Thursday, September 8, 2011

“Hoffest” (Winery Party) at Weingut Heinrich Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau - Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winner

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winners Heinrich and Heinz Baison, Weingut Baison, Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Weingut Heinrich Baison is one of the perhaps 2 dozens or so of winemakers in Hochheim, in the eastern corner of the Rheingau region. Weingut Heinrich Baison received national and international attention, when one of their wines was among the winners of the Best of Riesling Awards. Traditionally, wineries in Germany invite once or twice a year for a “Hoffest” where the whole winery turns into a big party with wooden benches in the winery court, hearty home-made food and the wines of the winery. I like to go to these parties and recently went to one at Weingut Heinrich Baison. I was in particular interested, because Weingut Baison had won a Best of Riesling Award.

Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winner Weingut Baison

Every other year, the Best of Riesling Competition takes place in Germany, organized by the Ministry of Wine of the Land Rheinland Pfalz. Note that the Land Rheinland Pfalz has a Ministry of Wine! The last competition took place in 2010. I have reported about it here. The winners in category 1: Dry German Rieslings (up to 4 grams per liter residual sugar) were:

Platz 1 2009 Michelbacher Apostelgarten, Spätlese
Weingut Heilmann, Alzenau, Franken

Platz 2 2009 Erbach Hohenrain, Alte Reben
Weingut Jakob Jung, Eltville-Erbach, Rheingau

Platz 3 2009 Hochheimer Hölle, Spätlese
Weingut Heinrich Baison, Hochheim, Rheingau

Hochheim in the Rheingau

Hochheim is one of the top wine producing villages in the Rheingau region with about two dozens winemakers. Already Goethe spoke of its distinctive microclimate: '...among the magnates of Rheingau wine, Rüdesheim, Johannisberg and Hochheim, there can be no dispute about rank!...'. The Őchsle tend to be higher here than in other areas of the Rheingau. And it was the English Queen Victoria's (1819-1901) special preference for Hochheim wine that prompted the abbreviation ‘Hock' for all good Rhine wines. But Hochheim is perhaps best known in the U.S. through President Jefferson. This is where Thomas Jefferson, when he was Ambassador in Paris, visited in 1788 and brought vine cuttings back to America to plant in his own vineyard.
Hochheim is about 50 minutes from Frankfurt Airport by S-Bahn. Most of Hochheim’s winemakers sell their wine directly to the consumer at their premise, which is typical for the German wine market, and many operate cosy Gutsausschänke (Restaurants), where you try their wines and eat hearty local food.

Picture: Hochheim

The undisputed star in Hochheim is Weingut Franz Kuenstler. See more here. I addition, there are about 2 dozen or so winemakers who all make very good wine. Among them, Domdechant Werner is internationally well known as the Estate exports a large share of its production.

Weingut Baison

Weingut Baison is a winery in Hochheim that I know very well. The senior boss Otto Baison joins the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim from time to time for tastings and excursions. He, for example, joined us on the trip to the Kraichgau in the northern part of Baden. I had the pleasure to attend a Hoffest – a winery party - at Weingut Baison. Otto, Heinrich and Heinz poured their award winning wine.

Picture: Weingut Baison

The predominat grape variety on Baison’s 6 hectares of land is the Riesling, accounting for 8/10 of the total, followed by Pinot Noir, accounting for 1/10. The Baisons are experimenting with the Regent, a new red grape variety.

Weingut Baison is a winemaker, where you can buy you white Literwein for daily consumption for Euro 4.20 per liter, either dry or off-dry. The red Literwein costs a bit more, Euro 5.50, and is a Spaetburgunder.


At the Hoffest, I liked very much the 2008 Hochheimer Stein Gewürztraminer Spätlese, trocken for Euro 8.00 per bottle. All Spaetlese wines are in this price range, including the 2009 Baison Junior, vinified by the Baison junior Heinrich (same name as his Grandgrandfather, who founded the Winery).

I finished the evening with Hochheimer Hölle Spätburgunder Spätlese, dry, velvety, round, for Euro 12. The red wines are all at least one year aged in a barrique barrel. We had started the evening with a Baison brut Riesling Sekt, aged four years on the yeast, for Euro 8.70, a steal.

Pictures: Hoffest at Weingut Baison

I had the chance to talk a bit with Otto Baison, the senior. He explained to me that 3 generations are currently involved in the wine making at the Baison Estate: He (Otto), his son Heinz with his former daughter in law Uschi, and grandson Heinrich. When it comes to the fine tuning in the cellar, the 4 four of them get together and decide collectively. The Weingut was founded by Otto’s father Heinrich Baison in 1936.

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