Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Dr. Heger in Ihringen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
The Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) covered 3 German wine areas (Baden, Pfalz and Rheinhessen) and Alsace. While our first stop in the Baden area was in the northern part of Baden, near the town of Baden-Baden (Weingut Schloss Neuweier), the other 4 producers we visited in Baden (Salwey, Franz Keller, Dr. Heger and Bernhard Breuer) were in the southern part of Baden, near the town of Freiburg. Colmar in France is at the same latitude and in fact, you could see the vineyards of Alsace.
I already provided an overview about the tour here: Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
This posting focuses on our visit of Weingut Dr. Heger in Ihringen, Kaiserstuhl.
Markus Mleinek was our host.
Weingut Dr. Heger is a young winery by German standards. It was founded in 1935 by Dr. Max Heger, a country doctor. Today the winery is in the hands of the third generation.
Joachim Heger and his wife Silvia are in charge of 21 hectares planted primarily with Pinot Noir and the white Burgundy grapes. The winery lies in the Kaiserstuhl, a small volcanic group of hills in the Upper Rhine Valley in southwest Germany. The town of Ihringen enjoys the highest average temperature in Germany. While some fine Riesling and Silvaner gets made here, it is really Pinot country. The wines are rich, very well-structured, compact, but nevertheless elegant and subtle.
Weingut Dr. Heger
The visit of Weingut Dr. Heger comprised a cellar tour and a tasting of the outstanding Weingut Dr. Heger wines, led by Markus Mleinek
The Dr. Heger estate lies in the Kaiserstuhl (literally: emperor’s chair), a small volcanic group of hills in the Upper Rhine Valley in southwest Germany, northwest of Freiburg. Joachim Heger’s hometown of Ihringen enjoys the highest average temperature in Germany. So, while some fine Riesling and Silvaner gets made here, it is really Pinot country.
The Dr. Heger estate is a member of the Association of German Predicate Wine Estates (Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter or VDP). Joachim Heger of Weingut Dr. Heger is the winemaker of the year - Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2013.
Weingut Dr. Heger was established in 1935 by the grandfather of Joachim Heger, the rural doctor, Dr. Max Heger. His passion for wine and everything to do with wine was kindled by his patients, who were primarily wine growers, as well as his knowledge that the best conditions for wine growing were on the Kaiserstuhl in the south-western tip of Germany. Because of this, he bought prime areas of the well known sites Ihringer Winklerberg and Achkarrer Schlossberg.
From 1949 to the end of the 1980s, Dr. Heger‘s son Wolfgang Heger ran the estate. Joachim Heger took over responsibility for winemaking in 1981, and, together with his wife Silvia, for the winery in 1992.
The main vineyards are: Freiburger Schlossberg (lively, nervy penetrating wines), Achkarrer Schlossberg (more forward, showy with lots of body and soil character), and Ihringer Winklerberg (finer, more elegant requiring more time).
The 21 hectares of vineyards are predominantly planted with Pinots Gris, Blanc and Noir, along with some Riesling and Silvaner, as well as the aromatic varieties Muscat, Scheurebe and Gewürztraminer, which all thrive wonderfully here. In a move toward organic winemaking, Weingut Dr. Heger has retained Claude Bourguignon, the famed French agronomist, as a consultant.
In the cellar, Joachim Heger maintains the old tradition of using big wooden barrels to vinify the wines of the Pinot family, whilst using stainless steel for Riesling. 95% of wines are fermented dry.
Riesling (20%) - Joachim Heger: Our single vineyard sites Ihringer Winklerberg and Achkarrer Schlossberg provide optimum conditions for the king of white wines. The weathered volcanic bedrock gives Riesling the mineral compounds it needs to be able to produce its fruity and richly aromatic bouquet and on the palate this Riesling shows typical varietal flavors. In this southerly wine producing region of Baden acidity is generally less pronounced than in the more northerly Riesling regions and this makes the wines fuller in body and more opulent.
Grauburgunder (10%) – Jochaim Heger: The Pinot Gris wines from Ihringer Winklerberg and Achkarrer Schlossberg are characterised by a certain minerality, which gives elegance and finesse, despite the wines’ full body. Thanks to the richness of extract, typical of this grape variety, it is also possible to ferment and mature the wines in barriques as well as large oak casks.
Weissburgunder (10%) – Joachim Heger: The Pinot Blanc’s rich array of fine, fruity aromas come wonderfully to the fore when grown on the soils of the Winklerberg and Achkarrer Schlossberg. The bouquet suggests mirabelle plums and green apples and on the palate these continue, together with nuances of yellow pear. If the grapes are harvested at Spätlese oechsle levels, then they are also suitable for fermenting and maturing in barriques or large oak casks.
Silvaner (15%) – Joachim Heger: Ihringen is famous for its long tradition of producing Silvaner and, as a single location, it still has the largest vineyard area planted to Silvaner in Germany. In 1900 the proportion of this ancient variety here was around 70%. The elegantly fruity notes, delicate aromas of pear and gentle acidity are a perfect representation of the terroir of the Ihringen volcanic soils.
Spätburgunder (20%) – Joachim Heger: The pale-fleshed variety Pinot Noir ripens to optimum maturity in the very warm sites of Ihringer Winklerberg and Achkarrer Schlossberg, thereby giving this typical ruby red color. The color must be obtained from the grape skins and this occurs during the classic fermentation on the skins, a method which not only takes a lot of time, but which is also a lot of work. The red wines are rich with concentrated extract, intensified by maturation in barriques. These wines are also characterized by their long ageing potential.
Weinhaus Heger and Weingut Fischer
In 1986, Joachim Heger started Weinhaus Heger. The vines are in the Thuniberg area and are under long-term lease contracts to Joachim Heger and are maintained by Weinhaus Heger. The wines are vinified in the cellar of Weingut Dr. Heger. The wines always offer great value.
In addition to the original Dr. Heger wine estate and Weinhaus Heger, Joachim and Silvia Heger’s sphere of influence also includes Weingut Fischer in Nimburg-Bottingen since 1997. Here, Joachim Heger produces fine wines with typical Baden opulence.
The Wines we Tasted
2014 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Silvaner VDP:Erste Lage
2014 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Weissburgunder VDP.Erste Lage – fermented and aged in large barrel, 0.1 gr RS.
2014 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Grauburgunder VDP.Erste Lage
2013 Ihringer Winklerberg Hinter Winkeln Weingut Dr. Heger Grauburgunder GG “Gras im Ofen” VDP.Grosse Lage - – Gras im Ofen is a Gewann, a new concept being introduced in Germany right now, Gewann is like a lieu-dit in Bourgogne, i.e. a small geographical area bearing a traditional name.
2014 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Chradonnay VDP.Erste Lage
2012 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Mimus Spätburgunder VDP.Erste Lage - 15 months in new barrique, Wolfgang Heger, Joachim Heger’s father, was called Mimus as a child, when Jochim Heger took over the estate, he dedicated this wine to his father, so that his memory lives on. The 2011 Mimus was a very dense wine, with aromas of red fruit and spices. Its finish was long and very pleasant with some peppermint notes.
2012 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Novis Rotwein Cuvee
2014 Ihringer Winklerberg Weingut Dr. Heger Muskateller VDP.Erste Lage
New US Importer: Schatzi Wines
In the US, Weingut Dr. Heger is available through Schatzi-Wines, a new wine importer, led by the former Terry Theise/Michael Skurnik National Sales Director Kevin Pike and German star winemaker Johannes Leitz.
The German wine market in the US was shaken a bit when Kevin Pike, who had been managing the Terry Theise selection at Skurnik Wines for more than 10 years, left Skurnik to create his own import company, Schatzi Wines. With him left Johannes Leitz, who had one of the largest, if not the larget account in the Terry Theise German wine portfolio.
Kevin Pike: After 13 years of running a large national wine sales division, I was inspired to work with a more direct and focused import model. In partnership with my closest friend, Johannes Leitz, I started Schatzi Wines in 2014—a company that reflects our collective business ideals. Schatzi is dedicated to working alongside growers to bring great wines to the market.
Postings on the Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) (Posted and Forthcoming)
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