The Rhine at Lorch is relatively narrow and the steep hillsides of the Taunus mountains that run down to the river, with their slate and quartz soils, provide the perfect site for the vine.
Altenkirch’s estate covers 15 hectares, 80 % of which is planted with Riesling, 10 % with Pinot Noir, and 10% with a combination of Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. The combination of steep slopes, soil and climate have proven ideal for the successful cultivation of the notoriously fickle Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder).
Cherry red in the glass, the nose is fresh and fragrant with raspberry and strawberry aromas and just a touch of earth. The palate is light and elegant, full of juicy red fruit flavours and excellent supporting fresh acidity. A really good example of easy-drinking German Pinot Noir.
The Maximin Grünhaus estate lies at the foot of a steep, south-facing slope on the left bank of the Ruwer river, about two kilometres before it joins the Mosel. The estate belongs to the Von Schubert family and is divided into three separate but contiguous vineyards: the Abtsberg, the Herrenberg, and the Bruderberg, the smallest of the vineyards, covering just 1 hectare. Historically the Bruderberg provided wine for the local monks (or ‘brothers’). The wines from the Bruderberg are typically spicy, with a rustic slaty mineral quality. They are classified entirely as Qualitätswein, and have great ageing potential.
Work in the vineyards is conducted in close harmony with nature. Fertilisation is predominantly organic, and the vineyards have been planted with a cover crop of wild herbs and grasses. No pesticides or herbicides are used, the health of the grapes being maintained instead through intensive manual work. Yields are restricted to around 45 – 55 hectolitres per hectare, compared to the average of 80 hl/ha in the majority of other Mosel estates. The grapes are harvested by hand, usually with several passes being made through the vineyard ensuring the fruit is picked at ultimate ripeness.
The grapes are whole bunch pressed in a pneumatic press followed by fermentation in small, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. This promotes the development of mineral flavours from the slate soil and ensures the longevity of the Rieslings.
Very pale straw in appearance, the nose has notes of lime and hints of honey. The palate is medium dry with elegant, lifted fruit flavours – red apple and citrus – and excellent balancing acidity.
After four generations in the van Volxem family, Roman Niewodniczanski, great-grandson of the founder of one of Germany’s largest breweries, Bitburger, took over this estate that had fallen on hard times. He has not only restored it to its original glory but he has also expanded the vineyard holdings, including adding parcels in various superb sites.
Very ripe grapes from 30 year old vines grown on steep, slate slopes results in a dry and powerful wine. Aromatic with hints of plum and peach, the palate is searching with lovely fruit and balancing mineral structure.
Van Volxem is a member of the prestigious V D P – Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter – an association of German growers dedicated to the production of top quality wines.
The wines of the 200 or so members of this group are entitled to bear the V D P logo – a stylized eagle bearing a cluster of grapes.
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