at least the 4th century (first documented, however, in the 14th century).

Regardless of where it’s grown, Pinot Noir is not typically a value wine. That is because Pinot Noir is such a delicate grape that it is difficult and expensive to grow and make into the spectacular wine it can be. It is very sensitive to climate and soil. Pinot Noir needs warmth (but not intense heat) to thrive and does well in chalky soils. As the German name implies, it ripens late (spät).

QbA trocken (13 % alc.).

Oberrotweiler Eichberg.

Tasting notes: Light ruby-red in the glass with nice legs, you smell wet leaves with strawberries, a light-bodied wine with plenty of red fruit on the palate, dry, acidic finish. A pleasant autumn wine.

2008 Oberbergener Bassgeige Spaetburgunder QbA trocken 13.5% (89 Points)

In a light Bourgogne bottle with a screw cap.

Oberbergener Bassgeige - a premium single vineyard, which consists of black volcanic rock.

QbA trocken (13.5 % alc.).


Tasting notes: Light ruby red in the glass with beautiful legs, immediate attack of stewed red fruit, chocolate and grilled bread on the nose, a delicate medium bodied wine with a note of spices on the lingering finish.

2006 Oberrotweiler Eichberg Spaetburgunder QbA trocken Baron Philipp Barrique 13.5% (91 Points)

In a heavy Bourgogne bottle with a cork.

QbA trocken (13.5 % alc.).


Oberrotweiler Eichberg.


Tasting notes: Light ruby-red with thick legs on the glass, red fruit flavors with earthiness and minerality on the nose. A medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced wine: has the fruit –with a hint of Malagasy vanilla - but the tannins as well. A very well rounded Pinot Noir.

2005 Oberrotweiler Eichberg Spaetburgunder Qba trocken 14% Barrique (92 Points)

In a heavy Bourgogne bottle with a cork.

QbA trocken at 14% alc.

Oberrotweiler Eichberg.


Tasting notes: Attack of oranges and honeysuckle on the nose, light velvet mouthfeel with beautiful legs in the glass. A full-bodied wine with hints of blackberries and vanilla, on the palate it is meaty and jammy without being too overloaded with fruit, with a soft and well-rounded finish.

Sweet and noble sweet wines

2008 Hofgarten Muskateller Kabinett feinherb 11% (88 Points)

A German flute bottle with screw cap.

Kabinett feinherb at 11 % alc. - a Kabinett wine (that means it was not chaptalized) that is “feinherb“ meaning 18 to 45 grams remaining sugar per liter. A wine that should fully ferment, as did the other Kabinett wines in the tasting, so sterilized juice was potentially added to achieve the desired level of remaining sweetness.



Tasting notes: Attack of lush, opulent orange peel and passion fruit. A medium-bodied, very aromatic wine with bursts of papaya, pineapple, sweet white peas and passion fruit, as well as notes of ylang-ylang and over ripe Malagasy litchi. Nice interplay of sweetness and acidity, thick legs.

2008 Oberrotweiler Eichberg Chardonnay Beerenauslese, 7.5 % (92 Points)

Small bottle 0.375 liter.

Chardonnay, Oberrotweiler Eichberg.

Beerenauslese at 7.5 % alc. - The flagships of German wines are the noble sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. There is nothing you can do to prevent these wines from becoming noble-sweet. They are made either from botrytised grapes (the first two) or grapes that were harvested during frost. More specifically, in the first case, the fog in the autumn mornings at German river banks produces a fungal infection, botrytis cineria (noble rot), which removes the water in the grapes and adds a unique flavor. In the second case, the frost late in the year removes the water in the grapes when the temperatures fall (but does not produce the botrytis taste).

Tasting notes: A concentration of nature, golden, thick in the glass with legs that won‘t quit. Attack of guava, honey, overripe pineapple and pear as well as Malagasy litchi on the nose, velvety mouth feel. This jewel on the basis of a non-traditional grape does not have the acidity that you can expect from a Riesling Beerenauslese, but is almost obscenely sweet, with a never ending, spicy finish.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Wine Ratings: Austria - Falstaff's Top Red Wines 2009/10

Wine tasting: Soter Wines from Oregon at Out-of-Sight Wines in Vienna, US

In the Glass: A 2007 Pinot Noir from the Gault Millau Shooting Star of the Year - Estate Baron Gleichenstein, Germany

Wine tasting Notes: Woelffer Wines from Long Island, New York State, US

In the Glass: Pinot Noir from France, Germany and California

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