Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bollinger Chef de Cave Mathieu Kauffmann Moves to Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in the Pfalz, Germany

Picture: Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

Bollinger's Chef de Cave Mathieu Kauffmann will move to the equally prestigious Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in the Pfalz in Germany in time to work on this year’s vintage. Incoming Managing Director Marian Kopp told Meininger’s Drink Business: “I needed someone with an understanding of terroir wines, he previously worked at Salwey in Baden which is an estate very well known for Pinot Noir and he had the experience from Champagne.”

Mathieu Kauffmann started his sparkling wine career in 1992 in his native Alsace where he headed up the Crémant production of the Cave d’Eguisheim. In February 2001 he joined the winemaking team at Bollinger and became Chef de Cave three years later.

Photo: Mathieu Kauffmann (Photo: Bollinger)

Apparently, Mathieu Kauffmann will be particularly involved in upping the quality of von Buhl’s Sekt, a small but increasingly important part of Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl portfolio. Marian Kopp: “Germany is a huge sparkling wine market. Quite a few estates are launching and have been launching sparkling wines and von Buhl has been something of a leader."

Sekt in Germany

Germany is one of the largest sparkling wine markets in the world. One out of four bottles of sparkling wine is consumed in Germany. Sparkling wine produced in Germany is called Sekt.

Sekt is made in all German wine regions, both in the méthode traditionnelle and charmat method. There are three groups of Sekt makers: (i) large and (ii) smaller Sekt houses, who only make Sekt and (iii) winemakers, who make predominantly wine, but complement their wine selection by a few Sekts.

There is a dozen or so large Sekt houses. They produce more than 2.000.000 bottles each annually. Most of these large Sekt houses were established in the 1800s. At that time, there was only one method known to produce Sekt, the méthode traditionnelle. But in contrast to the champagne houses, the large Sekt houses have all moved to the charmat method as main method of the second fermentation after World War II. Like the champagne houses, Sekt houses do not own vineyards, but purchase the base wine from winemakers.

The smaller Sekt houses, like the large Sekt houses, do not own vineyards, but also buy the base wine from winemakers. They also tend to have a long history and often links to the champagne region, beautiful facilities and old cellars for the second fermentation and storage. The big difference is that they typically have not gone the route of tank fermentation but continue to ferment in the méthode traditionnelle.

Finally, increasingly, there is a number of top quality winemakers (like Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl), who, in addition, to their still wines, have started to include Sekts in their portfolio. These Sekts are typically vintage Sekts, from a specified vineyard, made of specific grapes, often Riesling, in the méthode champenoise and with little or not dosage (brut or extra but).

See also:
German Wine Basics: Sekt


Bollinger is one of the many Champagne Houses that have German roots.

Veuve Clicquot's cellar master, the German Anton Mueller, who invented twith Madame Clicquor he remuage technique, married into the Ruinart family. With the Ruinart daughter, Anton Mueller created his own Champagne House, Ruinart-Mueller, which does not exist anymore. While at the helm of Ruinart-Mueller, his compatriot Joseph-Jacob Bollinger was one of his employees, before leaving Ruinart-Mueller and setting up his own Champagne House.

Joseph-Jacob Bollinger joined Mueller-Ruinart in 1822 to sell their Champagne in the Kingdoms of Bavaria, Hanover, Wuerttemberg and the Netherlands. In 1829, with his Mueller-Ruinart colleague Paul Renaudin de Villermont and with Athanase Hennequin de Villermont, Joseph-Jacob Bollinger (he took the name of Jacques Bollinger when he was naturalised French in 1854) formed the Renaudin-Bollinger Champagne House which would become the famous Bollinger Champagne House.

Picture: Bollinger Champagne

See also:
French Champagne Houses and German Roots
German Wine Makers in the World: Anton Mueller Invented the Remuage Technique Revolutionizing Sparkling Wine Drinking, 1800s, France

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in Deidesheim

The Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl is a large – by German standards - and famous estate in the Pfalz region. It produces mainly Riesling wines and is a member of the VDP.

Picture: Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl is currently in a transition phase. It is owned by the entrepreneur Achim Niederberger (who also owns Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan and Weingut von Winningen (Dr. Deinhard) in Deidesheim) and has since 1989 been leased to an operating company, Reichsrat von Buhl GmbH, owned partly by two Japanese businessmen. The lease is coming to an end. Marion Kopp will be the new Managing Director and Mathieu Kaufmann the winemaker.

62 hectares, 420.000 bottles, 88% Riesling, 8% Spaetburgunder.

See also:
Winemaker Dinner at Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl in Deidesheim, Pfalz, Germany 

Rich History

Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl can look back to a rich history. It was founded in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl. He subsequently added the vineyards inherited by his wife, a member of the Jordan dynasty. These latter vineyards came from the break-up of the original Jordan estate into three parts, with the other two parts giving rise to what is today known as Geheimer Rat Dr. von Weingut Bassermann-Jordan and Weingut von Winning (Dr. Deinhard), both owned by Achim Niederberger, the owner of Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl.

Pictures: Wine Cellar

Franz Peter Buhl’s son Franz Armand inherited the estate. He was a member of the Reichstag and a friend of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Chancellor Bismarck’s famous quote "Dieses Ungeheuer schmeckt mir ungeheuer" this Ungeheuer tastes monstrously good, (Ungeheuer = monster) helped make the Forster Ungeheuer site world-famous. In 1885, he was awarded the title Reichsrat der bayerischen Krone, i.e. he became a member of the Privy Council of the Kingdom of Bavaria, and the title was incorporated in the name of the estate in 1912.

At that time, the von Buhl wines were among the most expensive in the world. Awards like

• The Gold Medal Paris 1867
• The Grande Medaille of Philadelphia 1876
• Grand Prix Paris 1900
• Grand Prix St. Louis 1904
• Grand Prix Brussels 1910

are testament to this highly successful era. Even at the official opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, it was von Buhl Riesling in the glasses raised for the toast. This was the golden age for German Riesling, the wines fetching very high prices, ahead of even the most expensive wines from Bordeaux.

After Franz Armand Buhl, Franz Eberhard owned the estate. After the death of his widow in 1952, with no apparent heir to the family estate, the estate was bequeathed to family friend Georg Enoch von und zu Guttenberg, and it remained in the von Guttenberg family through three generations. In 1952 the estate passed to the famous conductor Enoch von und zu Guttenberg. The estate was scaled down more and more due to economic difficulties in its operation, until the entire property was left with only around 52 hectares of land under vine, albeit including the best vineyard sites in Deidesheim and Forst, such as Forster Kirchenstück, Pechstein, Jesuitengarten, Freundstück and the Deidesheim sites Leinhöhle, Herrgottsacker and Paradiesgarten.

In 1989, the von Guttenberg family leased the estate to an operating company, Reichsrat von Buhl GmbH. In 2005, the estate came under the control of Achim Neiderberger.

Wine Portfolio

Wines from the Weinhaus Reichsrat von Buhl: These are easy-drinking wines produced with grapes bought from other vintners.

Gutsweine: The lowest classification in the VDP. Interestingly, they are named after important persons in the history of the estate: von Buhl, Julie, Armand, Stuck, F.P.Buhl.

Dry Wines from Classified Sites

Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru Wines: Reiterpfad Ruppertsberg ("Rider's path") is the largest in the group of top vineyards at 87 ha of terraces lying to the west of Ruppertsberg, which runs into Deidesheim to the north. Paradiesgarten Deidesheim is a grand cru vineyard in Deidesheim. Ungeheuer Forst ("Monster") measures a slimmer 29 ha at slightly higher altitude, Pechstein Forst ("Bad luck stone") has 15 southeast-facing hectares rich in black basalt and almost a third of it is owned by von Buhl, as is Jesuitengarten Forst (7 ha in total). They also have about a quarter of holdings in Kirchenstück Forst ("Church lot"), which is one of the smallest vineyards at 3.7 ha and rated as one of the best in the Pfalz region with its heady mix of basalt, sandstone, limestone and clay soils.

Picture: 2010 Reichsrat von Bugl, Pechstein Grosses Gewaechs

Fruity and Noble Sweet Wines

Sparkling Wines

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