Tag Archives: palatine

Wines without mascara

Add makeup-free  winemaking to organic grape growing and spice it with personal energy and intuition. The sum will be the Minges wines in a nutshell. A reflection at the same time as I resist the reflex to spit. This Riesling is marvellous. Still, according to Regine, from a medium year, that however later turned into one of the most loveliest vintages.

“Wine is not a ‘head thing’, it is a ‘stomach thing’,” states Regine Minges with a lot of energy in her voice. “That is why our wines are better in the bad vintages. A good vintage, and you think too much, just because you have the time.” There it was, the intuition which pops up quickly when we talk and taste some of the white wines from Weingut Theo Minges, Flemlingen, Pfalz.

Regine Minges, Weingut Theo Minges
Regine Minges.

The Theo Minges Riesling 2010  from sandstone has so much energy, tight structure and the clear acidity brings nerve. At the same time fine juicy aromas, honey, pollen, bicycle tires, peaches, tomatoes. Superb aromatic length. I find the words ‘can’t stop smile’ scribbled beside the tasting note in my notebook. Guess I must have looked peculiar for Regine, just sitting there silent, with a silly smile on my lips.

The 2010 was the last in a range of impressive Rieslings. The very special Froschkönig Rieslings you could read about in the previous blog post. But the day started, in usual manners, with a basic quality wine, in this case although filled with lovely ‘rays of sun in the glass’. The Riesling Aura trocken 2013 is light, mild with nerve.

“A yellow wine”, declares Regine. I raise my eyebrows and listen curiously. It is the second time in a week I hear someone say they think of wine and grapes in colours. Both of them young female winemakers. Riesling was yellow for Marie Menger-Krug too.

For Regine  it does not stop with colours. Wines are personalities, she thinks of them in pictures. Already in her early teens she made drawings of them. One a young girl with freckles, another more like a Renoir painting. Not peculiar that the Froschköning became the Froschköning, the Grimm brothers’ frog king with its golden crown.

Weingut Theo Minges Riesling

Then, entrance for a couple of potent spätlese trocken: First the lively, vibrant Riesling Spätlese ‘Buntsandstein’ trocken 2013 raised in stainless steel. Then the Riesling Spätlese ‘Kalkstein’ trocken 2012 which had ten months in wood barrels. So different from the Buntsandstein with a darker impression, dried herbs, oregano, thyme. High density, mouthfilling roundness. Would be a perfect pairing with white meat or grilled tuna spiced with herbs to match the herbiness of the wine. Can of course be stored some years. Regine and her family drinks the 2008 now.

Weingut Theo Minges is since 2008 a member of the VDP and consequently are the top wines marked GG, the short for Grosses Gewächs, i.e. the VDP Grand Cru-level. The 2012 is Minges first GG vintage.

Weingut Theo Minges Riesling Weissburgunder-13

The GG Riesling Gleisweiler Hölle trocken 2012, is made for a long and beautiful life. The vines grow in a soil of sand- and limestone. Raised in stainless steel on its primary lees. Strong, at the same time soft, fresh delicate acidity. Very dry, mouthfilling, white fruit, citrus, macadamia nuts. Eternal length. Excellent.

The GG Weissburgunder Böhinger Rosenkrantz trocken 2013 confirms our new love for this grape. Regine means it is a feminine wine and compares it with a Renoir painting. The soil of the Rosenkrantz vineyard is loess. In the cellar, stainless steel. Fruity, floral notes, a hint smokiness. High density, lovely creamy texture. Eternal length. Excellent. This is summer, with sunshine flowing and glowing.

Regine explains that the fundamental thesis is to keep a natural approach in the winemaking. The wines should have contact with the lees, but battonage is never used.  The respect for nature is high, emphasized by the recent organic certification in 2013. So, to keep things along the whole process natural, sound and sane. I would call the result truthful wines. Regine speaks of sensitive wines and sums up the philosophy with another witty statement:  “I like wines without mascara.”

We continue the tasting and the Rieslings are followed by a Burgundy grape. A true beauty, no makeup needed. The appealing Chardonnay Spätlese ‘Kalkmergel’ trocken 2011 with yellow apples and citrus, delicious creaminess, round impression, yet with fresh distinct acidity.  Proud and palatable.

Weingut Theo Minges Scheurebe

Scheurebe is a rather new acquaintance, but an acquaintance that based on today’s meeting has good potential to develop into deep friendship. Regine says the Minges are renowned for their Scheurebe and promises that it will develop beautifully for up to 30 years.

The lovely Scheurebe feinherb 2014, bottled just two weeks ago, shows a charming herbal character, almost dry, fine mouthfeel and good length. Its older brother, the Scheurebe Gleisweiler trocken 2012, is amazing. Complex aromas reminding of boxwood in spring,  smokey, dried herbs, fresh, dry, excellent length. Wines to line up and queue for. Only 8% of the production are ‘Scheu’.

A trio of seducing Gewürztraminers completes Regine’s selection for our tasting. The Gewürztraminer Spätlese trocken ‘Edition Rosenduft’ 2013  is medium bodied, dry, delicate with spiciness, roses and herbs. The Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2013, lightly sweetish, delicate elegant with roses, spices, cardamom.  Chic ladies, both of them.

Weingut Theo Minges Gewurztraminer Herrenbuckel

Finally, the sweet Gewürztraminer Auslese ‘Flemlinger Herrenbuckel’ 2012, marvellously delicious. Very spicy, litchie, quince, round, attractive body, eternal length. Complex aromas constantly developing in the glass. As Regine says, a wine that needs full attention. And she compares it with the ‘Lavendelzimmer’, the lavender room.

Then we are back where we started. The book traces to the winemaker. The Lavendelzimmer is a book by Nina George, translated into English with the title ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’. Regine recommends it. I’ve just finished it a couple of days ago. Sad and joyful at the same time. That is the difference compared with the wines, they are just joy, immense joy.

Then comes the problem. How should I be able to select which of the joys we shall buy and bring home with us? A sudden impulse and I do something I’ve never done before: “Regine, please, choose the wines for us!” A good choice and almost as Christmas Eve when the boxes are unpacked at home.

A big warm thank you Regine, for sharing your time, wine and passion. We will come back and we hope your next visit to Sweden will be to the beautiful, sunny westcoast.

Weingut Theo MInges

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about our visit to Weingut Theo Minges:

Link to Weingut Theo Minges’ website.

 

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Kisses for the frog king

A little green frog. In the world of fairytales not that cute, but instead fat and ugly. Certainly not a golden crown on the head. However, helpful and persistent. Magic is involved. A kiss from a princess, and wow, frog transformed into a handsome young prince.

Grimm Frog King and Princess

In Palatine Flemlingen the princess is named Regine. A kiss, and wow, a beautiful wine is brought to life. The king is her father Theo Minges, the kingdom Weingut Theo Minges.

“It was my father’s idea,” says Regine Minges. “The wine rests untouched in the tank, when opened, kissed awake.”

Well, the idea may be her father’s. The label is of princess Regine design. Der Froschkönig, that is the King frog in German.

Theo Minges Der Froschkönig

Riesling is the grape. Of course, the king of grapes.  Spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tank without temperature control. Dry or sweetish, nature will decide. No sulphur added, neither during fermentation nor when it rests in the tank on its primary lees. The tank kept closed the whole time. No tastings. After 18 months opened and the wine is kissed awake. Just like the frog king.

The fairytale brought into the world of wine. While sitting at the big table in Minges tasting room I suddenly get some pictures in my head. A cellar, a shiny tank and the princess of Flemlingen in beautiful frock throwing kisses. Tank opening, excitement, tasting. The sparkling moment, magic worked.

The first vintage  kissed was the 2007, the latest bottled the 2011. In cellar waits the 2012, which probably will get a shorter time on the lees, an experiment. Regine pours the 2011 and the 2009; time for me to throw some kisses.

Weingut Theo Minges Froschkönig Riesling 2011 and 2009The Froschkönig 2011 came out as a dry wine. Complex aromas with typical Riesling notes. Some bicycle tires I propose and notes how the aromas evolve in the glass while we are talking. Regine adds the idea of fresh bay leaves and fetches a leaf for me to smell at and compare. Yes, she is right. On the palate very clear and slender. Dry, the acidity fresh and integrated. multifaceted, excellent length. Such an attractive prince. Love at first sight.

Froschkönig 2009 is a breathtaking spätlese. Complex aromas, starting to get a mature touch. A delicious little sweetness, balanced by a fresh acidity. A very special, pleasant mouthfeel. Very complex with citrus, herbiness, bay leaves, bicycle tires. Very much Riesling,  full of character. Super long aftertaste. Elegant, handsome. Worth a stylish golden crown.

Delicious beautiful Rieslings, I’m seduced.

My little green garden frog and Theo Minges Der Froschkönig

So, that was the third clue from the pile of books, the children’s storybook by the Grimm brothers. (Even if the princess in my old book prefers to throw the frog in the wall instead of kissing it, but I like the romantic kiss version of the old folktale so much more.)

The Minges make some more beautiful wines, to be continued…

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about our visit to Weingut Theo Minges:

Link to Weingut Theo Minges’ website.

Regine Minges, Weingut Theo Minges
Regine Minges

 

Illustration above of the princess and the frog king made by Janusz Gabianski and found in my old storybook,”Bröderna Grimms SAGOR”, Albert Bonniers förlag, 1963.

From Minges with love

Books Grimm George TheiseThe winemaker is a she. The traces from the books lead to a small village in the south of Pfalz, Flemlingen.
To a big old house, adjacent to the vineyards. This is where she works with her parents.

“We do it together,” she emphasizes. “Many young winemakers say they want to do it their own way. Not me, I work together with my family.” Proud words from the eight generation in a winemaking family.

She is Regine Minges at Weingut Theo Minges. Daugther to Theo and Martina Minges. “…whip-smart and passionate and imaginative, and when you meet her you’ll love her immediately.” That is what Terry Thiese writes in his 2014 German wine report and presentation of the winery. I can just agree. Her passion extends all the way into her e-mails.

We meet a sunny day in March. She seems to have good relations with the weather god; in her e-mail confirming the visit she promised to speak with him, to give us nice weather for our very first Palatine visit.

Time flies with Regine. We talk a lot, about life, travel, friendship and of course of wine. We go and see the hens and ducks in the vineyard behind the house. It is the first time ever I’ve patted a hen, a beautiful black one. Then we taste the wines.

“We don’t just make wine, we make wine with all our passion and we hope you can taste it.” A quote from Regine’s e-mail, and a subject we come back to several times. “What we do, we do completely.” “There is a lot of feeling to make wine, as with making friendship.” “Wine, as well as relations with people, should be with depth. We do it with our hearts.”

The passion begins in the vineyards. 25 hectars, spread among the villages of Flemlingen, Böchingen, Burrweiler and Gleisweiler. Cared for with love. Organic growing since 2010, certified in 2013. Today with some biodynamic elements.

“We use the biodynamic parts that are good for our vineyards,” explains Regine. “There is no copy, paste. Your own feeling is so important.”

Weingut Theo Minges has a long history. The estate dates back to the 16th century, till then owned by the counts von der Leyen. The Minges has been in charge for eight generations and is today an acclaimed Palatine producer. Four stars in Eichelmann 2015, the German wine bible. Since 2008 member of the VDP. Personally, I’m just surprised that I have not found the wines in Sweden.

Regine Minges, Weingut Theo Minges

“Was it an obvious choice to become winemaker and join the family business?” I wonder.

Regine got involved in the business early on and grew early into the love of wine. She took care of selling the wine together with her mother. Saturday the big day, with a queue of people lining up to come in. Happy waiting, when they got a glass of wine, and, I guess, accompanied by enthusiastic, smiling words from Regine.

She comes back to the passion several times. It has to be there, otherwise you can’t live a happy life with wine. There is so much work behind every glass. Are you prepared for that? You must be sure. Is this what you want to do?

Regine worked two years at other estates before she started her studies. “Something more young people should do, to know if the passion is there, if this is really what you want to do.” For Regine, the two years confirmed her choice of career. Off to Geisenheim wine university she went. Winemaker she became. Since 2012 a contracted employee at Weingut Theo Minges.

Books Grimm George Theise-0343

What about the traces to the books mentioned in the previous post? Well, in the US, Theo Minges wines are included in Terry Theise’s collection and available through Michael Skurnik Wines. Thus, Theise’s “Reading between the wines” on top of the book pile.

The novel, Nina George’s “The little Paris Bookshop”?  A hard clue. Recommended by Regine. I promised to read. A beautiful story, causing both joy and tears, just as she promised.

So, that leaves only the third clue. The fairytales, gathered by the Grimm brothers, and a little green frog.

About a frog and a wine, to be continued …

The frog king. Illustration by Janusz Grabianski from "Bröderna Grimms SAGOR", Albert Bonniers Förlag 1963.
The frog king in my old storybook. Illustration by Janusz Grabianski in “Bröderna Grimms SAGOR”, Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1963.


Link to Weingut Theo Minges on the Internet.

Previously on Lovely Wine Grapes about our meeting with Regine Minges at Weingut Theo Minges in Flemlingen, Germany:

 

Marie by Marie

A cuvée of Riesling and Weissburgunder. Lively, with “some edges, tension and nerve,” as Marie Menger-Krug describes it. We tasted Marie when we visited Marie in Deidesheim. A charming wine for those this year so longed for sunny, fresh summer evenings. Marie’s first cuvée. But not the last.

Marie Menger-Krug

The new generation of German winemakers have new ways of thinking, she explains to us.  Such as making cuvées, blends of several grapes. Oh yes, there have been such wines before, but rarely quality wines.

The grapes for “Marie” come from the family estate Motzenbäcker in Pfalz. The cuvée is made of about 70% Riesling and 30% Weissburgunder.

Marie by Marie Menger-Krug“There is no need for more Weissburgunder than that, it has so strong character,” explains Marie. “You can feel the Riesling in the beginning, then comes the Weissburgunder in the middle and then the Riesling aromas dominate the aftertaste.”

Marie 2014 has fine perfurmed aromas with spicieness, floral with hints of oranges, citrus and a green touch. Nice palatefilling feeling, freshly crisp, green notes, stone fruit, pears. Good length, floral with citrus and some minerality. Charming! We would gladly pour some of this in fresh summer evenings. 

Marie means that “Marie” is a feminine wine. A subject we talked about already when we met at TWWD at Ästad Vingård. Feminine wines don’t have to be soft and elegant:

“To my taste, it could have a little corners, a little acidity and not a smooth character, but to be a vivid and sometimes loud wine. When you smell it you will have a symphony of aromas and I love the wines to be long in your mouth. So [feminine wines are] harmonic wines, but with tense.”

We look at the label together. Colourful flowers, painted with such an intensity that they seem to grow out of the flat surface of the bottle. It is a very special painting, Marie got it as a present from her grandparents when she was born. She explains why we find it on the label:

Marie by Marie Menger-Krug

“I have always seen the grapes and the wine in colours. Riesling is yellow. Weissburgunder is more feminine, elegant pink. The colours are here in the painting. The background goes towards orange, which stands for the feeling, the nerve in the wine, the tension and edges.”

Beautiful thinking.

“Marie” is Marie’s first cuvée. One more is already maturing in the cellar, “3 stars”, a cuvée from Rheinhessen. Will be exciting to taste when ready.

Villa im Paradies

Previously on Lovely winegrapes about Marie Menger-Krug and our visit in Deidesheim:

A Message from the Gods

On the picture, it looks like debris on the lens, some tiny grey spots against a hazy sky. That afternoon in March, the dots were part of a magical scenery. We stood on the top of the Kleine Kalmit and looked out over the rolling landscape in the backlight of a glittering sun. A glass of Siegrist Kalmit Pinot Noir in our hands. The debris slowly moving around. There are many of them, paragliders around the top of the mountain in the Palatine Forest. Calm silence, crispy air and charming wine. It was as if the gods of happiness hovered over the hill.

View from Kalmit

Probably is our association to the gods of happiness not that strange. We are now on the top of the Ilbesheimer Kalmit in German Pfalz, but a short while ago we were in Weingut Siegrist’s winery in the neighbouring village Leinsweiler.

In the winery entrance stands the Greek god Hermes and greets the visitors. The Siegrists are not just passionate about wine, they love the beautiful. Sometimes artists join their events. Hermes came to Siegrist on one of those occasions and he chose to stay.

“We think wine is a message from the winemaker to the world, just as Hermes is the messenger of the gods,” explains Monika Dapprich who welcomed us to Weingut Siegrist. “Hermes has become our logo, you meet him on all our wines.”

Hermes

We started to taste Siegrist’s white wines, an exploration of four levels of elegance, the hallmark of Siegrist. Now we head for the red side. When Thomas Siegrist started 40 years ago he declared early on that he wanted to go for the red wines. The older generation advised against, but he defied them. We are glad that he did.

Thomas Siegrist became a pioneer, inspired by travels around the world and not least Burgundy. He has turned ideas, such as serious red wines, use of barriques and organic grape growing, into reality. Vision and quality ambitions have come true and are now carried forward by the next generation, Thomas daughter Kerstin and her husband Bruno Schimpf, the cellarmaster of Weingut Siegrist.

Thomas still travels around the world to learn and get inspiration. He travels with his friends, winemakers from the southern Pfalz. They call themselves the “Fünf Freunde”, the Five Friends: Becker in Schweigen, Münzberg in Godramstein, Rebholz in Siebeldingen, Siegrist in Leinsweiler and Wehrheim in Birkweiler. All of them also VDP-members. They inspire and learn from each other, and they sometimes make wine together. The “Amici V” wines are cuvées with wine from each of the five friends.

Thomas Siegrist
Thomas Siegrist

Red wines are today around 30% of Siegrist production. Pinot Noir is the main grape, but other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Dornfelder and Merlot are also found in the vineyards. We focus on the Pinot Noirs, which are exciting to explore. Exquisite wines, where different soils give different expressions.

The southern Pfalz is a multitude of different soils from different ages. Not strange as the area is a continuation of the Vosges in Alsace, wellknown for its many types of soil. Here in Pfalz you can in just one kilometer find clay, then loess and then calcareous marl. Fascinating.

Siegrist’s 15 hectars of vineyards is divided on 70(!) plots. Not something unusual in this region. The very small plots is a result of the inheritance laws, just as in Burgundy. If the farmer had three sons, the land was divided among them, and so on, for generations.

“Sometimes we have like three rows. If you have ten, your are the king,” says Monika Dapprich. “Of course, it is a lot of logistics and sometimes our apprentices even get lost. On the good side is the spread of risk, for example with hail.”

Pinot Noir in barrique Siegrist cellarSiegrist approach to vinification is described as being based in tradition with the addition of modern technology. The grapes and must are handled with care. Gentle pressing, no pumping. Open fermentation of the reds. The reds usually get 18 months in barrique, normally without racking.

The result then, you wonder? Well, it is a jump directly into Pinot heaven.

The mid-line Concretus Pinot Noir 2011 is made of grapes from limestone. Lovely aromas of forest floor, compost, red berries and well integrated oak. Nice texture and fine grained tannins. The Siegrist hallmark of elegance is very present. Fabulous wine, fabulous value.

The grand cru originates from the Leinsweiler Sonnenberg slope, with its calcareous soil. Sonnenberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs 2008, gives a hint of how beautifully these wines will age. It has still a long life to live.

A sniff and a sip of the Sonnenberg and we dive into a deep clear well of multifacetted finess. The delicate complexity, the texture, the velvety tannins. The perfect balance, the clearness, the elegance.  Surely one of the most amazing Pinots we have tasted.

Siegriest wines

However, the Lössriedel Pinot Noir 2009 turns out to be a great contender to the Sonnenberg. Monika explains that the grapes come from a special clone of Pinot Noir with small berries that give a powerful, extractful wine. The deep dusty loess soil contributes with a delicious creaminess.

It is stunning. Delicate, complex Pinot aromas spiced by a light touch of toasted oak. Fruity with exact acidity. And that creamy texture and velvety tannins… The notebook says “you are in heaven”. Seduced by the gods.

We could have sat in the tasting room and meditated over the wines for hours, but it is time to move on. We will go and see some of the vineyards with Thomas and Monika. First to the Leinsweiler Sonnenberg and then to the neighbouring village Ilbesheim and the Kalmit.

View from the grand cru Sonnenberg to the Kleine Kalmit with its white chapel.
View from the grand cru Sonnenberg to the Kleine Kalmit hill with its little chapel, the white dot on top of the hill.

The view is beautiful from the Kleine Kalmit. The glittering sun through the hazy sky. The paragliders in the sky. The little white chapel. Vineyards around us, row after row of vines. Here, on top of the Kalmit, we taste the last of the Pinot Noirs.

Kalmit 2011 is young and beautiful. The wine is a bit cold, as the afternoon despite the sun has become a bit chilly. But we warm the glasses with our hands and feel the harmony and energy.

No notes taken. Solely enjoyment. Even so, we can’t miss the unmistakeable message from the winemaker and the gods: this is the essence of elegance.

Siegrist Kalmit Pinot Noir 2011

Do the gods send tearful messages? To be continued…

You first read the story about “A message from the gods” on Lovely Wine Grapes All posts on Lovely Wine Grapes about our visit to Weingut Siegrist in March 2015:

Links to Weingut Siegrist homepage and on Facebook.

View from Kleine Kalmit a magic afternoon in March.