2011 vintage in the Rheingau Produced Excellent Quality Wines at Affordable Prices. Seek Out Schmitt Sohne USA

imageThe Riesling grape has always been a personal favorite in the white wine category and while we adore its virtues, form Alsace to Australia, none can compare to the best wines from Germany in complexity, elegance and addiction.

German wine labels may not be the most the world’s most user friendly, but have gotten easier to interpret over the years and follows is extensive documentation of recent vintages. We sampled: DOM Riesling QbA dry; DOM Riesling QbA; DOM Riesling Kabinett; DOM Riesling Spätlese.

These wines are a newly introduced line imported by Schmitt Sohne USA and produced by the Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier.  The details on the wines (statistical analysis, retail pricing, etc.) are found on the 2011 Vintage report below.


Wines from this vintage are dominated by ripe fruit flavors and well-integrated acidity. They exhibit beautiful open fruit aromas and very typical Riesling characteristics”
DOM Riesling QbA Dry – DOM wines impress with their typical aromatic Riesling character. This dry DOM is for all enthusiasts of spicy, herbal, and fruity Riesling.
RS – 8.7 g/l Acidity – 6.8 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 12.2 % SRP: $16.99

DOM Riesling QbA Off-Dry – This off-dry DOM Riesling works with almost every dish—an all-rounder. RS – 19.5 g/l Acidity 6.9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 11.6 % SRP: $16.99
DOM Riesling QbA (fruity) – This fruity DOM Riesling entices with ripe and opulent fruit aromas as well as fine minerally acidity. RS – 36.7 g/l Acidity – 7.3 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 10,5% SRP: $16.99

DOM Riesling Kabinett – This fruity DOM Riesling Kabinett entices with aromas reminiscent of linden blossom, ripe apple, and exhibits a lively balance of sweetness and acidity. RS – 48.8g/l Acidity – 7.5 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.3% SRP: $18.99

DOM Riesling Spätlese – This fruity DOM Riesling Spätlese entices with its typical ripe Mosel opulence and fine minerally acidity. RS – 58.9 g/l Acidity – 6.9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.4% SRP: $22.99

We enjoyed these four examples of the 2011 vintage and admired the ranges, quality and pricing. We personally go for the sweeter offerings, but all were terrific and highly recommended.

 

Wine On Line Rating: A Major.

2011 Vintage Reports
Information provided by Estates imported by Schmitt Sohne USA

Reporting for the Rheingau region — The 2011 vintage in the Rheingau was marked by climatic records and extremes which will long be remembered. Early winter was cold and snowy, with long periods of frost and temperatures below -15⁰ C (5⁰ F). January and February, however were remarkably mild followed by early Spring-like conditions in March and summer weather through April. This milder weather advanced growth and resulted in a record-breaking early budding in April. Luck held out for the Rheingau growers as late frosts in the otherwise unusually warm May did not cause the significant damage noted in other regions. Most noteworthy was the fact that this was the driest spring since 1893 and the excess sunlight (+250 hours) encouraged an early blossoming beginning on May 26!

 

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

Disclosure

Rains ensued in the early summer months and due to consistently high temperatures the progression of the vines was about three weeks ahead of schedule leading to ripening as early as late July. The excess of humidity, however, forced vintners to undertake leaf pruning and other measures to improve air circulation around the ripening grapes and avoid rot.

After heavy rains and even hail on September 11, the harvest in the Rheingau began earlier than ever, on September 14. Just prior to beginning the harvest at Schloss Vollrads we passed through the vineyards to hand-select and remove early rot from the clusters. When the weather cleared for a bit we slowed down the harvest to take full advantage of the wonderful Indian summer, increasing the ripeness and quality of the fruit. Throughout the weeks leading up to mid-October we were treated to sunny days and cool nights as the grapes became more aromatic and spicier daily with perfectly balanced acidity.

The crown jewel of the 2011 vintage was the hand selection at the end of harvest of the noble sweet Auslese, Beerenauslese (BA) and Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) grapes. Due to the sunny fall weather the TBA grapes were so strongly shriveled that the must weight exceeded 240⁰ Oechsle!

In summary, this vintage of extremes yielded average quantities and exceptional quality. Thanks to patience, a bit of daring, meticulous hand selection and great weather conditions in the fall we have put down some tremendous wines in our cellar, continuing the great reputation of the 11’s (1811, 1911, and now 2011).

Winemaker notes on 2011 wines by Dr. Rowald Hepp:
Riesling QbA dry – Smooth fermentation at low temperatures of not more than 16⁰C in stainless steel tanks to preserve natural flavors. Ideal balance between residual sugar and acidity with a good alcohol structure. The inviting, mineral bouquet, hint of flowers, spices and fruit aromas are exemplary of the variety and vintage. Cellaring potential 3 – 5 years.
RS – 9 g/l Acidity – 7.8 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 12% SRP: $19.99
Riesling QbA – A round and well-balanced Qualitätswein featuring rich fruit aromas with hints of green apple. Good acidity balance. Cellaring potential of 5+ years.
RS – 42 g/l Acidity – 8.3 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 10.5% SRP: $19.99
Riesling Kabinett medium-dry – Long and gentle fermentation at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks. Fresh and fruity acidity balanced with natural residual sugar and low alcohol makes this a perfect example of our classic Kabinett style. Charming with fruity and mineral taste. Just off-dry with a gorgeous nose of peaches and fresh linen drying in the sun.
RS – 17.9 g/l Acidity – 7.7 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 10.5% SRP: $24.99
Riesling Kabinett – The gentle acidity in perfect harmony with residual sugar creates a round and well-balanced Kabinett. Delicate fruit aromas like ripe pineapple with floral notes. Good structure and balanced acidity. A mouth-filling wine – an ideal sipper.
RS – 53.0 g/l Acidity – 7.9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9% SRP: $24.99
Riesling Spätlese – To guarantee a long and gentle fermentation we opted to perform a juice filtration after 18 hours mash contact. Fermentation at temperatures between 12 – 14⁰ C in stainless steel took as long as 14 weeks and wrought an incredible fruit complexity in the wine. With its high residual sugar content and low alcohol, this wine proves that taste based on minerals does not require high alcohol levels. The wine exhibits stunning floral aromas of peach, raspberry and honeysuckle with hints of apple blossoms and traces of ginger.
RS – 85.1 g/l Acidity – 7.7 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 8% SRP: $30.99
2010 Vintage wine being released in spring 2012:
2010 Riesling Auslese – This amazing wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks with special yeasts and under very careful temperature control. The wine is wonderfully complex showing honeyed rich ripe fruit with notes of litchi and banana, great structure and a balancing acidity. The wine can cellar for decades.
RS – 113.1 g/l Acidity – 9.7 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 7.3% SRP: $44.99/375ml
2010 Riesling Erstes Gewächs – Erstes Gewächs (First Growth) wines must be sourced from the Rheingau’s finest vineyard sites and must fulfill special viti- and vini-cultural criteria (e.g. low yields, selective hand picking, etc.). The wines are subjected to sensorial examination and reflect the site-specific traits related to the terroir of the classified site. Our 2010 Riesling Erstes Gewächs wine is full bodied with very rich peach and dried fruit aromas. It exhibits an absolutely perfect balance of extract, fruit and acidity. The wine can be enjoyed young, or can be cellared for 10- 15 years.
RS – 9.3 g/l Acidity – 6.5 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 13% Available by special order
Reporting for the Mosel region — A similar perspective on the superior quality of the 2011 vintage is shared by our colleagues in the Mosel region at the Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier and Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium who liken the vintage to past greats of 1971, 1953, 1945, 1921 and 1911.
“As in the Rheingau, the vineyards experienced an early bud break between April 20-26, followed by an early and extremely fast flowering and leading to an excellent fruit set. A heavy frost at the end of May did result in some damage to Riesling in the Ayler Kupp and the Falkensteiner Hofberg vineyards of the Saar Valley.
Veraison ensued ahead of schedule at the beginning of July after which the vineyards enjoyed an extremely long and slow maturation period. The cool summer marked by sufficient rainfall set the anticipation for wines with super minerality and extract. A short-term turn in fortune came our way at the end of August via a heavy hail storm in the Middle Mosel area that destroyed a portion of the crop in our Trittenheimer Apotheke vineyard. Luckily, dry and windy weather after the hail storms quickly dried the vineyards so no botrytis or other fungus took hold. However, prior to harvest we initiated a picking cycle to remove any damaged and unripe berries with potential to taint our wine with bitter tones.
Under sunny skies and with cool autumn nights picking commenced on September 27 with our Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir vineyard parcels. The perfect fall weather continued through to our last of several passes of Riesling harvest on October 25. Our team of 50 harvesters at the Bischöfliche Weingüter helped to ensure a perfect selection of grapes for the appropriate levels of maturity and ripeness. The extended hang time and great temperature fluctuations between night and day in September resulted in very aromatic berries and naturally well-balanced wines. Grapes were perfectly ripe and extremely healthy at harvest, golden in color with small to average size berries
In total, more than 60 percent of our grapes were brought in above 91⁰ Oechsle with perfect physiological ripeness. The harvest yields were exceptional, particularly of such high quality. In all we averaged approximately 65 hl/ha across the board with a lower 48 hl/ha recorded for our single vineyard wines.

Wines from this vintage are dominated by ripe fruit flavors and well-integrated acidity. They exhibit beautiful open fruit aromas and very typical Riesling characteristics”
Winemaker notes on 2011 Vintage wines by Anna Reimann:
DOM Riesling QbA Dry – DOM wines impress with their typical aromatic Riesling character. This dry DOM is for all enthusiasts of spicy, herbal, and fruity Riesling.
RS – 8.7 g/l Acidity – 6.8 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 12.2 % SRP: $16.99
DOM Riesling QbA Off-Dry – This off-dry DOM Riesling works with almost every dish—an all-rounder.
RS – 19.5 g/l Acidity 6.9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 11.6 % SRP: $16.99
DOM Riesling QbA (fruity) – This fruity DOM Riesling entices with ripe and opulent fruit aromas as well as fine minerally acidity.
RS – 36.7 g/l Acidity – 7.3 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 10,5% SRP: $16.99
DOM Riesling Kabinett – This fruity DOM Riesling Kabinett entices with aromas reminiscent of linden blossom, ripe apple, and exhibits a lively balance of sweetness and acidity.
RS – 48.8g/l Acidity – 7.5 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.3% SRP: $18.99
DOM Riesling Spätlese – This fruity DOM Riesling Spätlese entices with its typical ripe Mosel opulence and fine minerally acidity.
RS – 58.9 g/l Acidity – 6.9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.4% SRP: $22.99
Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett – The wines harvested in the world-famous Scharzhofberger have been made since 1851 in the historical Scharzhof building in Wiltingen. The pureness and elegance of these Rieslings are legendary. This Kabinett Riesling is a perfect example: in every dimension it is fascinating. It presents itself with aromas of tangerine, lime, honey, white blossom and a dense yet playful structure and mouth feel.
RS – 65.9 g/l Acidity – 7.1 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 8.9% SRP: $22.99
Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese – This Spätlese is made for decades. Of course it can be enjoyed now: a basket of ripe and complex fruit aromas, lingering and refreshing on the palate and a never-ending finish.
RS – 72 g/l Acidity – 6.8 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 8.5% SRP: $29.99
Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett – Piesporter Goldtröpfchen is ideally located in a steep amphitheater opening to the south. The aromatic Riesling vines that grow on deep brown slate soils have an animated acidity and are great for cellaring.
RS – 61 g/l Acidity – 7.4 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.2% SRP: $22.99
Ayler Kupp Riesling Kabinett – The vines grow in core parcels of Ayler Kupp on clayey gray slate soils facing southwest. This Riesling is characterized by aromas reminiscent of ripe peach and pear paired with lingering minerality.
RS – 49 g/l Acidity – 7.4 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 10% SRP: $22.99
Ayler Kupp Riesling Spätlese – This Riesling is characterized by an opulent basket of fruit aromas paired with lingering minerality.
RS – 77 g/l Acidity – 7.5 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 8.2% SRP: $28.99
FRIEDRICH WILHELM GYMNASIUM
Schiefer Riesling Qualitätswein Off-Dry – This Riesling, grown on slate, captivates with its fragrant aromas of ripe apricots and sun-red apples and has a wonderfully refreshing minerality.
RS – 17.4 g/l Acidity – 6.9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 12.1% SRP: $16.99
Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett – This Riesling, grown on steep slopes composed of slate soil, captivates with aromas reminiscent of grapefruit, orange peel, ripe peaches, and possesses a wonderfully refreshing minerality.
RS – 59.7 g/l Acidity – 6.5 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 12.1% SRP: $22.50
Winemaker notes on 2011 vintage wines by Markus Molitor:
2011 Haus Klosterberg Riesling QbA – Scent of yellow prunes, tangerine, pineapple and lemon peel, mineral flavor, vibrant fruitiness and refreshing acidity. Ready to drink immediately or cellar for 10 – 15 years.
RS – 44.4 g/l Acidity – 6.8 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.5% SRP: $17.99
2011 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett Off-dry – Aromas reminiscent of green apple, peach, pineapple and goose berry. Fruity and juicy, animating interaction of acidity and fruitiness. Long, slate-dominated mineral finish. Can age for up to fifteen years.
RS – 25.4 g/l Acidity – 6.3 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 10.5% SRP: $21.99
2009 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese – Aroma reminiscent of ripe apricots, peach nectar, mango, mace and lime-blossom honey. Dense, vivid balance of sweetness and acidity. Long finish.
RS – 76.5 g/l Acidity – 6.4 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 7.5 % SRP: $29.99
Winemaker notes on 2011 vintage wines by Thomas Schmitt:
Relax Riesling QbA – Forward fruit and floral aromas of apples and peaches with just a hint of citrus. The natural acidity gives the wine a perfect balance that is refreshingly crisp and leaves your mouth watering. Drink now or up to 2013.
RS — 41 g/l Acidity – 8.1 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 8.5% SRP: $11.99
Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling QbA (Medium-Dry) – From the slate soil of Mosel vineyards this wine shows light sweetness together with an elegant acidity forming its round and pleasant character. Ready for consumption.
RS – 16 g/l Acidity – 8 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 11% SRP: $13.99
Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling Kabinett – A blend of wines from the famous vineyards of the Mosel provide the typical taste and great complex finesse. The first acidity and residual sugar push the wine to a lively and fresh level. Ready to drink now.
RS — 45 g/l Acidity – 9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 9.5% SRP: $14.99
Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling Spätlese – Typical Mosel flavors and great complex finesse. The firm acidity and balanced residual sugar provide the wine with an aromatic and delicious finish. Drink now or cellar 3-5 years.
RS — 47 g/l Acidity – 9 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 8.5% SRP: $15.99
Reports for the Baden Region and specifically the Kaiserstuhl area come from the Weingut Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler. Because red wines from the estate are not released until approximately eighteen months after harvest, we have included information on both the 2010 and 2011 vintages.
2010 was generally considered to be a difficult vintage year for wine in Germany. The region also experienced a very long and difficult flowering due to weather conditions, although it was clear relatively early on that the harvest would be small. Thanks to the southerly location and our practice of selective hand harvest we were able to counter many of the climatic challenges. Our 2010 wines promise to have a lively freshness and fruitiness. The whites are crisp, lively and full of fruit, while the red wines already have good color and an elegant fruitiness.
The vintage year 2011 was, by contrast, a textbook vintage. April was extraordinarily sunny, warm and dry which led to the new vine shoots appearing so suddenly it was almost like an explosion. The shoots could already be seen by the 7th of April in some of the warmer sites such as the Achkarrer Schlossberg, marking the earliest since 1976 by at least 14 days. After a
far too dry spring, steady rain at the beginning of June provided relief, perfect for the continued development of the grapes.
Kickoff for the mail harvest was at the very beginning of September. After all the extremes of the year, which were associated with considerable risk, we were able in the end to bring in a perfect vintage. All the wines, white as well as red are dense and well-structured.
Winemaker notes on 2011 Vintage wines by Fritz Keller:
2011 Franz Keller Pinot Gris – Fresh and fizzy with nice aromas.
RS – 1.3 g/l Acidity – 5.4 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 13.0% SRP: $24.99
2011 Franz Keller Pinot Blanc – A light, fresh wine with soft tannins.
RS – 1.6 g/l Acidity – 5.5 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 13.0% SRP: $24.99
Winemaker notes on previous vintage wines currently being released:
2010 Franz Anton Pinot Noir – Dark red color, full-bodied with strong and fresh tannins. The wine is drinkable now due to its silky structure but can also be cellared for some time to come.
RS – 1.2 g/l Acidity – 5.3 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 13.0% SRP: $41.99
2009 Franz Keller Pinot Noir – Ruby red, full-bodied with light tannins and expressive fruit.
RS – 2.9 g/l Acidity – 4.4 g/l Alc. By Vol. – 13.5% SRP: $24.99

Managing Director: Dr. Rowald Hepp
Owner: Nassauische Sparkasse
Year Established: Earlier than/circa 1211
Size (cultivated area): 81 hectares
Annual Production: 60,000 cs (approx.)
Vineyard sites: Schloss Vollrads
Soils: Sandy loess, gravel, black slate, red slate, quartzite, loam
Grape Variety: 100% Riesling
Average Yield: 65 hl/ha
Plant density: 2,800 – 5,000 vines/ha
Vine Age: wide range between new plantings up to 60-year-old vines
Harvest Technique: 100% selective hand picking
Cellar Technique: mash contact between 6 – 24 hrs; gentle low-pressure pressing; fermentation with indigenous yeast in stainless steel
FACTS AND FIGURES:
SCHLOSS VOLLRADS

Schloss Vollrads History:
Schloss Vollrads is likely to be the oldest wine estate in the world, and is certainly the first in Germany’s famed Rheingau wine growing region located along the banks of the Rhein River west of Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. The estate was established in the middle ages, likely during the Carolingian era, long before recorded deeds to property and business papers were commonplace and, thus, the difficulty in pin-pointing an exact date of inception as a wine estate.
Schloss Vollrads vineyards were planted around Graues Haus in Winkel toward the end of the Carolingian Renaissance (c. 850). The stone house, which still stands today is the oldest in Germany, and was built as a summer residence for the Archbishop of Mainz, Hrabanus Maurus, a distinguished Carolingian poet-theologian who died there in 856. Soon after, additional vineyards were planted farther up along the south-facing slopes where the current vineyards stand in accordance with Charlemagne’s assertion that the location would be ideal for viticulture.
As early as 1097, during the time of the first Crusade, the Greiffenclau family, known then as the “Counts (or Lords) of Winkel,” established residency at Graues Haus marking the beginning of the longest family-held business (of any sort, not just wine business) in history. For 28 generations, a full 900 years until the tragic death of Count Erwein Matuschka Greiffenclau in 1997, Schloss Vollrads was owned and operated by the noble Greiffenclau family.
The first documented sale of Greiffenclau family wine was recorded in 1211, four years prior to the Magna Charta, in a contract of sale with the St. Victor Monastery in Mainz. In the twelfth century (c. 1330), the tower of Schloss Vollrads was constructed by the then Count Greiffenclau on a Roman foundation on the property which currently houses the estate buildings and castle. It is at the point of construction of the tower that the Schloss Vollrads name began to be used on documents. After the building was complete, the family lived in the moated tower surrounded by the vineyards for the next three centuries until beginning construction on the castle in 1684. Both the tower and the castle have been restored and are still standing.
BACKGROUNDER:
SCHLOSS VOLLRADS
Today, the operation of Schloss Vollrads and its vineyards as a historical unity is carried on by the Nassauische Sparkasse (Nassau Savings Bank). The new owner has undertaken extensive and careful renovations to restore the castle and grounds to their height of glory. The day to day operations of the estate are, since 1999, placed in the skillful hands of Dr. Rowald Hepp, managing director, a friend and colleague of the late Erwein Count Matuschka Greiffenclau. Hepp is universally credited with turning the estate around as, according to one wine publication, a “phoenix risen from the ashes.”
In The Vineyards at Schloss Vollrads
So historically significant and famous is Schloss Vollrads that the vineyards around the palace were named as an “Ortsteil” in German wine law, meaning a vineyard site in and of itself. Wines from the estate vineyards need not carry the name of a town in conjunction with a vineyard site and are simply labeled as “Schloss Vollrads.” Only a handful of other sites in Germany are afforded that status.
Schloss Vollrads today encompasses 81 hectares of vineyard land planted exclusively to Riesling all along south-facing slopes leading down from the Taunus Hills to the Rhein River. The hills provide a protective barrier to cold winds from the north and the Rhein helps with temperature moderation presenting, in all, an optimal climate for Riesling. The long growing season with mild winters and relatively hot summers enable vines to intensively absorb mineral nutrients throughout the year. The unique soil stratification ranges from sandy loess at the surface to gravel, loam, red slate, black slate and quartzite at the deepest level. As rainwater seeps into the ground, mineral nutrients from each type of stone and soil are released and transported with the water to the roots of the vine where they are absorbed. Ultimately, the nutrients reach the grapes and define the typical taste of its wines. The philosophy of Schloss Vollrads is to enable maximum reflection of this “terroir” in our finished wine.
In the vineyard, sustainable viticulture is practiced utilizing controlled, ecologically-friendly measures, primarily organic fertilizers, green covering in every other row, mulching, etc. The plant density is maintained at 2,800 – 5,000 vines/ha with appropriate spacing and positioning for limited vine shadowing and optimum air circulation. Grape splitting (the removal of the lower portion of grape clusters after flowering) is utilized to allow clusters to develop without pressure from molds and green harvesting as well as partial foliage removal is undertaken to improve sun exposure and circulation.
After careful study in Schloss Vollrads vineyards it was determined that not only do specific rows of vines or sections of vineyards develop quicker, but that in many instances the clusters of grapes on one side of a vine will riper earlier than the other. Thus, harvest at the estate is undertaken selectively by hand, running through the same sections of vineyard several times in the course of one harvest year. This selective harvest is followed again by a manual selection of individual grapes or groups of grapes from clusters, all labor intensive work.
In the Cellar at Schloss Vollrads
As in the vineyard, in the cellar at Schloss Vollrads work is completely concentrated on bringing forth the unique characteristics of Rheingau Riesling. In the cellar this is a process of “guiding” the metamorphosis of grapes to wine, as opposed to “making” wine. Once harvested, grapes are allowed mash contact for between 6 – 24 hours followed by gentle, pneumatic pressing, sedimentation or must filtration and controlled fermentation with natural yeast. Stainless steel tanks allow maximum control of fermentation intensity and temperature. For wines with residual sweetness, racking and additional aging on the lees may be undertaken depending on sensory evaluations based on the wines’ harmony and balance.
Wines are bottled with membrane filtration typically in March or April of the year following the harvest. To insure customers have the best possible experience with Schloss Vollrads wines and are not disappointed by wines tainted by cork, the estate has exclusively utilized the Vinolok glass closures for all wines since 2003.
Schloss Vollrads Wines
All of the German “Praedikats” that denote top-quality wines originated in the Rheingau. Documents dating from 1716 record the Vollrads’ tradition of separately storing a few select wines in a special “Cabinet” cellar. “Cabinet,” synonymous with the finest, was the forerunner of today’s “Kabinett” wines. As such, Schloss Vollrads is justifiably the birthplace of the Praedikat “Kabinett,” and stands today, as always, as a benchmark for top-quality Rheingau Riesling wine the world-over.
Rowald Hepp and his team at Schloss Vollrads strive to produce wines that have a consistent and recognizable profile that mature into unmistakable wine personalities. The ultimate goal is to harmoniously unite the varietal fruit aromas that are typical of Riesling with the earthy, mineral-rich flavor or the multi-layered deep soils of the Rheingau. This is Schloss Vollrads terroir.
A major focus at Schloss Vollrads over the past thirty-plus years has centered on balance, and balance of food and wine in particular. Erwein Graf Matuschka-Greiffenclau was one of the leading proponents and pioneers in promoting the marriage of German Riesling and contemporary cuisines, a crusade that is carried on today at the estate through its restaurants and culinary wine tasting events.
Schloss Vollrads wines are exported to major markets around the world. Wines available across the United States range from the Qualitätswein (QbA) trocken and “lieblich”; Kabinett and Kabinett medium-dry; Spätlese, Auslese, and Eiswein, all Riesling of course. Wines are imported to the United States by Schmitt Sohne USA and are distributed nationally.
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Managing Director: Dr. Karsten Weyand
Owner(s): Bischöfliches Priesterseminar
Year Established: 1561
Size (cultivated area): 25 hectares
Annual Production: 150,000 liters
Top vineyard sites: Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst, Bernkasteler Badstube, Trittenheimer Apotheke, Falkensteiner Hofberg
Soils: primarily grey Devonian slate
Grape Variety: 100% Riesling
Average Yield: 60 hl/ha
Plant density: Approx. 5,000 vines/ha
Vine Age: wide range between new plantings and 40+ year old vines in Falkensteiner Hofberg vineyard
Harvest Technique: 100% selective hand picking
Cellar Technique: 40% fermentation in Fuder (traditional 1,000 liter barrels); 60% in stainless steel. Natural fermentation with indigenous yeast.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
BACKGROUNDER:
Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnaisum History
The Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium (high school) originates from a Jesuit college which was founded in Trier in 1561. The vineyard properties were obtained by the school by way of donations from the Bishops Johann von der Leyen and Archbishop Jacob zu Eltz (1561 – 81). When the Jesuit order was dissolved in 1773 the property continued as a school through a number of names until being re-named Friedrich-Wilhelm Gymnasium in 1896. Throughout the centuries wine production from the estate’s vineyards has helped to finance the school.
Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Today
In 2004 the estate was bought by the Bischöfliches Priesterseminar from the German State of Rheinland-Pfalz. Although the Bischöfliches Priesterseminar is one of the three wine estates that produces wine under the Bischöfliche Weingüter label, they maintain Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium as a separate entity. Today, Managing Director Karsten Weyand and his team oversee the estate’s vineyard holdings which encompass approximately 25 hectares of steep slopes on the Middle Mosel and Saar exclusively dedicated to Riesling.
Viticulture Practices
The Mosel and Saar vineyard sites cultivated by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium are planted exclusively to Riesling and are all situated with southern or south-western exposure. Most famous of the sites are: the 2.9 hectare parcel of the Graacher Himmelreich consisting of grey Devonian slate soils and an excellent water supply, features which are shared by the extremely steep .9 hectare parcel of the Graacher Domprobst . In the Bernkasteler Badstube, another vineyard of grey Devonian slate, the estate controls 1 hectare. Another key vineyard on the Mosel is the Trittenheimer Apotheke where the estate’s two hectare parcel features ample water supply with good drainage through the brown to grey Devonian slate.
The estate’s oldest vineyard is the Falkensteiner Hofberg located in the Saar valley. The 12.5 hectares in the vineyard were planted in the mid-1960’s in the highly decomposed slate and clay soils.
Organic fertilizers are utilized exclusively throughout the region and all harvesting is undertaken by hand. Harvests are very selective, often utilizing two to three picking cycles through the vineyards.
Viniculture Techniques
A founding stone in the cellars of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium located deep under the city of Trier proclaims the date of 1593, bearing testament to the age and historic significance of the estate. Here, winemaker Johannes Becker oversees the fermentation of wines in both stainless steel (60%) and in traditional Mosel “Fuder,” the 1000 liter barrels known for their benefits of spontaneous fermentation and providing structure and stability. Natural and indigenous yeasts are utilized.
Wines and Distribution
The wines from this historic estate will now be available in the United States exclusively through the importer, Schmitt Sohne USA. Wines to be in national distribution starting with the 2011 vintage include: Schiefer Riesling Qualitätswein off-dry and Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett.
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Managing Director: Dr. Karsten Weyand
Owner(s): Bischöfliches Priesterseminar est. 1773; Hohe Domkirche est. 1851; Bischöfsliches Konvikt est. 1840
Year Established: 1966
Size (cultivated area): 95 hectares
Annual Production: 570,000 liters
Top vineyard sites: Piesporter Goldtröpfchen; Űrziger Würzgarten; Scharzhofberger; Ayler Kupp; Kaseler Nies’chen
Soils: Primarily a variety of slate – red, brown and Devonian grey; some red clay and sandstone
Grape Variety: 90% Riesling; balance primarily Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir
Average Yield: 60 hl/ha
Plant density: Approx. 5,000 vines/ha
Vine Age: wide range between new plantings up to 35-year-old vines
Harvest Technique: 100% selective hand picking
Cellar Technique: 40% fermentation in Fuder (traditional 1,000 liter barrels); 60% in stainless steel. Natural fermentation with indigenous yeast.
FACTS AND FIGURES:

BACKGROUNDER:
Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier History
Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier (Bishop’s Wine Estates of Trier) was formed in 1966 through the merger of three historic estates located in and around the Mosel city of Trier: Bischöfliches Priesterseminar, the Bischöfliches Konvikt, and the Hohe Domkirche. Each of the three original estates possess extensive historical significance in wine production in the region and each was composed of and by donations of vineyard properties by church foundations and institutions which together comprise an unsurpassed collection of the top vineyard sites of the Mosel.
Bischöfliches Priesterseminar
The ‘Oratorium St. Banti’ in the Trier High “Cathedral” (archdiocese) dates back to the 7th century. This wealthy foundation, the ‘Bantuspräbende,’ was managed by a brotherhood. In 1592 Johannes von Schöneberg turned the Bantus foundation into the ‘St. Banti Seminar.’ Its purpose was to educate useful workers for the Lord’s vineyards for the glory of God and the maintenance of the Catholic Religion. In 1773 Prince Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus founded the Bischöfliches Priesterseminar (seminary), donating the property that had previously belonged to the Bantus foundation/St. Banti Seminar.
Today the Bischöfliches Priesterseminar manages 34 hectares of vineyards. The individual vineyard sites are: Erdener Treppchen, Ürziger Würzgarten, Dhroner-Hofberger and Trittenheimer Apotheke on the Middle Mosel; Kaseler Nies’chen on the Ruwer; Kanzemer Altenberg, Wiltinger Kupp and Ayler Kupp on the Saar.
Hohe Domkirche (High Cathedral Trier)
The history of the oldest church in Germany and north the Alps, the High Cathedral Trier ‘Trierer Dom,’ dates back to the earliest days of Christianity. (“High Cathedral” refers to the powerful governing center of a group of area churches, each reporting to the High Cathedral.)
The high status of the Cathedral of Trier and its bishops is witnessed by the double church that was constructed by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. At that time it was the largest double church in the whole of the Great Roman Empire. The still-intact 30-metres-high antique center of the Trier Cathedral dates from the end of the same century.
The connection between the Cathedral and viticulture dates back many centuries. One such early example is found in a bylaw from 1249 that freed the members of the Trier archdiocese from their religious duties during the wine harvest.
The Hohe Domkirche today possesses 22 hectares of vineyards in prestigious sites at the Saar and Mosel rivers. The Scharzhofberger near Wiltingen on the Saar is the most famous. The Scharzhofberg estate had been a monastery until the French Revolution. During the process of secularization it was taken into private ownership. In 1851/52 the Cathedral was able to buy back parts of the Scharzhofberg and manages around six hectares in this significant site today.
Bischöfliches Konvikt (Bishop’s Convent)
Similar to the Bischöfliches Priesterseminar, the Bischöfliches Konvikt (Bishops’ Convent) dates back to the St. Banti Seminarium whose aim was to accept into the seminary as many young men as finances could support. In 1806 Bishop Karl Mannay established the school that he later on named ‘Little Seminar’. As the original funds were not sufficient a new private organization was set up in the early 19th century.
The Bischöfliches Konvikt owns about 40 hectares of vineyards originating primarily from foundations and donations including: Piesporter Goldtröpfchen on the Mosel; Ayler Kupp and Ayler Herrenberger on the Saar; and the Ruwer sites Eitelsbacher Marienholz and Kaseler Kehrnagel. The oldest property is the Eitelsbacher estate ‘Duisburger Hof’ near Ruwer which belonged to the Bishop and Prince Elector Philipp Christoph von Sötern (1623-1652). In 1653 the estate was donated to the Trier archdiocese.
Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Today
The combination of the three wine estates to form the Bischöfliche Weingüter enabled organizational and product streamlining, elimination of wine portfolio redundancy and a shared commitment to the cultivation of the finest vineyard sites and the art of creating fine and delicious wines in concert with nature. The final step in unifying these estates under the Bischöfliche Weingüter umbrella was made in 2012 by combining all under one common label which depicts the coat of arms of each of the three foundations. The new, combined estate is managed by Dr. Karsten Weyand and his team.
Viticulture Practices
The vineyard sites cultivated by the Bischöfliche Weingüter today are among the most celebrated along the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer rivers as listed above under each individual estate in the triumvirate. Most significant among the parcels are the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen of the Mosel (1.5 ha); the Scharzhofberger (6 ha) and Ayler Kupp (12.2 ha) located along the Saar, and the Kaseler Nies’chen on the Ruwer (3.1 ha).
The management of the Bischöfliche Weingüter is circumspect in their care of the land and respect for time-honored natural vineyard practices. So extensive are the combined holdings that the winery employs individual “estate managers” for each of the three sub-regions: Hubert Bollig in the Mosel, Joachim Scherf in the Saar; and Klaus Backes is in charge in the Ruwer vineyards. Organic fertilizers are utilized exclusively throughout the region and all harvesting is undertaken by hand. Harvests are very selective, often utilizing two to three picking cycles through the vineyards.
Viniculture Techniques
Winemaker Johannes Becker oversees the action in the cellars of the Bischöfliche Weingüter. The cellars are extensive, stretching out beneath the old city of Trier. Some parts are ancient, dating back 1,400 years and the most recent section intersects with a water conduit built by the Romans leading to imperial baths.
Forty percent of wines are fermented in Fuder, the traditional 1000 liter barrels known for their benefits of spontaneous fermentation and providing structure and stability. The remaining wines are fermented in stainless steel. Natural and indigenous yeasts are utilized.
Wines and Distribution
The most recent action taken by Dr. Weyand and his team was to simplify the portfolio of wines offered on the market. The emphasis in this step was placed on insuring authenticity of style and terroir while reducing the vast number of wines offered. The initial reduction came, obviously, by offering wines from all three individual properties under one unified label. Second, wines were sorted into five basic classifications starting with the new “Dom” Collection QbA wines – wines that can be likened to “Estate Riesling” ; the river wines – carrying only the name of the sub-region Mosel, Saar, or Ruwer; the Village or Ortsweine illustrating only the village name; and on top the single vineyard wines.
The new wines from this historic estate will now be available in the United States through the importer, Schmitt Sohne USA. Wines to be in national distribution include: the Dom Collection in dry, feinherb (semi-dry), and “lieblich” styles; as well as Kabinett and Spätlesen wines from Scharzhofberg, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, and Ayler Kupp.
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060112

Owner: Markus Molitor
Year Established: 1984
Size (cultivated area): 40 hectares
Vineyard sites: Brauneberger Klostergarten, Brauneberger Mandelgraben, Bernkastler Graben, Bernkasteler Badstube, Bernkastler Lay, Graacher Himmelreich Erdener Treppchen, Zeltinger Schloßberg, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Wehlener Klosterberg, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Űrziger Würzgarten*
Soils: Variety of slate soils from fine to stoney – Blue, grey and iron-rich red slate soils
Grape Varieties: 94% Riesling; 3% Pinot Noir; 3% Pinot Blanc
Average Yield: 10 – 50 hl/ha
Vine Age: new plantings to over 100 year old vines
Harvest Technique: 100% selective hand picking
Cellar Technique: natural fermentation in large seasoned “fuder” barrels with indigenous yeasts and without use of fining agents, enzymes or other additives; wines remain on lees for a month gaining mellowness and body
*Due to the limited availability from many of the vineyard sites listed only a few of the single vineyard wines are imported to the US (in bold type).
FACTS AND FIGURES:
Weingut Markus Molitor

Owner: Fritz Keller
Year Established: circa 1893
Size (cultivated area): 60 hectares
Annual Production: 260,000 liters
Vineyard sites: Oberbergener Bassgeige, Achkarrer Schlossberg, Oberrotweiler Eichberg, Eichenstetter Herrenbuck, Jechtinger Eichert
Soils: Loess, volcanic rock, chalk
Grape Varieties: Pinot Gris (33%); Pinot Noir (29%); Pinot Blanc (15.5%); Chardonnay (4.5%); Gewürztraminer (0.3%)
Average Yield: 34 hl/ha — 63 hl/ha
Plant density: 6,000 – 12,000 vines/ha
Vine Age: 65% vines are 25 – 50 yrs old;
Harvest Technique: 100% selective hand picking; grapes cooled at harvest using tarps
Cellar Technique: Long ageing on yeast; malolactic fermentation for selected wines; variety of stainless steel, seasoned oak, and barrique barrels utilized depending on wine.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler
Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler History
Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler is much, much more than a wine estate and its genesis has been atypical for most wine farms in Germany. The company has evolved over the years to its present form which includes two restaurants (the Michelin one-star Restaurant Schwarzer Adler and the casual dining establishment Winzerhaus Rebstock), a hotel (Hotel Schwarzer Adler, a member of the Small Luxury Hotel group since 2006), a distributorship for wine (primarily Bordeaux and Burgundy), and the wine estate.
The Keller family estimates that the winery was established somewhere around the end of the 19th century, although it may not have been operating as a commercial establishment at the time. In the late 1970’s the first wine production under the Franz Keller label was initiated by Franz Keller, the father of the current owner, Fritz. Franz became notorious for his passion for producing dry wines and for promotion of those wines with his haute cuisine at Restaurant Schwarzer Adler. His close relationships with French Chefs Paul Bocuse, Philippe Gaertner and Paul Haeberlin greatly influenced the culinary character of the Schwarzer Adler and his philosophy of winemaking. Always a maverick, Keller was one of the first to bring in and ferment his wine in French barrique barrels. This was so extraordinary for the times that he was refused AP approval for his oak-influenced wines by the German authorities. Franz forged ahead, ignoring the government approval system and labeled his wines as simple table wines (Tafelwein in Germany) akin to” Vin De Pay” in France. The estate’s top quality wines today hearken back to those early days by labels that simply proclaim “S” for wines of Spätlese ripeness and “A” for Auslesen. Over the years their wine making philosophy has remained stalwart…to produce dry wines for harmonious food accompaniment, never dominance.
Today, the property is owned and managed by Fritz (Friedrich Walter) Keller and his wife Bettina who directs operations of the restaurants and hotel businesses. Their oldest son, Friedrich (Friedrich Leopold), is being groomed to eventually take over responsibilities for the estate under the able tutelage of his father and winemaker Uwe Barnickel. In 2011 a new 4,000 sq. meter home for the winery was constructed in Oberbergen. The innovative environmentally-green building with its terrace-like architecture and grassed roof tops reflects the natural topography of the Kaiserstuhl region and blends organically into the layers and terraces of the landscape. This investment in sustainable building is in essence a nod of thanks and appreciation by the family to what nature has bestowed upon them.
BACKGROUNDER:
FRANZ KELLER SCHWARZER ADLER
The Vineyards of Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler
The estate is located in the “Kaiserstuhl” area of Germany’s southernmost wine region, Baden, a region well-known for its contrasts with the rest of German viticulture. Indeed, the region shares more in common with its French neighbors than with other German regions to the north. Here, the temperatures are significantly warmer, the terraced vineyards are unique in the world for their composition of volcanic rock and chalk, and the vines are often the more suitable pinot varieties.
Since Fritz took stewardship in 1990, the estate has grown to its current holdings of 60 hectares. Ecologically sound viticulture, utilizing organic fertilizers in tune with the needs of the vineyard and the use of green manures to improve soil structure are as fundamental to vineyard work at Weingut Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler as yield reduction by thinning, green harvest and, for the top wines, halving of bunches.
At harvest, only healthy (maximum 3% botrytis), full-flavored grapes at optimum state of ripeness are exclusively hand-picked. Careful, deliberate attention is taken to the physiological ripeness of the grapes which the Kellers feel is a much more valid indicator of quality and ripeness that just the sugar level. The ultimate target is to harvest healthy grapes with high acidity and tannins.
The Oberbergener Bassgeige is the largest and perhaps most important vineyard site of the estate, located in the heart of the Kaiserstuhl and stretching from Oberrotweil to Schelingen. The Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler estate cultivates 20 hectares of this site. The vineyard faces south, southwest and west and is covered by a loess layer partly pervaded by volcanic and basalt rocks which impart a mineral note to the wines.
The Achkarrarer Schlossberg is without question one of the top sites in the Kaiserstuhl. Today the estate holds 3.5 hectares of the site’s southern, southeastern and southwestern facing, extremely steep slopes that are composed entirely of weathered volcanic soil. The steep slopes are retained by dry stone walls made from volcanic rock and are home to rare, protected plant-and animal- life. Fritz Keller and his team have recently undertaken the careful reconstruction of these walls with considerable effort to maintain and not disturb the ecological balance of nature found there. This very hot site enjoys full sun exposure and the volcanic soil retains the heat quite well. The Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir vines grown here by the estate root deeply through the dry soils in order to reach nutrients and water.
One of the most expensive sites of the Kaiserstuhl is the Oberrotweiler Eichberg. The terraces of this small site of of southern aspect and composed of deep-black weathered volcanic soil. Here the estate has planted Pinot Noir, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot.
The Eichenstetter Herrenbuck vineyard is on the eastern edges of the Kaiserstuhl and is one of the higher altitude vineyards with a longer growing season. Here the harvest on the estate’s 8.5 hectares starts later than in the rest of the Kaiserstuhl. The wines are fresh with a more pronounced acidity that those from other villages.
On the western perimeter of the Kaiserstuhl is the Jechtinger Eichert vineyard. Situated at lower altitude and less steep than the other sites in the region, the Eichert vineyard is composed of pure weathered volcanic soil that is black but very fertile. Grapes ripen quickly here, thus are harvested earlier and can be vinified into great wines. The Keller estate’s parcel in the vineyard totals 10 hectares.
In the Cellar at Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler
Perfecting the craft of making wines from ripe and healthy grapes is a constant aspiration at Weingut Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler. From the refreshing everyday wines to the highest quality wines maturing in small and large oak barrels, all wines are treated with utmost care and subject to stringent standards of winemaking including long aging time on the yeast.
White wines (Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris) from the Oberbergener Bassgeige vineyards are vinified in stainless steel to preserve their lively filigree character. The fruit flavors of the Pinot Noir from the Bassgeige are accentuated by the soft tannins imparted by large old oak barrels. These large barrels also provide texture and mouth feel to the fuller and more concentrated white wines like Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc from the Pulverbuck vineyard. New and seasoned barriques are utilized to help to underline the opulence and fullness of wines grown on volcanic soils. The barriques also have a role to play when it comes to the elegance that is so typical for the French-inspired wines of Weingut Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler. Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay wines from the Oberbergener Pulverbuck vineyard and all top level whites are treated to malolactic fermentation.
Wines and Distribution
A variety of Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler wines are now available throughout the U.S. including Franz Keller Pinot Gris, Franz Keller Pinot Blanc, Franz Keller Pinot Noir, and the select Franz Anton Pinot Noir. The white wines are generally released in May or June of the year following harvest while reds are held in cellar for around 18 months. Wines are imported by Schmitt Sohne USA.
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