Monday, November 12, 2012

Five Hochheim (Rheingau) Winemakers Presented their Vintage 2011 Wines in Hochheim, Germany

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick

I was lucky to be in Frankfurt, Germany, when earlier this year the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim invited  5 winemakers from Hochheim to presented their 2011 wines. These were very entertaining 3 hours.

Pictures: The 5 Winemakers and Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim President Holger Krimmel

The wines were presented by Uwe Schreiber, Weingut Schreiber, Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick, Annette Himmel, Weingut Himmel, Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Kuenstler and Michael Bott, Weingut Domdechant Werner. Thus, we had a good mix ranging from winemaker who sell mainly in the area, like Uwe Schreiber to world class winemakers like Gunter Kuenstler whose wines can be found anywhere in the world.

Hochheim in the Rheingau

Hochheim is at the eastern edge of the Rheingau, well known around the world for its Riesling wines. Moving from Hochheim to the west, the fairly flat, dimpled landscape evolves into progressively steep slopes. It is a quietly beautiful region, rich in tradition.

Pictures: Hochheim

Queen Victoria's enthusiasm for Hochheim's wines contributed to their popularity in England, where they, and ultimately, Rhine wines in general, were referred to as Hock. The third President of the USA - and notable bon viveur - Thomas Jefferson visited the Rheingau in 1788 and wrote that the wine of the "Abbaye of Johnsberg is the best made on the Rhine without comparison … That of the year 1775 is the best." He also referred to the Rheingau’s Riesling as the "small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim". Impressed by the quality of the Rheingau Riesling wines, he bought 100 grapevines in Hochheim to take back to his estate in Virginia.

Even though it belongs to the Rheingau, Hochheim is actually situated along the Main River, like the Franken region. Its vineyards have amongst the best exposure and climate in all of the Rheingau. Hochheim is just 30 Minutes away by S-Bahn from Frankfurt am Main central railway station.

Coming from Frankfurt, you arrive in vineyards and it is a beautiful walk up through the vineyards to the village.

Uwe Schreiber, Weingut Schreiber

Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Kabinett trocken

Hochheimer Reichesthal Riesling Alte Reben Spaetlese trocken

Picture: Schreiber, Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Kabinett trocken, Kuenstler, Hochheimer Hoelle, Riesling Kabinett trocken and Flick, Victoriaberg, Riesling Qba trocken

The tasting started with a Kabinett dry wine of Weingut Schreiber. Weingut Schreiber is one of those winemakers in Hochheim that make very good wine, but that is not really known beyond the area of Hochheim. Weingut Schreiber is also a producer of excellent sparkling wines. I bought my sparkling wine for my 60th birthday party in Germany at Weingut Schreiber.

Uwe Schreiber talked a bit about 1811 and 1911. These were both vintages well known for their noble-sweet wines. In this regard, 2011 cannot compare with these 2 famous vintages.

Picture: Uwe Schreiber

Uwe Schreiber also said that because of global warming in previous years he always had to declassify Spaetlese wines in order to have enough Kabinett wines on his list. In 2011, it was different. The sugar content in the grapes was less than in the previous years and he was able to make the light, fruity Kabinett wines he likes so much, without resorting to declassifying.

Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick

Victoriaberg, Riesling Qba trocken
Gegenwind Riesling Qba trocken (with Weingut Kuenstler)
Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Spaetlese trocken

Weingut Joachim Flick is one of the three VDP members in Hochheim, the association of about 200 elite wine producers in Germany. The winery is owned and run by Reiner Flick.

Picture: Reiner Flick

Reiner Flick told us that initially, he was on his way to stay at university and do research plus teaching. He played with the idea of becoming a civil servant, before he finally decided to take over the family winery. The vineyard area totaled just 3 hectares when he started. Over the years, he has pushed the size of the winery to 19 hectares, with 85% Riesling and 8% Spätburgunder, plus Sauvignon Blanc, Weißburgunder Grauburgunder, Chardonnay.

Importantly, in 2003, he bought the Wickerer Nonnberg, a monopoly vineyard.  His latest acquisition is the Victoriaberg, named after Queen Victoria, also a monopoly vineyard. After adding Königin Victoriaberg to his wine portfolio,  he has – with some success - tried to reestablish contacts with the British Court. For the 60th anniversary of Queen Elisabeth’s coronation, the Queen Victoriaberg was also served.

Pictures: Weingut Joachim Flick

Reiner Flick also talked about a very special wine – Gegenwind (Headwind). The 2011 Gegenwind wine is a a joint venture of  Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Franz Kuenstler and Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick. This is their contribution to a citizen movement in the Frankfurt am Main area “against the unbridled exploitation of culture and nature” as Reiner Flick put it and “in particular, against the expansion of the Frankfurt Airport.” Recently, a third landing strip was opened and the resulting increased noise in the Hochheim area from aircrafts landing at and taking off from Frankfurt Airport triggered the decision to make this wine and to contribute the proceeds to the non-profit organization Gegenwind 2011 Rhein-Main. The wine is sold for Euro 9,50 at the two wineries.

Picture: Protest in Hochheim

See also: Headwind (Gegenwind) – A Protest Wine against the Unbridled Exploitation of Culture and Nature

Annette Himmel, Weingut Himmel

Himmelstraum Riesling Spaetlese trocken
Hochheimer Hoelle, Riesling Spaetlese trocken

Picture: Himmel, Himmelstraum Riesling Spaetlese trocken, Kuenstler, Hochheimer Stilweg, Alte Reben Riesling Qba trocken and Domdechant Werner, Hochheimer Kirchenstueck Riesling Spaetlese trocken

Emmerich Himmel is one of the (relative) newcomers in Hochheim. His wine estate has 5.5 hectars, including the best vineyards in Hochheim. He took over from his parents about 25 years ago, who had sold their wine in bulk. Since then, he has been increasingly producing outstanding wines, of which 80 percent are Rieslings, the remainder Spätburgunder (10%) and Weißburgunder (10%). Annette Himmel, the wife of the Emmerich Himmel presented the wines. This is one of those wineries in Hochheim that I would consider a Geheimtip. Weingut Himmel makes wines at the level of the best producers in Hochheim, or at least, close to, but does not charge the price Gunther Kuenstler charges and who sells his wines worldwide.

Picture: Annette Himmel

Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Kuenstler

Hochheimer Hoelle, Riesling Kabinett trocken
Hochheimer Stilweg, Alte Reben Riesling Qba trocken

Weingut Kuenstler is clearly the superstar in Hochheim right now. Over the past 4 decades the Kuenstler estate has been one of the most successful wine producers in the Rheingau, if not in Germany. I have watched it rising from a small winery to one of the world leaders of German wine.

Picture: Gunter Kuenstler

The wine growing tradition of the Künstler family can be traced back to Southern Moravia in 1648. After the Second World War, the Künstlers had to leave their home in what is now the Czech Republic and the head of the family, Franz Künstler, laid the foundations in Hochheim for what was to become one of the most successful family businesses in the Rheingau. I remember very well the small row house in Hochheim that was the initial home of the Kuenstler winery. And I remember very well the wonderful tastings we had at the Kuenstler estate. All my life I have been buying Kuenstler wines and there is quite a number of Kuenstler bottles in my wine cellar in McLean, Virginia.

Picture: Weingut Kuenstler

His son Gunter Künstler bought the Geheimrat Aschrott'sche Erben wine estate in Hochheim in 1996 and in doing so acquired a major share in the very best vineyard locations in Hochheim. Recently, as another giant leap, the Kuenstler estate moved into the former Burgeff Sektkellerei, just at the entrance of Hochheim, when you come from Mainz. It is very impressive.

Here are earlier postings about Weingut Kuenstler on schiller-wine.

Franz Kuenstler, Founder of the Renown Franz Kuenstler Estate in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany, dies at Age 84

Franz Kuenstler, the founder of the Weingut Franz Kuenstler, was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, Germany

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Wine Video: German Top Wine Maker Gunter Kuenstler interviewed by Hendrik Thoma

World Class Wines in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany - Weingut Kuenstler

Michael Bott, Weingut Domdechant Werner

Hochheimer Kirchenstueck Riesling Spaetlese trocken
Hochheimer Domdechaney, Riesling Spaetlese, klassisch fruchtig (fruity sweet)

The Domdechant Werner Estate is another internationally known wine producer in Hochheim, Rheingau. The Domdechant Werner Estate cultivates about 14 ha of vines, 98% of which are planted with Riesling and 2% Spätburgunder. It produces wines of all styles, ranging from dry to lusciously sweet wines. Some 60-70% of the wines are exported to about 25 countries around the world, making the estate a "global player" on a small scale.

Picture: Michael Bott

In 1780, the father of Dr. Franz Werner, the renowned Domdechant (dean) of the Cathedral of Mainz, acquired from the Count York the Hochheim wine estate. Domdechant Werner is credited with having saved the Cathedral from being demolished during the French Revolution and was responsible for its reconstruction. The Estate is now owned by Dr. Franz Werner Michel, the seventh generation of the founding family. The eighth (and possibly ninth) generation is now on the scene, as Dr. Michel's daughter, Catharina Mauritz, mother of three sons, has also become involved in the Estate's management.

Picture: Weingut Domdechant Werner

The wines were presented by Michael Bott, who has been the winemaker for 25 years there.

Michael Bott talked a bit about the future of “Spaetlese trocken”. One of the wines he presented was a Spaetlese trocken – a dry late harvest. While the VDP will continue to produce wines “harvested late” and fully, i.e. dry fermented, it will no longer put this on the label. In the future, whenever you see Spaetlese on the label, it will be a fruity sweet wine. This decision is driven by the export oriented VDP producers who have a hard time making their customers in the world understand that a Spaetlese has nothing to do with the remaining sugar in the finished wine. Spaetlese has much more to do with the alcohol level in the finished wine. This is well understood among German consumers but less in Germany’s traditional export market. There, consumers are often misguided by the believe that more sugar in the grape (later harvest) produces more sugar in the finished wine. The VDP does not want to argue with these folks and rather sell them there fruity sweet Spaetlese. But they are not fruity sweet because of Mother Nature, they are fruity sweet because of a skillfull job of the winemaker in the cellar.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

“Hoffest” (Winery Party) at Weingut Heinrich Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau - Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winner

Best German Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2012

Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

Franz Kuenstler, Founder of the Renown Franz Kuenstler Estate in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany dies at Age 84

Franz Kuenstler, the founder of the Weingut Franz Kuenstler, was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, Germany

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Wine Video: German Top Wine Maker Gunter Kuenstler interviewed by Hendrik Thoma

World Class Wines in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany - Weingut Kuenstler

Christian G.E. Schiller Leads Tasting of US-American Wines in Hochheim, Germany 

Headwind (Gegenwind) – A Protest Wine against the Unbridled Exploitation of Culture and Nature

1 comment:

  1. List of Hochheim winemakers