Rheinhessen, Pfalz and Baden Wines
No lesser an authority than Jancis Robinson observed last year that "Alison Flemming MW is helping Yapp source some interesting Germans" going on to praise Jürgen Hofmann's 'Steinberg' Chardonnay 2017 as being "outré" and "very charming" with "excellent balance" and recommending it as a "stunning white wine for the festive season." That is particularly pleasing as Alison deserves credit for her efforts on our behalf and Jürgen is a gifted wine-maker. As well as the afore-mentioned barrel-fermented Chardonnay, which is from a single vineyard in the north of the Rheinhessen, Jürgen produces a superb Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) with delicate pear aromas and an ethereal palate of white stone fruit with a crisp dry finish. He also makes an excellent Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) that has a bouquet of dark cherries and a juicy red fruit palate with deftly-integrated oak and supple tannins. His wife Carolin is an accomplished Winzerin too so he doesn't have to go far for a second opinion on malolactic fermentation or fining agents.
We are delighted to have secured enough stock to once more feature the 2013 vintage of the Staatliche Weinbaudomäne Oppenheim's Riesling in this list. It hails from the celebrated iron-rich red soils of the 'Roter Hang' escarpment and is really showing the benefits of bottle age. Decanter magazine admired its "crystalline purity, lime fruit and zest" and the Spectator averred it to be a "classic of its kind" and "mouth-wateringly fruity." A rare blend from several parcels, due to extremely low yields, it is a definitive 'W.I.G.I.G' – When It's Gone It's Gone.
The Pfalz, which lies to the north of Alsace between the Rhine and the lee of the Haardt Mountains, is Germany's second largest, driest and sunniest wine region and is a rich source of well-made and well-priced wines. Our best-selling and great value Pinot Gris vom Kalkstein from free-draining limestone soils amply illustrates why German wines are gaining traction on export markets. Bottled under screw-cap with a modernist label it has bright orchard fruit scents and flavours underscored by nervy mineral notes.
Based in the village of Rhodt unter Rietberg, Stefan Meyer cut his wine-making teeth in Austria and California before taking over his family's 16 hectares of vineyard in 2011. An advocate of 'minimal intervention', Stefan's wines are very poised and precise with bags of varietal character. His 'Aus Rhodt' Chardonnay is vinified in vat and barrel and has a ripe stone fruit bouquet and rich palate of puréed apple with a smooth texture and a fresh acidity. Its style will appeal to white Burgundy enthusiasts - as will its price - which is very competitive versus Burgundy. Staying on a Burgundian theme, Stefan also deploys small berry yielding 'Dijon' clones of Pinot Noir to produce another 'Aus Rhodt' bottling that has proved hugely popular. With dark hedgerow berry scents and a core of kirsch supported by gentle tannins, it drinks well from release but will cellar well for 3-5 years. New to this list is a supple 'Rhodter Klosterpfad' Syrah, a rarity in Germany where there are less than a hundred hectares under vine. With a black fruit bouquet and briary plum and damson flavours and peppery undertones, it shows the Pfalz in a very pure light.
The Klumpp brothers' organic vine holdings extend over 25 hectares in the Kraichgau district of Baden. Their Auxerrois has a bright bouquet of yellow stone fruit with a palate of ripe apples offset by nutty nuances. Their Pinot Noir, from the Weiherberg vineyard, has a wealth of dark autumnal berry scents and flavours offset by fine-grained tannins and a wonderful mineral tension. Equally impressive is their 'Cuvée # 1', which is an unusual (possibly unique) blend of 50% Blaufränkisch, 20% Saint Laurent, 20% Pinot Noir and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. With ripe red fruit aromas and a fresh and juicy cherry and redcurrant palate, it makes a fine partner to grilled red meat and charcuterie.