Tag Archives: Rheinhessen

The Vincast with Johannes Hasselbach from Weingut Gunderloch

Weingut Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen region of Germany is one the greatest wineries in Europe if you are in the know. They are the only winery in the world to have received 100 points for the same wine in three separate vintages, for their incredibly rare trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). Johannes Hasselbach hadn’t intended on running his family’s estate, until in 2010 when his father became ill (since recovered), and his sister who had been involved with the winemaking relocating to Austria to work with her husband. An intrepid philosophy led Johannes to travel and explore, and he has slowly began to introduce this into the winery since then. He joined me in the Treasury Gardens of Melbourne on a sunny morning to talk about his journey.

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Vintage 2012 - Day 23

Johannes Hasselbach from Weingut Gunderloch working hard in the vineyard

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Heart & Soil Imports – 17/09/2013

Randall Pollard is pretty well-known in Victoria for his history as an independent wine retailer and merchant. He is known for sourcing a great range of interesting unique wines from Europe. He invited me to the office to have a look at a few new arrivals into the country.

Keller Rieslaner Spätlese 2011
Quite juicy lime & quince, lovely and round, generous long, some residual sugar viscosity.

Keller Riesling 2012
Crisp bright flinty citrus. Pure fine straight and fresh, mouth-filling intensity.

Keller Riesling Van der Fels 2012
Delicate subtle floral lychee minerality. On the shy side for the moment, textural minerality, fruit a little closed, will need some more time to open and express.

Keller Riesling RR 2012
Gorgeous blossomy rich intensity, very musky with rich dried citrus. Very mature character, earthiness and slight spice.

Louis Moreau Vaulignot 1er Chablis 2010
Richness density vanilla butter salty citrus. Fine broad yet focused acidity, length, dried pear and papaya, creamy texture.

Vicentini Agostino Il Casale 2011
Very savoury earthy dark spice aroma. Very mature savoury texture, some dried stone fruit notes.

Malvira Roero Arneis 2012
Lifted bright floral kiwi intensity. Fresh round dry and generous, lots of character whilst being friendly and drinkable.

Malvira Renesio Roero Arneis 2011
Dirty wild earthy wetness. Density and broadness at the same time, tasting the dilution of the overcast wet vintage. Very wet stone.

Malvira Saglietto Roero Arneis 2011
A little more feminine in nature, pretty floral candied notes. Just as mature and dense on the palate as the Renesio but more appealing fruit sweetness and roundness.

Chateau de Ségriès Tavel 2012
Bright intense cherry strawberry cream. Dry and full but fresh and long, nice balanced acidity and fruit, considering fruit sweetness it is deceptively dry and warm. Dangerous almost.

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Eurocentric Tasting – 9/07/2013

Neville Yates imports wines from Europe, South Africa and New Zealand under his Eurocentric banner. I was first introduced to him when I was the wine buyer for King & Godfree, tasting a few of the wines with him. On my journey I visited some German wineries and caught up with several more at Prowein, leading me to surmise that he has one of the best collection of German producers in Australia. His range is eclectic at times with more than a few ‘natural’ producers that come up with some interesting examples. He was showing some of the new arrivals at Pei Modern in Melbourne.

Francesco Scanavino Diamant Blanc 2008
Very classic metodo classico nose. Generous fruit, fairly simple and clean on the front, hint if creamy texture.

Lancelot-Pienne Blanc de Blancs
Fairly developed open autolysis notes, very yeasty bready. Nice oxidative citrus.

Champagne Geoffroy Expression Brut
Cleaner tighter yeast notes. Rounder more earthy savoury dark berry notes, heavier on the pinot noir?

Champagne Secret Rosé
Open generous ripe red fruit nose, but tight fine and crisp savoury texture on the palate.

Champagne Chartogne-Taillet Rosé Brut
Fine pure but very complex cheesy charcuterie nose. Bold full expressive combination of red citrus and subtle savoury meats.

Benoit Ente Bourgogne Aligoté 2009
Oak dominant chardonnay style. Soft gentle vanilla creamy texture, some white peach.

Gautheron Chablis 2011
Sharp fig kiwi skin, overly leesy. Flat and dull.

Domaine Oudin Chablis 2009
Rich creamy buttery chardonnay openness. Overworked flabby lacking focus and crispness.

Domaine Arnaud Tessier Meursault Casse-Tetes 2010
Nice developed stone fruit and oak maturity integrated. Bold and generous but not heavy or hot, fairly rich and creamy from malo, but elegant and complex.

Arnaud Ente 2008 Meursault
Much more exuberant and flintier, more citrus than stone. Fuller smokier toaster, better malo integration, dense.

Dombeya Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2011
Big whack of ripe creamy juicy pineapple. Fairly soft subtle but showing that sweet vanilla pineapple crumble character.

Domaine Montvac Mélodine Vacqueyras 2011
Spicy quince apricot kernel. Open light round spice fruit friendliness.

Willi Schaefer Graacher Trocken 2011
Clean pure lime sherbet. Crisp very light pure and excellent for the price.

Schloss Lieser Dry 2011
More intense mineralic ripe deep fruit notes. More intensity and character, fuller fresher.

Emrich-Schönleber Monziger Halenberg Trocken 2011
Slightly earthy red soil minerality, subtle orange sherbet. Bold texture, generosity and density of fruit and acid.

Rebholz Kastanienbusch GG 2011
Open savoury earthy natural wild style. Subtle subdued broad. Singular.

Pierre Frick Riesling 2010
Candied oxidised pear banana caramel. Nondescript middling Alsace wine.

Grunhauser Bruderberg 2011
Intense quince floral kumquat notes. Density of viscosity and sugar, nice bite of acidic quince notes.

Emrich-Schönleber Lenz 2010
On the stripped side, de-acidified? Flat on the finish.

Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken Riesling 2009
Nice density and ripeness. Great depth and character, dry sweet well-balanced.

William Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2011
Spicy savoury mineral complexity, nice lively fruit profile, round and yet brisk.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Kabinett 2011
Very quiet subtle nose, but delivering plenty on the palate, wonderful length and focus, but plenty of personality.

Rebholz Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Spätlese 2011
Wild green pepper spice fig. Generosity yet exquisitely balanced sweetness. Loving this producer.

Schäfer Frölich Halenberg Spätlese 2009
Nice talcy flinty lifted citrus floral minerality. Bold full viscous sweetness, but just a hint of complex savouriness.

Schäfer-Fröhlich Halenberg Spätlese 2005
Nice generous soft rich ripe but not heavy. Still plenty of life but looking simple currently.

Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 2012
Tight green under-ripe.

Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc South Africa 2012
Big tropical passion fruit. Delivers exactly what people want and is very good to boot.

Sebastian Riffault Akmèniné Sancerre 2008 (naturel)
Smells like pure honey. But still dry. Interesting, not sure it’s great though. Hipster wine?

Intellego Chenin Blanc 2011 Swartland
Interesting texturally. Different in terms of fruit to Vouvray etc.

Domaine de la Tournelle Trousseau des Corvées 2011
Clean sharp precise but good personality. Most certainly a food wine.

Roland Pignard Beaujolais Villages 2010
Strawberry spice. Very lovely.

Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Les Charmes 2011
Lean spicy under-ripe.

Pierre Thillardon Chenas Les Boccards 2010
Mean and lean, sharp.

Emile Ballard Le Grand Chemin 2008
Nice soft berry notes. Still on the sharp acidic side, a little aldehydic.

Scanavino Barbera d’Asti 2011
Tight brisk, great balance of dark fruits and spicy mulberry.

Domaine Des Espiers Cotes Du Rhone 2011
Bright fresh sufficiently savoury spicy but light and friendly with a touch of length.

Domaine Des Espiers Gigondas 2010
Earthy savoury spice, base of dark fruits underneath. Round soft yet fresh savoury red berries.

Domaine Faury Syrah 2011
Quite spicy and peppery. On the boring side…

Domaine Faury Saint Joseph 2009
A tad too much sweet oak.

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Weingut Wittmann – 10/02/2012

Silvaner Trocken 2011
A slightly shy yeasty nose, bold fruit and some texture, but not much length or complexity.

Riesling Trocken 2011
fun fruity and approachable wine with nice clean lime and kiwi fruit characters.

Selection ‘S’ Weisser Burgunder 2010
The reserve wine of the variety, it had lovely volume and depth, and had the character of a pinot blanc made in a chablis style.

Brunnenhauschen Auslese 2010
Very quiet kerosene mineral nose, was somewhat rich and syrupy, but had a lovely fresh finish. There were some hints of savoury characters combining with the bright citrus notes, certainly one for ageing.

Weingut Wittmann tasting

Weingut Wittmann tasting

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Weingut Gunderloch – 10/02/2012

Fritzs Riesling 2010
Lovely and fresh with a little R/S to keep it approachable and friendly.

Qualitatswein Riesling 2010
Orange and mango aromas and a soft acid freshness

Nackenheim Riesling 2010
Slightly more reductive mineralic nose and more rich and concentrated youth.

Nierstein Riesling 2010
Fuller and broader and certainly more approachable now.

Rothenberg Grosses Gewachs Riesling 2010
Dense in the mid-palate, and with such concentration and austerity makes you want to drink it in at least 10 years.

Rothenberg Spatlese Riesling 2010
Some lovely tropical pineapple mango characters, and had fantastic balance and concentration.

Rothenberg Auslese Riesling 2010
More juby glycol texture and viscosity.

Nackenheim Rothenberg Trockenbeerenauslese 2008
Includes the juice macerating on skins for 30 days and takes a year to finish fermenting. The wine is one of the most complex I have ever tasted, as it had the rich syrupy stone fruit and fresh acids, but then showed exquisite oxidative hazelnut and oats.

Top dry wines of Gunderloch

Top dry wines of Gunderloch

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The Vintage Experience

After two months an important part of my trip has concluded. Important not just because I learnt a lot about wine, but also as I needed work to get a working-holiday visa to remain in Europe all year. After 10 months of solid visits to wineries with a few brief intermissions, I was grateful for a break in wine when I travelled through the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and Northern Germany before returning to wine, this time on the other side of the fence. Another thing I was grateful for was some money and the chance to stay somewhere for free for a few months, thus saving me some money that I didn’t have. It is with all sincerity that I thank first the Hasselbach family from Weingut Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen, and second Annegret Reh-Gartner and her team at Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in the Mosel, for their generosity in welcoming me and allowing me to gain first-hand insights into German riesling.
Picking grapes in the Rheinhessen

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Vintage 2012 – Day Twenty-Three

The amphora project continued today, with some more foot stomping and then pressing the juice to rack overnight before being put into the amphora tomorrow. I also used the new markings that I worked on to measure the volume of all the tanks that have wine in them at Nierstein.

Gorgeous view, with leaves changing colour all around.
Lot’s of free run juice from the foot crushing.
Johannes is very happy that his plan is working. He is pressing the grapes for more juice.
An in situ setup in the vineyards where the amphora will live for the next few weeks as the wine ferments.

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Vintage 2012 – Day Twenty-Two

I managed to lose another day thanks to my back problems, and then worked two half days with reduced duties that wouldn’t make my back worse again. Day 20 Johannes was in Oslo for one of the most inappropriately timed tastings imaginable, right in the middle of vintage. On the following day I was doing a fair amount of observing and not a lot of working, but on Day 22 I got to do something really interesting. Stomping grapes! Riesling grapes!! Stomping grapes is what several members of my family think I’m actually doing by working vintage. I never thought I’d be doing it with white grapes though. The fruit was from one of the Rotenberg vineyards and will go into the amphora in a few days for fermentation. It made for cold and sticky legs but some amazing and hilarious photos as I hope you agree.

Johannes prepares the yeast, mixing in a little juice from the tank to be inoculated.
Johannes adds the yeasts to begin fermenting a barrel of grauburgunder.
Dancing monkey!
Adding some dry ice (CO2) to protect the foot-crushed grapes.

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Vintage 2012 – Day Nineteen

Just when I thought my back was on the mend it decided it wasn’t. It might have been exacerbated by working for two days and being on my feet, with the occasional lifting pushing or bending. By the end of my nineteenth day I was starting to get very stiff and had difficulty moving like before. Now I’m even worse and have resigned myself to see a doctor tomorrow. The few things I got to do before I called it quits for the day was draining the tank of silvaner that had started to ferment on skins, picking some riesling to be pressed and used to start wild ferments, plunge some spatburgunder and continue correcting tank markings.

Perfect time to begin harvesting.
Draining a tank the old fashioned way; gravity.
Johannes plunging the cap on a vat of schwarz riesling.
Action shot!

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Vintage 2012 – Day Eighteen

Not much more to report, most of the same. Johannes was away from Nierstein for most of the day and left me to continue the tank markings which I still don’t understand how they managed to create such a mess to begin with. I took a few photos of Johannes putting some CO2 onto some vats of reds fermenting on skins to protect them from oxidation, and they looked cool.

Smoke on the water.
Camera obscura.

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