Picture: Manfred Aufricht
The Exciting Lake Constance Wines of the Aufricht Brothers
I had the pleasure to participate - with the Hochheimer Weinfreunde - in a wine tasting at the Aufricht Estate in Baden, Germany, at Lake Constance. The Aufricht Estate is the rising star of the region, and arguably the lake's best winemaker.
Baden is Germany’s most southerly and - with 16,000 hectares (39,300 acres) under vine – third largest wine region. Despite its size and the quality of its wines, it is not well known outside of Germany, because it exports very little.
From north to south, Baden spans approximately 200 kilometers, and is primarily situated on the right bank of the Rhein river. On the left bank is Alsace in France. Baden is divided into nine districts; one of them is the Lake Constance district, where the Aufricht Estate is located.
Baden is known for its Pinot wines, both white and red,which account for more than half of Baden’s wine output. Riesling plays only a minor role.
Lake Constance - in German: Bodensee - is shared by Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The largest City on the lake is Constance - in German: Konstanz. On the Swiss side is the Canton of Thurgau, where the grape variety Mueller Thurgau comes from, created by Hermann Mueller in 1882. The Austrian part does not have much wine, if any; the wine regions of Austria are on the other side of the country, in the east.
The Wines Industry in Baden
In Baden - like in Wuerttemberg - the Wine industry is dominated by wine co-operatives; they account for 85% of the region's production. This explains the low export share. Private winemakers are the exception.
The Aufricht Estate
One of these exceptions is the Aufricht Estate. They started out as a member of a wine co-operative and became independent about 20 years ago, after the brothers Robert and Manfred Aufricht had taken over from their parents.
Manfred, the younger of the two brothers, explained that all grapes are selectively hand-picked. For over ten years now the Aufrichts follow environmentally-friendly winemaking principles.
The Estate is located on the same latitude as Burgundy, on Lake Constance between Meersburg and Hagnau. The lake’s water reflects the sun like a mirror. The roots of the vines get their "food" from the glacial moraine of granite, limestone and gneiss of the Alps.
The Wine Portfolio
The vineyard area totals 24 hectares, with holdings in the Fohrenberg and Sängerhalde sites. The Aufricht brothers grow Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Pinot Madeleine and Regent, and Pinot Gris, Auxerrois,Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. The Aufricht brothers were the first to plant Sauvignon Blanc again in the Lake Constance region. The top red wines are matured in barriques for several years. Bottle-fermented sparkling wines are also produced.
The wine list contains about 30 wines. Half of them are white wines, starting from Euro 7.40 and going up to Euro 17.40. The red wines start at Euro 7.90; most red wines do not go beyond Euro 10. One of the two exceptions is a 2007 Pinot Noir for Euro 30.50, which is the most expensive wine in the portfolio. Lake Constance wines are, in general, no bargain wines – but still very good deals by American standards.
The exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.24 US$ = 0.81 BP = 108 Japanese Yen.
The last years brought Robert and Manfred Aufricht worldwide recognition and honors. The Aufricht Estate has now 2 Grapes (out of 5) in the Gault Millau Wine Guide.
The tasting took place in a stylish glass-fronted, lake-view tasting room. Everywhere, the ambition to create something classy and upscale was in evidence. After the tasting, I benefited from a pleasant stroll through the vineyards, with gorgeous views of grapevine-framed, turquoise-colored, sailing-boat-dotted, mountain-surrounded Lake Constance over to the Swiss shore.
Pictures: Tasting Room, Christian G.E.Schiller with Manfred Aufricht and View of the Aufricht Estate and Vineyard with Lake Constance
Robert und Manfred Aufricht
D-88719 Meersburg / Stetten
Fon 0049- (0)7532- 2427
Fax 0049- (0)7532- 2421
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