Thursday, May 28, 2015
Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Philipp Wittmann and Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann at Weingut Wittmann in Westhofen – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
The last leg of our Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014) was a day in Rheinhessen. We visited 3 winemakers: Weingut Wittmann, Weingut Katharina Wechsler and Weingut Gunderloch.
Weingut Gunderloch is imported into the USA by Rudi Wiest Selection. It has long been well established in the US market and the Weingut Gunderloch wines are widely available in the USA. Katharina Wechsler is a newcomer and shooting star in the German wine scene. In the USA, the wines of Weingut Katharina Wechsler are not available, although I believe, Katharina has established some contact with some importer based on the East Coast. Weingut Wittmann, one of the absolute top stars in the German wine scene, just changed its US importer and is now in the German portfolio of Dr. Loosen Imports.
We toured the impressive wine cellar and had a tasting in the modern tasting room. Philipp Wittmann and his wife Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann, who also owns and runs her own winery in the Mosel, were our hosts, dividing the job among themselves.
Weingut Wittmann now with Loosen Bros. USA
Loosen Bros. USA: Weingut Wittmann is a biodynamic family estate in Germany’s Rheinhessen region. They are pioneers in developing the dynamic, full-bodied, and well-balanced style of dry wines for which the Rheinhessen region has become known.
Winemaker Philipp Wittmann is Germany’s 2014 Winemaker of the Year. (For that honor he joined Ernst Loosen, Wilhelm Haag, Carl von Schubert, and Wilhelm Weil, all part of our portfolio.)
The Wittmann family has developed a deep bond with the land they cultivate. They have been growing grapes and producing wine since 1663. In 1990 they became completely organic, and in 2004, biodynamic.
The estate is known for balanced wines that have tension, depth and intensity, but at the same time are fresh and elegant. Philipp Wittmann looks for natural balance in the vineyards, in order to slow the ripening process and harvest grapes that have fully developed flavors, but are not overripe.
Weingut Wittmann now with Dr. Loosen Imports in the USA
For several centuries the Wittmanns have been wine farmers in the town of Westhofen, in the southern part of Rheinhessen. Today, Philipp Wittmann and Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann (who herself is a gifted winemaker who also owns and runs her own winery in the Mosel valley) and Philipp’s parents Günter and Elisabeth Wittmann divide the tasks running the 25 hectare estate.
Philipp Wittmann: The Wittmanns and their ancestors have been wine-growers in the old market town of Westhofen, in southern Rheinhessen, where the first documented of viticulture in the family dates from 1663. Today’s estate developed from this long tradition over the course of centuries. The length of an estate’s viticultural tradition really says nothing about the quality of an estate’s wines. Perhaps, though, it does say something about the bond one has with the piece of land that one cultivates. Since 1990, we have cultivated our vineyards according to controlled ecological guidelines, and since 2004, biodynamically. By doing so, our soil will remain healthy for future generations, too.
Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. About one third of Rheinhessen’s agricultural area is cultivated with vines, more than 26000 hectares. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards, and Silvaner and Dornfelder both for 1/10. Overall, Riesling is on the backburner. Unlike in other German wine regions, where monoculture of the vine is the norm, here the many rolling hills are host to a wide variety of crops grown alongside the grape. Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch.
At the same time, Rheinhessen is at this time among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. There is an amazing group of young, ambitious and dynamic winemakers, led by star winemakers like Klaus Peter Keller, Philipp Wittmann and H.O. Spanier, who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities.
Weingut Wittman Vineyards
Riesling is the dominant grape of choice but also the Pinot varietals (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris) and Silvaner have a long tradition in Westhofen. Philipp makes many wines, but the estate is famous for its 4 Grosse Lage sites and the Grosses Gewächs wines it produces there: Morstein, Kirchspie, Brunnenhäuschen and Aulerde. Morstein GG is seen as Phillip Wittmann’s his greatest wine but each of them is special in their own way.
Phillip Wittmann: Aulerde is our warmest site. Westhofen's southern to southeastern vineyard slopes rise from the glacial valley of the Rhine to the rim of a high plateau. The Aulerde vineyard lies at the foot of the protective eastern and southeastern slopes of the Kirchspiel site. The vines here are facing slightly south. The upper layers of a small portion of Aulerde are heavy clayish marl with only a very small amount of limestone. The subsoil contains clayish or gravelly sand (it is only here that we grow our Riesling vines). However, most of the site consists of meter-high layers of loess.
Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions
The Kirchspiel site opens toward the Rhine like an amphitheater. Its southern and southeastern exposure protects the vines from cold westerly winds – and accounts for the excellent microclimate of the vineyard. The soil structure is similar to that of the Morstein site, marked by clayish marl interspersed with limestone. Limestone is the predominant component of the subsoil, too.
The Brunnenhäuschen site is situated east of Morstein and above the Steingrube site. Due to its altitude, grapes ripen slowly and harvesting usually takes place after a very long growing season. The finest portion of Brunnenhäuschen is in the old parcel known as “Abtserde.” We cultivate half a hectare (1.2 acres) of Riesling here. This site is marked by clayish marl that is rich in limestone. Due to a high iron oxide content, parts of the soil are reddish in color, also referred to as “terra rossa.” The subsoil is interspersed with large limestone rocks.
Morstein is situated on the south-facing slope that stretches from Gundersheim to Westhofen. The subsoil consists of massive limestone rocks. The first documented mention of the site dates from 1282. Today, we own about 4 ha (10 acres) in the best (southeastern exposure) parcel of this vineyard. The upper layer of soil is primarily heavy clayish marl interspersed with limestone. The subsoil is also heavy and marked by layers of limestone that help circulate water. This ensures that the vines are well supplied with nutrients and minerals, and accounts for the mineral character of our Morstein wines.
The Wines we Tasted
2013 Weingut Wittmann Weisser Burgunder trocken
2013 Weingut Wittmann Weisser Burgunder trocken S
2013 Weingut Wittmann Chardonnay trocken S
2013 Weingut Wittmann Riesling trocken
2013 Weingut Wittmann Westhofener Riesling trocken
2013 Weingut Wittmann Aulerde Riesling GG trocken
2013 Weingut Wittmann Kirchspiel Riesling GG trocken
2013 Weingut Wittmann Morstein Riesling GG trocken
schiller-wine: Related Postings
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux
Coming-up: Wine & Art Tour to Saale-Unstrut - Saxony - Franken - Württemberg: Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (June 11 - June 20, 2015)
Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013
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schiller-wine: Weingut Wittmann
Weingut Wittmann now with Dr. Loosen Imports in the USA