Column 2016.01.04

[Germany / Sacshen wineries]crystal of the history&culture"Schloss Wackerbarth"

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Schloss Wackerbarth


 A central institution for wine tourism in Sachsen, a beautiful Baroque castle, Schloss Wackerbarth, was built in 1730. Let me quote from the site of The German National Tourist Board. ` 'Saxony's finest' has always been Schloss Wackerbarth's philosophy. The estate was established by General Field Marshal Count Christoph August von Wackerbarth and it was Europe's first wine estate to be opened to the public. Its fame extends well beyond Saxony – not only for its still wines, but also for its premium-quality sparkling sekt` . According to our tour guide, Mr. Martin Jung, ` Annual visitors are 160 thousand. Monthly counts of event such as wedding, concert, reading, seminar, are 200`. Impressive. Is this a winery or an event complex? At a cellar door, I saw a lot of people kept coming during my stay.

East Germany 018-min (1)

In the years of GDR, this was one of the two government owned wineries and now it is owned by Sachsen State Bank. The size of vineyard holding is 104 ha and annual production is 600 thousand bottles. These facts might lead to an image of so-so quality of wine of mass production. Honestly speaking, when I drove a car to a huge parking lot in front of this huge winery, I felt that way. Seeing many party rooms inside the castle, I felt so even more strongly.

I was totally wrong. They were positively energistic and full of fun. Very distant from nice, well-made, but not inspiring mass wine which leaves me cold. My favorite wines which were most exiting were these three : Pinot Brut Nature 2007, a blend of 3 pinot family grapes and non-dose. The idea of non-dose itself is pretty wild in Germany where sweetness is always favored for sparkling wine. Edition 1950 2013, a co-planted & co-fermented of Riesling, Traminer, Sylvaner, and Grauburgunder. Gemischter Satz is very rare in Germany where mono varietal wines dominate. Radebeul Goldner Wagen Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2012, a dynamic and enigmatic Riesling which was wild-fermented and matured in large barrels with 10 months of sur-lie. This is very different from a sort of sanitized purity of mass Riesling.

 Mr. Jürgen Aumüller, the chief winemaker, is not a Suchsen native but was born in München. At the lunch table, he said, ` My father was a chief beer maker of a very famous, big beer producer and I had been surrounded by beer. When I told him that I wanted to become a winemaker, he laughed. Winemaking requires viticulture work and is tougher than beer making which is separated from farming. The most important part of beer making is getting good water. Any beer producer is built on the land where you can get it`. Sorry, the topic of our talk has shifted to beer from wine…..

East Germany 031-min

The talent rightfully inherited from his father, a wide view from outside, his own fun-pursuing and challenging attitude, so on. All of them are combined and blossomed with great terroirs of this winery ; Just look at beautiful shape of the vineyard behind the Belvedere. It looks like a Grand Cru. Average inclination of the estate vineyards is 20%. And the average yield is mere 30 to 40 hl/ha. Elements positively crash and create beautiful sparkles. These wines cannot be the works of an ordinary talent. I said to him, ` You are crazy, aren’t you? `. He smilingly replied, ` Yes, I am crazy! `. This kind of person can leave remarkable foot print on any wine he touches. Even ` the most basic wine for local consumption `, Bacchus, tastes surprisingly delicious. I had no memory appreciating inexpensive Bacchus in the past.

Bacchus and Kerner are planted on clay soil of Meissen. Pinot and Riesling are from porphyry near the winery where ` climate is warmest in Sachsen`. As I mentioned, I was more impressed by the later. Now I can think of the reason that winemaker’s talent, soil, and climate are yielding synergy and result positivity and wealth of expression.

Export percentage is only 2 to 3 %. It is unbelievably low for such a famous and large winery. Majority of production is consumed in the eastern part of Germany. Nothing wrong about it. It means the fact that their wines are supported by local people. If you cannot understand the idea of beauty of local wine, one of the most fundamental aspect of wine, the sense of place, escapes from your recognition.

Surprisingly, this winery full of history and fame is not a VDP member. Mr. Aumüller said, ` In fact, VDP representatives once came here and tasted our wine. And they praised our Gewurtztramier as the best in Germany. Then they said, `But this is Eeastern Germany`. They have bias against Eastern Germany`. Of course, it doesn’t matter to me if it is a VDP member of not.

Only thing I would like to request is improving the quality of viticulture. I asked him if he had interest about Biodynamics. He said, ` Sure I do. But I should not go too far, considering this organization, its size, and the cost of conversion ` . `How about the best vineyard only? Then it can be possible, I guess`. ` No. I do not like the idea of converting only one part of the vineyard to Biodynamics which many do. It is against the essential idea of Rudolf Steiner. What a deep thinker he is!

East Germany 017-min

[Germany / Sachsen winery] great terroir "Walter schuh"


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