Thursday, September 13, 2012

Winemaker Dinner at Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in Deidesheim, Pfalz, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with the current team that is leading Weingut Riechsrat von Buhl - Estate Director Stefan Weber and the Sales Manager Christoph Graf.

I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a wine maker dinner at Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in Deidesheim, Pfalz, Germany with Estate Director Stefan Weber and the Sales Manager Christoph Graf.

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in Deidesheim

The Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl is a large – by German standards - and famous estate in the Pfalz region. It produces mainly Riesling wines and is a member of the VDP.

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl is currently in a transition phase. It is owned by the entrepreneur Achim Niederberger (who also owns Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan and Weingut Dr. Deinhard in Deidesheim) and has since 1989 been leased to an operating company, Reichsrat von Buhl GmbH. The owners of the operating company are two Japanese businessmen, the Estate Director Stefan Weber and the Sales Manager Christoph Graf. The lease is coming to an end and Christoph Graf und Stefan Weber have set up this year their own estate, the Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf in Deidesheim. Thus, the team heading Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl will definitely change in the not so distant future.

62 hectares
420.000 bottles
88% Riesling, 8% Spaetburgunder

Rich History

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl can look back to a rich history.  It was founded in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl. He subsequently added the vineyards inherited by his wife, a member of the Jordan dynasty. These latter vineyards came from the break-up of the original Jordan estate into three parts, with the other two parts giving rise to what is today known as Geheimer Rat Dr. von Weingut Bassermann-Jordan and Weingut von Winning - Dr. Deinhard, both owned by Achim Niederberger, the owner of Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl.

Franz Peter Buhl’s son Franz Armand inherited the estate. He was a member of the Reichstag and a friend of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Chancellor Bismarck’s famous quote "Dieses Ungeheuer schmeckt mir ungeheuer" this Ungeheuer tastes monstrously good, (Ungeheuer = monster) helped make the Forster Ungeheuer site world-famous. In 1885, he was awarded the title Reichsrat der bayerischen Krone, i.e. he became a member of the Privy Council of the Kingdom of Bavaria, and the title was incorporated in the name of the estate in 1912.

At that time, the von Buhl wines were among the most expensive in the world. Awards like

• The Gold Medal Paris 1867
• The Grande Medaille of Philadelphia 1876
• Grand Prix Paris 1900
• Grand Prix St. Louis 1904
• Grand Prix Brussels 1910

are testament to this highly successful era. Even at the official opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, it was von Buhl  Riesling in the glasses raised for the toast. This was the golden age for German Riesling, the wines fetching very high prices, ahead of even the most expensive wines from Bordeaux
Pictures: Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

After Franz Armand Buhl, Franz Eberhard owned the estate. After the death of his widow in 1952, with no apparent heir to the family estate, the estate was bequeathed to family friend Georg Enoch von und zu Guttenberg, and it remained in the von Guttenberg family through three generations. In 1952 the estate passed to the famous conductor Enoch von und zu Guttenberg. The estate was scaled down more and more due to economic difficulties in its operation, until the entire property was left with only around 52 hectares of land under vine, albeit including the best vineyard sites in Deidesheim and Forst, such as Forster Kirchenstück, Pechstein, Jesuitengarten, Freundstück and the Deidesheim sites Leinhöhle, Herrgottsacker and Paradiesgarten

In 1989, the von Guttenberg family leased the estate to an operating company, Reichsrat von Buhl GmbH. In 2005, the estate came under the control of Achim Neiderberger.

Wine Making Philosophy

Christoph Graf: “The soil here is variegated sandstone. Yields are firmly controlled and harvesting is selective. The grapes are pneumatically pressed. Initial fermentation is brisk and then controlled by cooling to achieve a clean wine with pure fruit aromas and high natural carbon-dioxide content. After a careful filtration without fining we employ our  cool, long - over 2 km - vaulted cellar for long maturation of the wine in stainless steel tanks, which binds the fresh acidity into the wine and contributes to its harmonious character. This reductive method helps to maintain the natural varietal and geographic character of the wines.”

Pictures: In the Cellar with Christoph Graf

Wine Portfolio

Wines from the Weinhaus Reichsrat von Buhl

These are easy-drinking wines produced with grapes bought from other vintners.


The lowest classification in the VDP. Interestingly, they are named after important persons in the history of the estate: von Buhl, Julie, Armand, Stuck, F.P.Buhl.

Wines from Classified Sites

The classified site is the 2nd level in the VDP classification model. For example:

2010 Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling Qualitätswein 9,5 €/0,75 Liter, 11,5%
2010 Deidesheimer Kieselberg Riesling Qualitätswein 11,5 €/0,75 Liter, 12%

Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru Wines

Reiterpfad Ruppertsberg ("Rider's path") is the largest in the group of top vineyards at 87 ha of terraces lying to the west of Ruppertsberg, which runs into Deidesheim to the north. Paradiesgarten Deidesheim is a grand cru vineyard in Deidesheim. Ungeheuer Forst ("Monster") measures a slimmer 29 ha at slightly higher altitude, Pechstein Forst ("Bad luck stone") has 15 southeast-facing hectares rich in black basalt and almost a third of it is owned by von Buhl, as is Jesuitengarten Forst (7 ha in total). They also have about a quarter of holdings in Kirchenstück Forst ("Church lot"), which is one of the smallest vineyards at 3.7 ha and rated as one of the best in the Pfalz region with its heady mix of basalt, sandstone, limestone and clay soils.

For example:

2010 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Qualitätswein 30 €/0,75 Liter, 13,5%

2010 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Qualitätswein 30 €/0,75 Liter, 13%

Fruity and Noble Sweet Wines

For example:

2010 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese 18 €/0,375 Liter, 9,5%

2010 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Beerenauslese 45 €/0,375 Liter, 7,5% 

Sparkling Wines

Stefan Graf: “We delight in calling ourselves sparkling wine manufacturer. Conscious that the unconditional quality requirement of wine production would also have to apply to our sparkling wines, we decided to start producing our own sparkling wines in 1994.”

Wines from Organically Produced Grapes

Since the 2008 vintage, the estate has been involved in an official procedure to obtain certification for organic cultivation.

The Wines that were served at Dinner

Pictures: Dinner at Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl with Andrea Meininger-Apfel and Christoph Meininger

2011 Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf Rose trocken

2011 von Buhl Riesling trocken

2009 Reichsrat von Buhl Spaetburgunder Qba trocken

2010 Pechstein Forst Riesling Grosses Gewaechs trocken

2009 Pechstein Riesling (13.5% alc, 7 acid, 3.6 RS) - quite closed up nose, moves on to again a full-on and towards exotic palate, more structured though with 'salty' mineral edges, developing oily tones with fair power, attractive length finishing tighter and less obvious than expected. Very good, needs more time to express itself better.

2011 von Buhl Scheurebe Auslese

2010 Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf Rose brut

The Future of the Leasing Company: Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf

Christoph Graf briefed us briefly about what his and Stefan Weber’s future is. They are well advanced in setting up a new winery, which will focus on premium sparklers, but also produce still wine. The winery - Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf – is based Deidesheim. The people behind the Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf are the same people that are behind the Geheimrat von Buhl GmbH leasing company.

Pictures: Sekt- und Weinmanufaktur Graf Wines

Stefan Graf: “We only make Sekt from grapes which were grown and fermented specifically for sparkling wine. For this reason, the newly constructed building, which houses our wine presses on the north side of our estate, the cellar in the historic portion of the building and the disgorgement satisfy the highest requirements which one, for example, finds in the best estates in the Champagne region. The style of the Graf Sekt is a commitment to the region : clarity, brilliance, delicate minerality and the silky taste of the traditional bottle fermentation were and will also be in the future, our personal signature.”

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