Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre - Making Fine Wine in The Netherlands

Picture:  Christian G.E. Schiller and Johan van der Velde at Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre in The Netherlands

My interest in The Netherlands got a boost recently when my daughter Katharina accepted a position as junior researcher at the University of Wageningen. I started to do some research on winemaking in The Netherlands and visited one of the best winemakers of the Netherlands, Wijnhove De Kleine Schorre in Dreischor, Schouwen-Duiveland.

Against this background, I issued a posting on: Emerging Wine Producer The Netherlands This posting is more narrowly focused, covering my visit of Wijnhove De Kleine Schorre in Dreischor, Schouwen-Duiveland.

Emerging Wine Producer The Netherlands

The Dutch climate is cool and damp, which is not conducive for producing premium-wines. Yet, over the past twenty years, Dutch viticulture has boomed, with farmers planting vineyards at a growing rate. The 2 main contributing factors are: The European climate's rewarming to Roman-era temperatures of 2,000 years ago and the development of new, colder climate-resistant hybrid grape cultivars. Still, now exceeding 200 hectares, Dutch wine production is negligible by international standards. In neighboring Germany, for example, the vineyard area totals 100.000 hectares.

Pictures: Windmills Everywhere

The Dutch wine industry was kick-started by the development of new hybrid cultivars. “These new varieties resist mildew diseases better, their grapes ripen quicker, they are more adapted to the Dutch climate,” says winemaker Job Huisman. In addition, mainly in the southern parts of the Netherlands, in particular in the Limburg area, winegrowers still cultivate the traditional vitis vinifera grape varieties (e.g. Riesling, Pinot Gris, Rivaner). Wijnhove De Kleine Schorre in Dreischor, Schouwen-Duiveland, is one of them.

Pictures: The Netherlands

Snooth on Dutch Wine: The climate in The Netherlands, or Holland, is too cool and damp to produce quality wine. However the Dutch have been very active in the European wine market through the centuries, with their geographic location perfectly positioned as a prime merchant port for German and French wines. In addition, the Dutch have heavily influenced the production of South African wines. The Dutch settled there in the 17th century and established many wineries throughout the country, and also the Koöperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika Bpkt (KWV) in 1918. First developed as massive wine cooperative, this became the regulating force in the South African Wine industry. But while wine is not a big Dutch export, the Netherlands is known for gin….

Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre

Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre was established in 2001, in the province of Zeeland, in the south-west of the Netherlands. The De Kleine Schorre vineyard is located in Dreischor, a traditional Zeeland circular village, on the island of Schouwen-Duivenland. It is one of the oldest farms in Dreischor, having an original black-tarred barn dating back to 1735. Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre is run and co-owned by Johan van der Velde.

Picture: The island of Schouwen-Duivenland

Johan’s father made his income by producing potatoes. When Johan took over from his father, potato growing business was bad and he looked for something else. Unusually, he decided to go the winemaking route. As a first step, he worked for 3 years in a family winery in Luxembourg to learn the art of growing grapes and making wine.

Pictures:Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre

In terms of financing the winery, he went the route of acquiring equity capital. In addition to him, there are 5 investors from Zeeland in the winery. Apart from 5 shareholders, there are also 25 certificate holders involved in the winery.

Picture: Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre

In terms of grape varieties, he planted noble vitis vinifera grapes (and not the new, colder climate-resistant hybrid grapes) – all white varieties that he had worked with in Luxembourg (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Rivaner and Auxerrois).

The first harvest was in 2004. “We produced 200 bottles and the quality was poor”, said Johan. But from there on the way was only upwards. In the following year, production increased to 15 000 bottles and in 2006, KLM, the Dutch Airline, ordered 25 000 bottles for its business class flights. Today, production is 70.000 bottles. At that level, Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre has become one of the largest wineries in the Netherlands. There are perhaps a dozen other wineries in the Netherlands at the same size. Most of the production is sold at the winery. “We sell out before the new vintage becomes available” says Johan.

Pictures: In the Winecellar with Johan van der Velde

In terms of quality, “most of the Dutch Michelin-starred restaurants have our wine on their menu”, says Johan. “Our wine goes very well with the fish, the oysters and the mussels that you find in our region.”

The vineyards of Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre are around the winery and total 10 hectares now. Johan took us on a tour of the vineyard. “We have 200 days of sunshine. The soil is very loamy and chalky due to the mussel shells and 5 meters below the sea-level.” At harvest time, volunteers are recruited to pick the grapes. “Currently, we have a list of 260 volunteers, who want to help at the harvest. But we need only about 30 helpers.”

Pictures: In the Vineyard with Johan van der Velde

The Portfolio

Pictures:  Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre Portfolio

Schouwen-D®uiveland Rivaner 2013 Euro 11.50
Winemaker comment: A particularly fresh wine with voluptuous fruit tones, such as lychee, peach and pear; a slightly sparkling touch completes this wine.

Schouwen-D®uiveland Auxerrois 2013 Euro 11.95
Winemaker comment: Vibrant, fresh with modest shades of apple, citrus and fragrant peach and pear.

Schouwen-D®uiveland Blanc 2013 Euro 12.50
Winemaker comment: Pinot Blanc is a fresh and fruity wine, which is mellow and round. It is wine which is suitable for all occasions. Great as an aperitif, but has enough body and structure to suit all sorts of fish and seafood dishes. Par excellence, it is a wine which goes very well with mussels. Most suitable to be drunk young. Delectable with mussels.

Schouwen-D®uiveland Gris 2013 Euro 13.95
Winemaker comment: Has a complex nose with smoky overtones whilst its acidity allows it to age beautifully. Luscious with lobster and oysters.

Schouwen-D®uiveland Barrique 2012 Euro 17.95
Winemaker comment: Intense aromas of honey, vanilla, toast surround this wine; a full-bodied wine with a finish to match.

Schouwen-D®uiveland Gris 2009 Magnum Euro 49.50

Schouwen-D®uiveland Brut de Zélande Euro 24.50
Winemaker comment: Lovely fresh aromas and an exceptionally fine sparkle, green apple bouquet with a spicy finish.

Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre

Zuiddijk 4
4315 PA Dreischor
Telephone: +31 (0)111 401550
Fax: +31 (0)111 401946
Mobile: +31 (0)6 1344 6326

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