Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wine Maker Couple H.O. Spanier and Carolin Spanier-Gillot, with Roland Gillot, Lead Wine Tasting of Kuehling-Gillot and Battenfeld-Spanier Wines at Weingut Kuehling-Gillot, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with H. O. Spanier, Caroline Spanier-Gillot and Roland Gillot at the Tasting in Bodenheim.

The wine maker couple Hans Oliver Spanier and Carolin Spanier-Gillot, with Carolin’s father wine maker Roland Gillot, had invited for a guided tasting of the 2010 wines of Weingut Kuehling-Gillot and Battenfeld-Spanier at Weingut Kuehling-Gillot in Bodenheim, Rheinhessen, Germany. Along with the wines, H.O. and Carolin served a dinner of 6 small, fine courses. The cost was Euro 30 per person.

Both Weingut Kuehling-Gillot and Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier belong to the 100 top Estates of Germany: Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

I recently arranged a wine tasting in Washington DC, which included the wines of Weingut Kuehling-Gillot. See: The Focus on Dry German Riesling – Daniel Hubbard Presents the German DSWE Portfolio to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) 
Pictures: At the Tasting in Bodenheim at Weingut Kuehling-Gillot

H.O. Spanier, Carolin Spanier-Gillot and Roland Gillot

The three of them - H.O. Spanier, Carolin Spanier-Gillot and Roland Gillot – are gifted wine makers. Roland was the head winemaker of Weingut Kuehling-Gillot between 1970 and 2002. Weingut Kuehling-Gillot came about by marriage in 1970 of Roland Gillot and Gabi Kuehling. Roland (photo) is in particular famous for his noble-sweet wines.

Picture: Roland Gillot

Carolin took over from her father in 2003. She is a graduate of the famous Geisenheim College wine maker school, a co-founder of the Message in a Bottle association of young winegrowers and a member of the Vinissima. She is sometimes referred to the whirlwind among the young, women winegrowers in Germany. In 2006, after 4 years at the helm of Weingut Kuehling-Gillot, Carolin (photos) married H. O. Spanier of Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier, joining two successful and tradition-rich estates of Rheinhessen.

Pictures: Caroline Spanier-Gillot

H.O. Spanier took over Weingut Spanier in Hohen Suelzen in the South of Rheinhessen from his parents in 1993. Weingut Spanier was in 1997 merged with the neighboring Weingut Battenfeld to become Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier. Over the following years, H.O. (photo) singlehandedly transformed Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier into one of the most preeminent wine producers in Germany.

Picture: H.O. Spanier

Carolin and H.O have two children, who they hope will carry on the tradition of producing great wines. The family lives in Hohen-Suelzen.

Although both estates continue to produce wine under their respective names – Weingut Kuehling-Gillot and Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier - certain functions have been pooled. The tasting room and sales office for both estates is in Bodenheim at Weingut Kuehling-Gillot. As wine makers, both have stamped their wines with a unique signature, but Carolin and H.O. confirmed to me during the evening what I had heard from other sources that H.O. is taking the lead in in terms of winemaking at both estates, while Carolin will be more active in terms of marketing and sales. Essentially, when it comes to the wines of Weingut Kuehling-Gillot and Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier, they carry the signature of H.O. Spanier.


Rheinhessen is an area that used to be known for winemakers often focusing on quantity and not quality. Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards. Unlike in other German wine regions, where monoculture of the vine is the norm, here the many rolling hills are host to a wide variety of crops grown alongside the grape. Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch. At the same time, Rheinhessen is among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. This is not because of the terroir, but because of the people. There is an increasing group of mostly young and ambitious winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. Carolin Spanier Gillot and H.O. Spanier are two of them.

Rheinterrasse and Roter Hang

One region of Rheinhessen, the Rheinterrasse, had always been in a somewhat different league, the stretch of vineyards which runs from Bodenheim, south of Mainz, in the north to Mettenheim in the south, often referred to as the Rheinterrasse. The Weingut Kuehling-Gillot vineyards are in this part of Rheinhessen. The vineyards of the Rheinterrasse have a favored mesoclimate in comparison with others in the region. The Rheinterrasse accounts for one-third of the region's Riesling wines. The wines from the Rheinterrasse were at some point even more expensive than Bordeaux wines. The Roter Hang (Red Slope) is at the center of the Rheinterrasse. This steep slope extends for some five kilometers (three miles) with a total of 180 ha (445 acres) around Nierstein on the left bank of the Rhine.

Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier 

The Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier is in Hohen-Sülzen (Wonnegau area) close to the city of Worms in Southern Rheinhessen. The Spanier family has been making wine for generations. The vineyard area totals 18 hectares, with holdings in: Kirchenstück, Rosengarten und Sonnenberg (Hohen-Sülzen), as well as Frauenberg (Flörsheim). More than 50% of the area is planted with Riesling, as well as with Pinot Noir (20%), Pinot Blanc (8%), Silvaner, Chardonnay and other varieties.

Annual production is around 70.000 bottles of wine. The estate is a member of the VDP association. H. O. Spanier has been a member of the ECOVIN organic growers association since 1996. Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier is now fully biodynamic.

Weingut Kuehling-Gillot

Weingut Kuehling-Gillot (photos) is in Bodenheim (Nierstein area) in Rheinhessen in Germany. In its present form, it came about by marriage in 1970 of Caroline Spanier-Gillot’s parents. It has over 200 years of history behind it through the Kühling and Gillot families.

Over the years, the estate has acquired some of the best sites in Germany on the Rhine Terrace and added an architectural gem: its unique park and Art Deco pavilion, and stylish reception hall, tasting room, and vinothek. These have proved popular for a wide variety of events, including the guided tasting in which my wife Annette and I participated. 

Pictures: Weingut Kuehling-Gillot in Bodenheim

The vineyard area of Weingut Kuehling-Gillot totals 11 hectares, with holdings in: Burgweg (Bodenheim), Kreuz and Sackträger (Oppenheim), Ölberg and Pettental (Nierstein) and Rothenberg (Nackenheim). Grape varieties planted are Riesling (4,3 ha), Pinot Noir (0,9 ha), Pinot Gris (0,8 ha), Portugieser (0,8 ha), Chardonnay (0,5 ha) and Scheurebe (0,4 ha).

Annual production is around 70.000 bottles of wine. The estate is a member of the VDP association. Caroline Spanier-Gillot is a member of Message in a Bottle and Vinissima. Weingut Kuehling-Gillot is now fully biodynamic.

Weingut Kuehling-Gillot owns five Erste Lagen (Grand Cru) sites. Theses are: Spätburgunder Bodenheim Burgweg, grown on sandy marl limestone; Riesling Nackenheim Rothenberg, grown on red slate; Riesling Nierstein Pettenthal, grown on red slate; Riesling Nierstein Ölberg, grown on red slate; and Spätburgunder Oppenheim Kreuz, grown on shell limestone/loess.

Biodynamic Wine Making

Carolin and H.O. are very much into “green winemaking”. They share a comitment to leaving a legacy of healthy soil and great wines. To that end, when it comes to the vineyard, they employ biodynamic methods and constantly strive to maintain healthy soils with the capacity to sustain vines. As for making the wine in the cellar, they share the philosophy of what H. O. calls “controlled laissez faire”. “Great wines need time, and this is guaranteed by traditional fermentation and maturation processes in large, wooden barrels.” said H.O. “Wine is a mythical product," said H.O. "it is not only ancient, but highly charged with spiritual meaning. As a winegrower, one always tills both on earth and on heaven.”

The Guided Tasting with Small Plats (“Kleine Koestlichkeiten”)

2010 QVinterra Riesling feinherb Kuehling-Gillot

A Gutswein – All Kuehling-Gillot  Estate Wines (Gutswein) carry the QUINTERRA trademark. “This Latin term was inspired by the five Rhine Terrace villages—Bodenheim, Oppenheim, Nierstein, Nackenheim, Laubenheim—where we own sites and the respective vineyards’ five soil types” explained Carolin. White wines are sealed with the Stelvin screw cap; red wines have a natural cork.

2010 Riesling Eisback trocken BattenfeldSpanier

A Gutswein – Notes of peach, green apple and grapefruit on the nose, good structure, stimulating acidity, fresh.

2010 QVinterra Riesling trocken Kuehling-Gillot

A Gutswein - The dry Qvinterra Riesling shines with clean fruit which reminds of nectarines and apples, good structure, a shot of minerality, fresh.

Feiner Kaesedip mit Brezelchen und Brot

2010 Hohen-Suelzen Sylvaner BattenfeldSpanier

An Ortswein – a Silvaner fermented and aged in large, old, wooden barrels (Stueckfass), notes of herbs and overripe pears on the nose, Burgundian finesse and elegance. 

2010 Hohen-Suelzen Weissburgunder BattenfeldSpanier

An Ortswein – notes of pear on the nose, a fresh, dry and mineral Pinot Blanc from loess, marl lime and chalk soil in Hohen-Sülzen, long finish.

Tafelspitz mit Gruener Sosse

2010 Hohen-Suelzen Riesling BattenfeldSpanier

An Ortswein – notes of peach, lime and passion fruit on the nose, good structure, linerging finish with some hints of herbs.

2010 Oppenheim Riesling Kuehling-Gillot

An Ortswein - The village location on the Rhine Terrace suggests the soil type and resulting wine. Nierstein’s red slate soil delivers a ripe, creamy Riesling; while Oppenheim Riesling is known for its fruity elegance and vivid acidity, thanks to the limestone in which the grapes grow.

Quiche Lorraine

2010 Kirchenstueck Riesling Grosses Gewaechs Battenfeld Spanier

A Grosses Gewaechs – Lemon and pear notes on the nose, very intense, very mineral on the palate, the vibrant acidity tightens the finish.

2010 Oelberg Riesling Grosses Gewaechs Kuehling-Gillot

A Grosse Gewaechs - Soil type: Red slate. Good balance between the elegant aromas of ripe fruits and the spicy aromas of the red slate, dense, long and strong finish.

Gebratene Blutwurst auf Kartoffelpuree mit Apfelchutney

2010 Frauenberg Riesling Grosses Gewaechs Battenfeld Spanier

A Grosses Gewaechs - Finesse, minerality, fruit, length: a world-class Riesling  

2010 Pettenthal Riesling Grosses Gewaechs Kuehling-Gillot
Grosses Gewaechs – A ripe, creamy, dense grand-cru Riesling with a long, intense finish.

Vesperplatte – Wildknacker und Hirschschinken aus eigener Jagd und Herstellung

2008 Kirchenstueck Spaetburgunder Grosses Gewaechs BattenfeldSpanier

A Pinot Noir Grosses Gewaechs - blueberry and cherry notes on the nose, complex structure, dense flavours on the palate, elegant.

2008 Kreuz Spaetburgunder Grosses Gewaechs Kuehling-Gillot

A Pinot Noir Grosses Gewaechs - Soil type: Chalk and limestone. Aged in new and used barriques, dark berries and a hint of spiciness in combination with an elegant and long finish.


2008 Oppenheimer Sacktraeger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Kuehling-Gillot

A noble-sweet wine at its best, made by Roland Gillot.

schiller-wine - Related Postings

German and Austrian Wines in the Wine Spectator Top 100 2010

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

Visiting Agnes and Fritz Hasselbach at their Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim, Rheinhessen, Germany

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

1.International Riesling Symposium

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

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The Wines of the Roter Hang (Red Slope) in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany

Best German Dry Riesling - Weinwelt German Riesling Awards 2011 (2010 Vintage)

5 Top Wine Makers at Premier Cru Wein Bistro in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Best German Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2012

Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011


  1. Carolin Spanier-GillotJanuary 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Lieber Herr Schiller!
    Vielen Dank für die Info und den ausführlichen Bericht.
    Bis auf ein nächstes Mal.

    Mit den besten Grüßen auch von H.O.
    Carolin Spanier-Gillot

  2. Hallo lieber Christian Schiller,

    tolles posting über uns. Freut mich wirklich sehr. Ich hatte es leider wirklich noch nicht gesehen. Carolin und ich würden uns auf ein baldiges Wiedersehen freuen.

    Liebe Grüße aus dem Wonnegau

    H.O. Spanier

    67591 Hohen-Sülzen
    C. Spanier-Gillot & H.O. Spanier
    Öhlmühlstrasse 25
    55294 Bodenheim