We do love a good German reformation - One minute you’re farming turnips in the dark ages, the next Martin Luther’s banging an eviction notice on the door of the Vatican, and Nietzsche’s knocking off God so we can all feel guiltless about selling our souls for a Mercedes-Benz. Wine is the latest, and in our mind most significant aspect of German culture to undergo a reformation. The wines of Germany have long been renowned for their quality by those in the trade and it has been a perpetual source of frustration for sommeliers that German wine has remained underrated. A mixture of the British markets 40-year hangover from mass produced Liebfraumilch, higher sweetness levels of some quality wines, the prevalence of classic, Teutonic labels and of course, funny German words like Anbaugebiete, limited their appeal to some wine drinkers.
This is definitely changing however, with young, trailblazing vintners producing exceptional, terroir driven wine, with a focus on dryness, modern styles, and with many producers working with organic, biodynamic and minimal intervention practices, German wine is becoming down right cool. This August, Jenny (Oddbins Buyer) and a team of Oddbins shop managers (Vahagan, Bertrand and Dave), visited Germany for a buying trip and were stunned by the strikingly modern styles on offer, the passion of the current generation of winemakers and the sense of place delivered in the wines. These were the producers who’s wines we couldn’t resist bringing back to the UK and selling in our stores!
Anette Closheim produces modern, premium wines grown on the banks of the river Nahe. She supplies the sommeliers of top chefs and was the first female winemaker to win the "Riesling Discovery of the Year" wine world award. Luckily for us, she also agreed to sell her wines through Oddbins!
In a short time, Anette Closheim has made a name for herself as a winemaker. In the 150-year-old winery owned by her family, she grows highly ripe grapes, with a focus on the purity and concentration of the fruit.
Anette studied wine business and was initially a product manager for a range of Single Malt Whiskies and premium vodkas.
Thanks to these influences, the wines are presented in casually elegant bottles backed up by the quality of wines which are a testament to the dedication Anette commits in the vineyard and the winery.
Alexander Gysler started his winemaking career in two wineries in Germany in 1992, where he honed his now prolific skill for working with sustainable winemaking practices.
After this he decided he required a greater understanding of the theory of viticulture and vinification so in 1995 he began studying in Geisenheim. During his years of study his father, Gernot Gysler, got seriously ill and so Alexander took on the duties of the family winery along with his university work. In 1999, when his father unfortunately passed, he took control of the winery and initially worked with very conventional winemaking practices, as his father before him had done. His early vintages were fermented with cultured yeasts, at cold temperatures, in an international style.
However, after a few years he came to the realisation that his wines were the same year on year, like an industrial product. Thus, he changed to organic farming in 2004, in part because he wanted to make wine that was more representative of the regions terroir and partly because this was the year his first child was born, and he didn’t want to expose his child to herbicides or pesticides. A year later he converted to Demeter and is now enjoying his natural wines and vineyards. His wines have a purity and intensity that would suggest his biodynamic practices has paid dividend.
In 1896 the brothers Walldorf founded today's winery "Walldorf" in the heart of Rheinhessen, in Saulheim. Much has changed in over a century of fine winemaking, with every generation shaping the winery and the wines in their own way.
Since 2012, Max Dexheimer, the fifth generation has managed the family business. The most significant influence Max has had on the Weingut Walldorf estate is a focus on minimal intervention winemaking. Vineyards are cultivated and maintained according to biodynamic principles, while in the winery the team with wild yeasts and an incredibly long fermentation period to create original, characterful and expressive wines.
Weingut Walldorf focus on wines made from Riesling, Sylvaner, Weissburgunder and Spatburgunder.