Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Tour and Tasting at Weingut Markus Schneider in Ellerstadt, Pfalz, with Markus Schneider - 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 spend almost 3 hours at Weingut Markus Schneider, with Markus Schneider. He gave us a cellar tour, including a visit of the newly constructed extension of the winery and led a wonderful tasting of his outstanding wines.
Weingut Markus Schneider
Weingut Markus Schneider is in Ellerstadt in the Pfalz. Markus Schneider learned how to make wine at Weingut Dr. Buerklin-Wolf in the Pfalz from 1991 to 1994. His father - Klaus Schneider – had grown grapes for many years as a member of the local wine cooperative, before leaving the wine co-operative and founding his own winery in 1990, with the view of setting up a winery for his son Markus. Four years later, Markus took over and 1994 was the first vintage made by and bottled under the name of Markus Schneider. In the following years, Markus Schneider increasingly shifted to making blends, based on international grape varieties, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Merlot that were a novelty for Germany.
Innovative Wine Labels and Wine Names
At the same time, the wines were marketed with non-traditional, modern labels and wine names; these wines became increasingly appealing for young and hipp wine consumers. Markus Schneider markets all his wines as QbA, without any reference to the predicate level (that have been dominating German wine classification for decades) and mostly without any reference to the vineyard(s) were the grapes come from (moving away from the terroir principle that has become increasingly important for traditional German wine producers).
Markus Schneider owns and leases vineyards. In addition to warmer vineyards in the valley around Ellerstadt, Weingut Markus Schneider also owns/leases vineyards in higher and cooler regions on the edge of the Haardt Mountains. The more than 90 hectares of vineyards spread over the following varieties: Weiße Rebsorten: 30 % Riesling, 8 % Weißer Burgunder, 5 % Grauburgunder, 5 % Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Rote Rebsorten: 12 % Spätburgunder, 12 % Blauer Portugieser, 10 % St. Laurent, 5 % Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Mitos.
In the Wine Cellar
When we did the cellar tour, Markus talked about how he makes his wines. He likes concentrated, fruity wines with intense aromas. Markus told us that he achieves this through strict yield limitation, late harvest and vineyard work focused on the physiological maturity of the grapes. Markus Schneider: „In the wine cellar, natural must concentration with traditional methods is important. For rosé and red wines, this is achieved through juice reduction of up to 40%, using the saignée method. In addition, red wines are very slowly fermented using traditional mash fermentation, which last for premium wines up to 3 months. The maturation takes place in traditional wooden casks and barrique barrels.“
„White wines are vinified with long maceration times (up to 48 hours). The maturation takes place until up to the bottling in the spring in stainless steel tanks, oak barrels and barriques. My white wines remain in contact with the fine yeast until shortly before bottling in order to achieve a complex aroma spectrum.”
95% Sold Domestically
Markus Schneider produces 70.000 cases of wine every year. The demand for his wines is huge and he could easily sell the double or even triple amount of win.
The Emirates Airlines ordered 25.000 bottles of his 2013er Schlossgarten Riesling and the wine is now served in the business class of all Emirates Airlines flights. Alan Yau, the founder of the Hakkasan restaurant concept ordered Markus Schneider wines for his new restaurants in London. In Bangkok, where Alan Yau runs Nahm, arguably the best Asian restaurant in the world, Markus Schneider wines are already on the wine list. „Kaitui the food of Nahm are a perfect match” believes Markus Schneider.
But overall, most of the wines of Markus Schneider are sold in Germany. Exports account only for 5 percent.
Tour of the Winery Extension
While a year ago, we saw the impressive extension of the winery, while it was being constructed, this year, all work had been done and the extension was fully integrated into the rest of the winery. The extension created plenty of space (5000 m2) for a new bottling area and a storage/aging area for up to 500.000 bottles and 1600 barrique barrels. The overall space of the winery did however not increase by that amount as Markus Schneider was renting space in other locations, which he has terminated.
Following the tour of the cellar, including the new extension, we sat down with Markus Schneider for an extensive tasting.
2014 Markus Schneider Sauvignon Blanc Kaitui
The Kaitui 2012 was served at the State Dinner for President Obama and the First Lady.
The Markus Schneider Kaitui is a tribute to New Zealand which is well known for its Sauvignon Blanc. Kaitui means Schneider in the language of the Maori. Markus Schneider: “This is a very early bottling. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and also (starting with this vintage) also on large oak barrels.” A very fruity, lush, very much new world style Sauvignon Blanc.
2014 Markus Schneider Sauvignon Blanc Kaitui Fume
The Kaitui Fume is the older brother of the normal Kaitui, partly fermented and aged in 500 liter barrels of the Tonnellerie de Mercurey.
2014 Markus Schneider Riesling Alte Reben
35 year old vines.
2014 Markus Schneider Riesling Fuchsmantel
The vineyard was created in 1970.
2014 Markus Schneider Saumagen Riesling
2013 Markus Schneider Black Print
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Dorsa. Aged for 12 months in barrique.
2012 Markus Schneider M Blaufränkisch
First vintage. Markus Schneider bought the vineyard planted with Blaufränkisch recently.
2012 Markus Schneider Tohuwabohu
Merlot, Cabernet Franc. 2012 is the best Tohuwabohu ever says Markus Schneider
2012 Markus Schneider Portugieser Einzelstück
Markus Schneider: “I only make this wine in very good years.”
2012 Markus Schneider Syrah Holy Moly
100% Syrah. Holy Moly exclaimed Walter Matthau when he first laid eyes on Sophia Loren. Markus Schneider: “This Syrah can stand up to the great Shiraz wines in the world. A Shiraz MADE IN GERMANY.”
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