Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Johann Maximilian Lang at the Grand Wine Convention 2010. See: A Wine Feast in the Rheingau, Germany: The Grand Wine Convention 2010
The well-known Weingut Hans Lang in Hattenheim was sold recently. Eva Raps, the Managing Director of the VDP, the association of about 200 German elite winemakers, and her partner in life, Urban Kaufmann, a cheese producer from Switzerland, are the new owners. There will be a transition period of 3 years, where the former owner Hans Lang will remain involved in the wine production and actively coach and assist the new owners.
The reason why Hans Lang – now in his mid-60s - sold his winery is that he has no successor, with his daughter not showing any interest in wine making and pursuing a different career track.
Weingut Hans Lang in Germany
Weingut Hans Lang is in Hattenheim in the Rheingau in Germany, but also includes vineyards in Assmannshausen, the red wine village of the Rheingau.
Hattenheim is nestled between the rolling green Taunus hills and the Rhine River. The wide expanse of river at Hattenheim reflects the heat of the sun and moderates between night and daytime temperatures. Some of the finest examples of Rheingau wines are produced from grapes grown in the vineyards of Hattenheim. Hattenheim's ties to winemaking date as far back as Roman times. Most of today's vineyards were first mentioned in the Cistercian monastery, Kloster Eberbach's records, composed sometime before 1211.
Picture: Weingut Hans Lang in Hattenheim, Rheingau
Weingut Hans Lang is a new estate by German standards; it was founded by Johann Josef Lang in 1953, and was run by his son Johann Maximilian (Hans) Lang since 1972 until the sale last year. The vineyard area totals 18 hectares, including holdings in the Grand Cru classified Hassel and Wisselbrunnen (Hattenheim) sites.
As the Rheingau is most famous for its Riesling wines, Weingut Hans Lang follows the tradition and produces 75% Riesling. But Weingut Hans Lang also devotes a considerable amount of energy to producing Pinot Noir wines. This grape was imported to this region by monks from Burgundy in the 11th century. It accounts for 15% of the Weingut Hans Lang’s vineyard area. Indeed, Hans Lang is regarded as someone of a pioneer in this field; he was the first winemaker in the Rheingau to employ small French oak barriques for the aging of his red wines and has been a member of the Barrique Forum since 1995.
Weingut Hans Lang is a member of the VDP and will remain a member of the VDP, at least for the next 3 years. Usually, a winery’s VDP membership expires when it is sold. But Hans Lang continues to be responsible for the cellar for the next three years, at least. Therefore, Weingut Hans Lang will keep the VDP membership and will be examined according to VDP regulations, once Hans Lang has fully pulled out.
When you talk to Hans Lang, he will tell you that integrated, sustainable vineyard practices are employed in the Lang vineyards; the grapes are always harvested by hand and undergo strict selection to ensure only the healthiest fruit is used for our wines; to promote ripeness, Hans Lang deliberately restrict yields.
Temperature-regulated stainless steel tanks are used in the winery and certain wines benefit from aging in either traditional German oak barrels or small French oak barriques. Approximately 90% of production focuses on dry wines. When vintage conditions permit, noble-sweet wines - Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, as well as Eiswein - are produced. In addition, bottle-fermented sparkling wines are also produced.
Eva Raps and Urban Kaufmann
Eva Raps is now responsible for sales and administration in Weingut Hans Lang. She continues to work for the VDP, where she has been since 1997, but will withdraw and hand over to her successor, Hilke Nagel, who also was her predecessor as Managing Director at the VDP.
Rheingau Riesling Gala 2013 at Kloster Eberbach, Germany
Urban Kaufmann is from from Andwil (in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland). In November 2013, Urban Kaufmann moved from Switzerland to Hattenheim to take over Weingut Hans Lang. Before moving to Hattenheim, Urban Kaufmann owned and managed a farm (cheese diary and pig breeding), which he sold.
Weingut Hans Lang Wines in the US
Weingut Hans Lang wines are readily available in the US, imported by Truly Fine Wine in California.
In addition, I bought Edition Maximilian wines - also produced by Weingut Hans Lang - at Trader Joe’s, an US discount store. Edition Maximilian wines come as a Riesling and a Spaetburgunder, which Hans calls – for marketing reasons - Pinot Noir. They are both in a very reasonable price category - around US$ 7 - and are both crafted for consumers who prefer a bit of sweetness in the wine.
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The Edition Maximilian Wines of Hans Lang in Hattenheim, Germany