Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bourgogne in Riesling Land: Tasting at Chat Sauvage in Johannisberg, Rheingau, with Winemaker Michael Städter – Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Picture:  Bourgogne in Riesling Land: Tasting at Chat Sauvage in Johannisberg, Rheingau, with General Manager/ Winemaker Michael Städter – Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Weingut Chat Sauvage is the odd ball among the traditional century old wineries in the Rheingau. While the Rheingau is famous for its Rieslings, accounting for almost 80 percent of its output, Chat Sauvage’s vineyards are only planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, like in the Bourgogne in France. And Chat Sauvage’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs rank among the best in the country.

Picture: Weingut Chat Sauvage with Schloss Johannisberg in the Background.

General Manager/ Winemaker Michael Städter was our host. Our visit coincided with Weingut Chat Sauvage’s “Schlemmerwochen” (gourmet week) event.

Weingut Chat Sauvage

Weingut Chat Sauvage, founded in 2001, is the baby of Günter Schulz, who has made his money and still is making his money outside of the wine industry. Wine, in particular Bourgogne varieties, is his passion. The winery is run by Michael Städter.

The history of Weingut Chat Sauvage began in 1992, when Günther Schulz started to make regular visits from Hamburg, where he lives, to the Rheingau in order to visit his daughter. He quickly fell in love with the region and began to think about making wine himself in the Rheingau. His first wines – couple of barrels - were made at Weingut Schamari-Mühle in Johannisberg, in cooperation with Erik Andersson.

Picture: Michael Städter and Annette Schiller

Right from the beginning, the Chat Sauvage wines were sought after by wine lovers in Germany, which encouraged Günter Schulz to push ahead with his passion. The next important step was the construction of a winery. He auctioned off his collection of fine wines at Christie’s in London and used the proceeds to buy more vineyard land and to construct a winery in Johannisberg in the Rheingau. Weingut Chat Sauvage moved into the new winery in August 2010.

The vineyard area of Chat Sauvage totals 9 hectares, with 7 hectares Pinot Noir and 2 hectares Chardonnay. 2/3 of the vineyards are steep slopes. The Chat Sauvage vineyards are scattered around in the western part of the Rheingau.

Pictures: Tasting

All work in Chat Sauvage’s vineyards is manual work. Considerable attention is paid to keeping the yields low, with first pruning after flowering, a green harvest, as well as selective hand-picking.

In terms of the cellar, Michael explained that traditional maceration, 18 months aging in barrique and no filtration are among the guiding principles for making Chat Sauvage wines. In terms of oak, Michael told us that they had experimented with Hungarian wood, but have settled now on French oak. Spontaneous fermentation? Michael expressed skepticism.

Michael Städter

While Günter Schulz is the owner and the brain behind Weingut Chat Sauvage, the man on the ground is Michael Städter. He is the Managing Director and the Cellar Master of Weingut Chat Sauvage. He has been with Günter Schulz from early on in the Chat Sauvage undertaking. His mother is from Oestrich Winkel in the Rheingau.

Pictures: General Manager and Winemaker Michael Städter

Michael started his career in the wine industry at Schloss Johannisberg, where he did a 3 years apprenticeship in winemaking. This was followed by studies in viticulture and oenology at the famous Geisenheim College. During his studies, Michael worked at the Weingut Schamari-Mühle, were Günter Schulz started his Chat Sauvage journey in 2001. Thus, right from the beginning, Michael was part of the project. When Günter Schulz decided to have his own winery, he asked Michael if he would be interested in joining him as Managing Director and Winemaker. Michael accepted.

What Michael Städter Poured

2013 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Rheingau, Rose, Pinot Noir

2014 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Rheingau, Chardonnay
2013 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Rheingau, Pinot Noir, Gutswein (from the whole Rheingau Region)
2011 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Rüdesheim, Pinot Noir, Ortswein (from the Rüdesheim Village)
2012 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Johannisberger Hölle, Pinot Noir, Lagenwein (from a single vineyard)

2007 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Lorcher Kapellenberg, Pinot Noir, Lagenwein (from a single vineyard)

In terms of ex winery prices, Weingut Chat Sauvage’s Pinot Noir portfolio starts at Euro 17 (for the Gutswein). At the Ortswein level the Pinots go for Euro 28 and at the Lagenwein level mostly for Euro 45. The most expensive wine currently is the 2013 Weingut Chat Sauvage, Lorcher Schlossberg, Pinot Noir, Lagenwein, which sells for Euro 150.

Postings: Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir (Posted and Forthcoming)

Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

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