Terroir. It’s a sense of place. It’s the expression of the earth, of the geology. Here on the Saar, like the Mosel that it feeds, it’s all about slate. The slate here sparkles with Quartz, which often gives the wine a dizzy, spicy, almost tropical character.
We always loved Dr Heidi Kegel, the charming former head anaesthetist from Cologne hospital, who was left the historic von Othegraven estate by a maiden aunt in the early 1990s. When we phoned she would say “what time would you like to come?” “How’s 11.00h? “Would you like to stay for lunch?” We have many memories of lunch with her, her husband and our friend Andreas Barth, her winemaker (whose Lubentiushof wines we also adore). There would always be a moment when she would say, Andreas, can you bring up something old from the cellar?
Unfortunately Dr Heidi became ill and decided it was probably time to sell. Enter Gunther Jauch, generally held to be the most popular man in Germany. An unassuming man, he’s a TV host and commentator, a national treasure, a kind of David Attenborough figure (without the nature programmes). Gunther is a distant relative of earlier owners and has brought a new energy to his new acquisition. The same team is onboard and Andreas was able to make some exquisite wines in 2009, a world away from the searing acidity of the old-school Saar wines. Effortless.
The estate only has Grand Cru vineyards on the Saar. Kanzem Altenberg (the magnificent steep slope behind the von Othegraven house), Wiltingen Kupp, Wawerner Herrenberg and the super-spicy Ockfener Bockstein.