Friday, April 5, 2013

Martin Tesch, Weingut Tesch, Winemaker of the Year (Germany, 2012) - Stuart Pigott/FAZ

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Martin Tesch in New York City

Berlin-based German wine journalist has crowned Martin Tesch, Weingut Tesch, in his lists of favorites, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in December 2012: Martin Tesch is his Winemaker of the Year.

Stuart Pigott in the FAZ: “Typically, the "Winemaker of the Year" is a winemaker who has received the maximum points and awards for his or her wines, a kind of a winner-hero who is theoretically superior to all colleagues. Rarely the question of the role of the winemaker comes up. Martin Tesch from the same winery in the Nahe Langenlonsheim has been doing just that for more than a decade. His answer is based on the principle that a winemaker has to stand for a certain type of wine, if he wants to succeed in the market and in the public. Indeed, Martin Tesch succeeded, though in the beginning, when he decided to go for bone dry Riesling (instead of a softer and / or sweeter alternative), he suffered quite a bit, with sales dropping sharply. But after the initial down turn, sales recovered and Martin Tesch became increasingly successful. The most important expression of its minimalist approach to winemaking of doing in the cellar as little as possible, but as much as necessary, which represented a radical reinterpretation of German winemaking culture, is the spicy-fresh 2011er Riesling "Unplugged" (8 Euros ex winery). The name reflects Tesch’s deep interest in and knowledge of rock music. Already in 2009, he toured with his "Rolling Riesling Show" Germany, a successful combination of his Rieslings and rock concerts. He has gradually redefined the role of the winemaker”.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Stuart Pigott in Frankfurt am Main

On Stuart Pigott's last year's favorites, see:
Best German Wine and Winemakers – Stuart Pigott’s Favorites (2011)

On Stuart Pigott, see more:
Stuart Pigott at the Weinhalle in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Martin Tesch and Weingut Tesch

Dr. Martin Tesch owns and runs Weingut Tesch in the Nahe Valley. The Weingut has been family-owned and run since 1723 and is a member of the prestigious VDP, the century-old association of Germany’s top winemakers.

In his mid-thirties, Martin Tesch is a Ph.D. microbiologist by training. He took over Weingut Tesch in 1996 and has presided over fundamental changes both in the vineyard and the wine cellar as well as in the marketing of the Tesch wines.

When Martin Tesch stepped in, the vineyards totaled over 30 hectares and the wine portfolio was pretty mainstream, with a multitude of grape varieties, of quality levels according to the German wine law and of styles in terms of sweetness of the wine.

Martin changed this radically.

First, he cut back on the overall output of the winery. All the north-facing vineyard slopes were abandoned as they naturally produced poorer grapes. These slopes have now reverted to nature and helped create habitat and biodiversity.

Picture: Martin Tesch in Mainz

Next, he concentrated on Riesling and Pinot Noir, the king and the queen of German grape varieties. All other grapes were grubbed up. Today the vineyard area totals 20 hectares of which 17 is Riesling and the remainder Pinot Noir.

Starting in 2001, Martin stopped producing sweet-style wines. All Tesch wines are now bone-dry, except, it seems, for the occasional Eiswein when conditions allow.

Further, he has moved to natural and non-interventionist winemaking and strict yield control of between 20-30 hl/ha. The harvest is manual and he picks the grapes at full ripeness, but avoids botrytis.

Also, he changed and simplified the label design. There are no long words anymore on the label. Each wine is color-coded and has individual artwork to distinguish it.

Finally, Martin Tesch now uses the Stelvin glass closure. It is an ultra-modern and expensive technical fitting; Martin Tesch and an increasing number of his colleagues are very upbeat about it.

Riesling People Vol. 1

Martin Tesch has documented his passion for wine and Rock and Roll in a book entitled Riesling People Vol. 1.

This is an unusual book. It explains in a straightforward way, without words, what makes Martin Tesch tick and the wines he produces so special. As a picture-book and travelogue, Riesling People Vol. 1 differs dramatically from the usual wine books. Almost without words, the book tells the story of Martin Tesch and his love for Riesling and Rock and Roll music. It is narrated by black and white photography, printed on glossy paper, and showcases the ecclectic mix of wine and music in Martin's world.

Picture: Riesling People Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

The central theme of the book is the Rolling Riesling Show, which was jointly organized by Martin Tesch and the guitar manufacturer Gibson. Martin Tesch took an audience that was not necessary knowledgeable about wine through six different dry Rieslings and their soil-specific differences. In addition to the Rolling Riesling Show events, the book includes pictures from London wine bars, from Hong Kong, New York, Jancis Robinson and Stuart Pigott, proud Australian importers with the first container of Tesch wines, Martin Tesch at the concert of the Tote Hosen in Trier and backstage with the Düsseldorfer Punk Rockers at Rock am Ring.

Riesling People Vol. 2

With the 2010 vintage, the Riesling Unplugged, the signature wine of Martin Tesch, Weingut Tesch in Langenlonsheim (Nahe) in Germany, celebrated its 10th anniversary. At this occasion, Martin produced the audio book Riesling People Vol. 2. It is a medley of diverse contributions of a group of friends of Martin Tesch - sommeliers, customers, journalists, writers, chefs and musicians. The sommeliers Natalie Lumpp, Jürgen Fendt, Billy Wagner and others comment on Riesling Unplugged of each of the 10 vintages; Stuart Pigott talks about hunting sharks on the Nahe river. The Rock and Roll Band Die Toten Hosen – Martin Tesch produced the wine Weisses Rauschen with them (see below) – contributed a song to the Riesling People Vol. 2, as did Koester + Hocker and the Group Les Sauvignons. All in all, a highly entertaining and informative audio book about Martin Tesch’s Riesling Unplugged.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

In the Glass: Unplugged - Eric Clapton and Martin Tesch

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

In the Glass: 2009 Weisses Rauschen – A Joint Venture of Winemaker Martin Tesch and Punk-Rock Band Die Toten Hosen

The Avantgarde Wine World of Dr. Martin Tesch

Tesch Riesling Unplugged 2010 and Duo Favo FAVOriten

Wine Maker Martin Tesch: Riesling People Vol. 2, Germany

Best German Wine and Winemakers – Stuart Pigott’s Favorites (2011)

Stuart Pigott at the Weinhalle in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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