I visited Germany earlier this year as part of my regular work out with the racy wines of this most beguiling of countries. I love the cuisine, the humour and the general way of life and have always found it strange that I would never actually put my money where my mouth was and ship some of her wine to the UK. So I arrived with my usual preconceptions and worked my way through the schedule of producers having all these confirmed for me: sweet or dry, racy floral wines, lime, tall bottles, men and women confirming the stereotypes of this most excellent wine region. So I thought I would have my fix and keep my powder dry.
On day two I was absolutely astonished to meet a group of producers who I felt would give most of our other producers a run for their money in camaraderie, youthful zeal and open minded experimentalism. Not least of all they had, in the main, shed the shackles of their ‘fathers’ and were now eschewing weedkillers fungicides and chemicals in general and favouring natural ferments, natural production and wines that kicked my preconceptions in to, what is commonly known as, touch. I could have worked with any number of names I met and frankly may still do so. But one caught my eye, one above all. I tasted their wines blind among many and every cuvee stood out, and, on visiting, I was captivated by the spirit and enthusiasm, as well as the ability to convey their message, and above all the vineyards and the wines they produced. This producer is Weingut Thörle.
In 2006 Christoph and his brother Johannes have worked together, having left their jobs, to take care of the family domaine in Saulheim, a little inland from Oppenheim and the mighty Rhine. The vineyards lie on a mixture of light clay, limestone red sandy loam and in places flint and schist. All vineyard management is now undertaken organically with a move to biodynamic imminent, a brave step given that a lot of producers still believe this to be akin to witch craft. In the cellar, the work in the vineyard is allowed to sustain by allowing natural ferments and minimal handling. In some instances the wines reflect a more salt/mineral character, a style that they have found naturally occurs in dry Rieslings from the calcareous soils. The Lagen, or single vineyard wines (Cru) are exceptional for their expression and Holle being the most impressive of the lot. What also captivated the imagination was the Spatburgunder, or Pinot Noir, which is a wine that carries all the delicate, fragrant hallmarks of the variety as well as the unmistakable smoky, sappy nature of the region. It is sublime.
- 2012 Riesling Feinherb
- 2012 Riesling
- 2012 Riesling Kalkstein
- 2011 Riesling Holle
- 2011 Spatburgunder Saulheimer