Whereas the world’s Northernmost production regions are famed for their bubbly, Germany has never really been a major player when it comes to sparkling wine. Its white wines are what it is famed for and it is recently winning appreciation for its red wines, particularly those based on Pinot Noir.
The reason for this is probably the fact that most wineries use Riesling to make sparkling wine. There’s nothing wrong with this but, through experience, I’ve always found Riesling Sekt a little unrefined: rarely does the relatively powerful Riesling fit too well with the acidic touch expected in sparkling wine: often the wines are too sour, too off-balance and feel like their much-cheaper compatriots in the racks below from huge Sektkellereien named after fairy-tail characters or a Champagne house famed for its sponsoring in F1.
Things are changing though
Alongside a handful of specialist producers of only sparkling wine: Schloß Vaux, Kessler and possibly even (the conglomerate-owned) Geldermann, the best bubbly comes from established wineries. I believe the following three offer great drinking and brilliant value-for-money. All three are relatively new on the market and are appealing to audiences never really particularly interested in Sekt – the buyers of Champagne who have recently realised that most of what is on sale in supermarkets is best left there – 40€ for some fancy packaging and a mediocre wine is quite-frankly taking the…
Van Volxem 1900 Riesling Brut
Whilst ‘1900’ might not be that new, it is a revival of a popular style of sparkling wine that has made a welcome return to the fine-dining scene all over Germany. The Saar was home to many makers of sparkling wine who, back in the day, were as famed for their wine as the makers of similar stuff a few hundred miles to the West in France.
Van Volxem’s 1900 Brut is made using grapes from particularly good parcels of vineyard in the world-famous Saar region. The Riesling vines grow on first-class slate soils and the final wine is fermented for a second time in the bottle for up to five years creating a particularly elegant and aromatic wine.
Tasting Notes (2008)
On the attack are sweet lime and lemon notes with a profound acidity that quickly turns into a full body of stone fruit: particularly nectarine. The finish was characterised by a slate feel which worked well with a shortbread-like note and some floral elements.
Berry Bros. and Rudd
Reichsrat Von Buhl Riesling Brut
Again, Von Buhl have been making a sparkling Riesling for a very long time but the latest vintage is very different (2013). Whereas before it was just like any other decent winery effort with the Riesling grape, the 2013 wine is better altogether.
Made from selected grapes in Germany’s Pfalz and under the watchful eye of Matthieu Kaufmann (famed for his work at Bollinger), this wine offers a complexity that is seldom in young sparkling wine. There is an immediate elegance which reminds straight away of Champagne but, thanks to the sharp, sour Pfälzer Riesling grapes, the wine offers a beautiful drinkability and freshness.
Tasting Notes (2013)
A Sharp attack with plenty of vibrant citrus: lime juice and lemon peel. In the body are yellow fruits: yellow plum but also apple and gooseberry, the finish is bone dry, slightly sour and remarkably fresh.
Markus Schneider Bubbly
When it comes to defining new directions in wine and launching innovative new products, one young Pfälzer sticks out more than most: Markus Schneider. Launched in 2014, his new bubbly is made up of hand-picked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Left on the yeast for nine months, the wine becomes incredibly complex and yet, at the same time, so easy to drink. The grapes are grown at higher altitude creating the 'just-ripe' notes required for a traditional sparkling wine.
Tasting Notes (2013)
The attack is rather reserved and feels reserved at first. It eventually gives way to notes of tropical fruit: pineapple, banana and everything in between alongside a refreshing citrus feel. The brioche note at the end reminds of well-made French bubbly although the whole thing is so much easier to drink – calm and cool but also full of energy – something that somes up most of Markus Schneider’s wines.
German Wine Agencies