The Pfalz lies between the Haardt Mountains and the Rhine, directly north of Alsace. Germany’s largest wine-producing region by volume has long been known for simple, inexpensive wines produced in large quantities. But it’s recently begun a trend back towards low-yielding, high-quality vines, thanks to a new generation of young, highly-educated winegrowers who took note of the world's thirst for intensely flavoured, robust wines. JL Wolf, Koehler-Ruprecht and A. Christmann are among the producers reshaping the reputation of the Pfalz.
Steffen & Sophie Christmann
The beautiful winery and home of the Christmann family can be found in the quaint town of Gimmeldingen in the centre of the Mittelhaart of the Pfalz, about an hour from Frankfurt & half an hour from Strasbourg, in the Palantine, that lies on the Rhine and connects Alsace in the north to the Rheinhessen in the south. The story of this brilliant & historic estate dates back to the 16th Century and the French Republic, that once ruled the village of Gimmeldingen as well as the greater Palantine region. In 1798 the area was transformed after the local nobility fled, and after the church were relieved of their sovereign rights, Georg Köhler, an ancient ancestor of the Christmann family, seized the opportunity to acquire some land and laid the original foundations of what would become the Christmann estate that we know & adore today. Skip forward a few hundred years & a few generations to the present day, and the estate today is managed under the watchful eye of the superstar father & daughter duo that is Steffen & Sophie Christmann.
Koehler-Ruprecht is one of the oldest, most distinctive wineries in the Pfalz region. It first came to our attention many years ago when the late, great Berhnard Breuer introduced me to Koehler-Ruprecht legend Bernd Philippi with whom Bernhard had partnership projects in Spain and South Africa at the time. Bernd later came to Australia for one of the Frankland Estate Riesling tastings to present aged examples of their most famous single-vineyard wine, the Kallstadter Saumagen. Years went by and it wasn’t until 2012 that I visited the winery for the first time, which is now owned by the Sauvage family of Burn Cottage fame. The time had arrived to bring these in, albeit in the tiny quantities in which they are available. Made using only the finest hand-selected grapes, which undergo spontaneous fermentation in very old wooden barrels, these amazingly long-living Rieslings buck the trend when it comes to what we have more recently come to understand as dry German Riesling. Variety is the spice of life eh?
It’s 20-odd years since Ernst Loosen decided to broaden his winemaking palette by taking on the JL Wolf estate in the village of Wachenheim in the Pfalz. The region lies between the Haardt Mountains and the Rhine, directly north of Alsace. The protective influence of the mountains makes this one of the warmer, drier areas of Germany. In actual fact, this is a wonderful place to grow ripe, healthy grapes and the team at Villa Wolf – with winemaker Patrick Möllendorf at the helm – take full advantage.
As with his intense and powerful Mosel wines, Erni aims to preserve the traditional character of the region and the grape variety but with a further level of concentration and opulence. Typically, wines from the Pfalz are weightier and drier than their Mosel counterparts and have a style that’s rounder and more earthy. These are clean, focused wines with good body, full fruit flavours and a strong backbone.