The Rheinhessen suffered from over a century of (mis)use for sheer bulk production. Glorious, old vine vineyards sitting on steep, calcareous outcrops were largely forgotten in favour of high yielding sites lower down the hills. In recent years, with the movement to craft better quality wines, the Rheinhessen has a had a series of rising stars (particularly Klaus Peter Keller) creating sublime bone dry Rieslings that have achieved cult status. One of Keller’s protégés and neighbours, young Katharina Wechsler, took over her family winery in 2012 and has quickly become an ascending star in the region. She sources from “Grand Cru” level vineyards Kirchspiel and Morstein (used by Keller for his top bottlings), as well as her family’s monopole vineyard site, Benn, to make nervy, complex, age-worthy wines using biodynamic practices, spontaneous ferments, minimal intervention and eschewing most fining and filtration. She also makes a series of “Natural”, funky wines with extended skin contact. These world class wines are stunningly affordable.
Germany’s largest wine region, Rheinhessen was historically known for mainly producing large amounts of bulk wine destined for the export market. That began to change gradually beginning in the 1980s, when growers began to focus on lower yields, drier styles and overall higher quality wines. Today, the region is home to the majority of Germany’s organic/biodynamic viticulture, with a great number of young and energetic producers eschewing the past and leading the future. Unlike other German wine regions, there are significant plantings of many grapes, though Riesling plays a role here as well, to be sure. You will find plenty of Muller-Thurgau, Dornfelder, Silvaner and Pinots Gris, Noir and Blanc throughout. The climate is relatively mild, protected by countless hills and forests and moderated on the east and west border by the Nahe and Rhine rivers, respectively. Soil types vary, though the majority are a mix of loess and loam with limestone deposits mixed with gravel.
Sourced mainly from single vineyards in Westhofen (Benn and Kirchspiel), where grapevines thrive in clayey marl soils and limestone deposits. There are layers of limestone meandering through the substrate, channeling water and ensuring the plants have enough to drink even in the hottest parts of summer. The smallest vineyard in Westhofen, Benn is a monopole that has been in the Wechsler family for generations. These limestone rich soils are planted with 50-year old vines. Kirschspiel, a Grand Cru vineyard, is southern facing with a steep 30° gradient.
One of the wine world’s great white grapes, Riesling is best grown in cooler climates where it thrives from a long, slow growing season that develops its intense aromatics and renowned acidity. It is home in Germany but is also grown successfully throughout the wine world, notably in the Alsace region of France, cooler areas in Australia and South Africa and, of course, here in Ontario. Styles vary according to site and producer, from sweet and fruity to bone-dry and austere and everything in between.
Hand-harvested and sorted from the best vineyard sites. A long, temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel, with plenty of lees contact. Bottled young and fresh.
Notes of ripe red apple, lime and a touch of petrol on the nose. Flavours of apple, nectarine and salty minerality, backed by tingling, mouthwatering acidity. There is a bit of weight, but the acids keep this elegant. A perfect partner to Pad Thai or grilled pork chops.