Monday, May 19, 2014

Weingut Franz Kuenstler, Hochheim, Rheingau, Joins Terry Theise Portfolio, USA/Germany

Picture: Gunter Kuenstler and Christian G.E. Schiller at Restaurant Kronenschloesschen in the Rheingau (2013)

Last year, at one of the larger wine tastings in Germany, Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Franz Kuenstler in Hochheim, Rheingau, told me that he was in the process of changing his American importer. He had already terminated the contract and was looking for a new importer. We talked a bit about his motives and options. This year, at the Weinboerse in Mainz, Gunter told me that he had decided to join the portfolio of Terry Theise.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller at Weingut Kuenstler in Hochheim (2013)

The German Terry Theise Portfolio

Terry Theise is one of the leading importers, if not the leading importer of German wine in America. He has a large portfolio, comprising 40 German winemakers or so, including Doennhoff, Kruger-Rumpf, Diel, Selbach-Oster, Mueller-Catoir, Von Winning, to name a few.

Among the vast number of his followers, he has gained something like a cult status. He publishes a thick catalogue once a year with extensive comments. In addition to the compendium of exciting wine reviews, the Terry Theise’s annual catalogue is a very good introduction to German wine, both to the basics and to the current trends and issues.

Pictures: The late Franz Kuenstler with Annette Schiller at a Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim Tasting (2009)

His wines are imported by Michael Skurnik, an importer and distributor of fine wines based in Syosset, New York. Terry also imports Austrian wine and Champagnes, including excellent grower Champagnes.

Picture: Annette and Christian G.E. Schiller with Gunter Kuenstler at Weingut Franz Kuenstler (2009)

If you want to learn more about Terry, the Washington Post carried an excellent article about him some time ago. See here.

2008 James Beard Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional
2005 Food & Wine Magazine Importer of the Year

A few comments on the German Portfolio of Terry Theise: First, there are no red wines, although they now account for 1/3 of the German wine output. Terry is clearly focusing on Germany’s white wines. Second, nor have I seen a category for sparkling wines; for sparklers, you have to go to his excellent portfolio of Champagnes, including many grower Champagnes. Third, Terry is known for having a preference for sweet-style wines, as far as German white wines are concerned, although his portfolio also includes dry wines. Remember, Terry also imports Austrian white wines and they are all dry. Fourth, his portfolio does not include any noble-sweet wines (Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein).

See also:
Terry Theise: German 2013 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany
Terry Theise: 2012 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany
Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2011 Vintage, Germany, USA
2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage
Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

Weingut Franz Kuenstler

Weingut Franz Kuenstler is one of Germany’s world class wine producers. It has 5 F’s (out of 5) in the Feinschmecker WeinGuide ranking. The Wine Estate is currently run by Gunter Kuenstler, who took over from his father Franz a number of years ago. Basically, until the late 1980s Franz was in charge and from the early 1990s on, the Kuenstler wines were made by Gunter. Before founding his own winery in 1965, Franz Kuenstler worked for other wineries in Hochheim for 15 years.

Pictures: Gunter Kuenstler and Gregor Breuer at Weinboerse in Mainz, Germany (2014). See also: 2014 Weinboerse in Mainz – The VDP Producers of the 2014 ombiasy Germany North Tour

The wine growing tradition of the Künstler family can be traced back to Southern Moravia in 1648. After the Second World War, the Künstlers had to leave their home in what is now the Czech Republic and the head of the family, Franz Künstler, laid the foundations in Hochheim for what was to become one of the most successful family businesses in the Rheingau.

I remember very well the small row house in Hochheim that was the initial home of the Kuenstler winery. And I remember very well the wonderful tastings we had at the Kuenstler estate. All my life I have been buying Kuenstler wines and there is quite a number of Kuenstler bottles in my wine cellar in McLean, Virginia.

Gunter Künstler bought the Geheimrat Aschrott'sche Erben wine estate in Hochheim in 1996 and in doing so acquired a major share in the very best vineyard locations in Hochheim (12 hectares). A few years ago, as another giant leap, the Kuenstler estate moved into the former Burgeff Sektkellerei, just at the entrance of Hochheim, when you come from Mainz. It is very impressive.

Pictures: Annette and Monika Kuenstler (2013)

Most recently, Gunter Kuenstler started a cooperation with a winemaker in Ruedesheim and began to offer wines from vineyards in Ruedesheim. This cooperation, however, is coming to an end. In the future, you will not see any wines from Ruedesheim in the Kuenstler portfolio.

Picture: Annette and Gunter Kuenstler in Wiesbaden (2013)

The vineyard area totals 37 hectares in the Domdechaney, Herrnberg, Hölle, Kirchenstück, Reichestal, Stein and Stielweg (Hochheim) as well as Weiß Erd (Kostheim), excluding vineyards in Ruedesheim. Riesling accounts for the bulk of it (29 hectares) but there is also Spätburgunder, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaking: Gunter Künstler, Rolf Schregel
Marketing: Gregor Breuer, Monika Künstler
Production: 20000 cases

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Weingut Franz Kuenstler)

Germany's Top 18 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2013

Kuenstler, Meyer-Naekel, Wirsching – Winemaker Dinner at Kronenschlösschen in Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Franz Kuenstler, Founder of the Renown Franz Kuenstler Estate in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany, dies at Age 84

Franz Kuenstler, the founder of the Weingut Franz Kuenstler, was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, Germany

Wine Video: German Top Wine Maker Gunter Kuenstler interviewed by Hendrik Thoma

World Class Wines in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany - Weingut Kuenstler

Five Hochheim (Rheingau) Winemakers Presented their Vintage 2011 Wines in Hochheim, Germany

schiller-wine: Related Posting (Terry Theise)

Terry Theise: German 2013 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany

Terry Theise: 2012 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany

Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2011 Vintage, Germany, USA

2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

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