Friday, April 29, 2016
Tasting the Wines President Obama was Served: At Weingut Dreissigacker in Bechtheim, Rheinhessen, with Ute Dreissigacker – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
When President Obama and the First Lady where in Berlin in 2013 and sat down with Chancellor Merkel and her husband, Professor Dr. Sauer, for a State Dinner, what wines did they drink? A Mosel? A Rheingau? No, they were served wines of Weingut Dreissigacker in Rheinhessen and of Weingut Markus Schneider in the Pfalz. 2 star Michelin Chef Tim Raue prepared the food. Tim Raue: “The 2 winemakers and I represent very well the modern Germany: Globally thinking and at home in the region.”
Jochen Dreissigacker and Markus Schneider were very proud that their wines were selected: “Our wines are being poured all over the world – in Dubai, Norway, South Africa and of course in the United States. Our wines have not yet been served in the White House. But with the dinner at Schloss Charlottenburg we hopefully got a bit closer to that. We hope that President Obama liked our wines. German wines can compete with the best wines in the world.”
The Wines Chancelor Merkel Served President Obama and Michelle Obama in Berlin (and the Wines she did not Serve), Germany
We had the pleasure and the privilege to have a massive winetasting with Ute Dreissigacker at Weingut Dreissigacker.
Schatzi Wines is the US Importer of Weingut Dreissigacker.
Schatzi Wines: Ancient chronicles reveal that 1728 was an excellent year for wines. Perhaps even back then, the generation that founded the winery (now known as Dreissigacker) was blessed with a good harvest because at that time, founding father, Jacob Sauer, not only farmed a wide range of agriculture but succeeded at cultivating a vineyard, lying the foundation for generations to come. Be that as it may, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the focus shifted to winemaking when Adolf Sauer III decided to export his wines to England. After the Second World War, in 1952, the husband of Christa Sauer, Philipp Dreissigacker, took over the business and forty years later, in 1991, all other agricultural pursuits were abandoned to focus solely on winegrowing when Frieder and Ute Dreissigacker took charge. At that time the winery used conventional methods to cultivate a large number of different grape varieties, but when their son (and current proprieter) Jochen Dreissigacker entered the business in 2001, radical changes were made–crucially, converting the estate to employ labour-intensive, organic viticulture. Today, the name Dreissigacker stands for outstanding rieslings of the highest quality, both in Germany and abroad.
Rheinhessen is a supremely unique expression of German viticulture. Normally when we think of the greatest vineyard sites for Riesling, we envision the breathtaking slopes of the Mosel or the hand-worked terraces of the Rheingau but in the best villages of Rheinhessen, the vines grow on gentle slopes with shallow deposits of loess and loam, overlying a bedrock of active limestone—reminiscent of the great terroirs of Burgundy– and is packed with history. In fact, the vineyards surrounding Jochen’s town of Bechtheim are the oldest known sites for growing wine in the Rheinhessen. Historically, these plots of land were reserved exclusively for viticulture. As early as 1780, the Prince of Leiningen issued a decree in Bechtheim that resulted in Germany’s first demarcation of terroirs; this decree threatened to punish anyone who planted grape vines outside of the specifically designated, predestined areas – a ground-breaking step on the path toward modern, high-quality viticulture. Today, this historic soil that is over 230 years old, is used to grow Jochen’s young vines. These sites produce wines of great depth and concentration with scintillating tension amongst fruit, ripe acidity and mineral structure.
Jochen Dreissigacker is a young vigneron, fiercely dedicated to giving voice to some of the most exciting vineyard sites of Rheinhessen, though according to his parents, he was not destined to become a vigneron. Jochen’s older brother was to inherit the family-business while he was encouraged to pursue something that was more “down-to-earth”–what resulted as an education in accounting. Despite his degree, Jochen couldn’t ignore his strong desire to make wine and began apprenticing with various winemakers–most notably of which was the iconic Klaus-Peter Keller. After several years of working alongside Keller, Jochen took the reins at his family estate.
“Luckily, my brother bought a neighboring winery in 2006, so we could both practice the professions we love. Today, both wineries work closely together.”
Jochen continues to focus on enhancing the vitality of his soils using natural methods, limiting yields, harvesting by hand and vinifying with native yeasts; here, he captures the individual mineral character of each of his parcels, revealing wines with power and depth without the weight of high alcohol that many of the region’s more famous wines possess.
Since converting to sustainable farming practices in 2001, the soil has been successfully restored and the estate is now certified organic. Dreissigacker sows green manure to boost the humus allowing cover crops to loosen the soil with their roots, absorb all superfluous nitrogen and, in conjunction with microorganisms and other soil-dwelling life forms, constantly regulate the nutrient content of the soil. If necessary, weeds are removed mechanically, the area around the vines is hoed and on occasion, if necessary, they add small quantities of organic fertilizer. All of these measures help to create balanced plant growth and strengthen the root systems, encouraging them to penetrate deeper into the mineral-rich layers, absorb additional nutrients and better resist disease. In addition to mindful farming, Jochen tremendously reduces his yields–sometimes as low as 15hl/ha! At the beginning of summer the crew cuts off at least one third of the grapes on each vine. As a result, the bunches that remain on the vine absorb additional nutrients, light and air, ensuring optimal quality.
Accompanying the importance of soil composition, climate and farming techniques, is the act of picking and pressing the grapes. Jochen and his team handle the grapes very carefully; bruising the skins is avoided to prevent oxidation or premature fermentation, both of which can be detrimental to the quality and result in a loss of flavor. Once the grapes arrive at the winery, most are macerated to extract additional aromas and structure. The fruit is then pressed and left to ferment without any further interference to ensure a natural fermentation process.
“A few years ago, when the time came for me to take over the family winery and realise my own ideas and vision, I made a decision. I wanted to take something good and make it truly excellent, to transform good flavour into an exciting experience, and elevate pleasant wines to an inspiring experience. In all that I did, I worked with the unique mineral composition of our vineyards, the local climate and microclimate and harnessed my deep passion for winemaking. Ecology, sustainability and the respectful use of the existing resources has gradually changed the face of our vineyards. Imagination and pragmatism were my daily helpers in my search for the perfect wine.”
The Wines Ute Dreissigacker Poured
2014 Weingut Dreissigacker Weissburgunder trocken
2014 Weingut Dreissigacker Grauburgunder trocken
2014 Weingut Dreissigacker Riesling trocken
2013 Weingut Dreissigacker Bechtheimer Riesling trocken
Schatzi Wines: This is the village wine and is sourced from the top sites around Bechtheim: Geyersberg, Stein, Rosengarten and Hasensprung. Geyersberg, which sits to the east of Bechtheim, has a distinct smoky characteristic that influences this blend. It is fermented in stainless; 15-20% is raised in oak barrels.
2013 Weingut Dreissigacker Wunderwerk Riesling trocken
2012 Weingut Dreissigacker Hasensprung Riesling trocken
Schatzi-Wines: This single vineyard bottling bridges our entry level and top tier wines. Hasensprung sits west of Bechtheim and north of Westhofen. Although the soils here are different from those of Westhofen, it is reminiscent of a baby Kirschspiel with its mineral laciness, linear structure and energetic aromatics. Hasensprung is a clay-based soil with a topsoil consisting of loess and loam.
2012 Weingut Dreissigacker Rosengarten Riesling trocken
2012 Weingut Dreissigacker Geyersberg Riesling trocken
2013 Weingut Dreissigacker Geyersberg Riesling trocken
Robert Parker (Steffen Reinhard): The intense yellow 2013 Geyersberg Riesling trocken was still very young and closed on the nose when I tasted it end of August. There were still flavors of the spontaneous fermentation and yeasty aromas dominating the nose which were serious and showed a deep, concentrated mix of mineral notes and pineapple aromas. Succulent, precise and elegant on the palate this full-bodied and expressive wine has a tautly woven structure and a lovely mineral piquancy with lots of limes, a lingering salinity and persistent citrus flavors. It has very good aging potential. 91 / 100
2011 Weingut Dreissigacker Geyersberg Riesling trocken
2012 Weingut Dreissigacker Kirchspiel Riesling trocken
Robert Parker (Steffen Reinhard) on 2013: Sourced from the Westhofen cru the citrus colored 2013 Kirchspiel Riesling trocken is clear and quite complex on the nose with powdered chalk, citrus and ripe yet discreet Riesling aromas. Very mineral, fresh and elegant on the palate, this is a tightly woven, serious and terroir-driven wine that is full of finesse. Still very young but it shows great potential. 92 / 100
2012 Weingut Dreissigacker Morstein Riesling trocken
Schatzi Wines: Morstein is situated on the south-facing slope that stretches from Gundersheim to Westhofen. Jochen’s vines here are 40 years-old, grown on pure limestone subsoil topped with heavy clay and marl. Underground springs allow for more water retention and consequently, a higher risk for botrytis. The first documented mention of the site dates from 1282 and is considered by most to be the top site in Westhofen. This has more power than the Kirchspiel and more focus than the Geyersberg; it is stony and emits aromas of orange citrus and roasted caraway seeds.
2013 Weingut Dreissigacker Morstein Riesling trocken
Robert Parker (Steffen Reinhard): Citrus colored, the 2013 Morstein Riesling trocken is smoky, mineral and deep on the nose revealing ripe and concentrated Riesling berry aromas dotted with limes and notes of the spontaneous fermentation. Full-bodied, rich and pure, the flavors are complex and elegant on the palate and lead this well balanced wine to develop a salty, piquant and aromatic finish with citrus flavors in the long aftertaste. This is an expressive, terroir-driven Morstein from one of Germany's most popular non-VDP estate.
2014 Weingut Dreissigacker Morstein Riesling trocken
2014 Weingut Dreissigacker Geyersberg Riesling trocken
Schatzi Wines on the 2012: This is the granddaddy of Dreissigacker's dry range in its corpulence, body and texture. It is marked by its fragrant smokiness, like fire-roasted sweet corn. Because the site typically ripens one week earlier than the other sites in Westhofen and Bechtheim, Jochen puts this wine in oak. His parcels lie in the middle of the slope and face due south. At 7 ha, this is Dreissigacker's largest holding and will therefore be our go-to single vineyard site from the estate. Soils are crushed marl and loess and yields are reduced to roughly 15hl/ha—what is insanely selective—to ensure a high level of quality.
2013 Weingut Dreissigacker Kirchspiel Silvaner trocken
2014 Weingut Dreissigacker Kirchspiel Weisburgunder trocken
2011 Weingut Dreissigacker Spätburgunder trocken
2012 Weingut Dreissigacker Wunderwerk Spätburgunder trocken
Thanks Ute for an outstanding tasting.
Postings on the Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) (Posted and Forthcoming)
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