Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Visit and Tasting at Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll in Würzburg, Franken - Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll is beautifully situated right in the middle of the world-renowned vineyard Würzburger Stein in the town of Würzburg in Franken, Germany. With 3 grapes in the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015, it is one of Germany’s top producers.
Sandra and Ludwig Knoll own and run the estate. We were hosted by Christian Lau and briefly met Ludwig Knoll. Christian Lau gave us a cellar tour and tasted the wines with us.
Franken, located in the northern part of Bavaria, is boasting a long tradition and some fine terroirs (mostly shell limestone and Keuper, a kind of marl). Its two leading grape varieties are Riesling and Silvaner. Typically, Franken wine comes in the distinctive, dumpily-rounded Franken “Bocksbeutel” wine bottle. The bottle’s unusual shape dates back to at least the 16th century. The Bocksbeutel may only be used for Franken wines. In Germany, it is a sign of excellence, while in the US, many consumers link this kind of bottle shape to lower quality wine.
Weingut am Stein Ludwig Knoll
Ludwig Knoll and his wife Sandra are the fifth generation to run this 30 hectares estate. Weingut am Stein Ludwig Knoll is nestled on the side of the most famous Franconian vineyard, the Würzburger Stein. Silvaner, generally regarded as the Franken region’s most distinctive variety, accounts for about 25 percent of their vineyards. The Knolls moved to organic viticulture in 2008 and are now fully biodynamic.
Export accounts for 10% of the sales. Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll is currently not available in the American market, although they used to export to the US a few years ago via Dr. Loosen Imports.
The vineyards of Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll are in the Würzburger Stein, the Würzburger Innere Leiste and the Stettener Stein, with 25% Silvaner, 25% Pinot Blanc, Gris and Noir and 20% Riesling.
Christian Lau: We see biological equilibrium as the key element for our vineyards. The path to achieving this has begun with fastidious soil remediation and intensive learning. Nature shows us what the vines need – it is the driving force and peace of mind.
The Stettener Stein lies along the River Main approximately 20 kilometers downstream from Würzburg. Stetten has a very long tradition in viticulture and the Stettener Stein vineyard is one of the oldest in the Franconian wine region.
The Stettener Stein was formed about two million years ago by the erosive power of the Main. The main vineyards lie in a semicircular cutting about 80 Meters above the river on top of the rocky limestone banks. The sheltered vineyard plot with an incline 50 to 60%, faces in a south-south-westerly direction. The highly calcareous topsoil is very shallow, and easily warmed. The flat topsoil induces stress on the vines and pose difficulties for the roots to penetrate. This stress forces the vines to develop deeper roots to penetrate the characteristic mineral shell limestone layer.
Würzburger Stein: The steeply sloping, south-facing, concave-shaped Würzburger Stein stretches high above the city. It lies at a height of 210 to 250m above sea level and has a gradient between 30 and 70%.
The soil was formed by the weathering of the middle and top shell-limestone layers. The soil structure is very rich in skeletal material and has a very thin topsoil. This favors its excellent capacity for storing heat. In some places the shell-limestone is interspersed with layers of loam and clay.
Above the vineyard is a belt of forest which protects the vines from the north (cool) wind. The shape of the hill, the proximity of the city, the direction and the soil structure create ideal local climatic conditions for grape development and ripening.
Würzburger Innere Leiste
Innere Leiste: The Innere Leiste lies on the left side of the Main River in a small valley on the south side of the `Marienberg´, the fortress of the Prince Bishops. Its position is a typical example of the great influence of the micro-climate on the environment of a vineyard. The heat from the Würzburger basin reaches up from the city the Marienberg protects the vineyard from the cold northerlies.
The soil of the Innere Leiste is middle shell limestone, a sediment layer made from lime algae and shells. Formed over millions of years the clay rich limestone contributes to the excellent heat retaining quality of the soil. The stony, weakly mineral loam is deep and has a good humus supply. This leads to a balanced nutrient availability for the vines.
Wine, Art and Food
Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll was founded in 1890. Initially, the winery was located in the old town of Würzburg. The main occupation of the Knoll family was a coopery and wine was made only on the side. In 1980, the Knoll family decided to move the winery to the foot of the Würzburg Stein. Sandra and Ludwig Knoll took over the winery in the 1991 and substantially redesigned the winery.
Today, Weingut am Stein comprises an ensemble of buildings, which were either renovated, upgraded or added since Sandra and Ludwig Knoll took over. In a first step, the Kitchen House was added and the inhouse catering establishment upgraded into a Restaurant and Wine Bar. Then, the Wineworks, were we had our tasting, and the WinePress House with guest quarters were added. When we visited there was construction work going on.
The outcome is an architectural ensemble that has won many prizes. Christian Lau: We chose the architecture with a view of expressing the style of our wines in the buildings. We do not make wines any more that are baroque or playful; they are straightforward. So we tried to match the architecture with the uncompromising style of our wines.
First, the restaurant and wine bar are leased out to Chef Bernhard Reiser, who cooks there at the highest level. Reisers is a one-star Michelin Restaurant and the wine bar was included by Geroldsteiner in a list of the 18 best wine places in Germany. The wines offered are of course Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll wines, but also other top wines.
Second, the Kitchen House: Christian Lau: Cooking and eating together with a group of nice people. The Kitchen House is the part of our winery devoted to fun and the enjoyment of wining and dining whilst acquiring valuable culinary tips. Spend time in the Kitchen House in relaxed company looking over our head chef’s shoulder, whilst enjoying our wines.
Third, in the newly erected Winepress House, on the left when you enter the winery, the grapes are pressed in the basement. But the Winepress House also includes guest quarters. Christian Lau: You are invited to enjoy our large 3 bedroom apartment with an open dining, kitchen area. A cosy fireplace in winter or the terrace in summer gives you the opportunity to relax on the base of the Würzburger Stein, whilst overlooking the city.
The natural stone building with its horizontally layered facade in shell limestone panels is a modern interpretation of the vineyard house typical of the region.
Fourth, the second new building further into the estate is the equally high profile WineWorks. It is used for presentations and wine tastings.
Christian Lau: Its design is notable for a twin-layer facade in green glass and for the vertical oak beams with which the building is clad, features redolent with the colors and structure of the Würzburger Stein. They trigger a play of light that varies with the time of day and subjects both the inner and outer appearance of the WineWorks to a constant process of change. The building is so close to the vineyard hills that there is a sense of the vine’s horizontal structure passing seamlessly over into the timber beams. Vineyard and WineWorks become a single harmonious entity.
The Wines we Tasted
Interestingly, Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll uses different bottle types for its various wines. The basic VDP,Gutswein is bottled in Bordeaux bottle. The VDP.Ortswein and VDP.Erste Lage is bottled in a Bocksbeutel bottle. The VDP.Grosse Lage wine is bottled in a Bourgogne bottle.
Frank and Frei (a joint venture with other winemakers from Franken) and Junge Wilde are the 2 entry-level categories of Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll (which we skipped).
2014 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Würzburger Silvaner trocken VDP.Ortswein
2014 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Würzburger Stein Silvaner trocken VDP.Erste Lage
2013 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Stettener Stein Silvaner Grosses Gewächs VDP.Grosse Lage
2013 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Vinz Alte Reben Silvaner trocken
VINZ – Back to the roots. Vinz – The wine named after the youngest member of the Knoll family, are Ludwig Knolls speciality. The grapes originate from the steep slopes of the Stettener Stein vineyard.
The old vines are over 40 years old. These two authentic wines with independent characters immerse you in suspense and minerality. The depth and length on the palate underline the salty mineral complexes from the Stettener Stein.
2014 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Würzburger Innere Leiste Riesling trocken VDP.Erste Lage
2013 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Stettener Stein Riesling Grosses Gewächs VDP.Grosse Lage
2013 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Vinz Alte Reben Riesling trocken
2013 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Montonia Weissburgunder trocken
2013 Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll Montonia Spätburgunder trocken
Since 1998 the Montonia range is synonymous for the best Burgundy wines produced at Weingut am Stein. The inspiration for the range is derived from Ludwig Knolls daughter Antonia. The range presents itself multifaceted, full bodied with concentrated fruit.
Low yields and the contact with fine pored European oak guarantee the success of this wine. The potential is shown after numerous years of aging, the fine aromas and elegant full bodied finish need the time to develop.
Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll also has noble-sweet wines, sparkling wines and brandies in its portfolio.
Thanks Christian Lau for a very nice tour and tasting.
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