Up until recently, I'd never really appreciated Riesling as a decent varietal to make sparkling wine out of. It commonly appears off-balanced and over-acidic as bubbly creating an either undrinkable or unmemorable experience. There are however a number of wineries that are more than able to pull it off: Schloss Vaux, Bardong, Sekthaus Solter, Wegeler, Van Volxem, Von Buhl and a handful of others.
Few dare to pair the Riesling varietal with Brut Zero: a dosage-free wine with ultimate dryness and very-little to absolutely no residual sugar (also known as Brut Nature). I personally believe that Brut Zero is one of the best ways of experiencing terroir in sparkling wine: the missing dosage allows the wine to show off its natural aspects and what it is capable of on its own (albeit with a dash of yeast). Particularly in Champagne, the dosage can get in the way and blends the wine hiding particular elements of taste and, in some of the largest houses’ Brut NV products, is exactly what it is there for: continuity rather than individuality of the vintage and vineyard sites.
The winery of Immich-Batterieberg opted to produce their sparkling Riesling in this way and it is a brave decision: very few other Mosel producers do it and the slate soils with the cooler temperature already make wines very clean-cut and slightly acidic – opting out of residual sugar could create a dusty mouth-drier with piercing acidity and tooth-stinging harshness. This isn’t the case though, 'Jour Fixe' is one of the best Brut Zero bubblies I’ve ever had and, amazingly, it encapsulates the Mosel terroir, the trademark style of Immich-Batterieberg and serves as the benchmark of Brut Zero Sekt altogether.
Pale straw yellow in colour with a delicate and controlled mousse.
Lots of yeast and rye on the nose: like really crusty, brown bread and it is helped along the way with a decent helping of dried orchard fruit: apple and pear. The whole thing has a background aroma of pink grapefruit: both skin and juice and this really works well with the rye bread.
Green and yellow apples and pears are first on the scene: zingy Granny Smith-style acidity with the crispiness of green pear and the softer notes of yellow pear go into a citrus pre-chorus of lemon juice and grapefruit peel. The body is long, buttery, creamy and ends expertly on the toasty notes of brown bread on the finish: the creamy body is important for the finish: it makes it mild and controlled rather than harsh – the whole thing is big in style and yet remarkable delicate and astonishingly well put-together.
A fantastic sparkling wine: one that even the most-pampered fans of ripe, vintage Champagne would enjoy. The Brut Zero aspect is key to the individuality of the wine but also in defining its finesse: like the still wines from Immich-Batterieberg, the whole thing is bold, big and yet highly-refined. Drink it now or drink it in ten years: it’s completely up to you and, whenever you open it, you’re in for an addictively drinkable, unique Riesling Sekt – one of the best the Mosel and indeed Germany have to offer.
I too was impressed with the 2013 Riesling Brut from Reichsrat von Buhl (read my review here). After years of producing just another Winzersekt the 2013 Riesling Brut was the first large-scale proof that, after years of being otherwise mediocre, Riesling also works well in sparkling wine. With the bone-dry signature of new winemaker Mathieu Kauffmann, the Von Buhl series (in particular the still Rieslings) has come back out of the shadows and, alongside Dr. Bürklin-Wolf and Von Winning, is back at the forefront of Pfälzer Wein.
The 2013 Rosé Brut was released a few months after the Riesling Brut to much anticipation. Now sold-out, orders were limited to six bottles per customer – my handler was only able to sell me four bottles before he ran out as well, unable to replenish stocks.
The wine is made entirely of Pinot Noir (or Spätburgunder in German). Aged for no less that 15 months on the yeast, the grapes are sourced from prime vineyards in the Pfalz region.
An elegant salmon pink with rose-gold gleam and a fine mousse.
Very fruity and yet incredibly discreet – nothing perfumed, nothing too bright and yet remarkably fresh: raspberry, strawberry and a hint of grapefruit with a toasty (although reserved) note.
The attack is both refreshing and yet not sharp: the sweeter side of grapefruit, raspberry and the strawberry in the nose are the first to appear and make up the body with the tarty appeal of rhubarb – no bitterness. The finesh is nice and toasty but in no way compromises either the freshness of the wine or the discreet appeal of the sweet red fruit. A touch of vanilla is perhaps there but plays a very background role.
A very well-made sparkling rosé and one of the best value-for-money bottles available in the pink bubbly sector altogether. Miles better than nearly all of the Champagne wines that retail for twice the 25€ price tag, the appeal is that it is so fresh. Whilst you might associate German Pinot Noir with earthy, Cassis-driven wines; this is clean, modern and very elegant.
If you can get hold of a bottle, you will not regret it. If you already have some in the cellar, it drinks beautifully now and will do for a long time yet.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this product in the last few weeks, particularly in the German wine scene. We’ve seen a rather prominent journalist label it as one of the best Riesling sparklers ever to originate from Germany.
You see, whereas Germany is famed for its wonderful Riesling, sparkling wines made using this grape often feel clumsy and off-balance, German sparkling wine isn’t big and, up until recently, it didn’t seem like many people were doing anything about it. There are exceptions of course, the wines of Schloss Vaux, Kessler and, at a push, Geldermann are respected bottles and yet their international appeal has always been relatively low.
Recently a handful of wineries (renowned for their still wines) have been experimenting with sparkling wine: Van Voxlem (Saar, Mosel) for example with its fantastic ‘1900’, Markus Schneider (Ellerstadt, Pfalz) recently released his appealing ‘Bubbly’ and now Reichrat von Buhl with its simply named ‘Von Buhl Riesling Brut’.
What makes Von Buhl’s entry so interesting is that the persona of Mathieu Kauffmann is behind it: the man who made another sparkling wine house what it is today: Bollinger (Champagne).
I must admit, Von Buhl was one of the wineries that got me into wine – I used to drink cases of its simple Riesling back in the day and it was undoubtedly one of the wineries that opened my eyes to German wine and particularly Riesling. The Pfälzer winery is one of Germany’s best known and, despite having recently been overhauled, its labels are also the most recognisable.
Pale gold, faint sense of orange with a delicate and seemingly slow Mousse.
Very fresh to start, lots of apples, lemon peel, grapefruit and a handful of yellow fruit: yellow plums and perhaps a sprinkling of nectarine. The yeasty note together with the fruit reminded of baked confectionary rather than bread or brioche.
The Attack was very sharp and rather strong but also incredibly fresh: lemon-drizzle cake sprang to mind but perhaps the fruit could best be described with apple and yellow plums. A hint of gooseberry was to detect and the body took these notes, together with lots of acidity right to the end which seemed very dry and rewardingly toasty although not enough to compromise the freshness of the citrus-driven acidity.
A very unique effort and one that pays off – the acidity is harsh, long and yet provides the wines its uniqueness – the sour taste compromises nothing and, together with the fruit, actually is very pleasant and certainly refreshing – undoubtedly a wine well worth trying and one of the better sparkling wines I’ve ever tasted from Germany – there are Champagne influences: the acidity and dryness remind of well-made Champagne but, when you consider value for money (14€!), the 2013 Von Buhl Riesling Brut is an absolute bargain and makes its French cousins appear very expensive indeed!
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry