Thursday, March 8, 2012

Visiting Winemaker Andreas Clauss and his Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza, Saale Unstrut, Germany

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Wine Maker Andreas Clauss, Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza

I visited with the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim the Saale Unstrut wine region in the eastern part of Germany. We visited 7 wineries during a period of 4 days. I am infrequently reporting about these visits.

This posting is about the Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza. We were received by wine maker Armin Clauss.

This is the 6th in a series of postings about the top winemakers of the Saale Unstrut region. I have already posted:

Weingut Pawis in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Weingut Lützkendorf in Saale Unstrut in Germany

Visiting Andre Gussek and his Weingut Winzerhof Gussek in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Weingut Klaus Boehme in Saale Unstrut in Germany

Visiting Andrea and Stephan Herzer at their Weingut Herzer in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Weinrallye #49 Müller-Thurgau

This posting is being published as part of the Weinrallye, a monthly blog event in Germany. Participating wine bloggers - mainly in Germany - are all releasing postings today under the heading "Mueller-Thurgau". Weinrallye is the brainchild of Thomas Lippert, a winemaker and wine blogger based in Heidelberg, Germany. The first wine rally took place in 2007. Thomas Lippert is the author of the wine blog Winzerblog. This month's wine rally is organized by the food blog cucina-casalinga. Mueller-Thurgau is the main grape veriety of the Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza.

The Saale Unstrut Wine Region

The Saale Unstrut wine region is Germany’s most northern wine region, in the valleys of the Saale and Unstrut rivers, around Freyburg and Naumburg. With 730 hectares of vineyard area, it is one of the smaller wine regions in Germany. The oldest record of viticulture dates back to the year 998 during the reign of Emperor Otto III.

Picture: The Saale Unstrut Region

Located in the area of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Saale-Unstrut has become a thriving emerging wine region after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 (as Sachsen, the other wine region in the area of the former GDR; Sachsen is half of the size of Saale Unstrut).

Pictures: Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza

Basically, all of the wineries we visited have experienced rapid growth and large investments over the past years, following 50 years of communism that did not allow for private initiative. In a way, Saale Unstrut is an emerging wine region in an old world wine country. It is pretty much an emerging market situation there, but without any foreign investors.

Most of the region's vineyards are situated in the State of Saxony-Anhalt, with the remainder in the State of Thuringia and in the State of Brandenburg (the "Werderaner Wachtelberg" near Potsdam). The vineyards are located on the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers. It all looks very attractive, with steep terraces, dry stone walls and century-old vineyard cottages, interspersed with meadows, floodplains. High above, are defiant castles and palaces.

Saale Unstrut is located in a region that was the intellectual and cultural center of Germany (Heiliges Roemisches Reich Deutscher Nationen) for many centuries. The second German university (after Prague) was the University of Leipzig, which is just 50 km away from Saale Unstrut. Schiller and Goethe, to name just 2, lived here. Culture, history, nature and wine are combined here perfectly.

Saale-Unstrut exports almost no wine and sells very little in the western part of Germany. Most of it is consumed in East Germany. The quality price ratio is not very favorable, so Saale Unstrut wines have a hard time to compete with the wines in West Germany. But the Saale Unstrut wine makers have no problems at all to sell their wine, as the Saale Unstrut wine is very popular with the locals and the tourists visiting East Germany, including the Baltic Sea. Of course, when you visit Weimar, Erfurth or Leipzig, to name a few of the many very historic towns of the eastern part of Germany, you want to drink local – either Saale Unstrut or Sachsen wines.

Saale-Unstrut is the northernmost of Germany's wine regions, and is therefore one of Europe's northernmost traditional wine regions. It lies to the north of the 51st degree of latitude, which was considered to be the limit for viticulture before global warming. Also, the weather is more variable than in the regions to the west. All the winemakers we met were concerned about the danger of late and winter frosts.

White grape varieties make up 75% of Saale-Unstrut's vineyards. The most common grape varieties are the white varieties Müller-Thurgau and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc). The wines tend to be vinified dry and have a refreshing acidity. In addition to the white classics of the region, we also had one fantastic tasting with red wines only (at Winzerhof Gussek) and got the chance to taste varieties like Holder and Andre that were new to me.

The Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza

The Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza – the name is a bit strange and might be changed in due course as wine maker Armin Clauss indicated - is in Bad Sulza in the part of the Saale-Unstrut wine-growing region that is in Thueringen. Only 10 percent of the vineyards of Saale Unstrut (700 hectares) is located in Thueringen, the remainder is in Sachsen-Anhalt. So, the name indicates that it is a very special wine estate, one of the few German wineries in the State of Thueringen.

Pictures: Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza

The Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza was the first Weingut in the State of Thueringen in 1993, after the reunifaction of East and West Germany. Initially, it was a subsidiary of the wine co-operative of Niedertrebra, but was bought by the Burkhardt family – the family of Armin Clauss’ wife Kathrin - in 1997. Wine has been made in Bad Sulza for more than 800 years.

Today, the Thueringer Weingut der Stadt Sulza is owned by the parents in law of Andreas Clauss, with a 20% participation of the City of Bad Sulza.

With 36 hectares of vineyard land, the Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza is the largest private winery in Saale Unstrut region, with vineyards on the slopes of the Ilm valley, stretching between Auerstedt, Bad Sulza and Großheringen. Extensive vineyard plantings have been made since 1999, and the range of grape varieties has been significantly expanded.

Today, white wines account for 70% of the production, with Müller-Thurgau (6,3 ha), Kerner (2,7 ha), Gutedel (Chasselas) (2,6 ha), Pinot Blanc (2,4 ha), Riesling (2,2 ha), Ruländer (Pinot Gris) (2,1 ha) and Traminer (1,7 ha) the main white grape varities.  As for red wines, Regent (6,2 ha), Cabernet Dorsa (2,1 ha), Frühburgunder (0,6 ha), Cabernet Mitos (0,4 ha), Dornfelder and Pinotin are planted.

The Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza produces 250.000 bottles of wine annually. A lot is sold through wine stores and restaurants in the State of Thueringen, although sales at the winery are increasing. 

Andreas and Kathrin Clauss

The Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza is managed by Andreas Clauss and his wife Kathrin. Kathrin was born in East Germany and graduated with a Diplom degree in agriculture. She was the Wine Princess of Thueringen in 1995/96. Today, she is looking after the marketing side of the Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza.We did not have a chance to meet Kathrin.

Pictures: Wine Maker Andreas Clauss, Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza

The wines are made by her husband Andreas, who is a trained wine maker. He was born in West Germany, near Stuttgart. Andreas Clauss moved to the Saale-Unstrut region after the reunification of Germany to work as a wine maker.

Andreas comes from a wine maker family. His 2 brothers are also wine makers. In fact, I know one of his brothers - Marcus Clauss from Weingut Zehe-Clauss in Mainz, Rheinhessen: Weinfest im Kirchenstueck: Meeting the Winemakers of Mainz-Hechtsheim and Tasting Their Wines, Germany. Andreas has been the driving force behind the expansion of the Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza since 1994.

The Wine Portfolio

Andreas Clauss: “We have a rather extensive white wine portfolio, with wine made in large oak barrels and in stainless steel tanks. The red wines are predominantly Regent und Cabernet Dorsa and are all made in barrique.

For us it is very important our dry wines are really dry. And this is for me 4 grams sugar per liter or less. I do not follow the route of some of my colleagues here in Saale Unstrut who go for higher remaining sugar. My dry wines are bone-dry.

Our vineyards Bad Sulzaer Sonnenberg and Auerstedter Tamsel are not that well known and therefore we do not market our wines under single vineyard designation. We also do not use the traditional predicates Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese; our wines in this category are marketed under the „EXCELLENCE“ label. But we use the predicates Auslese, Beerenauslese und Eiswein for our noble sweet wines.

Pictures: Wines of Thueringer Weingut in Bad Sulza

We also make Sekt with Müller-Thurgau and a Cuvée of white Bourgogne grape varities (Weiss- Grauburgunder, Auxerrois and Chardonnay). Our Secco (Perlwein) is made with Traminer or Kerner.”

Weißweine – White Wines

2011er GUTEDEL trocken    €6.80

Gut + edel - eine alte Rebsorte in Bad Sulza, ein unkomplizierter und sehr bekömmlicher Wein.

2011er MÜLLER-THURGAU trocken    €6.80    

Unser Klassiker, nach wie vor der beliebteste Wein an Saale-Unstrut.

2011er Justinus K. KERNER trocken   €7.30    

Dieser geschmackvolle Weißwein ist nach dem Namensgeber der Rebsorte Kerner, dem Arzt und romantischen Dichter Justinus Kerner (1786–1862) benannt.

2011er Castello di Auerstedt    €7.30

Eine liebevolle Vermählung mehrerer Weißweine; Der Wein aus der "Toskana des Ostens". Feinfruchtiger Duft, harmonischer Geschmack, milde Säure.

2010er WEISSBURGUNDER trocken    €7.90    

Feiner Burgundertyp, der zu vielen Gelegenheiten passt.

2011er RIESLING trocken    €7.90    

Feinstrukturierter, lebendiger, mineralischer Riesling.

2011er GRAUBURGUNDER trocken    €7.90    

Dieser Wein erfreut sich immer größerer Beliebtheit und überrascht viele Weinfreunde.

Halbtrocken-liebliche Weine – Off-dry and Fruity-sweet Wines       

2011er MÜLLER-THURGAU halbtrocken    €6.80    

Fruchtig, elegant und harmonisch.

2011er KERNER lieblich €6.80

Für unsere süßen Weinfreunde.

Spezialitäten  - Specialties

2011er TRAMINER trocken €8.50    

Bereits zu DDR-Zeiten setzte der Sonnendorfer Traminer Akzente. Dieser Tradition fühlen wir uns weiterhin mit 1,7 ha verbunden.

EXCELLENCE-Premium – Excellence-Premium Wines

2010er MiCaDo EXCELLENCE €14.00    

Rotwein-Cuvée, wurde ein Jahr im Barique gelagert.

2011er Thüringer Rosé €7.50    

Ein herrlich frisch-fruchtiger Rosé, der als gekühlter Wein die warme Jahreszeit bereichert.

2010er CABERNET DORSA trocken   €8.50    

Ein gehaltvoller Rotwein. Diese Sorte wurde 1971 an der Weinbauschule Weinsberg aus den bekannten Sorten Dornfelder und Cabernet Sauvignon gezüchtet.

2010er PINOTIN trocken €8.50    

Eine neue, sehr interessante Rotweinsorte des Schweizer Rebzüchters Valentin Blattner aus dem Kanton Jura. Feinfruchtiges, weiches Aroma mit dezent-würziger Cabernet-Note.

Sekt und Secco – Sparkling Wines

SECCO  €8.90    

Ein herrlich frisch-fruchtiger Perlwein, der "Prosecco aus der Toskana des Ostens".

Thüringer Sekt brut €14.00    

Klassische Flaschengärung, handgerüttelt. Eigene Herstellung im Weingut. 

schiller-wine - Related Postings

Weingut Pawis in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Weingut Lützkendorf in Saale Unstrut in Germany

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

Visiting Andre Gussek and his Weingut Winzerhof Gussek in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Weingut Klaus Boehme in Saale Unstrut in Germany

Visiting Andrea and Stephan Herzer at their Weingut Herzer in Saale Unstrut, Germany

1 comment:

  1. Here is a summary article, outlining all postings that participated in Weinrallye #49 Thanks.