In early March we went on a two day trip to Germany and visited a few artisan wine makers we had heard good things about. We were especially on the lookout for quality natural Riesling, a wine which has frequently been requested from us.
During our trip we visited six producers, equally divided among the two biggest wine regions of Germany; Rheinhessen and Pfalz.
Day 1: Rheinhessen – “Land der 100 Hügel“ (land of the 100 hills)
Rheinhessen is Germany’s biggest wine region and also known as the land of the 100 hills. It may come as no surprise that Riesling is very important here, but there are also other grapes present. The also well-known Pinot Noir, locally known as Spätburgunder, and Pinot Blanc as well as Gris have grown in popularity and the same can be said for the local and lesser known grape varieties such as Scheurebe, Dornfelder and Ortega.
We had three producers on the agenda for the day, namely Thörle, Gutzler and Gröhl, which are all located in the middle of the hilly area covering the left bank of the Rhine Valley.
Thörle was the first winery on our list. Upon arrival we were greeted by Christoph, one of of the two Thörle brothers, who showed us their wines and gave us a tour of their winery. The wines produced by Thörle are a typical expression of the chalky-salty limestone and shell terroir so commonly found in this part of the region. Riesling and Pinot Noir are their flagship wines, but also Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon play an important role in their wine making.
After visiting Thörle we headed off to Gundheim to visit Gutzler. Gutzler is a bio-certified winery and a member of Germany’s elite “VDP” wineries. During our research it became apparent that German wineries value certification a lot more than their Italian counterparts who often see it as an expensive label designed for larger wineries who use it as a marketing tool.
Aside from producing Riesling, Gutzler focuses strongly on creating quality red wines as was evident when we visited their impressive barrique cellar. One of their most remarkable wines is a Dornfelder produced with the grapes from a single vineyard.
We finished the day and our visit to Rheinhessen at the Gröhl winery in Weinolsheim where the vintner’s wife welcomed us in their brand new and state-of-the-art vinoteca. Just by strolling around their old cave-like wine cellar it became apparent that Riesling is king here. Their widely spread vineyards revealed however they also cultivate many other white grapes, as well as Pinot Noir.