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October 17, 2010

A day at von Buhl - Part two

Due to being so incredibly busy with the planning of our new house, and all the ongoing festivities in the Pfalz that need to be visited, the postings here go slow... However, I want to continue reporting about our day at Reichsrat von Buhl, now that it finally is a grey day today:


After the harvesting job of the vineyard 'Deidesheimer Kieselberg', was done and the lunch consumed, we took a guided tour of about 1,5 hours through the wine fields, passing some of the most prestigious vineyards of the Pfalz. Those sites I want to get back to in an extra post later on.



Christoph Graf and Werner Sebastian were sharing lots of information and knowledge with us, explaining the different soils, training systems, vineyards, the biodynamical standards. We got to see the difference between sites treated with chemicals (from other vintners, not von Buhl sites), where nothing but burnt grass is left and sites that were full of lush green grass, flowers and plants. 'Sustainable soil management', a term often referred to in press and literature, became easily comprehensible. Sebastian Werner explained (among other) how they use filled cow horns and cow dung as opposed to chemicals. He himself cannot really explain the mechanisms, and he agrees it sounds like 'hocus-pocus', as many critics like to refer to biodynamic viticulture. But - what he can see, is the difference in how it works and how healthy the vines and grapes are each season. Of accepted 3 kg copper sulfates, they need only ca 900 g / year. Ca 750 work hours are spent in the vineyards during a cycle, which is expensive, but it helps to see problems and risks early on. Fast actions can be taken when trouble is on its way. Plus, vines and people build some kind of relationship, he explains. They care about their vines...
 Christoph Graf showing where the vine will be pruned before next year's growing cycle
(note that this is not a von Buhl vineyard though)
View over Forst and the famous vineyards Freundstück, Kirchenstück, Ungeheuer.

Of course, we were not to suffer (!), so a wine was served here too, before we walked back to the estate. Stuck (Qualitätswein trocken), a cuvée of Riesling and Gewürztraminer - quite interesting! I liked the complexity that was gained by adding the aromas of roses and lychee, but, frankly, I would probably have preferred a little less sweetness (7 g residual sugar)...

The label of this wine dates back to 1887, when the German artist Franz von Stuck, a teacher of Klee, Kandinsky and other famous artists, created it. At that time for a wine made of a field blend, where Riesling and Gewürztraminer were cultivated in the same vineyard and harvested together too. (Unlike today's cuvée, where the wine is blended from two individually produced wines.) This wine seems like a nice way to go back to the roots.
Once back at the estate, we were greeted with cake (again!) and coffee. My husband, a pure tea drinker, was even offered some black tea that someone fetched from the offices - great service! The Sekt-Bar was started up too, so everyone was happy and happier.

Now it was time for the tastings, which deserve their own post...

Then a cellar tour completed the harvesting experience from earlier, to see what happens next to the grapes we picked and to learn more about the estate. The estate that once was part of the Jordan estate which was devided into 3 smaller estates after the death of Peter H. Jordan. Franz Peter Buhl, the son in law and founder of the von Buhl estate, had already been responsible for the wines of the Jordan winery. His son, Armand  Buhl, took the estate to even greater success. During his years, the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal was celebrated with von Buhl wine and many grand awards were given. Smart marriages further saw to the growth of the estate. Unfortunately, the last von Buhl widow, Frida, passed away without heirs. So in 1952 the estate was given to a friend of her late husband Eberhard Buhl, in accordance to his last will. Difficult times came and hectars were sold off. Since 1989, the winery was managed by an investment group and today it is owned by Achim Niederberger, a local entrepreneur. Read part one for the details around today's ownership and management.

 
The barrique cellar

Sparking wine is done the traditional way

In these tanks the grape must is still fermenting.

After that, dinner was served. A buffé of Pfälzer food, hearty and aromatic, served with... yes: wine.

All in all a very nice day, I can recommend it for you next year! Go to www.reichsrat-von-buhl.de to sign up for their activities.

And stay tuned for my post about the tastings of the Grosse Gewächse and Sekt.

October 13, 2010

Oechsle

You keep hearing the expression 'Grad Oechsle' (or oechsle degrees), and don't really know wth it is referring to? A small summary for Oechsle beginners can be found here... where I wrote it for Invinitum's blog.