The wine world’s upstarts and outsiders
Experimental winemakers are abandoning traditional, restrictive appellations
May 17, 2019 Financial Times
"At the end of last month, I discovered how a group of producers in Baden, in south-west Germany, are reacting to what they see as overbearing restrictions. To qualify as Qualitätswein, their wines have to be accepted as typical of their geographical provenance and winemaking traditions.
Yet so many here want to explore non-conventional grapes and winemaking methods that a substantial proportion of the most interesting Baden wine is now sold as Landwein. Theoretically, Landwein has lower status than Qualitätswein but, judging by last month’s Landweinmarkt in the town of Müllheim, south of Freiburg, it is in considerable demand.
Hanspeter Ziereisen, a woodworker and asparagus farmer turned winemaker, has become a bit of a ringleader; his wife Edel is the major organiser of the Landweinmarkt. The event was inspired by Ziereisen’s frustration at being excluded from official wine events, despite making wine that he feels is better than many conventional competitors’.
Edel told me that her husband slumped into a three-month depression when his 2004 Steingrüble Gutedel — treated to a long, slow, enriching fermentation with indigenous, not added, cultured yeast — was first rejected as a Qualitätswein because it was judged too unlike its more neutral counterparts.
The Ziereisens then asked their distributors about the likely impact of their wines losing the Qualitätswein designation and found that they were all perfectly happy to sell them as Landwein.
A total of 22 producers from all over Baden participated in the Landweinmarkt. Many of the most interesting wines were Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Chardonnay and the convincing local speciality Gutedel (Chasselas), but there were also Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
, Syrah and the hybrids Cabernet Blanc and Souvignier — by no means all sanctioned by local rules for Qualitätswein. Too few of them are exported so far but they are far from inferior."
RECOMMENDED BADEN LANDWEIN PINOTS
These wines should be of serious interest to those looking for better-priced alternatives to red Burgundy.
- Brenneisen, Chätsch and Molassefels Pinot Noir 2016
- Enderle & Moll, Buntsandstein Ida and Muschelkalk Pinot Noir 2016. UK importer Newcomer Wines, US importer Vom Boden and Fass Selections
- Max Geitlinger Spätburgunder and Maximal Pinot Noir 2016
- Greiner, Steinkreuz Spätburgunder 2017
- Michael S Kintz Spätburgunder 2015
- Hanspeter Ziereisen, Jaspis, Rhini and Schulen Spätburgunder 2016 and Jaspis Alte Reben Spätburgunder 2014. UK importer Howard Ripley, US importer Skurnik Wines
Tasting notes on JancisRobinson.com. Follow Jancis on Twitter @JancisRobinsonFollow @FTMag on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first. Subscribe to FT Life on YouTube for the latest FT Weekend videos
A version of this article is published by the Financial Times. See tasting notes on Purple Pages.