Schloss Neuweier Mauerberg 2013 Weisser Burgunder. Historic walls & exquisite aromas.

Mauerberg, 3 km dry walls, 60% inclination. It is steep, we promise. Both arms and legs were needed to climb from one narrow terrace to another. The location is perfect, south facing and with the thick, high stone walls retaining the warmth at night. Robert’s walls impress, both on site and in glass.

Mauerberg Schloss Neuweier, Baden

We climbed the vineyard some weeks ago, guided by Robert with the surname Schätzle. He is since 2012 the proud owner of Schloss Neuweier and its historic vineyards. The walls of Mauerberg are several hundred years old and now under renovation by careful hands.

Schloss Neuweier, outside Baden-Baden in the north part of Baden, is renowned for its Riesling, but this time we pour an exquisitly aromatic Weisser Burgunder in our glasses. Almost a rarity. Only 4% of the 15 hectar of the castle’s mainly granitic vineyards holds Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc).

2013 is Robert’s second vintage on Schloss Neuweier. He describes the vintage as an challenge, but such a result.

Neuweierer Mauerberg Weisser Burgunder 2013

Schloss Neuweier, Neuweierer Mauerberg, 2013 Weisser Burgunder trocken, VDP Erste Lage 

Delicately aromatic with complexity: a kind of chalky minerality, fragent spring flowers, yellow fruit, apricot, citrus, all spiced by a pinch of dried herbs.
Medium bodied with balanced acidity, delicously palatefilling. Excellent length with complexity.
Lovely harmony. 

Robert’s wines are exquisite and delicate and this Weissburgunder is no exception. Beautifully crafted with character, aromatic and complex. Excellent!

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about Schloss Neuweier and Robert Schätzle:
– Schloss Neuweier, History and Charm.

Link to Schloss Neuweier’s webpage.

Neuweierer Mauerberg Weisser Burgunder 2013


The Moon in a Glass

It is said that Stradivarius had a preference for it. Old builders too. It is about wood, strong wood, cut when it is as driest and the pors as smallest. The romantic name moon wood comes from the point of cutting, made in the first full moon phase after the new year. The Menger-Krug family has cut moon oak and made barrels for wine from it.

The oak originates from Schwaben in the southwest of Germany and was cut in 2004. After drying, the cooper had to tackle it, but at first he was a bit doubtful. The wood was so hard, however the outcome was great. Four barrels, between 1530 and 3460 litres in size. In 2007 they were delivered and ready for the first vintage.

The grapes for the moon oak wines come from Pfalz and the Menger-Krug estate Motzenbäcker, more precisely the Paradiesgarten vineyard. Each year a Riesling and a Chardonnay are made. The must ferments on the moon oak barrels and then gets a rest of about 10 months on its lees. The label says “In mondeiche gereift”, matured in moon oak.

Marie Menger-Krug and the Motzenbäcker moon oak Chardonnay.
Marie Menger-Krug och Motzenbäcker moon oak Chardonnay.

Marie was at first not keen on the idea to put Riesling on the moon oak, but mother Regina was of a different opinion. She won. They tested. The result was excellent.

“The Riesling is not influenced of the wood as a Chardonnay, it does not get that oak character, ” explains Marie. “On the other hand, the vinification accentuates the pure Riesling character and gives more structure to the wine. No expert can say it has been fermented on barrel.”

Villa im Paradies and moon oak wines from Menger-Krug

2012 Motzenbäcker Chardonnay Spätlese trocken, Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten. In mondeiche gereift.
Delicate, fine fruitieness where apricots are emphasized in nose and on palate. Good body, fine texture and with a light kiss of oak. The Chardonnay character is clear. Very good length.  

2012 Motzenbäcker Riesling Spätlese trocken, Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten. In mondeiche gereift.
Pronounced nose with petroleum, complexity, citrus and a very light vibrating hint of wood. Fresh, with the acidity deliciously integrated. Grows and develops in the glass. Very good length. 

These are wines that speak to you and develop new dialects when resting in the glass. Real signs of quality. Furthermore, typical representatives of each grape, full of character, slender and with straight backs. Beautiful.

The fact that the Menger-Krugs plans to make more moon oak barrels, confirms that they are very happy themselves with the result.

Our time in the paradise, yes at least in the garden of Villa im Paradies, is coming to an end. Before we say good bye to Marie, we pose a last question: in five years, what has happened then, what is the vision? The answer is long, but we like especially one part of it:

“Have fun with the wine! Make straightforward wines. Play around, more extreme in a natural way.”

Thus, joy and a desire for experimentation. An attitude that promise good for the future.

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about Marie Menger-Krug and the wines from the Familie Menger-Krug:

Link to Villa im Paradies home page.  

Villa im Paradies-9580

Vineyard Pigs in Service

They come running when Marie calls. Curious eyes, happy smiles, expectations – will there be any treats? I raise the mobile and try to get some pictures. It all goes very fast. A snout here, eyes there and a pair of pale pink backs. Then some friendly puffs from a muddy snout on my knee. Do you have some goodies?

Marzi und Pan, Menger-Krug's vineyard pigs

This is no news. Already in 2009 German papers wrote about the Menger-Krug family in Deidesheim taking assistance of pigs to loosen the soil in the vineyards. Today the news is rather that the third generation, the curious couple  “Marzi” and “Pan”, are getting a bit too big. The dinner table is no that far away.

Marie Menger-Krug and the vineyard pigs Marzi and Pan.
Marie Menger-Krug and the vineyard pigs Marzi and Pan.

“The pigs was my mother’s crazy idea,” says Marie Menger-Krug. “It proved to work well. The pigs loosen the soil with their snouts and eat plants and insects. Then the hens come and pick smaller delicacies.”

Hens in Reiterpfad, Menger-Krug
The hens, happy to share the vineyard with the pigs.

The pigs are let out in the vineyard in autumn, after harvest. Then they have a lot of treats to feast on, not least the deliciously sweet grapes, left by the harvesters. While heavy machines would compact the soil, these four legged workers go with light steps. They work independently in all kind of weather, loosening the soil with their big snouts. Oxygen is let down in the soil at the same time as nutrution is added in the natural way.

Pig work border in Menger-Krug's vineyard in Reiterpfad.
The sharp pig work border.

To be sure that the pigs work the whole vineyard, some extra organic food is spread here and there. It is clear where they have been. The border between worked and unworked soil is sharp.

Marzi and Pan seem to live a happy pig life. Lively, sweet and curious. You get happy from seeing them. I don’t care about the trousers, muddy by Marzi’s (or was it Pan’s?) friendly puffs. I will gladly wash it away when we come back to the vinothek.

We are heading back to the garden in Villa im Paradies. There will be more specialities from the Menger-Krugs. What about “moon oak wines”? To be continued…

A film starring “Marzi” and “Pan’s” predecessors is available on YouTube:

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about Marie Menger-Krug and the wines from the Familie Menger-Krug:

Link to Villa im Paradies home page.

Rural Sparkling and Eco, with Marie Menger-Krug in Deidesheim

She loves to experiment, thinks about wine in colours and keeps pigs in the vineyard. Of course we wanted to meet her again; Marie Menger-Krug, one of the six winemakers who participated in Terrific Women Winemaker’s Day at Ästad Vineyard.

Today it is the 18th of March, just over a week since the event in Sweden, and we knock on the door to the pardadise in German Pfalz. Villa im Paradies is the first house on the left-hand side when you drive into Deidesheim from south, number 80 on the street with the so suitable name Weinstrasse. Outside, on the pavement, Easter flowers planted in boxes made of old pupitre. Oh no, that is not a coincidence. This family makes sparkling, as well as white and red wines.

The villa is big and white with wood shutters in light brown. The back garden also big, freshly roused in the early spring. On one side the vinothek, outside some high tables. It is popular to visit the paradise during season, to have a glass of wine or two and buy some bottles to bring home.

Marie turns up exactly on time and we dive directly into one of her specialities. That sparkling beverage, which turns out to be the subject of her diploma thesis at the wine university in Geisenheim. Then, in 2004, a garage wine, as Marie calls it. A very small edition, everything made by hand, by Marie, her mother Regina and with grandpa responsible for the bottling. The extraordinary? Méthod rurale, also known as méthod ancestral or artisanal.

Rurale, the old rural, original method, gives bubbles directly from the first fermentation. Unlike the usual, traditional method where a still base wine gets a new dose of yeast and sugar when bottled and then goes through a second bubbel creating fermentation in bottle. Méthod rurale is not common today, French Limoux is often mentioned as a place where it is used.

Marie picks the most perfect grapes, presses them and lets the must settle for a day. Thereafter cold fermentation in stainless steel tank with inoculated special yeast. When the residual sugar reaches 20-23 grams per liter, time for bottling and then the fermentation is completed in bottle. No sulphur is used during the whole process. Not until degorgement, when a small dose is added. ”The grape quality is exceptionally high,” says Marie, ”that’s why so little is needed.”

Chardonnay Méthod Rurale Marie Menger-KrugThe first commercial vintage was made in 2007, selling now is the 2009. Marie makes both a Riesling and a Chardonnay. Which one do we want to taste? We choose the latter and are poured the 2009 Chardonnay Méthod Rurale. Beautiful, clear golden yellow. Pure, fresch fruity with minerality. Round with distinct fizzieness on the tounge. Fresh feeling with good length of golden fruit and minerality. Special. Very nice. Delicious.

”This is nature,” says Marie. ”This is the pure grape, how Chardonnay tastes. Wonderful aromas.”

Marie Menger-Krug

Of course we wonder about the yeast. At Ästad Marie declared that she loves ”wild fermentation” with the yeast found naturally on the grape skins. In this case she inoculates cultured yeast, capable of working under high pressure. However, she did try to make a few bottles without inoculating. That was a couple of years ago.

”It worked!” declares Marie, but emphasises the high risk involved. Then she thinks for a short while and adds that she perhaps should make some more tests, as it could be ”the purest of nature”. So, perhaps there could be a larger experiment? At least it will probably be a conversation topic around the dinner table.

Because in the Menger-Krug family home, there is much talk about wine. Four generations live together, oldest  is grandma with her 93 years, the youngest Marie’s little one year old son. She has three small tractor loving boys together with her husband, winemaker he too. They met at Geisenheim.

The family winemaking roots dates back to 1758. Two estates with 80 hectar of vineyards are under the care of the Familie Menger-Krug. Krug’scher Hof in Rheinhessen comes from Marie’s father’s side and Motzenbäcker, adjacent to Villa im Paradies, from her mother’s.

At Krug’scher Hof in Rheinhessen there are five differet soils and several micro climats, fun when you, as Marie, wants to let the place take its place in the wine.

Krugscher Hof Wines at Ästad Vingård

At Ästad we taste, among others, a fine Krug’scher Hof Weissburgunder Keltic Terre 2013 from limestone. Floral, elegant nose and palatefilling fruitiness, apricots and minerality. Medium bodied with good acidity, pure and well structured. (We should have more Weissburgunder on our tables! A new learning from our trip. Such a good food pairing wine.)

”The name Keltic Terre,” explains Marie, ”is an hommage to the Kelts. They were in Rheinhessen before the Romans, they were wine producers and knowledgeable about nature and herbs.”

The grapes destined to the Krug’scher Hof Riesling Spätlese Herrgottspfad 2012, Marie’s favourite single vineyard, are grown in fatter soil, a total opposite to Keltic Terre. A beautiful Riesling with character: Citrus, stone fruit, white flowers and bicycle tires in a young, nuanced nose. Light on the palate, with minerality, pleasant fresh acidity playing peekaboo and fine structure. Good length, complex with some nutiness and grapefruit.

Back to Pfalz and we walk the few steps from the garden of paradise to the vineyard Reiterpfad, where row after row of Riesling vines sunbathe in the morning sun. We talk about grape growing philosophy. Sustainability.

The vines are neatly tied to the wire by willow twigs in artful knots. The Menger-Krug’s don’t like to use thin steel thread, as it easily can cut into the vine. Instead, they favor the old, traditional willow method.

Between the vine rows, cover crop rules. Grass, flowers and herbs. A deliberate strategy to create biological diversity and a favourable eco system. All vineyards are managed organically and they are certified.

”We haven’t sprayed for more than 20 years,” Marie points out to us. ”If we need to add some extra nutrition we use manure.”

Sustainable production in harmony with nature is the guiding star. Slowly moving inte biodynamics, the use of homemade ”teas” has been introduced (”made in our way and we don’t use any cow horns”) and the moon phases guide the harvest.

Motzenbäcker Himlen so nah Riesling, from Familie Menger-Krug

The sandstone soil in Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad (yes, this vineyard belongs to the adjacent village Ruppertsberg) gives life to the grapes destined for the Motzenbäcker ”dem Himmel so nah” 2013, Riesling Spätlese trocken, a wine served by Lufthansa in First class since seven years. Fresh, light with delicate fruity nuances where citrus, floral notes and a little vaxieness standing out. Good length with nicely integrated acidity. Yes, heaven is close. Elegant.

Then we come to the pigs… to be continued.

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about Marie and the Familie Menger-Krug:

Link to Villa im Paradies hemsida.

Herbs in Reiterpfad

Siegrist Hagestolz 2012, the successful son

We just couldn’t keep us from opening a bottle. Even if Monika thought it was a wine for autumn and winter. We also agreed that it would win if kept in the cellar a year or two. But we wanted so much, at least in our thoughts, to be back at Siegrist in Leinsweiler.

Hagestolz, the hardworking second son, got several exclamation marks in the note book already at our visit three weeks ago. And he would be a perfect match to our dinner, a large fillet butter-fried cod.

Seigrist Hagestolz Chardonnay 2012

Chardonnay did not have an easy life at the start of its Palatine career. When Thomas Siegrist said he was going to grow the grape on his land in the southern Pfalz people said “You don’t need Chardonnay here! Why do you do Chardonnay here?” Anyhow, Thomas planted it and today Chardonnay is accepted.

The name Hagestolz alludes to the grape’s tough start in the region. In former times, in German farmer families, the “hagestolz” was the second son. The first son inherited everything, while number two had to stay on the farm and work. A hard life.

Siegrist Hagestolz 2012 has got an easier start in life. From Siegrist’s Concretus-line, i.e. the wines above the entry level. Cherished organically grown Chardonnay grapes. 15% matured on new barriques for 6 months.
Light yellow. Nuanced with yellow fruit, citrus, butteriness, oak, a little bit of spicyness and incipient complexity. Very dry, pleasant integrated fresh acidity, medium bodied with delicious texture. Very good length. Rich, still with a light touch. Very good.
A kind of restrained powerfulness, this son is a success. Delicious already today, but, well, it was a bit early to open. Must admit that. We will wait at least a year, probably longer, before we enjoy the next one.

A good choice to the butter-fried cod with ditto vegetables: fresh onion, tender carrots and celery. Yummy!

Seigrist Hermes logo

We visited Weingut Siegrists in Leinsweiler in March 2015. All posts on Lovely Wine Grapes about our visit:

Links to Weingut Siegrist homepage and on Facebook.