Fatter, rounder. Sometimes earthier. Much closer to France in style. Some standout growers.
Borell-Diehl (Hainfeld) ORGANIC/VEGAN
Thomas and Annette Borell-Diehl and their winemaking son Georg can trace their family history back to 1619. Their house is on a tight bend in the picturesque village of Hainfeld between Neustadt and Landau, on the Weinstrasse (Wine Street) that runs alongside the forest – the northern end of the Vosges.
Access into their house and winery was so tight that they recently built a new, larger cellar on the edge of the village. They have 32 hectares and, like many in the area, make a wide range of wines including Riesling, Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauer Burgunder (Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio) and Pinot Noir/Spatburgunder. They have multiple dry Riesling bottlings from different soils; Bundsandstein (colourful sandstone), Muschelkalk (chalk, thick with fossil deposits) and Schiefer (slate). Their entry-level dry Riesling, in litre bottles, is zesty and limey – a thirst quencher. The Weisser and Grauer Burgunders are creamy and broad.
The Pinot Noirs are fabulous.The Pinot Noir 2017 is made in 10-12 year-old big oak barrels, so there is no discernible presence of oak notes. Perfumed, expressive and intense. Their Kupperwolf (copper wolf) is from a single vineyard and raised in a new French oak barrique. All their Pinot Noirs spend 4-5 days soaking on their skins. There is some whole bunch fermentation, depending on the vintage.
Pfirmann (Wollmesheim/Landau) ORGANIC
We came across a Pfirmann Spatburgunder at Moro Moro, a restaurant attached to Daniel Nett’s Landhaus in Neustadt-Gimmeldingen.
Before taking over from his father Otto in 2000, Jurgen Pfirmann studied at Neustadt and Bad Kreuznach. He went to school with Karsten Peter, the young winemaking star at Gut Hermannsberg in the Nahe. Jurgen isn’t doing a bad job either!
He and his wife Sabine have delicious Spatburgunder/Pinot Noirs and a range of whites (more on these shortly).
The entry Spatburgunder is from 12 year-old vines, a combination of Mariafeld M1 and Freiburg Clones. Early picked for freshness, it spends 10 days on its skins and is raised in 3-8 year-old barrels.
The Kalkmergel Spatburgunder is from 10 year-old vines (the 777 clone from Morey-St-Denis) grown on chalk marl and raised in 2-3 year-old barrels. It has a gently autumnal nose and much more texture in the mouth.
We were also struck by the aromatic whites. An excellent, classic, exotic Gewurztraminer and a startling, dry Gelber Muskateller (yellow Muscat) – all lychees and spice.
Busy, busy, busy. Bernd Philippi, the estate’s energetic owner, and Axel Heinzmann, the cellarmaster, make one of the great dry Rieslings of the world from the Saumagen (sow’s stomach) vineyard outside Kallstadt towards the northern end of the region. They have all the dizzy, tropical notes of Pfalz Riesling along with the steel and presence of the finest dry Rieslings from Alsace, but with their own utterly distinctive character. Not one to sit still, Bernd has established new estates in Portugal and South Africa with well-known Rheingau grower Georg Breuer. Busy. Busy, busy. Got to go.