We’re delighted to introduce to the portfolio this month, three new wineries and 20 new wines from Germany that are over two years in the sourcing.
We had a trip to the Rhine Valley all booked for April 2020, the first full month of lockdown all across Europe as Covid upended our lives. This was new territory for us so, as tough as it was, we waited it out until last August until we could get into the vineyards and wineries in person, meet the owners and winemakers, and taste the wines from bottle, tank or barrel as appropriate. And what an insightful, enjoyable and valuable trip it was, with three truly outstanding additions to our portfolio.
First up below is Weingut Bischel, located in the village of Appenheim in the Rheinhessen (or ‘Wine Heaven’ as we called it), the largest of Germany’s 13 wine regions on the sweeping left bank of the Rhine. Gentle giant and all round cool guy Christian gave us the tour of the family estate, getting our hands in the dirt and eating our way through handfuls of tantalisingly close to perfectly ripe grapes while gawping at the views. By the end of it, everything was “das cool”.
One quick note to any nervous nellies whose teeth still jangle at the thought of those sweet German wines a lot of us got sick on in the 70s and 80s. The domestic market and vast weight of production in Germany today is for bone-dry styles, in both the whites and the reds, mirroring consumer demand in Italy, Switzerland and Germany’s other major export markets. Unless marked by us as “off-dry”, all these wines are crisp, thirst-quenching and dry as a bone. If you love the refreshing zestiness of New Zealand whites or savoury earthiness of Burgundy reds, you’ll be right at home here. In fact, we think you’ll be in wine heaven too.
Brothers Christian and Matthias are the third generation of winegrowers at the Bischel family estate in Appenheim, a small village near Mainz in the northern Rheinhessen wine region. During the 60s and 70s grapes were grown to sell to bigger wineries but by the 1980s, Christian and Matthias’s father Hartmut was bottling the wines under the family label.
The brothers took over from their father in 2006, changing a lot in the vineyards and cellar — reducing yields, working more organically, and critically moving to purer and drier wines in line with the modern market both domestically and abroad.
The focus is on Riesling and Pinot-varieties (Pinot Blanc, Gris and Noir), as well as possessing a big passion for Chardonnay. On 20 hectares they grow vines in four villages, the terroir dominated by limestone, quartzite and slate, or volcanic soils — “great conditions to do what we like to drink” according to the boys.