We reach for the glasses, noses approach the rims. Expectations and curiousity. These glasses contain something special. It is not that often you are poured a wine from ungrafted vines. This Palatine Riesling is an exception. Old vines, original vitis vinifera rootstocks. We smell, taste and scribble in our nootebooks. Expectations met.
Siegrist √rudus 2010 is mindblowing. Riesling at its best. Graceful aromas of petroleum, citrus, minerality. Delicious complexity. Plus that pure, cristal clear impression. A wine steeped in the hallmark of Siegrist, elegance.
According to the wine list, √rudus officially qualifies into the third level of elegance. We, we would put it on the fourth and highest.
The grapes comes from an old plot in the Leinsweiler Sonnenberg. Old Riesling vines, slowly but surely reaching the end of their time on earth, perhaps only five vintages more to harvest. Sad, because this is a marvellous wine. Aged one year in new barriques, something we wouldn’t have guessed, but on the other hand not surprising to learn. Barriques is another hallmark of Siegrist.
We sit in the “probierstube” and have tasted a range of beautiful white wines before reaching the √rudus. The first impression we got at the Sommelier’s Day in Gothenburg has been confirmed. Weingut Siegrist, Leinsweiler, Pfalz, Germany, owned by the families Siegrist and Schimpf, is the origin of the most delicious wines.
The white wines dominate Siegrist’s production, counting for about 70%. Riesling is on top of the list with 30%, followed by Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. However, Thomas Siegrist decided early on to go seriously for the reds. The result are beautiful Pinot Noirs, but let’s start with the whites.
When we arrive, we get a copy of the wine list. As being one of the first winery visits on our Pfalz-Baden wine tour, we are not (yet) used to the multitude of wines. The list makes us a bit overwhelmed and slightly confused. It comprises about 30 wines. We through a glance at Monika Dapprich with slight despair in our eyes. What to taste? Then Monika asks us to turn the paper. And see! Another long list of wines, the top qualities. In total almost 50.
Later on our journey we understand that these long wine lists are common. No, not just common, it is the standard. Many grape varieties, many plots with different soil and micro climat and many quality levels. A big share of the wines are sold locally and we are explained that there is a demand for the large range of wines. Although confusing at first. As newcomers in the region we need some guidance to find the “passion line for wine lovers”. So we gratefully take the advice from our hosts at each winery and learn.
Siegrist’s wines are divided into four quality levels corresponding to the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) classification:
- The entry level line of VDP.Gutswein is named Solidus, latin for “solid” (and originally the name of a Roman gold coin).
- Concretus, the VDP.Ortswein, comes next. The mid line, where the wines so to say get more serious, more concrete.
- Then the Primus, wines from the prime vineyard plots, classified as VDP.Erste Lage.
- On top of the quality pyramide, the Grosses Gewächs from the very best plots, the VDP.Grosse Lage, that is the Grand Crus.
The common denominator throughout the four quality levels is elegance. The wines share a graceful clarity and purity. Add thereto exquisite aromas in layers of nuances, an attractive vibrating nerve and a backbone of precise acidity and you have some of the touchable components of the Siegrist elegance. We find these elements already in the Solidus entry level, they grow in the Concretus and reach a delicate crescendo in the Primus and Grand Crus. Four levels of elegance.
From Solidus, the entry level, we taste some nice 2013 including young, fresh and variety true wines from Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. The still Pinot Noir Blanc de Noir gives an impression between red and white and we agree when Monika suggests it to be a lovely companion to lightly spiced Asian food, for example with some coriander.
The Solidus Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is a rather new arrival in the Siegrist grape family, included when Thomas Siegrist’s wife Gisela came up with the idea for the replanting of a plot. It has the typical Sauvignon Blanc cursors, but expressed in a nicely restrained version. Fresh, light and clear with minerality. As a charming gentle summer breeze.
Siegrist is a renowed barrique pioneer in the region and the practice was already in the mid 80ies an important part of the winemaking. Since some years the wood has its origin in the Pfälzerwald, i.e. the Palatine forest, the home of slowly growing oak trees.
“We cut the oak in the Pfälzerwald and then send it to a cooper in Burgundy where the barrels are made. The quality of the Palatine oak is so good that the French now come and buy it for their own barrels,” Monika tells us.
Barriques are used both for red and white wines. The √rudus Riesling is one white example. In the Concretus line it is usual to give a part of the wine some time in barrique. Reaching Primus and Grand Cru level, barrique ageing is rather the rule.
From the Concretus line we taste a beautiful quartet of 2012:s. The Riesling Heidenbäumel is gentle with nice body, precise and clear, stylish, delicious and pure. The Chardonnay Hagestolz lovely with restrained power and a delicious texture. The Pinot Blanc is almost crispy with nice body, luscious floral notes and minerality. The Pinot Gris charming, tight and very dry.
“We like the wines as dry as possible,” says Monika. “Very often people in the region say that Siegrist makes the driest wines.”
As the attentive reader perhaps already has noted, Siegrist uses consequently the international (French) names of the grapes. Easy for many not that familiar with the German names. For example is Pinot Blanc the same as Weissburgunder. And, when mentioning that grape, we have to admit that it is here, in Siegrist’s tasting room, our new crush for Weissburgunder really takes off.
If the Concretus Pinot Blanc sowed the seeds of Weissburgunder passion, the Primus Pinot Blanc Lössriedel 2012 consolidates the love. Grapes from a soil of six to eight meters of dusty loess, which gives a delicious creamy texture, complexity in flavours, nerve and tension. Elegance in a nutshell.
Siegrist’s Chardonnays impressed us already in the entry level. The Hagestolz added to our admiration. When we reach the Primus line, i.e. the VDP.Erste Lage, we meet the Chardonnay Reserves. Raised in lightly toasted oak from the Pfälzerwald, seductively pure, balanced and complex with almost eternal length. 2011 more powerful than the 2012. Both exquisite.
To round of the tour of dry whites we return to the Leinsweiler Sonnenberg, right across the village from the winery. A beautiful southfacing slope with calcareous soil, where Siegrist owns a good part, 2,5 hectar of the total eight. A grand cru slope for Pinot Noir and Riesling.
We taste the Sonnenberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2009. It is gorgeous. So much Riesling, with a promising life ahead. The fourth level of elegance.
And the Pinot Noirs? To be continued…
You first read the story “The four levels of elegance” on Lovely Wine Grapes. All posts on Lovely Wine Grapes about our visit to Weingut Siegrist in March 2015:
- Siegrist, Pure Palatine Gems
- Siegrist Hagestolz 2012, the successful son
- There Must be an Angel
- Four Levels of Elegance
- A Message from the Gods
- The Sonnenberg Tears