Andreas Barth studied Law and Music but decided, with the support of his interior designer wife, Susanne, to turn to wine-making. He is almost entirely self-taught except for a couple of modules at the famous wine school at Geisenheim. In 1994 they bought an estate on the outskirts of Koblenz on the not very well-known Lower Mosel called Lubentiushof. Sounds grander than it was… But with a run-down cellar came 2.5ha in Gondorf, which is what Andreas was most interested in. It was tricky starting with no customers – but the first two years went well. Then with all the radical work he was doing in the vineyards there were two years when the vines went into shock yielding just 15hl/ha! Now, having recultivated vines that had gone to seed, he has 5ha – many between 35-85 years old. He only uses natural yeasts, and is virtually organic.
Daniel Deckers, a journalist on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Paper encouraged him to go for the vacant Kellermeister position at the large, historic Von Othegraven estate in the Saar. He now works there one day a week, keen to fill the vacuum there and polish the slightly jaded reputation. It’s exciting to work with historic vineyards like Kanzemer Altenberg. “In the Saar there is a homogenous geology within each vineyard. There is often a slight sparkle within the blue slate which means there is a high oil content. Whereas here on the Lower Mosel in Gondorfer Gans there is some blue slate too, but here it is mixed with red and yellow sandstone/slate and quartz. It’s as if someone has taken all the minerals and shaken them up! To give you an example of the effect: if you can expect 24g of mineral extract on the Middle Mosel, you find 27g on the Lower Mosel.” With the low yields and very late harvest in the vineyard, the high extract of diverse minerals and finally a very, very long fermentation, these wines are surprisingly less floral when young, much tighter and more restrained but packed with information and explosive potential! We tasted from three vintages and the oldest, the 2001s, were definitely showing signs of brilliance. His late release 2003s after extended lees contact and the best part of a year in bottle now taste amazing. Fascinating, deep textures and fabulous length.