Thursday, October 27, 2011

Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Georg and Stefan Rumpf in Muenster-Sarmsheim

I met Georg Rumpf - the young and energetic winemaker of Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe region in Germany - for the first time at a presentation of the VDP wine producers of the Nahe, Rheinhessen and Ahr regions in Mainz, Germany in 2010. Then, after a tasting of German wines in Washington DC, lead by Phil Bernstein from MacArthur Beverages (the tasting covered 4 winemakers of the Therry Theise Portfolio and one of them was Weingut Kruger-Rumpf), George invited me to come over to his winery the next time I was in Germany.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Phil Bernstein in Washington DC

I gladly accepted Georg's invitation. In fact, since the invitation at the beginning of this year, I visited Weingut Kruger-Rumpf twice, I also met Georg’s father, Stefan Rumpf, and had dinner at the lovely Kruger-Rumpf country restaurant, which is part of the Kruger-Rumpf Estate and run by Georg's mother Cornelia. Further, my wife Annette and my daughter Katharina went to the winery for the autumn wine presentation and got a special cellar tour by Georg. My wife struck a deal with Georg and bought 4 old barrique barrels for our party cellar in Frankfurt am Main. We will soon go back to pick up the barrels and to have dinner again at their wonderful country restaurant.

I visited Weingut Kruger-Rumpf twice in the last couple of months. The first time, Georg had to reschedule because of an American client. But since I had scheduled a visit of Schlossgut Diel, which is just a stone throw away from Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, for the same day, we went there anyway and had a wonderful dinner at the lovely Kruger-Rumpf country restaurant. Georg and Stefan Rumpf were sitting next to us with the American client and were so kind to share with us some of the noble-sweet wines they were tasting. The second time - after a tasting with German Pinot Noir Star August Kesseler in Assmannshausan - was for our official appointment, where Georg rolled out the red carpet for me.

Picture: Stefan and Georg Rumpf Tasting with an American Client

I also brought a Kruger-Rumpf Riesling to the “Bring-Your-Own-Bottle” opening night of the 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference (along with a Riesling from the Finger Lakes, USA), where I wanted to pour two of my favorite Rieslings from the two countries where I live.

Pictures: At the European Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 in Brescia, Italy

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf

“In our family, viniculture has been tradition since 1708 - a tradition that we have been cultivating in our vineyards as well as in our manor house which was built back in 1830” said Georg. The estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim in the Nahe region in Germany.

Pictures: Weingut Kruger-Rumpf

Stefan Rumpf, Georg’s father, brought Weingut Kruger-Rumpf up to where it is today: After completing his studies in agricultural sciences, including stints in Californian wineries, and conducting research at the Geisenheim research institute, Stefan Rumpf took over the estate from his parents in 1984. Up until then, the wines were sold almost entirely in bulk. Stefan Rumpf changed this and started to bottle his wines and to market the bottles himself. Less than 10 years later, in 1992, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf was invited to join the VDP, the about 200 German elite winemakers, a clear sign of what Stefan Rumpf had achieved over the course of just 8 years.

Today, the vineyard area totals 22 hectares and the annual production is 14.000 cases. Georg Rumpf has taken over the winemaking aspect of Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, while his father is now more focusing on sales and general management.

The top sites are: Münsterer Dautenpflänzer (slate with sandy loam); Münsterer Pittersberg (slate); Münsterer Rheinberg (weathered quartzite and sandy loam); Binger Scharlachberg Rheinhessen (Rotliegend and porphyry).

Grape varieties: 65% Riesling, 10% each of Silvaner and Weissburgunder, 5% each of Chardonnay, Grauburgunder and Spätburgunder. In fact, Kruger-Rumpf was the first estate in the Nahe region to plant Chardonnay.

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf has 3 (of) 5 grapes in the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland. It took 1st place in the DER FEINSCHMECKER Deutscher Riesling Cup 2008.

In the US, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf is imported by Terry Theise.

In the Vineyard with Georg

When my wife and I arrived at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, the first thing Georg did, was to invite us for a tour of his vineyards. “Our vineyards are steep. They are located in a narrow side valley of the Nahe and in Rheinhessen, safe from wind and rain. In a small area, the steep slopes of our vineyards offer a wide range of different soil types. Deeply rooting vines get their minerals from the lower soil layers and bin them within their grapes” Georg explained in the car.

Pictures: With Georg in the Vineyards

At some point of the tour, where the Nahe river flows into the Rhine river, we had an extraordinary view of the Rhine valley with the vineyards of Ruedesheim on the other side of the Rhine river (including the vineyards of J. Leitz), the vineyards of the Mittelrhein area in some distance, the Rheinhessen region beginning on the other side of the Nahe river and we in a Kurger-Rumpf vineyard in the Nahe region. It was a gorgeous day. I will never forget this magic moment with Georg Rumpf.

Pictures: A Magic Moment with Georg in the Vineyards

We visited all the vineyards of Kurger-Rumpf, or at least saw them from a distance, like the Binger Scharlachberg on the other side of the Nahe river:

Münsterer Pittersberg - Großes Gewächs, 5.5 ha, largest site of the winery, Soil: Devon-slate, wine: Riesling with citric like aroma and well balanced acidity.

Münsterer Dautenpflänzer - Großes Gewächs, 1.7 ha, heart of Kapellenberg, highest-class site of the winery, Soil: quartzite alteration with loess clay, Grape variety: Riesling, Scheurebe, Wine: fruity, consistent wine.

Münsterer Rheinberg - 1.9 ha, Soil: predominantly quartzite and slate, Grape variety: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Wine: diverse wines.

Münsterer Kapellenberg - 4 ha, all around Dautenpflänzer site; most diverse site of the winery, Soil: quartzite alteration with loess clay, Grape variety: Riesling, Pinot Blanc.

Dorsheimer Burgberg - 0.8 ha, particularly good microclimate through site in form of an amphitheatre, Soil: clay soil with slate and quartzite, Grape variety: Riesling, Wine: delicately balanced Riesling wine with discreet fruit aroma.

Binger Scharlachberg (Rheinhessen) - 1 ha, only site located in Rheinhessen; the name of the site arose from a high ferrous oxide part within the stone which colors the soil red, Soil: quartzite alteration with slate, Grape variety: Riesling, Wine: fruity, very complex wine.

Pictures: With Georg in the Vineyards

“White wine is our specialty as Riesling grows on 70 % of our steep slopes by the Nahe. We are especially proud of our 50 year old Riesling vines at our sites Münsterer Pittersberg and Münsterer Dautenpflänzer. Silvaner and Pinot Blanc take up 10% of our vineyards each. The different Pinot varieties (Pinot Gris, Pinot Madeleine and Pinot Noir) as well as Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Gewürztraminer complete our assortment” said Georg.

Pictures: With Georg in the Vineyards

In terms of farming, the guiding principle is sustainable vineyard practices. “You can’t improve wine in the cellar, only make it worse,” Georg’s father Stefan said later. “At least ninety percent of the quality of a wine comes from the raw material you harvest.” And “Our grapes ripen in sunny, steep hillsides safe from wind within the Nahetal and Rheinhessen region. What we care about is a strong crop reduction in the vineyard as well as a gentle treatment of the grapes. In order to guarantee best quality, we harvest our grapes by thorough hand picking. Afterwards, we grant our wine sufficient time and rest in the cellar.”

In the Wine Cellar with Georg

After the vineyard tour, Georg showed us around in the winery, which has some very traditional parts, like the ancient wine cellar and then stunning modern parts, like the tasting room.

Picture: Kruger-Rumpf Winecellar

Later during the tasting, Georg explained to me that he and his father are searching for the perfect balance

- perfect balance with mother nature through gentle and natural farming in the vineyard;

- perfect balance with the development of the grapes by manually harvesting only fully ripe grapes during several passages through the vineyard;

- perfect balance in the wine cellar by as little intervention as possible in the fermentation and aging process of the wine.

Dinner at the Country Restaurant

One of the (many) assets of Weingut Kruger Rumpf is the lovely country restaurant, which is part of the winery. It is run by Georg’s mother Cornelia. It opened its doors in 1994. They call it a wine tavern, but for me it is a country restaurant. Whatever you call it, it is a lovely place, where you can have a great time with traditional, upscale cuisine and Kruger-Rumpf wines in the cozy atmosphere of a family-run country restaurant .

Pictures: The Krueger-Rumpf Weinstube and Stefan and Cornelia Rumpf

The rooms are decorated with appropriate accessories depending on the season. Painted stucco ceilings, historic tiled stoves, wooden floors, warm wall paint as well as furniture in country-house style provide for a comfortable living room atmosphere. The bright rooms are located on the ground floor of the manor house.

In addition, there is an idyllic garden. Especially during the summer, the garden restaurant of the winery provides you with the opportunity to enjoy the evening in a cozy al fresco atmosphere with a hearty meal and a good glass of wine. In fact, we did the tasting with Georg in the garden restaurant.

Pictures: Modern Art in a Traditional Weinstube

For special events, there also is a Gewölberaum for 90 people and a Tafelraum for 20 people. Finally, the courtyard provides space for up to 200 people.

Pictures: The Delicious Food in the Weinstube

Cornelia Rumpf said: “Among the most favorite classics of our guests are our braised hog jowls with green beans and roast potatoes as well as our Winzerschmaus with green salad, which is cheese and bacon in a potato-bread dough. Depending on the season, we replenish our menu with typical seasonal dishes.”

What Georg Poured

The Kruger-Rumpf Portfolio comprises about 40 different wines. About 20 of them are Rieslings, ranging from a simple “Literwein” to (dry) Grosses Gewaechs wines and (noble-sweet) icewines. Then, there are less than 10 other white grape varities, with the focus on Burgundy grapes. The remainder is comprised of red wines (Pinot Noir) and bubblies.

Pictures; Christian G.E. Schiller and Georg Rumpf in the Garden Restaurant

Weingut Krueger-Rumpf sells 70% of its production in Germany and exports the remaining 30%. Accordingly, “80% of the wines we produce are dry wines” said Georg “ and 20% are fruity-sweet and noble-sweet wines.”

Terry Theise’s Kruger-Rumpf portfolio comprises 9 wines. His selection reflects very well the American market: there is no red wine and only one of the 9 wines is a dry wine, all others are fruity- sweet and noble sweet.

Here are the wines, I tasted with my (CS) and Terry Theise’s (TT) comments (which I put for the wines that are imported into the US by Terry Theise). For the complete Terry Theise selection and what else he wrote about Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, see here.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Weisser Burgunder, trocken

CS: fresh, clean and crisp, mostly fermented and aged in stainless steel.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Weisser Burgunder “S”, trocken

CS: “S” means selection. It shows white fruit on the nose with floral, with pear notes and a hint of vanilla, rich on the palate, with more spices and a bright finish. Fermented and aged in large oak barrels. Kruger-Rumpf also makes Pinot Gris, a Chardonnay and white Pinot Noir, which I did not taste.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling SCHIEFER, trocken

CS: Smooth and rounded on the palate with layered fruit, minerality and good acidity.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling QUARZIT, trocken

CS: I lovely wine for every day consumption. I bought a case of it and took it with me to the “Bring-Your-Own-Bottle” opening party of the European Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 in Brescia, Italy. In the “Terroirweine” compartment, Georg makes a dry SCHIEFER and a dry as well as a sweet-style (feinherb) QUARZIT (see below)

2010 Muensterer Riesling, trocken

CS: With bright aromas of peach, pear, chalk and slate minerality, quite lush on the palate, fruity, minerally and clean, a hint of natural spice with lovely acidity and lingering finish.

2010 Binger Riesling, trocken

CS: Crisp green apple aromas with undertones of herbs, refreshing on the palate, good acidity.

2010 Muensterer Kapellenberg, Riesling trocken

CS: Upfront, ripe stonefruit and pear aromas.

2009 Dautenpflaenzer Riesling Grosses Gewaechs

CS: Dautenpflaenzer (and Pittersberg) are the top grand cru vineyards of Kruger-Rumpf; quartzite alteration with loess clay.

TT: They feel this is the best GG they have made. I’m tempted to agree. The overall effect is stern, but the heavy tread lands a deep blow of terroir, smoke, lemon and violet, with a stony-earthy foresty length. The wine isn’t easy, but lovers of a certain craggy austerity will find a rare pleasure.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling SCHIEFER, feinherb

TT: From the GG Pittersberg. If you want to know why he cannot use its name on the label, write to VDP, La-La-land, “Twisted In Knots” cul-de-sac. They’ll explain. This wine is effectively dry, that’s to say that any normal sentient taster would find it acceptably dry if dry were what he insisted upon. There’s a classic slatey fragrance with notes of quince and balsam; a tangy palate with a pleasing gingery sourness and smoky length.

2010 Muensterer Rheinberg, Riesling Kabinett

CS: Rheinberg is the steepest of the three “Erste Lage” vineyards, on weathered quartzite and dusty loam – “similar to Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck” according to Georg.

TT: Ah, 97˚ Oechsle. I mean, good grief. Since it is a Spätlese, and a “star” Spät at that, it needs more RS than in lighter vintages. There’s some tonka-bean sponti aromas; a large-scaled tangy appley palate, granular and fibrous. You get a 1-2 class upgrade to a lovely (and not all that sweet) Spät.

2010 Muensterer Dautenpflaenzer, Riesling Spaetlese

TT: I sometimes wonder whether any Scheu sneaks into this wine; it’s so exotic, and they have Scheu in the site…and this ’10 is salty and lovely and oh-so-slightly grassy, and again it’s green, Chartreuse and verbena, a whipsaw of steel, mint, quince and smoke; determined yet also gracious.

2010 Binger Scharlachberg, Riesling Spaetlese

CS: Scharlachberg is located in Rheinhessen, across the Nahe river, soil: quartzite alteration with slate.

TT: Only 400 liters (about 42 cases) were made. Nearly 100˚, a sponti, whole-cluster pressed; a rapturously flowery aroma, with another hint of grass; on the palate a surprising whomp of stern power on the back; the fruit is green again but there’s an orchid-y kelpy kick of yuzu below the giddy floral high notes. Not an easy wine, but it’s one of those your mouth isn’t quite big enough for.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spätlese

TT: The cat has to peek out from amidst the thickets this year, but the wine is like a paperweight in its concentration of substance and weight; really piney and limey and Riesling-like – but this will change, and its inner Beelzebub will emerge.

2009 Muensterer Pittersberg, Riesling Auslese

TT: At this point this was only the second Auslese (other than Catoir) I let myself select. I told myself I had to be overwhelmed. And wow, this is sensational, a momument of Nahe-Riesling; 56-year-old vines, 122° Oechsle with 25% botrytis, and the reputation of ’09 will rest on wines like this, a swollen mass of apples and crushed rocks and walnut- extract; infinitely rich but not blatantly sweet; salty, like a tarte flambée with slices of apple.

2009 Münsterer Pittersberg Riesling Eiswein “Goldkapsel”

TT: First offering. These are both astonishing wines, and you owe it to yourself to see what the real thing is actually like. All due respect to the Canadians, but it’s too easy, and it shows in the wines. The “lighter” of these – at 180˚ - is a fascinating elixir, salty and malty and wintergreeny, an essence of Pittersberg that will age elegantly; these are not sugar-heavy acid-freaky Eisweins. The Goldkap is of course riper and richer yet amazingly still transparent, albeit massively plummy yet still brilliant; has a fat and salt sweetness like a cidery miso brine you use for pork-belly.

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