Monday, June 25, 2018

2 Cellar Tours and 1 Tasting at Weingut Ziereisen in Efringen, Markgräfler Land, Baden, with Hanspeter and Edel Ziereisen - Germany-South and Alsace 2018 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: Baden, Alsace, Pfalz and Rheinhessen

Pictures: Massive Tasting at Weingut Ziereisen, with Hanspeter and Edeltraud Ziereisen

"The man is a superstar, whose Pinots are up there with the very best."
Tim Atkin, Master of Wine and award-winning wine journalist, broadcaster and commentator

"Ziereisen is a little bit like Bayern Munich. Another dimension of complexity and expression." Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate German Reviewer 11/6/15 (Facebook)

We started the visit with a tour of the old cellar, then sat down for a massive tasting in the cosy tasting room of Weingut Ziereisen with Edeltraud and Hanspeter Zieresien and finished the visit with a quick tour of the impressive, brand-new winemaking facilities, built into the mountain, of Weingut Ziereisen outside of the village.

Weingut Ziereisen exports 40 percent of its production. It is available in the US through Fass Selections. I have quoted extensively from Lyle Fass's recent Ziereisen offers.

Pictures: At Weingut Ziereisen

Weingut Ziereisen

Weingut Ziereisen is in the Markgräfler Land, the far southwestern corner of Germany where the country borders both Switzerland and France. Weingut Ziereisen sits right at the Switzerland – Germany border.

The estate is a mixed farming operation, run by the Ziereisen family with Hanspeter Ziereisen at the lead and un charge of the wine portfolio. In spring, asparagus is harvested and supplied to the leading restaurants in the Markgräflerland region, in summer and autumn various vegetables and fruit are produced.

Picture: The Ziereisen Family

The vineyard area totals 8 hectares, with holdings in the Hardt, Rhini, Schulen and Tschuppen sites. They are planted with Pinot Noir (50%), Chasselas (25%), Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Regent. The top wines are not filtered, in order to retain their individual character, and aged for 22 months in wood.

Weingut Ziereisen has 4 (out of 5) grapes in the 2018 Gault-Millau wine guide.

Hanspeter and Edeltraud Ziereisen make very interesting and age worthy red wines - "Made in Germany". Most are Pinot Noirs but their fascination with Syrah led to the production of one Syrah wine. The house wine is a Gutedel. Gutedel is more known under the name „Chasselat“ or „Fendant“ as the signature white grape varietal of Switzerland. Gutedel has also become the signature grape of its close neighbor the Markgräfler Land. It is regarded as oldest known grape variety, grown in Egypt 5000 years ago. In the late 18 hundreds the Chasselat grape was brought from Vervey, Switzerland to the Markgräfler Land.

Pictures: Arriving at Weingut Ziereisen, with Annette Schiller and Hanspeter Ziereisen

Weingut Ziereisen (Savio Soares Selections)
1140 Broadway Suite 1506, New York, NY 10001, USA

Savio Soares Selections: It is not only Edeltraud and Hanspeter that make up Weingut Ziereisen but, with all included, there are 4 generations working side by side, it has been this way for 30 years. Wonderfully they all toil to achieve the same goal: working with utmost care to reach the potential that the vineyards can express, with little interference by man in the winery. The goal is to reflect the power of the vineyards but, as Hanspeter says, “Not sumo wrestlers but decathletes; smooth, elegant, strong, and athletic.” To achieve this, the property is managed naturally, without chemicals. The unique micro-climate and pure limestone soils provide a growing environment similar to Burgundy, and so similar clones do very well. They are worked by hand every day and, come harvest time, are swept for only the best grapes. Another selection process before pressing assures only the best fruit are entered into the process. They want wines that reflect the vintage as well, so the correct moment of picking is calculated after watching the entire season pass.

Pictures: Weingut Ziereisen - Mixed Farming Operations

Gutedel (Chassalas) is the local grape and champion of the family. Hanspeter believes that by working these vines hard, he can revitalize the noble nature of this varietal. The cellar work is described by Hanspeter controlled idleness, allowing for long macerations and up to 20 months of lees contact. Both old and new wood may be used but assuredly it is not frivolous. Nothing is done but nothing goes unattended, as it has been for centuries here with cellars dating back 734 C.E. Luckily time is on their side, as they believe only with patience can they create pure wine. Centuries before, it was realized that this was perfect ground for grapes and the Ziereisen family has no intention, no matter how long it takes, of letting that greatness fade. All wines are vegan friendly.

Pictures: Touring the Old Cellar of Weingut Ziereisen

Ziereisen, the Master of German Pinot Noir (Fass Selections)

Hanspeter Ziereisen is one of the world's greatest winemakers and everything he makes is just brilliant. There is a rare beauty in Hanspeter's wines. Each one is an exhilarating experience. He is a true artist. His inspiration is Burgundy but the wines are so uniquely of where they come from as well. You have a Burgundian sensibility with a Baden soul. Each time I open one I am at a loss for words. I am spoiled to have a nice stash of his wines. Each one is just an artist at peak. The quality is so high for every bottle I am in awe. They drink so much higher than what I charge. They are values of the highest degree. He gets stunning fruit. The fruit in these wines is dense, so pure and vibrant and explosive. Truly extraordinary. There is a purity to the fruit in the Baden Pinots that cannot be reproduced anywhere. Hanspeter is the Daddy of it all. He is Baden Pinot Noir. They all look up to him. He is the Aubert de Villaine of Germany. Every producer I have met in Germany not only knows Hanspeter Ziereisen, but has an immense respect for him.

Pictures: Tasting with Hanspeter and Edeltraud Ziereisen

The Wines we Tasted

The Ziereisen Hierachy

Weingut Ziereisen classifies its wines in 4 groups:

First, Gutsweine - Entry-level wines.

Second, Rebsorten Weine - Basic single grape variety wines.

Third, Premium Weine - premium wines, all unfiltered and for 22 months aged in wood. All premium wines are single-vineyard wines  - Steingrüble, Lügle, Musbrugger, Hard, Tschuppen, Talrein, Schulen, Rhini, Gestad.

Fourth Jaspis Weine - ultra-premium wines, all unfiltered, some are old vines, all 22 months aged in wood, no single-vineyard wines.

Picture: Ziereisen Jaspis

The Ziereisen Hierarchy (Spätburgunder) Explained by Lyle Fass

1) The Blauer Spätburgunder which is like Bourgogne Rouge level, but like the most extraordinary one you have ever had.
2) Then you have Tschuppen next which is like like a very high quality regional wine, like a Côte de Nuits Villages.
3) Next up there is Schulen which is like a high quality village wine from Chambolle or Volnay.
4) Now we come to Rhini which is like a high quality elite 1er Cru. Like a Clos St. Jacques or a Les Petit Monts.
5) Above that is Jaspis which is like a 2nd tier Grand Cru. Think Echezeaux or Corton.
6) Then the top of the line (more on that below) is Jaspis Alte Reben which is like an elite Grand Cru like Richebourg or Romanee St. Vivant.

Pictures: Edeltraud Ziereisen

The Wines Edeltraud and Hanspeter Poured

2016 Heugumber, Gutedel, Gutswein
2016 Viviser, Gutedel, Rebsorten Wein
2016 Grauer Burgunder, Rebsorten Wein
2015 Steingrüble unfiltiert, Gutwedel, Premium Wein
2015 Lügle unfiltiert, Weisser Burgunder Premium Wein
2015 Hard unfiltiert, Chardonnay, Premium Wein

2015 Grauer Burgunder Alte Reben unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein

Lyle Fass: I was out to dinner with The Greek's son in late December a few years ago and I brought a bottle of the 2013 Ziereisen Jaspis Alte Reben Grauerburgunder. He brought 2009 Francois Raveneau 1er Cru "Butteaux." The 13 Grauer Burgunder was $49.99 and the Raveneau was $175 a bottle. By now I'm sure you all know where this story is going. The Ziereisen absolutely ate that Raveneau for breakfast. It was not even a fair fight. The Ziereisen was an eye-opening wine that night and the fact that it went with the food better than the Raveneau and also showed up the more expensive sexy label-chasing wine was all the more satisfying.

So why am I offering a $57 pinot gris (2015 Ziereisen Grauer Burgunder Alte Reben for $56.99 on a 3-bottle pack)? Because it's made from the best vineyards from one of the best winemakers in Europe and from 60 year old vines. This is a Grand Cru/Grosses Gewachs quality wine. But it's even more. It is a wine that will change the way you think about Pinot Gris. It is also one of the greatest food wines in the world. Every time I open a bottle it is the best white wine that I've had in however many years. It is uncanny how world class this bottle is. Here is a link to an Instagram video of me tasting the 2014.

The nose is just stunningly elegant. It has fruit complexity with the best of them. Stunning nuanced stone fruits all over this nose. Citrus. Bergamot. Really something you can get lost in with mineral and light citrus overtones combined with it opening and opening. It has that 15 power and detail.

The palate is where the fireworks really happen. A rare wine where the palate over delivers what the nose promises. This is one of the most explosive wines I've ever had from Germany. It is like a suitcase nuke in 2015. Ridiculously intense but contained. Huge, and I mean huge freshness from acid and so much limestone combined with delicious juicy stone fruits. A massive fruit soak and such insane fruit complexity again. I know I don't talk often about fruit complexity but this is exhibit A. When you recover from that, there are incredible internal aromatics floating above with a firm mineral core. This is as graceful as 1er Cru White Burgundy from one of the big three (Chassagne / Meursault / Puligny). The wine is completely delicious (my tasting note says, "WOW, YUM") but this wine also has some serious eye-popping complexity. It is as serious a white wine as I sell. I had the 2015 at a pop and pour at the estate and it was amazing but then again over a four hour meal where it truly blew my mind - it will get better with some serious air or bottle age. I'd open and follow over the course of an evening - this is a special, special wine from a remarkable producer. It also got 94 from Stephane Reinhardt for the 13. His review is below. I know he tasted the 15 which is even better.

"The 2013 Grauer Burgunder Alte Reben Jaspis is a selection from two parcels; the vines were planted in 1958 and 1962 on Jurassic chalk soils with an iron-rich layer of clay. The wine has an apricot color and an intense, aromatic bouquet of ripe (stone) fruits and some lovely lime flavors. The wine is creamy and elegant on the palate, but full of tension, power and intense, juicy fruit. The finish is very long and expresses the old vines. This has great purity, freshness and salinity in the finish. Great aging potential. This is a fascinating Pinot Gris for the next 8-10 years." 94 Points, Stephan Reinhardt The Wine Advocate (2013)

2015 Chardonnay unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein
2015 Gutedel 10/4 Alte Reben unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein

More widely known as Chasselas, Gutedel has a reputation for producing at best, neutral early-drinking quaffers. But not here. The grape is one of the world's oldest, and a classic of southern Baden. The estate already produces excellent versions, but with this wine Hanspeter Ziereisen wished to show that it can hold its own with the world's best whites: precisely because of its neutrality, he believes it reflects the vineyard character better than any other white varietal.

2014 Schulen unfiltriert, Blauer Spätburgunder, Premium Wein
2015 Schulen unfiltriert, Blauer Spätburgunder, Premium Wein

The grapes are handpicked from Ziereisen’s 25-35 year old ‘Schulen’ parcel, which has very pure limestone soils, leading to a complex minerality in the wines. They then undergo a six week maceration period, after which they are pressed and moved to age to a combination of 20% new and 80% used barriques for about eighteen months. Yields about 50 hL/ha.

2014 Rhini unfiltriert, Blauer Spätburgunder, Premium Wein
2015 Rhini unfiltriert, Blauer Spätburgunder, Premium Wein

2015 Pinot Noir unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein

Lyle Fass: Up first is the 2015 Zieriesen Spätburgunder "Rhini" for $39.99 a bottle on a 4-Pack is so extraordinary. I mean I cannot think of a $40 bottle of Pinot Noir I'd rather have in the world of wine than the 2015 Rhini. It is just a marvel. Below the Rhini you have three wines. So back to the Rhini. This wine is $39.99. It's just stupid. The 2015 Rhini reminds me most of a high quality Vosne Romanee 1er Cru. The nose is hugely expressive when I had it and it was bottled 3 days before. That is just incredible as travel bottle shock is a bad thing and bottling is like that, so I was shocked how good it was (it will be much better this Fall).

Big nose. Iron, red fruits, like small intense berries. Dark plums. There is so much dense fruit on the nose one can get lost. Spices. A compelling earthiness. Almost like an earthy perfume. Big cherries as well. Just a kaleidoscope of aromas. I got lost in this nose. I was shocked it was bottled so recently.

The Palate. The wine takes over your palate. This wine is in like 4D it is so complex. There is a purity to the tiny berry fruit that just explodes in your mouth and gently dissipates over minutes. Amazing tension. It is just amazing this wine is $40. It's actually obscene. There are big tannins, but they are oh so sweet, but also noble and suggesting of a long life. Huge huge fruit. Stunning purity and freshness. The most incredible acids. Thunderous. So concentrated and almost bruiser-like, yet so elegant. How do they do that? So dense. So deep. It is a masterpiece. It's a Rhini that has 15-20 years of evolution in it. It's that complex and good and ageworthy. The palate is just fantastic and will be one of your wines of the year. Very masculine and intense versus the more elegant ballerina like Schulen.

It is 100% whole cluster fermentation which is very rare at Ziereisen or in Germany. Sometimes he will do 50%, sometimes none, sometimes 15%. The man is an artist. He has got it down. It's aged in 20% new and 80% old barriques.

2013 Spätburgunder Alte Reben unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein

Lyle Fass: Up next is the 2013 Ziereisen Spatburgunder Jaspis Alte Reben for $74.99 each on a 3 pack). This is like the top Grand Cru at Zieriesen. The wine is lights out in 2013 which is an extraordinary vintage in its own right. This is the third vintage I've sold and for the clients that buy this wine, they know the genius that is the Jaspis Alte Reben. The regular 2013 Jaspis (#5) got 93 from Stephan Rheinhardt and this is, imho, at least a 96-98 based on that score, which would make it one of the highest scoring German Pinots ever. Fewer than 800 bottles are made and it stays in barrel for four years. It's the oldest and best vines of Jaspis. There is nothing like it in the world. It's Grand Cru Baden all the way. When I first sipped this wine, the aromatics were so powerful my head literally snapped back like I had been hit on the forehead with a sledgehammer. It is so deeply aromatic due to the high levels of dry extract. The internal aromatics are really off the charts.

The nose is a wonderful combination of licorice, penetrating minerality and super sweet fruit. But it also shifts so many times over the course of many hours. At certain points it has so much sous-bois it can be mistaken for top Burgundy blind. There is an intense herbal element that is woven in and out of the perfectly ripe cherries. It's something else.

The palate is plummy with incredible licorice overtones and it is juicy like few other Pinot Noirs in the world and has that texture that Pinot drinkers crave. There is just the biggest mass explosion of red/black cherry and plummy licorice that is it is almost too intense except for the fact it is wrapped in silk and velvet. The texture of this wine is what separates it from the pack. This is what you are paying for. It is so big and intense and flavorful but it's all silk and velvet anyway. The tannins are as fine as you will get in a Pinot Noir.

The finish is so mineral despite the huge levels of fruit. Sap City. Amazing inner mouth aromas. This is a significant step up from the 2012 and 2011 which were both great, but 2013 is legendary. This is a legend. A wine that really speaks of a place. Your mouth is literally overflowing with fruit and licorice aromatics. The structure is significant as is the density. Again this is is the best red wine Hanspeter makes and is on par with top Grand Cru Burgundy. It is so special. The finish stays with you for a minute. This is, as expected, limited.

2015 Syrah unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein

Lyle Fass: But Hanspeter Ziereisen is at the very southern tip of Germany, he has the terroir to grow great Syrah and he is, I can say without any hesitation, one of the great winemakers in the world. Hanspeter is making world class wine from 6 grapes: Pinot Noir, Grauburgunder, Weissburgunder, Chardonnay, Chasselas (aka Gutedel in Baden) and today's grape, Syrah. I'd put these against the Northern Rhone Syrahs I've sold at both price levels today. And these are by far the most Northern Rhone like Syrahs I've had from ANYWHERE that is not the Northern Rhone. They have the aromatics and flavors of Northern Rhone Syrah but the wines are really more about balance and tension between fruit, richness acidity and secondary flavors, almost more the way a Burgundian would make Syrah.

The first wine is the Grand Vin, the Hermitage Of Baden, the 2015 Zieriesen Jaspis Syrah for $52.99 a bottle on a 3-pack.There is almost no Syrah I'd rather drink right now. It is as distinctive as it is unique. This is at the quality level of a great Hermitage. It's $50. What Hermitage is $50! None! The wine has an umami character that is just so alluring. The nose is so expansive and complex. Nuance after nuance. Only 600 bottles made. Even with it being bottled 4 days before I tasted it the wine stunned me. This is the finest Syrah released in Germany every year and the 2013 did get 93 pts from Stephane Rheinhardt of the Wine Advocate. This must be a 95 at least. This wine blew my mind. There is no other way to describe it. It comes from jurassic chalk soils and then was aged in 50% new and 50% used barriques for 20 months, before it was bottled without fining and filtration. The vines are only 16 years old. That is ridiculous. Huge floral nose and I mean really really floral. Also, meaty and gamey. Some olives. It is an pungent and full if fruit and wonderful minerality. What a mouthfeel with complexity, that 2015 intense power and concentration and stunning freshness with amazing acidity and length. It has that 2015 thunder that all the top N. Rhônes have. Super gamey and meaty with such depth and poise. It has a wonderful earthy sweetness. My god the fruit is so sweet and intense. The finish just goes on an on and so so finely etched and delineated. Very floral on the palate and so juicy with those super fine super elegant and super precise Jaspis like tannins. The tannins are so ripe and rich. Just stunning juiciness and depth. But the freshness and minerals are like a clap back on the finish.

2014 Unterirdisch Gutedel in der Amphore unfiltriert, Jaspis Wein

Second Cellar Tour (in the new Cellar)

We finished the visit with a quick tour of the impressive, brand-new winemaking facilities, built into the mountain, of Weingut Ziereisen outside of the village. Hanspeter took us there with his bike.

Pictures: Touring the New Cellar of Weingut Ziereisen


Thanks Hanspeter and Edel for a most fascinating winery visit and wine tasting.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Hanspeter Ziereisen, Christian Schiller

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