Monday, October 31, 2011

A New Fixture in the Reemerging Red Slope of Nierstein - Visiting Kai Schaetzel and his Weingut Schaetzel in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Kai Schaetzel in Nierstein, Germany

In the prestigious Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2011, Weingut Schaetzel moved from 1 to 2 grapes (with 5 grapes being the maximum). “A new fixture in the reemerging Red Slope of Nierstein”, noted the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland. I enjoyed very much a cellar tour and garden tasting with Kai in Nierstein a few weeks ago.


Rheinhessen is an area that used to be known for winemakers often focusing on quantity and not quality. Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards. Unlike in other German wine regions, where monoculture of the vine is the norm, here the many rolling hills are host to a wide variety of crops grown alongside the grape. Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch. At the same time, Rheinhessen is among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. This is not because of the terroir, but because of the people. There is an increasing group of mostly young and ambitious winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. Kai Schaetzel is one of them.

Rheinterrasse, Nierstein and the Red Slope (Roter Hang)

One region of Rheinhessen, the Rheinterrasse, had always been in a somewhat different league, the stretch of vineyards which runs from Bodenheim, south of Mainz, in the north to Mettenheim in the south, often referred to as the Rheinterrasse. The vineyards of the Rheinterrasse have a favored mesoclimate in comparison with others in the region. The Rheinterrasse accounts for one-third of the region's Riesling wines. The wines from the Rheinterrasse were at some point even more expensive than Bordeaux wines.

The Roter Hang (Red Slope) is at the center of the Rheinterrasse. This steep slope extends for some five kilometers (three miles) with a total of 180 ha (445 acres) around Nierstein on the left bank of the Rhine. The Roter Hang has a very special terroir, resulting from the drop of the Rheinhessen plateau before human life started. As a consequence of these movements the Roter Hang has a mineral-rich soil, a mixture of iron and clayish slate, which is at least 250 million years old (Permian Period). Further, the slope faces south to southeast, which helps in terms of the solar radiation. The red slate retains warmth, and additional warmth comes from the sunlight reflected from the surface of the Rhine.

Weingut Schaetzel

Weingut Schaetzel is located in Nierstein in Rheinhessen. The winery was established in 1850 by Jakob Schlamp. His son moved the winery to the place where it is located when I visited it, the General von Zastrow Estate. Today, the winery is owned and managed by Kai Schaetzel. The Schaetzel family has been making wine for 650 years, for 5 generations at the General von Zastrow Estate.

Picture: Weingut Schaetzel

Kai Schaetzel: A New Beginning

Kai started to work early at the winery – in 1996, even before he got his “Abitur” (highschool degree) in 1998. He fully took over Weingut Schaetzel from his parents in 2007. In the meantime, he studied business economics in Hamburg graduating with the Diplom Kaufmann degree, served in the army, and interned at wineries, including in the US.

Picture: Kai Schaetzel

When he became fully responsible, he decided to change course at Weingut Schaetzel and to aim at becoming a nationally and internationally recognized premium wine producer. Of course, with his business degree, he had many other options. But he went for the wine option – making premium wines at a small boutique winery, suggesting, as Kai explained to me, that his decision was driven by a lot of passion for making good wine.

We talked a lot about renaissance at Weingut Schaetzel - renaissance of the steep slope vineyards, of manual harvesting and oak barrel fermentation. “You have to give space to Mother Nature” said Kai and “manual work in the Red Slope of Nierstein, small yields, selective manual harvesting, spontaneous fermentation with natural yeast in a barrel and long sur lie aging are the principles I adhere to.”

In the Wine Cellar with Kai

The first thing we did after I arrived was to visit the impressive, very old vaulted underground wine cellar.

“The fermentation takes place in this 800 years old cellar” explained Kai. “After manually and selectively harvesting the grapes, the grapes are transported to the winery in small boxes.Here the g rapes are crushed and remain up to 24 hours on the skins. Through the so-called maceration, aromas are released from the skin and the wines become more complex.”

Pictures: Kai Schaetzel in the Wine Cellar

Then the grapes are pressed. Throughout the whole mash treatment, no pumps are used. The grapes are always tilted gently. “So we avoid injuries on stems and seeds.” The fresh juice is clarified by sedimentation. “That means, we wait until cloudy sediment settles on the ground. What remains above the sediment is then a clear liquid in the tank. Through this natural process we avoid the use of filters. The clear juice flows into the oak barrels in the wine cellar.”

For the fermentation, each wine gets its own oak barrel. Most of the barrels are 600 or 1,200 liters in size and up to 50 years old. There are about 50 oak barrels in Schaetzel’s vaulted underground cellar. Approximately 70% of the wines fermented with wild yeasts. “The so-called spontaneous fermentation requires permanent control and is somewhat risky. The ancient and natural method gives each wine a chance to find itself and to develop its own character. Again, we stay as much as possible in the background and follow the process. That means in practical terms that we have to control each barrel several times a day. If all goes well, the young wines ferment for about 2 to 3 months and then have most of their natural sugar converted into alcohol. If we feel that the fermentation in the wooden barrels is too rough, we can cool each barrel individually and thus curb the yeasts” explained Kai.

Pictures: The Weingut Schaetzel Wine Cellar

After fermentation, the yeast settles gradually at the bottom of the barrel. “Our single vineyard wines mature until May sur lie and are bottled directly from there with only one pump and filter process. Again, it goes without saying that our aim is to stress the sensitive wine as little as possible and treat the very gently.” Kai said.

He continued: “In a way, we are actually quite old-fashioned. We use the old methods of our grandfathers. The continuous monitoring and adaptation of the strategy, if necessary, is very time consuming and complex. Overall, each individual wine is the sum of a lot of what Mother Nature did and many small human decisions. Sometimes the progress is in looking back. A prudent combination of old methods with modern processes guide our way of making our wines.”

The white wines are slowly fermented, almost exclusively with natural yeast and age for a long time sur lie. Following the traditional mash fermentation the red wines age sur lie for up to 36 months in large oak barrels (600 liter), with frequent manual batonnage (stirring the lees back up into the wine). The primary reasons for sur lie aging are to enhance the structure and mouth feel of a wine, give it extra body and increase the aromatic complexity, flavor/aroma depth and length.

Kai: “Each wine has its own oak barrel, gets its own treatment and has its own schedule. There is no one-fits-all treatment of my wines. We only have five acres and cultivate them almost completely by hand. This size allows us to have a good overview of each barrel in the cellar. In fact, every barrel tastes differently, even if they share the noble character is the Red Slope. This is of course very far from conventional economic thinking, but it works well because our Riesling and Sylvaner wines are very much appreciated by the young audience and young TV Chefs.”

And Kai added that he does not plan to expand production. He wants to stay small in terms of quantity, but wants to go as far as possible in terms quality.

The Vineyards

The vineyard area is small, just 5 hectares, with the single vineyards Heiligenbaum, Hipping, Ölberg and Pettenthal in the Red Slope. Riesling accounts for 70%, with the remainder made up by Silvaner and Spätburgunder. In the vineyard, Kai follows ecological principles.

Pictures: The red slate at the Red Slope in Nierstein

“Great wines are grown in the vineyard” said Kai. “And because we know this we're trying to interfere with what is happening during the year in the vineyard as little as possible. During harvest time, we watching very carefully what is going on in the vineyard and gradually pick out only the best grapes. So it happens that between September and mid November we are up to 5 times in a vineyard to selectively harvest, of course, by hand.”

In the Garden

We then moved to the lovely garden and tasted some of the Schaetzel wines.

The Schaetzel white wines are marketed in 5 different groups.

First, the Literweine (basic table wines) come with the suffix “ReinEins” in a dry and an off-dry style.

Second, Gutsweine (estate wines) come with the suffix “ReinWeiss”. They can come from any vineyard of the estate.

Pictures: In the Garden of Weingut Schaetzel

Third, the Ortsweine (local wines) come as “ReinSchiefer” and “ReinLoess” (2 different soil types - slate and loess).

Fourth, the dry Lagenweine (single vineyard wines) carry the suffix “General von Zastrow” (former owner of the estate).

Fifth, the sweet-style Praedikatsweine (predicate wines) carry the suffix “Heinrich Schlamp” (Great- Great- Grandfather of Kai).

The white wine portfolio is complemented by red wines and sparklers.

What Kai Poured

Here is what Kai poured: 2 wines from the Ortsweine group and 2 wines from the Lagenweine group.


2010 Reinloess Guntersblum Riesling
2010 Reinschiefer Nierstein Riesling

Kai’s 2 Ortsweine – same treatment in the cellar, but one wine comes from a vineyard with loess and the other one from a vineyard with slate. They had been bottled just a week ago. Both wines very fresh and crisp. The Reinloess was a bit smoother, softer on the palate than the Reinschiefer. Both lovely wines.


2010 Heiligenbaum Riesling

Pale lemon color, notes of pear and wet stone on the nose, good structure, medium-bodied, the palate is not as dry as I expected (indeed, the wine got stuck has 12 gr. remaining sugar), emerging herbal and mineral notes, good length.

2010 Pettenthal Riesling

This is Kai Schaetzel’s premium Riesling from the Red Slope of Nierstein. Pale lemon color, very mineral notes on the nose, coupled with pineapple and ripe pear aromas, medium-bodied, good mouth feel, again mineral and a light floral notes on the palate, all very pleasing.

The Schaetzel Wine Portfolio

Here is the most recent price list. “ausverkauft” means sold out.

2009 ReinEins trocken 1,0 l 4,50 €
2009 ReinEins halbtrocken 1,0 l 4,50 €

Gutsweine trocken
2009 ReinWeiß Silvaner 0,75 l 5,50 €
2009 ReinWeiß Riesling 0,75 l 5,80 €

Ortsweine trocken
2009 ReinLöß Riesling 0,75 l 7,50 €
2009 ReinSchiefer Riesling 0,75 l 9,50 € ausverkauft

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Kai Schaetzel

Lagenweine trocken | General von Zastrow
2009 Hipping Silvaner 0,75 l 14,00 €
2009 Heiligenbaum Riesling 0,75 l 14,00 € ausverkauft
2009 Pettenthal Riesling 0,75 l 18,00 € ausverkauft

Prädikatsweine fruchtig | Heinrich Schlamp
2009 KabiNett Riesling 0,75 l 9,50 € ausverkauft
2009 SpätLese Oelberg Riesling 0,75 l 18,00 € ausverkauft

Rosé & Rotwein trocken
2010 ReinRosé Rosé 0,75 l 5,50 €
2009 ReinRot Rotwein 0,75 l 6,50 €
2007 Spätburgunder Rotwein 0,75 l 14,00 €

Sekt Scheurebe 0,75 l 10,00 €
Sekt Riesling 0,75 l 12,00 €

schiller-wine - Related Postings

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

1.International Riesling Symposium

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Wrap-Up: 4 Extraordinary Riesling Tastings at the 1. International Riesling Symposium at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany

Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

A Pinot Noir Star: Visiting August Kesseler and his Weingut August Kesseler in Assmannshausen, Germany

Wine Caravan from Germany Visiting the East Coast, US: Dr. Fischer, Fitz Ritter, Bolling-Lehnert, Schneider, Dr. Thanisch

Distinguished American Wine Blogger Lindsay Morriss from New England Interns at Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider in Rheinhessen

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Visiting Agnes and Fritz Hasselbach at their Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim, Rheinhessen, Germany

The Wines of the Roter Hang (Red Slope) in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany

A German Riesling Dinner at Open Kitchen in Washington DC, USA

Visit: Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany - for Upcoming German Wine Society Tasting in Washington DC, USA

An Evening with Lindsay Morriss: The Wines of Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider and her Ideas on How to Raise the Profile of German Wines in the USA

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dinner with Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar from Blue Danube Wine Company - A Good Source for Quality Eastern and Central European Wines in the US

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Frank Dietrich in Palo Alto

Eastern and Central Europe is a fascinating region. A large part of it was long hidden for us in the West behind the Iron Curtain, including the outstanding wines these countries potentially produce.

Generally, Eastern European wine producing countries like Hungary and Croatia have a history of winemaking that is as long – if not longer – than that of France, Spain or Italy. Yet, to find fine wines from these countries outside their borders is not easy. This is due to a combination of factors. These countries were behind the Iron Curtain until 20 years ago and are only now emerging on the world market. During the communist period, the wine industry suffered and fell behind, while the rest of the world was moving ahead rapidly. They are now trying to catch up and are doing this with uneven success. Some countries are advancing rapidly, such as Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia, others are moving at a slower path. Anyway, these are all highly interesting wine countries and I am glad to see their wines entering the world market.

In the US, Blue Danube Wine Company, owned by the husband and wife team Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar, is one of the drivers of this process. I have been in contact with Frank Dietrich for a while and was happy to meet him in person and have dinner with him in Washington DC earlier this year. "Central Europe has a story to tell, and can tell it well - the history, varietals, techniques, and the fresh start post Communism and war make these kind of wines a lens to see a wine world still largely unknown in the US" said Frank.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Frank Dietrich in Washington DC

When Frank heard that I was coming over to the US West Coast, for Richard Wagner’s Ring der Nibelungen in San Francisco and wine tasting in Washington State, Oregon and California, he was so kind to invite my wife and me for dinner at his house in Palo Alto. Since we were scheduled to fly to Europe for a wedding in Vienna, followed by trip to Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, we had even more to talk about.

Blue Danube Wine Company

The Blue Danube Wine Company was founded in 2002 to import fine Eastern and Central European wines to the U.S. market. The company focuses on wines that are fairly rare in the U.S.

Picture: Dinner with Frank and Szuzsanna

Today, Blue Danube Wine Company is an importer, distributer and retailer of Eastern and Central European wines. “We have three different price lists” said Frank. The Blue Danube Wine Company is an importer for the whole of the US of Eastern and Central European wines. In California, the Blue Danube Wine Company is a distributer with a focus on the San Francisco Bay area and the LA area. More generally, it distributes wines as a wholesaler to wine retailers, supermarkets, and better restaurants within California. Simultaneously, it continues to build a nation-wide network of distributors. Frank reported that they are just starting to set up shop in the New York market as a distributor. Finally, Blue Danube Wine Company is nation-wide on-line retailer.

Picture: Dinner with Frank and Zsuzsanna

Frank and Zsuzsanna have 3 partners who also have become owners of the company. “I believe in stock-options” said Frank. "I have seen all my working life how it works in the internet industry and I am continuing with this practice in my own company." The company is based in Los Altos, California 94023, USA.

Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar

Zsuzsanna was born in Budapest in Hungary and came over to Michigan as a young girl in 1956. She grew up in Hungarian speaking household. Frank and Zsuzsanna met at university. She was one of the first 50 students to be hired by the once internet giant Silicon Graphics. Frank and Zsuzsanna lived in Europe for a number of years, working for Silicon Graphics.

Picture: Dinner with Frank and Zsuzsanna

Before founding the company, Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar, worked for many years as executives in American computer and networking companies with responsibilities for developing the Central/Eastern European market. Born in Europe, speaking the languages, and understanding the business customs have provided them with tremendous assets to bring these unique wines and the people who make them to a broader market.

Picture: Google Headquarters in Palo Alto which we visited with Frank

My Recent Visits of (Blue Danube Company) Winemakers

Frank was so kind to help me arrange meetings with 2 winemakers in Hungary and 1winemaker in Slovenia. In addition, he pointed me to the Drop Shop Wine Bar in Budapest.

Attila Gere in Villany (Hungary)

Many feel – as I do - that the best Hungarian red wines come from Villany in the southern part of Hungary and that they can compete with fine Napa Valley or Bordeaux wines. Attila Gere is without doubt one of the stars of Villany. His winery is located in Villany, on the way to Siklos. The Gere family also owns a nice bistro, a fine dining restaurant and a luxury hotel.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Attila Gere

Frank brings his wines to the US. Frank was so kind to set up an appointment with Andrea Gere, the daughter of Attila Gere, in Villany. I also met Attila Gere during lunch at the Gere Wine Bar in Villany.

Franci Cvetko at Kogl Estate (Slovenia)

Franci Cvetko is arguably one of the best wine makers in the emerging wine country Slovenia, the most northern former Yugoslav Republic State. He owns and runs Kogl Estate in Velika Nedelja in the Prlekija wine region, in the eastern part of Slovenia.

Slovenia is the most advanced wine producer of the former Yugoslav Republic States, because it always had an open door to neighboring Italy and Austria. It was also the first of the former Yugoslav Republic States to emerge as an independent country and find stability. Slovenia is wedged between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia with a tiny, 40km of it touching the Adriatic Sea in the southwest corner. People have been growing wine in the region since Roman times.

The Kogl Estate is situated on a hill above the village of Velika Nedelja, with the vineyards surrounding the winery. The homestead on top of the hill was constructed in 1820 and initially served as a week-end residence. When you drive up the hill from Velika Nedelja to the Kogl Estete, you pass through the Kogl vineyards; they are surrounding the winery.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Franci Cvetko at Kogl Estate

We then had a wonderful lunch with delicious charcuterie, homemade pate and cheese, accompanied by 4 wines. The whole set-up was just stunning: the outstanding food, the very interesting conversation with Franci, Zlatka and son Luka, the breathtaking view of the landscape and the delicious Kogl wines!

Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg in Somlo (Hungary)

After having spent many years in the cities of Berlin and Munich in Germany, the German Hungarian Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg now lives the life of a boutique winemaker on the slopes of the Somlo Mountain in Hungary and produces outstanding wines there. Thanks to Frank, I had the pleasure to visit him, to have lunch with him and taste his superb wines.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg in Somlo

With 800 hectares, Somlo is one of the smaller wine regions of Hungary. Most of the vineyards are on the slopes of an almost symmetrical, cone-shaped, dormant volcano, crowned by the ruins of an 11th century castle, rising from the plains of the Tapolca Basin. It is a fascinating view when you approach the region.

Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg’s wines are not yet imported into the US.

Drop Shop Wine Bar in Budapest (Hungary)

Budapest has a number of interesting wine bars. One of them is the newly opened Drop Shop, located near the Margaret Bridge in District V. This is definitely one of the hot wine places in Budapest currently. Frank had recommended it to us.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Wink Lorch from WineTravelGuides, Brett Jones, known as The Wine Maestro and Carolyn Bánfalvi from Taste Hungary

When we went there, we run into Wink Lorch from WineTravelGuides and Brett Jones, known as The Wine Maestro, in the wine blogger scene. They had dinner there with Carolyn and Gábor Bánfalvi from Taste Hungary. Carolyn Bánfalvi is the author of the award-winning culinary guidebooks Food Wine Budapest and the Food and Wine Lover’s Guide to Hungary: With Budapest Restaurants and Trips to the Wine Country. We joint them later for drinks.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Tokaji: Depressing and Encouraging News from Hungary

A Rich Selection of Hungarian Wines at the Hungarian Embassy in the US

Wine Bar: The Wine Bar by Bazilika, Budapest, Hungary

Blue Danube Wine Company - A Good Source for Quality Eastern and Central European Wines in the US

Dining and Wining at the Josef Bock Winery Restaurant in Villany, Hungary

The Wines of Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg in Somlo, Hungary

Drop Shop Wine Bar in Budapest, Hungary

Visiting Attila and Andrea Gere, and the Attila Gere Winery in Villany, Hungary

Meeting Hungarian Food and Wine Experts Carolyn and Gabor Banfalvi in Budapest, Hungary

Lunch with Franci Cvetko at his Kogl Winery in Slovenia

Welcome to the US – Erhard Heumann and his Heumann Wines from Villany-Siklos in Hungary

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Georg and Stefan Rumpf in Muenster-Sarmsheim

I met Georg Rumpf - the young and energetic winemaker of Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe region in Germany - for the first time at a presentation of the VDP wine producers of the Nahe, Rheinhessen and Ahr regions in Mainz, Germany in 2010. Then, after a tasting of German wines in Washington DC, lead by Phil Bernstein from MacArthur Beverages (the tasting covered 4 winemakers of the Therry Theise Portfolio and one of them was Weingut Kruger-Rumpf), George invited me to come over to his winery the next time I was in Germany.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Phil Bernstein in Washington DC

I gladly accepted Georg's invitation. In fact, since the invitation at the beginning of this year, I visited Weingut Kruger-Rumpf twice, I also met Georg’s father, Stefan Rumpf, and had dinner at the lovely Kruger-Rumpf country restaurant, which is part of the Kruger-Rumpf Estate and run by Georg's mother Cornelia. Further, my wife Annette and my daughter Katharina went to the winery for the autumn wine presentation and got a special cellar tour by Georg. My wife struck a deal with Georg and bought 4 old barrique barrels for our party cellar in Frankfurt am Main. We will soon go back to pick up the barrels and to have dinner again at their wonderful country restaurant.

I visited Weingut Kruger-Rumpf twice in the last couple of months. The first time, Georg had to reschedule because of an American client. But since I had scheduled a visit of Schlossgut Diel, which is just a stone throw away from Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, for the same day, we went there anyway and had a wonderful dinner at the lovely Kruger-Rumpf country restaurant. Georg and Stefan Rumpf were sitting next to us with the American client and were so kind to share with us some of the noble-sweet wines they were tasting. The second time - after a tasting with German Pinot Noir Star August Kesseler in Assmannshausan - was for our official appointment, where Georg rolled out the red carpet for me.

Picture: Stefan and Georg Rumpf Tasting with an American Client

I also brought a Kruger-Rumpf Riesling to the “Bring-Your-Own-Bottle” opening night of the 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference (along with a Riesling from the Finger Lakes, USA), where I wanted to pour two of my favorite Rieslings from the two countries where I live.

Pictures: At the European Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 in Brescia, Italy

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf

“In our family, viniculture has been tradition since 1708 - a tradition that we have been cultivating in our vineyards as well as in our manor house which was built back in 1830” said Georg. The estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim in the Nahe region in Germany.

Pictures: Weingut Kruger-Rumpf

Stefan Rumpf, Georg’s father, brought Weingut Kruger-Rumpf up to where it is today: After completing his studies in agricultural sciences, including stints in Californian wineries, and conducting research at the Geisenheim research institute, Stefan Rumpf took over the estate from his parents in 1984. Up until then, the wines were sold almost entirely in bulk. Stefan Rumpf changed this and started to bottle his wines and to market the bottles himself. Less than 10 years later, in 1992, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf was invited to join the VDP, the about 200 German elite winemakers, a clear sign of what Stefan Rumpf had achieved over the course of just 8 years.

Today, the vineyard area totals 22 hectares and the annual production is 14.000 cases. Georg Rumpf has taken over the winemaking aspect of Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, while his father is now more focusing on sales and general management.

The top sites are: Münsterer Dautenpflänzer (slate with sandy loam); Münsterer Pittersberg (slate); Münsterer Rheinberg (weathered quartzite and sandy loam); Binger Scharlachberg Rheinhessen (Rotliegend and porphyry).

Grape varieties: 65% Riesling, 10% each of Silvaner and Weissburgunder, 5% each of Chardonnay, Grauburgunder and Spätburgunder. In fact, Kruger-Rumpf was the first estate in the Nahe region to plant Chardonnay.

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf has 3 (of) 5 grapes in the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland. It took 1st place in the DER FEINSCHMECKER Deutscher Riesling Cup 2008.

In the US, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf is imported by Terry Theise.

In the Vineyard with Georg

When my wife and I arrived at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, the first thing Georg did, was to invite us for a tour of his vineyards. “Our vineyards are steep. They are located in a narrow side valley of the Nahe and in Rheinhessen, safe from wind and rain. In a small area, the steep slopes of our vineyards offer a wide range of different soil types. Deeply rooting vines get their minerals from the lower soil layers and bin them within their grapes” Georg explained in the car.

Pictures: With Georg in the Vineyards

At some point of the tour, where the Nahe river flows into the Rhine river, we had an extraordinary view of the Rhine valley with the vineyards of Ruedesheim on the other side of the Rhine river (including the vineyards of J. Leitz), the vineyards of the Mittelrhein area in some distance, the Rheinhessen region beginning on the other side of the Nahe river and we in a Kurger-Rumpf vineyard in the Nahe region. It was a gorgeous day. I will never forget this magic moment with Georg Rumpf.

Pictures: A Magic Moment with Georg in the Vineyards

We visited all the vineyards of Kurger-Rumpf, or at least saw them from a distance, like the Binger Scharlachberg on the other side of the Nahe river:

Münsterer Pittersberg - Großes Gewächs, 5.5 ha, largest site of the winery, Soil: Devon-slate, wine: Riesling with citric like aroma and well balanced acidity.

Münsterer Dautenpflänzer - Großes Gewächs, 1.7 ha, heart of Kapellenberg, highest-class site of the winery, Soil: quartzite alteration with loess clay, Grape variety: Riesling, Scheurebe, Wine: fruity, consistent wine.

Münsterer Rheinberg - 1.9 ha, Soil: predominantly quartzite and slate, Grape variety: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Wine: diverse wines.

Münsterer Kapellenberg - 4 ha, all around Dautenpflänzer site; most diverse site of the winery, Soil: quartzite alteration with loess clay, Grape variety: Riesling, Pinot Blanc.

Dorsheimer Burgberg - 0.8 ha, particularly good microclimate through site in form of an amphitheatre, Soil: clay soil with slate and quartzite, Grape variety: Riesling, Wine: delicately balanced Riesling wine with discreet fruit aroma.

Binger Scharlachberg (Rheinhessen) - 1 ha, only site located in Rheinhessen; the name of the site arose from a high ferrous oxide part within the stone which colors the soil red, Soil: quartzite alteration with slate, Grape variety: Riesling, Wine: fruity, very complex wine.

Pictures: With Georg in the Vineyards

“White wine is our specialty as Riesling grows on 70 % of our steep slopes by the Nahe. We are especially proud of our 50 year old Riesling vines at our sites Münsterer Pittersberg and Münsterer Dautenpflänzer. Silvaner and Pinot Blanc take up 10% of our vineyards each. The different Pinot varieties (Pinot Gris, Pinot Madeleine and Pinot Noir) as well as Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Gewürztraminer complete our assortment” said Georg.

Pictures: With Georg in the Vineyards

In terms of farming, the guiding principle is sustainable vineyard practices. “You can’t improve wine in the cellar, only make it worse,” Georg’s father Stefan said later. “At least ninety percent of the quality of a wine comes from the raw material you harvest.” And “Our grapes ripen in sunny, steep hillsides safe from wind within the Nahetal and Rheinhessen region. What we care about is a strong crop reduction in the vineyard as well as a gentle treatment of the grapes. In order to guarantee best quality, we harvest our grapes by thorough hand picking. Afterwards, we grant our wine sufficient time and rest in the cellar.”

In the Wine Cellar with Georg

After the vineyard tour, Georg showed us around in the winery, which has some very traditional parts, like the ancient wine cellar and then stunning modern parts, like the tasting room.

Picture: Kruger-Rumpf Winecellar

Later during the tasting, Georg explained to me that he and his father are searching for the perfect balance

- perfect balance with mother nature through gentle and natural farming in the vineyard;

- perfect balance with the development of the grapes by manually harvesting only fully ripe grapes during several passages through the vineyard;

- perfect balance in the wine cellar by as little intervention as possible in the fermentation and aging process of the wine.

Dinner at the Country Restaurant

One of the (many) assets of Weingut Kruger Rumpf is the lovely country restaurant, which is part of the winery. It is run by Georg’s mother Cornelia. It opened its doors in 1994. They call it a wine tavern, but for me it is a country restaurant. Whatever you call it, it is a lovely place, where you can have a great time with traditional, upscale cuisine and Kruger-Rumpf wines in the cozy atmosphere of a family-run country restaurant .

Pictures: The Krueger-Rumpf Weinstube and Stefan and Cornelia Rumpf

The rooms are decorated with appropriate accessories depending on the season. Painted stucco ceilings, historic tiled stoves, wooden floors, warm wall paint as well as furniture in country-house style provide for a comfortable living room atmosphere. The bright rooms are located on the ground floor of the manor house.

In addition, there is an idyllic garden. Especially during the summer, the garden restaurant of the winery provides you with the opportunity to enjoy the evening in a cozy al fresco atmosphere with a hearty meal and a good glass of wine. In fact, we did the tasting with Georg in the garden restaurant.

Pictures: Modern Art in a Traditional Weinstube

For special events, there also is a Gewölberaum for 90 people and a Tafelraum for 20 people. Finally, the courtyard provides space for up to 200 people.

Pictures: The Delicious Food in the Weinstube

Cornelia Rumpf said: “Among the most favorite classics of our guests are our braised hog jowls with green beans and roast potatoes as well as our Winzerschmaus with green salad, which is cheese and bacon in a potato-bread dough. Depending on the season, we replenish our menu with typical seasonal dishes.”

What Georg Poured

The Kruger-Rumpf Portfolio comprises about 40 different wines. About 20 of them are Rieslings, ranging from a simple “Literwein” to (dry) Grosses Gewaechs wines and (noble-sweet) icewines. Then, there are less than 10 other white grape varities, with the focus on Burgundy grapes. The remainder is comprised of red wines (Pinot Noir) and bubblies.

Pictures; Christian G.E. Schiller and Georg Rumpf in the Garden Restaurant

Weingut Krueger-Rumpf sells 70% of its production in Germany and exports the remaining 30%. Accordingly, “80% of the wines we produce are dry wines” said Georg “ and 20% are fruity-sweet and noble-sweet wines.”

Terry Theise’s Kruger-Rumpf portfolio comprises 9 wines. His selection reflects very well the American market: there is no red wine and only one of the 9 wines is a dry wine, all others are fruity- sweet and noble sweet.

Here are the wines, I tasted with my (CS) and Terry Theise’s (TT) comments (which I put for the wines that are imported into the US by Terry Theise). For the complete Terry Theise selection and what else he wrote about Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, see here.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Weisser Burgunder, trocken

CS: fresh, clean and crisp, mostly fermented and aged in stainless steel.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Weisser Burgunder “S”, trocken

CS: “S” means selection. It shows white fruit on the nose with floral, with pear notes and a hint of vanilla, rich on the palate, with more spices and a bright finish. Fermented and aged in large oak barrels. Kruger-Rumpf also makes Pinot Gris, a Chardonnay and white Pinot Noir, which I did not taste.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling SCHIEFER, trocken

CS: Smooth and rounded on the palate with layered fruit, minerality and good acidity.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling QUARZIT, trocken

CS: I lovely wine for every day consumption. I bought a case of it and took it with me to the “Bring-Your-Own-Bottle” opening party of the European Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 in Brescia, Italy. In the “Terroirweine” compartment, Georg makes a dry SCHIEFER and a dry as well as a sweet-style (feinherb) QUARZIT (see below)

2010 Muensterer Riesling, trocken

CS: With bright aromas of peach, pear, chalk and slate minerality, quite lush on the palate, fruity, minerally and clean, a hint of natural spice with lovely acidity and lingering finish.

2010 Binger Riesling, trocken

CS: Crisp green apple aromas with undertones of herbs, refreshing on the palate, good acidity.

2010 Muensterer Kapellenberg, Riesling trocken

CS: Upfront, ripe stonefruit and pear aromas.

2009 Dautenpflaenzer Riesling Grosses Gewaechs

CS: Dautenpflaenzer (and Pittersberg) are the top grand cru vineyards of Kruger-Rumpf; quartzite alteration with loess clay.

TT: They feel this is the best GG they have made. I’m tempted to agree. The overall effect is stern, but the heavy tread lands a deep blow of terroir, smoke, lemon and violet, with a stony-earthy foresty length. The wine isn’t easy, but lovers of a certain craggy austerity will find a rare pleasure.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling SCHIEFER, feinherb

TT: From the GG Pittersberg. If you want to know why he cannot use its name on the label, write to VDP, La-La-land, “Twisted In Knots” cul-de-sac. They’ll explain. This wine is effectively dry, that’s to say that any normal sentient taster would find it acceptably dry if dry were what he insisted upon. There’s a classic slatey fragrance with notes of quince and balsam; a tangy palate with a pleasing gingery sourness and smoky length.

2010 Muensterer Rheinberg, Riesling Kabinett

CS: Rheinberg is the steepest of the three “Erste Lage” vineyards, on weathered quartzite and dusty loam – “similar to Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck” according to Georg.

TT: Ah, 97˚ Oechsle. I mean, good grief. Since it is a Spätlese, and a “star” Spät at that, it needs more RS than in lighter vintages. There’s some tonka-bean sponti aromas; a large-scaled tangy appley palate, granular and fibrous. You get a 1-2 class upgrade to a lovely (and not all that sweet) Spät.

2010 Muensterer Dautenpflaenzer, Riesling Spaetlese

TT: I sometimes wonder whether any Scheu sneaks into this wine; it’s so exotic, and they have Scheu in the site…and this ’10 is salty and lovely and oh-so-slightly grassy, and again it’s green, Chartreuse and verbena, a whipsaw of steel, mint, quince and smoke; determined yet also gracious.

2010 Binger Scharlachberg, Riesling Spaetlese

CS: Scharlachberg is located in Rheinhessen, across the Nahe river, soil: quartzite alteration with slate.

TT: Only 400 liters (about 42 cases) were made. Nearly 100˚, a sponti, whole-cluster pressed; a rapturously flowery aroma, with another hint of grass; on the palate a surprising whomp of stern power on the back; the fruit is green again but there’s an orchid-y kelpy kick of yuzu below the giddy floral high notes. Not an easy wine, but it’s one of those your mouth isn’t quite big enough for.

2010 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spätlese

TT: The cat has to peek out from amidst the thickets this year, but the wine is like a paperweight in its concentration of substance and weight; really piney and limey and Riesling-like – but this will change, and its inner Beelzebub will emerge.

2009 Muensterer Pittersberg, Riesling Auslese

TT: At this point this was only the second Auslese (other than Catoir) I let myself select. I told myself I had to be overwhelmed. And wow, this is sensational, a momument of Nahe-Riesling; 56-year-old vines, 122° Oechsle with 25% botrytis, and the reputation of ’09 will rest on wines like this, a swollen mass of apples and crushed rocks and walnut- extract; infinitely rich but not blatantly sweet; salty, like a tarte flambée with slices of apple.

2009 Münsterer Pittersberg Riesling Eiswein “Goldkapsel”

TT: First offering. These are both astonishing wines, and you owe it to yourself to see what the real thing is actually like. All due respect to the Canadians, but it’s too easy, and it shows in the wines. The “lighter” of these – at 180˚ - is a fascinating elixir, salty and malty and wintergreeny, an essence of Pittersberg that will age elegantly; these are not sugar-heavy acid-freaky Eisweins. The Goldkap is of course riper and richer yet amazingly still transparent, albeit massively plummy yet still brilliant; has a fat and salt sweetness like a cidery miso brine you use for pork-belly.

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