Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Avantgarde Wine World of Dr. Martin Tesch

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Martin Tesch in New York in 2010 and Riesling People Vol. 1

Martin Tesch is an avantgarde winemaker and he has now published an avantgarde book about his world of Riesling wine and Rock and Roll music - Riesling People Vol. 1.

Martin Tesch

Dr. Martin Tesch owns and runs Weingut Tesch in the Nahe valley. The Weingut has been family-owned and run since 1723 and is a member of the prestigious VDP, the century-old association of Germany’s top winemakers.

In his mid-thirties, Martin Tesch is a Ph.D. microbiologist by training. He took over Weingut Tesch in 1996 and has presided over fundamental changes both in the vineyard and the wine cellar as well as in the marketing of the Tesch wines.

When Martin Tesch stepped in, the vineyards totaled over 30 hectares and the wine portfolio was pretty mainstream, with a multitude of grape varieties, of quality levels according to the German wine law and of styles in terms of sweetness of the wine.

Martin changed this radically.

First, he cut back on the overall output of the winery. All the north-facing vineyard slopes were abandoned as they naturally produced poorer grapes. These slopes have now reverted to nature and helped create habitat and biodiversity.

Next, he concentrated on Riesling and Pinot Noir, the king and the queen of German grape varieties. All other grapes were grubbed up. Today the vineyard area totals 20 hectares of which 17 is Riesling and the remainder Pinot Noir.

Starting in 2001, Martin stopped producing sweet-style wines. All Tesch wines are now bone-dry, except, it seems, for the occasional Eiswein when conditions allow.

Further, he has moved to natural and non-interventionist winemaking and strict yield control of between 20-30 hl/ha. The harvest is manual and he picks the grapes at full ripeness, but avoids botrytis.

Also, he changed and simplified the label design. There are no long words anymore on the label. Each wine is color-coded and has individual artwork to distinguish it. One of the wines that caught my eye is his wine “unplugged”, like Eric Clapton’s “unplugged” music and the music of the other unplugged CD series artists, a natural wine, with minimal intervention, just as mother nature intended it.

Finally, Martin Tesch now uses the Stelvin glass closure. It is a ultra-modern and expensive technical fitting; Martin Tesch and an increasing number of his colleagues are very upbeat about it.

Riesling People, Vol 1

This is an unusual book. It explains in a straightforward way, without words, what makes Martin Tesch tick and the wines he produces so special. Obviously, Martin Tesch loves Rock and Roll and lives with Rock and Roll.

As a picture-book and travelogue, Riesling People Vol. 1 differs dramatically from the usual wine books. Almost without words, the book tells the story of Martin Tesch and his love for Riesling and Rock and Roll music. It is narrated by black and white photography, printed on glossy paper, and showcases the ecclectic mix of wine and music in Martin's world.

The central theme of the book is the Rolling Riesling Show, which was jointly organized by Martin Tesch and the guitar manufacturer Gibson. Martin Tesch took an audience that was not necessary knowledgeable about wine through six different dry Rieslings and their soil-specific differences. In addition to the Rolling Riesling Show events, the book includes pictures from London wine bars, from Hong Kong, New York, Jancis Robinson and Stuart Pigott, proud Australian importers with the first container of Tesch wines, Martin Tesch at the concert of the Tote Hosen in Trier and backstage with the Düsseldorfer Punk Rockers at Rock am Ring.

Martin Tesch also has received the Red Dot Communication Design Award for the design of his wine labels – the first ever for a winery.

Pictures: Riesling People Vol. 1

Weingut Tesch, Nahe

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

In the Glass: Unplugged - Eric Clapton and Martin Tesch

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

Best of German Dry White Wines and Winemakers - The Falstaff 2010 Ranking

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Germany's 15 Top Winemakers - the Feinschmecker 2010 Wine Guide

Wine Ratings: Riesling Cup 2009 - Germany's Top Dry Rieslings

German Wine Basics: Erstes Gewaechs, Grosses Gewaechs, Erste Lage

Germany's Best Red Wines: The 2009 VINUM AWARDS

In the Glass: 2007 Rheinhessen with Oysters at the Ten Bells in the Lower East Side in Manhattan

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

Tasting Notes: German Wines imported into the US by Valckenberg

Wine Caravan from Germany Visiting the East Coast, US: Dr. Fischer, Fitz Ritter, Bolling-Lehnert, Schneider, Dr. Thanisch


  1. Great article. How is it that there are no words on the label? I thought Germany required several points of information on wine labels.

  2. I do not have a Tesch bottle with me right now, but I am sure, all what is required is there, if not on the front label then on the back label.

  3. Looks like I just read it wrong - there are no *long* words on the label. Thanks!

  4. All necessary and requested informations are on the back side label.