Outside the square (Pfalz, Germany – Day Three)

After two and a half weeks of sub-zero temperatures, seven degree temperatures feel positively balmy in comparison. It’s almost to the point that I don’t need to wear my thermals under my clothes every time I go outside. It is nice to get to the point now when I am actually noticing a difference in my understanding of not only riesling, but also German riesling. My palate has picked up enough experience in the past three weeks to be able to detect subtle differences between vineyard sites within the same region, and the subtleties of style between producers and regions. My limited experience with German riesling back home was negligible at best, but at least I was able to determine quality. It is so nice to be able to take that further and understand the nuances, particularly when working with the top grosses lager wines and sweet wines. My appreciation and respect for these wines has risen sharply, so much so that German white wines are some of the finest and diverse I have ever tasted.

Old barrels in the cellars of von Buhl

The first visit on my final day in the Pfalz was to Reichsrat von Buhl, which in effect was a continuation from the previous days’ visits as von Buhl own parcels within the same vineyards, and are of the same size in production. Reichsrat von Buhl has a very close relationship with Bassermann-Jordan in fact, as back in 1849 when the Jordan estate was divided between Peter Heinrich Jordan’s two daughters and one granddaughter  the three estates formed were Bassermann-Jordan, Weingut von Winning and Reichsrat von Buhl. The really interesting thing is that in two years von Buhl will join the other two estates under the full ownership of the Neustadt businessman Achim Niederberger mentioned in my previous post. The three estates will remain autonomous from each other, maintaining the philosophies, practices and partners they have held in the past. Since 1989 the winery has been leased from Mr. Niederberger and operated by a consortium of partners under a 25 year contract.

Tanks of varying size

It is not hard to once again compare between the three large estates of Buerklin-Wolf, Bassermann-Jordan and Reischrat von Buhl. In terms of vineyard holdings, von Buhl own 62 hectares in the Mittelhaardt, but like Bassermann-Jordan also purchase contract fruit, mostly white pinot varieties. Much like Bassermann-Jordan they focus on fermentations in stainless steel tank instead of barrels, but unlike them von Buhl look for less texture and viscosity in their wines and more minerality and crispness. They have also converted their vineyards to bio-organic viticulture, but are not certified in biodynamics, preferring to focus on the quality of the fruit and subsequent wines. Unlike the other wineries, von Buhl produces a larger range of sekt (sparkling) wines, including such oddities as single-vineyard riesling and blanc de noirs. Click here to read my notes on the tasting.

Weingut Knipser

After tasting mostly rieslings for three days straight, it was refreshing to visit a winery in the Pfalz that specialises in spatburgunder. Just like it is interesting to see how the different microclimates and soil types can influence the same variety, it is interesting to see what influence it has on a different variety, particularly if it is red. Weingut Knipser is actually one of the finest producers of the variety in Germany, up there with Fuerst in the Franken and Huber in the Baden. The vineyards Knipser have their spatburgunder in are actually the only Grosses Lagen vineyards in the Pfalz. Many would think that the Pfalz is a white wine region, but it is one of the warmest in Germany and quite capable of ripening red grapes for red wine production. There are also pockets of limestone in the area around Laumersheimer where the winery is located, which can be useful for growing burgundian varieties. Click here to read my notes from the tasting.

Series of photos of red ferments from around the world

Click here to see more photos from Day Three in the Pfalz.

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