Tuesday, 14 August 2012

An ode to Riesling (Part 2), by Alex Harper

Day 3 was the reason for the trip, a visit to the industry giant Reh Kendermann, home of the Black Tower brand.  It was in stark contrast to the small boutique operators such as Busch, but there was no lack of passion among the winemaking team there.  The reality is that this is the work horse of the wine industry and the style and price point at which the majority of the worlds wine is sold at.  We tasted through their range which included a response to the market demands of low alcohol 5.5% abv wines and their weight watchers range at 8.5% abv complete with full nutritional labelling. 
It was incredible to see wine made on such a scale through the enthusiastic eyes of the young winemaker Christian Hirsch. 

From one extreme to the other, we then headed into the beautiful region of Nahe to visit boutique winemaking legend Hermann Dönnhoff.  Tasting his beautifully crafted range of wines I swiftly came to the conclusion that a desert island would be eminently habitable with an endless supply of these wines.  The wines of the Nahe fall stylistically between those of the Mosel and the Rheingau, they are beautifully proportioned with ripe fruit balanced by a wonderfully fresh acidity and enervating minerality.  Spitting was becoming increasingly difficult.

My final day was the visit I had been keenly anticipating all week, Heymann-Lowenstein in the Mosel.  After a protracted argument with the sat-nav I made it in the nick of time to my appointment with Reinhard Lowenstein.  It is not just the exceptional quality of the wines that made this such an exciting opportunity, nor was it the breathtaking beauty of the sheer vineyard sites, but it is his softly spoken philosophy of grape growing; a balance of working with the pulse of nature through biodynamic principles, yet at the same time retaining a refreshing realism of the role of a winemaker and the daily compromises this entails.  His range consists of 8 wines from 7 different terroirs, each boasting its own distinct personality born from a unique soil and an exceptional winemaker.
Germany, it has been emotional.  I will be back armed with more time, a better sat-nav and a German dictionary.


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