Grape varieties: Riesling
Our Northern climate is characterised by great annual fluctuations, which means that every year is full of new challenges. However, the foundations for our work remain the same:
- Old vines of which some have ancient roots that originate from the 19th century.
- Low yields that never exceed 60 hl/ha and frequently are as small as 30 hl/ha.
- Intensive ploughing up to six times a year.
- Very restrained use of chemicals: no chemical fertilisers, no herbicides, no insecticides and as few fungicides as possible.
In order to achieve the ideal maturity we use the greatest care when we work our vineyards and bring in our harvests.
Vinification and ageing:
All grapes are hand-picked and transported to the winemaking facility in small containers.
Depending on the vintage and the state of the grapes, cellar master Stefan Fobian decides whether the grapes are crushed first or pressed straight away. The size of the transport containers and press has been designed bearing our Fuder barrels in mind. Thus the grapes can be pressed quickly and individually. After the pressing, the must settles for 24 hours before it is racked into the oak barrels or the stainless steel tanks. The fermentation happens spontaneously and often stops by itself in the cool Scharzhof cellars long before the entire sugar content has fermented and the wine is dry.
In March the wines are racked off the yeast and filtered through a Kieselgur filter. At bottling the wine is filtered a second time - this time in sterile conditions. At each quality level the best barrels are bottled separately.
Only the Prädikat wines carry the name of the site on their label. What characterises our Kabinett wines is that the grapes are ripe enough to do without chaptalisation but have not yet reached the stage of overripeness. These wines are unique because the grapes in the cool Saar climate can be fully ripe while still having a low sugar content.
We use the name "Kabinett" purely in order to guarantee that the wine has not been chaptalised. Our Kabinett wines have an alcohol content of only 7 to 10 per cent. The fruity taste of these wines is often dominated by slate minerality and an acidity that is typical for the Saar.
Kabinett wines are sweet but due to their low alcohol content they taste quite dry depending on the vintage. They are fresh and animating when young but they can mature elegantly for ten years or more. In particular the Kabinett wines from the Scharzhofberg develop an enormous complexity during storage.
This Riesling displays aromas of corella pears and rosemary-lavender. It shows sweetness and bitterness in the mouth, with pure tarte tatin fruit, although quite dry through the middle. Lingering fruit and a bit of chewiness to finish.
The winter 2008/2009 was very cold and dry. In April however, the weather became fine, warm and sunny. By the end of the month a serious delay turned into a handsome advance. The first part of June was cooler and the flowering lingered until the 20th. All the time it remained dry and the water deficit was becoming critical. From the end of June until mid August a lot of rain fell and although it came as a relief to the thirsty vines it also brought a huge pressure of powdery mildew. In August the pressure eased and after August 15th, barely any rain fell. September too, was warm and dry, allowing the grapes that had withstood the mildew attack to ripen beautifully in perfect health.
Harvest began on October 12th. On the morning of October 15th, the temperature dropped to
-5°C and the frost killed the leaves. While it virtually stopped the photosynthesis, the frost also lowered the acidity a bit and it released aromas in the grapes. It remained cold for a week, allowing us to harvest without pressure and to select small quantities of excellent noble rot affected berries. On November 2nd it started to rain and after the 4th, we had considerable losses since the frost had damaged the stems and grapes started to fall to the ground. After a few rain-breaks we finished our harvest on November 7th. The average yield was around 32hl/ha but since we have replanted a parcel in the Scharzhofberg, the crop is slightly smaller than in 2008 or 2007.
The overall quality of the wines is very high. Because there was little Noble Rot, there will be plenty of Kabinett. Alltogether 2009 looks like a great classic vintage that might develop to compare favorably to such stellar years as 2007, 1990 and 1971.