Tina Huff, Mirjam Schneider and Eva Vollmer are three gifted female winemakers from Rheinhessen in Germany, all three of them in their 20s, and best friends. They help each other and they spend a lot of time together. I have met them individually several times and I met them together at the recent wine festival at Weingut Eva Vollmer. They did an interesting Silvaner tasting. I thought, to write about these 3 female winemakers was an appropriate subject for International Women Day 2012.
International Women Day 2012
International Women Day. It started as a socialist political event in the early 1900s and is now celebrated in many countries around the world. In countries with socialist roots, like China and the former Soviet Bloc countries, it is a national holiday.
See also: Wine and International Women Day 2010
Rheinhessen is an area that used to be known for winemakers often focusing on quantity and not quality. Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards. Unlike in other German wine regions, where monoculture of the vine is the norm, here the many rolling hills are host to a wide variety of crops grown alongside the grape.
Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch. At the same time, Rheinhessen is among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. This is not because of the terroir, but because of the people. There is an increasing group of mostly young and ambitious winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. Tina Huff, Mirjam Schneider and Eva Vollmer are 3 of them.
Weingut Eva Vollmer (2 Grapes Gault Millau)
Eva Vollmer is the 2010 Gault Millau Germany Wine Guide Discovery of the Year. She owns and operates - jointly with her husband Robert Wagner - a new Wine Estate in Rheinhessen in the outskirts of Mainz.
After studies in Geisenheim and an internship in California at Wlliam Hill and Atlas Peak, she founded the winery in 2007. She took over the vineyards of her father, who used to grow grapes only and sell them. Since then, she has not only produced outstanding wines , but also completed a Masters at the University of Giessen and is currently working on a doctorate.
The very first vintage in 2007 was Eva Vollmer’s big bang on the national wine stage. Only just under 5,000 bottles were filled from the first vintage.
Weingut Eva Vollmer is in the process of moving to organic wine growing.
I have published the following posting about Weingut Eva Vollmer:
Winemaker Eva Vollmer is Germany’s Discovery of the Year 2010
Eva Vollmer’s Classification System
Along with other winemakers, Eva is moving away from the classical German wine classification and has established her own quality standards. She groups her wines into 3 categories: Gutswein, Ortswein and Lagenwein, in line with the new VDP classification.
All wines, by law, need to be classified according to the 1971 German Wine Law. All Eva Vollmer wines are classified as QbA, regardless of the Oechsle at harvest and thus they can be chaptalized. The QbA on the label is meaningless.
Gutswein: These wines are intended for everyday consumption: uncomplicated, fresh and stimulating. To guide the consumer, there is a dot behind the grape variety, for example, Silvaner..
Premiumwein: The wines of this line are complex and an ideal dinner companion. There is an exclamation point behind the grape, for example, Silvaner!.
Kultwein: Eva Vollmer’s top wines from top vineyards (Hüttberg and Böckhohl) with old vines. o help the consumer, there is a exclamation mark after the vineyard on the label, for example, Böckhohl!.
The Wine Portfolio
The Eva Vollmer wine portfolio comprises Silvaner, Scheurebe, Weißburgunder and Riesling white wines and Dornfelder und Spätburgunder red wines. There are currently about a dozen wines or so on the wine list, with prices starting at Euro 5.50 for a Silvaner. Trocken Gutswein up to a Dornfelder! Barrique for Euro 10. The wine portfolio also contains an excellent Weissburgunder! Sekt brut for Euro 9.30.
Weingut Schneider – Mirjam Schneider (1 Grape Gault Millau)
The Schneider Estate in Hechtsheim at the outskirts of Mainz looks back to a long winemaking tradition. Already since 1715 the Schneider family has grown and made wine. Mirjam Schneider, a young lady in her 20s is the 6th generation. She has split up the work with her father, Lothar Schneider, who looks after agriculture, while she is responsible for the viticulture and the wine making in the cellar. In the farm shop of the Schneiders, you will find both fresh fruits and vegetables and wines from Mirjam's cellar.
Mirjam Schneider says that she always wanted to become a winemaker. She did her formal education, went to New Zealand to get an international perspective and took over the winery in 2005. As many other winemakers, she is trying to push nature to the fore and chemistry to the back: “The focus of my work is dealing with nature - because wine is for me a valuable natural product. I therefore attach great importance not only to keeping the wine in the process as natural as possible, but to bring this understanding to the vineyard as well.”
Mirjam Schneider’s Classification System
Along with other winemakers, she is moving away from the classical German wine classification and has established her own quality standards. She groups her wines into 3 categories: Gutsweine (***), Ortsweine (****) und Lagenweine (*****). All wines, by law, need to be classified according to the 1971 German Wine Law. All the Schneider wines are classified as Tafelwein or QbA, according to the classical German wine classification system, and thus they can be chaptalized. But the QbA on the label of this wine is meaningless and confusing. This Merlot was at the Auslese level at harvest. And it was chaptalized a bit to increase the alcohol content. It is a bone dry wine. A top level wine.
I hav epublishe the following postings about Mirjam Schneider:
Weinfest im Kirchenstueck: Meeting the Winemakers of Mainz-Hechtsheim and Tasting Their Wines, Germany
In the Glass: Mirjam Schneider's 2007 Merlot No.2 from Rheinhessen, Germany
Mijam Schneider’s Impressive Merlots
Mirjam makes impressive, unusual, new-world style Merlots. I have reviewed Mirjam Schneider's 2007 Merlot here:
Until a few years ago, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were grape varieties that Germans would know from Bordeaux or other wine regions in the world, but it was alien to German wine making. This is apparently changing. Well, the story behind this is global warming. The head of the wine maker association in the Bourgogne has warned that in 50 years, there wouldn’t be any Pinot Noir wines from the Bourgogne any more. But we might have excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots in the Rheinhessen region.
Merlot is one of the most popular red wine varietals in the world. It is estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares globally, with an increasing trend, behind Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. France is home to nearly two thirds of the world's total plantings of Merlot, where it is one of the primary grapes of Bordeaux wine. It is particularly prominent on the Right Bank of the Gironde in the regions of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion where it will commonly comprises the majority of the blend. One of the most famous and rare wines in the world, Château Pétrus, is almost all Merlot. In California, Merlot can range from very fruity simple wines to more serious, barrel aged examples. I have also had some excellent Merlots from Long Island on the East Coast.
The Gau-Bischofsheimer Kellersberg is a south facing slopes vineyard with a sandy loess-loam soil. As its ground warms quickly, it offers Pinot Noir and Merlot optimal conditions.
When I talked with Mirjam about her Merlot, she stressed the following:
“- strict pruning in the vineyard is a major quality component of the wine
- this is my second merlot vintage
- the wine was aged for 18 month in small barrels (barrique)
- the wine was filtered just once and then immediately bottled
- the grapes were harvested on October 6, 2007. At harvest, the grapes had a sugar content of 99 degrees Oechsle; this is Auslese level.
- to increase the alcohol content , the wine was chaptalized by 1.5 percent in terms of alcohol, as a lot of alcohol is lost during the traditional mash fermentation.”
Tasting Notes: Dark ruby red in the glass, tight legs, attack of cassis on the nose, with leather and charcoal, coupled with toned down vanilla, full-bodied wine, good firm tannins, good structure on the back, long spicy and hot finish. An attractive old world Merlot. I give the wine 89 points.
Tina Huff and Weingut Frits Ekkehard Huff (1 Grape Gault Millau)
Tina Huff’s name does not yet appear on the labels of the wines she makes, as her father still is very much involved with many aspects of winemaking at Weingut Frits Ekkehard Huff. Tina is however increasingly moving to the fore. “Today my parents Ekkehard and Doris still manage the operation, but following my studies in Geisenheim I am in the process of taking over as the fourth generation in the winery.” said Tina. “My sisters Daniela and Johanna have chosen other careers, but their views are still very important for me”.
Wine making at the Huff family goes back by 300 years. But for many years, wine making was part of a larger mixed farming operation and the wine grapes were sold in bulk to other wine makers. Tina Huff’s forefather John Huff III. was the one who in 1948 took the bold step of starting to bottle his wines. Through marriage, he had added 2 hectares of vineyard land to his own 2.5 hectares, making bottling a sustainable operation. Over the following years, the share of winemaking increased while the role of agriculture and livestock decreased at the Huff Estate.
“Our goal is top quality wines’ said Tina. “For this, you need healthy and aromatic grapes. Healthy soils with a high humus content and a functioning micro-organism are important. We do not use synthetic fertilizers, we encourage beneficial insects and work with natural and managed vegetation of the vineyard. “
“Of our 6 hectares of vineyards, 1.5 ha is “Rotliegend”. This is about 280 million years old clay and sandstone alteration. The special feature of these soils is the reddish coloration, which is caused by oxidized iron, like in the Niersteiner Roter Hang”.
The Weingut Huff Portfolio
Here is an overview of the wines Tina currently makes. It includes Weingut Ekkehart Huff’s comments (in German). The 3 numbers behind each wine give you the values for remaining sugar (g/l), acidity (g/l) and alcohol (%)
Blauer Portugieser 2009 Saftigkeit und Beerenfrucht machen diesen Wein zu leichtem Genuss feinherb 21 / 4,7 / 12
Rivaner 2010 Reife Frucht und milde Säure; süffiges Stöffchen feinherb 10 / 6,6 / 12
Morio-Muskat 2010 Aromatisches Bukett: erinnert an Holunderblüten und Litschie lieblich 41 / 8,2 / 9,5
Dornfelder 2009 Frisch wie saftige Schattenmorellen; samtig und vollmundig Classic 7,2 / 5,4 / 13
St. Laurent 2007 Dunkle Waldbeeren, vor allem Brombeere und Cassis, untermalt von dezenter Rauchnote trocken 0,9 / 4,5 / 12,5
Spätburgunder Weißherbst 2010 Fruchtiger Roséwein, vielfältiger Begleiter, ob zur Grillparty, mediterraner Küche oder Fisch und Krustentrieren trocken 7,5 / 7,5 / 12
Scheurebe 2010 Aromen von Grapefruit und Stachelbeere; filigraner Wein mit dezent mineralischem Abgang trocken 7,8 / 7,1 / 10,5
Weißburgunder 2010 Nussiger und vollmundiger Wein, der durch feine Frucht besticht trocken 10 / 7,3 / 12
Riesling 2009 Klassische Rieslingaromen wie Zitrone und Pfirsisch, unkomplizert und ansprechend trocken 4 / 6,8 / 12,5
Riesling 2010 Klassische Rieslingaromen wie Zitrone und Pfirsisch, unkomplizert und ansprechend trocken 7,4 / 7,5 / 12
Sylvaner 2010 Traditioneller und bodenständiger Sylvaner; super zur rheinhessischen Vesperplatte trocken 6 / 7 / 11
Riesling 2010 Limetten- und Maracujanoten machen diesen Wein zum exotischem Genuss feinherb 17,1 / 7,9 / 11,5
„vom Kalkstein“ Spätburgunder 2008 Burgundischer Typ, schlank und doch überraschend komplex, kann noch lagern trocken 0 / 5,4 / 13
Paterberg Grauburgunder 2010 Reife Melone und zarter Schmelz bei vollem Körper; gut strukturiert, daher nicht zu mächtig trocken 7,9 / 5,4 / 13
„vom Rotliegenden“ Riesling 2010 animierender Kabinett vom Roten Hang, perfekte Kombination von Trinkvergnügen und Bodenprägung trocken 5 / 7,3 / 11,5
Schloss Schwabsburg Riesling 2009 die 'Grande Dame' unserer Weine, die reife, exotische Frucht und Komplexität in sich vereint trocken 6 / 5 / 13
Schloss Schwabsburg Riesling 2010 Filigrane Rieslingfrucht und dennoch mit Tiefgang und Länge – das ist Schloss Schwabsburg trocken 5,9 / 6,6 / 12,5
„Rabenturm“ 2009 Extrem ausdrucksstark, intensive reife Frucht, komplexe Würze, ein Wein, mit dem man sich beschäftigen muss, um ihn zu begreifen 7 / 6,2 / 13
„Rabenturm“2010 Extrem ausdrucksstark, intensive reife Frucht, komplexe Würze, ein Wein, mit dem man sich beschäftigen muss, um ihn zu begreifen trocken 2,4 / 5,7 / 13
Frucht und edelsuesse Weine
Spätburgunder Weißherbst 2010 Das angenehme Erdbeeraroma macht diesen Wein zum Star in jeder Mädelsrunde lieblich 49 / 8,5 / 10
Kerner 2010 Saftig-fruchtiger Trinkspass, belebend wie ein tropischer Frucht-Cocktail lieblich 58 / 9 / 9
Riesling 2008 Klassische Spätlese vom Ölberg: nicht zu schwer mit angenehmem Süße-Säure-Spiel 46 / 7,1 / 9,5
Scheurebe 2009 Erinnert an kandierte, exotische Früchte, opulent und betörend edelsüß 94 / 6,7 / 8,5
Scheurebe Beerenauslese 2010 Exlodierende tropische Frucht bei vibrierender Säure. Ein lebendiger Wein mit extrem guter Lagerfähigkeit 147 / 12,5 / 7
Schloss Schwabsburg Riesling Beerenauslese _2010 Feine, hochreife Rieslingaromatik, dicht und konzentriert am Gaumen, langer Abgang – eine der Königsklassen am Roten Hang edelsüß 156 / 10,2 / 7,5
Silvaner Eiswein 2002 bernsteinfarben im Glas; duftet nach Rosinen und Bienenwachs; wunderbare Harmonie von süßen und herben Komponenten edelsüß 156 / 8,6 / 8,5
Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese 2006 hochkonzentriert und komplex: Cassis, Aprikose, Honig; lebt von der frischen Säure bei erstaunlichem Tiefgang Anmutung _edelsüß 207 / 9,6 / 9
Ergaenzende Spezialitaeten - Specialties
ProsEkki fruchtiger Perlwein mit zugesetzter Kohlensäure - feinherb, passend zu jeder Gelegenheit
Sekt Weißburgunder brut traditionelle Flaschengärung
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