Friday, March 13, 2015

Wine Tasting at Weingut Friedrich Becker – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Picture: Annette Schiller and Friedrich Becker sen.

The winetasting at Weingut Friedrich Becker in Schweigen at the French-German border was the first event of a series of events in the Pfalz during the Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014).

Weingut Friedrich Becker is currently run and owned by Friedrich Becker sen. and Friedrich Becker jun. We bumped into the 2 Friedrichs while Friedrich Becker jun. was maneuvering with a fork-lift truck and his father, Friedrich Becker sen., directing him. The tasting was ably conducted by one of the winery staff members.

Weingut Friedrich Becker

Weingut Becker is in Schweigen in the Pfalz, right at the French/German border. In fact, 2/3 of the vineyards of Weingut Friedrich Becker are in an area that today belongs to France.

Weingut Becker is what it is today because of Friedrich Becker sen. He took over from his father in 1973. Right from the start, he stopped selling the grapes to the local co-op and started bottling and selling his own wines. He also started to use barriques for his Spätburgunder, in parallel with Dr. Heger, Fürst, Johner and Meyer-Näkel and others.

Pictures: Arriving at Weingut Friedrich Beckerin Schweigen

In 2005, Friedrich Becker jun. took over the estate and the winemaking, while his father continues to oversee the outside vineyard work.

Today, Weingut Becker is one of the best producers in the Pfalz and one of the best Pinot Noir producers in Germany. The best Becker Pinot Noirs compare favorably with the best Burgundy has to offer.

The Vineyards

The vineyards totals 18 hectares. Unusually, about 2/3 of the vineyards are located in what is now France.

Becker's top vineyards are the Kammerberg and the Sankt Paul vineyards, both of which have a solid foundation of limestone, Pinot Noir's preferred soil. The Kammerberg, a steep single vineyard near Wissembourg, was recovered by Friedrich Becker sen. in 1966.

The St. Paul vineyard was cultivated in the 14th century by the Cistercians of Wissembourg. The site had since become overgrown but the Beckers uprooted trees and bushes in early 2000 and replanted the vineyard. St. Paul Pinots are released two years and the Kammerberg Pinots three years after the vintage.

Dr. Vino (Wine Blogger in New York, USA): Although his vineyards span two countries, Germany and France, they are really only one kilometer apart. Friedrich, known as Fritz, told me yesterday that the vineyards have been in his family for six generations. During that time, the border has, ahem, changed several times and 1945 left them straddling two sovereign nation states. Today, about two-thirds of Becker’s 35 acres of vineyards are in Alsace with the remainder, as well as, the winery lying in Pfalz, specifically the town of Schweigen.

Today, in an integrated Europe, the border doesn’t really mean much. Fritz can dart between them with ease: “you don’t even notice it” he told me. But he said that for his father it was more of a hassle several decades ago when he would have to show his passport to cross the border each time he wanted to go check sugar levels in the grapes. The French border guards didn’t always make it easy, he said, since they often weren’t from the liminal zone that is the Rhine region and resented Germans still having holdings on the French side.

But is the Becker wine “German” if it is technically grown in France? Yes, Fritz said, thanks to a 1955 accord that grants them and five other vineyards that right. In exchange, the French got water rights to the springs of Schweigen and some lumber rights from the local forest. A deal that turned water into wine; I like.

Pictures: Chatting with Friedrich Becker sen. and Friedrich Becker jun.

Focus on Burgundian Grapes

60% of the vineyards are planted with the Burgundy grapes and Chardonnay; 22 % with Riesling and the rest with Silvaner, Muskateller, Traminer, Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, and Portugieser.

In a recent interview, Friedrich Becker jun. was asked: You focus more on Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Why the focus on more Burgundian grapes than traditional German varietals?

Friedrich Becker jun.: That’s got a lot to do with our history as our winery is very close to the French border. We are 200 meters from the border of “Today’s France” as my grandfather would say! We are just north of Alsace and curiously, 80 per cent of the vineyards we own are actually in France. It’s regulated by a state treaty between France and Germany so we are allowed to do this as our family has owned the vineyards for more than 200 years and as the Alsace has changed hands so many times in those 200 years this is the outcome! But more than 800 years ago the monks planted the traditional French varietals in the area and this is why we still use them to this day. You know the church has always known the best places to plant grapes and our soils are limestone, much like the soils of Burgundy thus we continue to focus on what grows best.

But you also grow Riesling and many more varieties? Friedrich Becker jun.: Yes, we make wines from other varieties too, but we are talking about very small amounts. The winery is still 70 per cent Pinot Noir, roughly 15 per cent Pinot Gris, 5 per cent Pinot Blanc and then the rest – so it’s really a very small percentage. My grandfather was a co-operative winemaker from 1940 to 1973 as our town was completely destroyed in the war. So when he came home after the war there was nothing left – cellar gone, winery gone, house gone, so they had to start from scratch. The winemakers in our town founded a co-operative to get the business of winemaking going again. So when my father took over in 1973 we were left with all this abundance of varieties. But these days, everything we plant is Pinot Noir.


Pictures: Tasting at Weingut Friedrich Becker

2013 Weissburgunder trocken Gutswein
2013 Chardonnay trocken Gutswein
2011 "In der Enggasse" Weisser Burgunder trocken Selektionswein
2013 "Kalkmergel" Grauer Burgunder trocken Selektionswein
2011 Spätburgunder "B" trocken Rotwein
2011 Spätburgunder "Schweigener" trocken Rotwein
2011 Spätburgunder "Rechtenbacher" trocken Rotwein
2009 Spätburgunder "Kalkgestein" trocken Rotwein
2011 Spätburgunder "Heydenreich" Lagenrotwein

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013 

In the Vineyard and the Wine Cellar (and Lunch) with Robert Schätzle, Owner and Winemaker, Weingut Schloss Neuweier in Baden – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wine Tasting Luncheon at 1 Star Michelin Röttele's Restaurant im Schloss Neuweier in Baden, with Winemaker Robert Schätzle and his Weingut Schloss Neuweier Wines – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Zähringer in Baden: Cellar Tour and Tasting with Winemaker Paulin Köpfer – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombasy (2014)

Weingut Freiherr von Gleichenstein in Baden: Tour and Tasting with Baron Johannes von Gleichenstein – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014), Germany

Weingut Franz Keller in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden: Cellar Tour and Tasting with Fritz Keller – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Lunch at Restaurant Schwarzer Adler in Oberbergen, with Weingut Franz Keller Wines – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wine Tasting at Weingut Bernhard Huber – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Visit: Weingut Dr. Heger in Baden – Germany-South Wine Tours by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Karl-Heinz Johner in Baden: Cellar Tour and Tasting with Karl-Heinz and Patrick Johner – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

At Maison Trimbach in Alsace with Hubert Trimbach – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

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