Visit to the Baden Wine Region in Germany September 2017

I took a trip to Baden, which is the southernmost of Germany's wine regions. It is primarily a long, slim strip of vineyards between the Black Forest and the Rhine River, extending around 400 km/240 miles in length. Nearly half of the vineyards are planted with Burgunder (Pinot) varieties: Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc). Gutedel (synonymous with the Chasselas of France and Fendant of Switzerland) is a specialty of the Markgräflerland district between Freiburg and Switzerland.

Baden map

Wineries visited

Weingut Ziereisen, Markgrafenstr. 17 , 79588 Efringen-Kirchen

Weingut Zierreisen

Zieriesen's website says:

"Our philosophy is that wines should reflect their provenance as purely as possible. This is why we treat our vines and wines with great care by minimizing chemical treatments and filtration. In the vineyards we try to make use of the traditions that our ancestors passed along to us. We produce muscular wines. Not sumo wrestlers but decathletes; smooth, elegant, strong, and athletic."

Strength and balance is our target. We aim to achieve a balance between acidity, tannin, alcohol, and aroma. Our wines reflect their vintage. No year tastes quite like another."

Weingut zeireisen cellar.JPG

Specifically for the red wines:

"Strong body, identifiable minerality, as well as dense acid/tannin structure are the main characters of our Pinot noirs. While we don't seek to copy it, the Burgundian style is our inspiration. In order that our Pinot noirs reflect their place of origin we bottle each separately as Tschuppen, Schulen, and Rhini. These are the old names of each terrain, arranged in ascending order of density and volume. Rhini, especially so, needs a couple of years to open.

The climate and terrain of our vineyards in the Efringer Oelberg are excellent to grow Syrah. This grape variety, originating in France's Rhône valley, here results in a leaner style. Reminiscent of Syrahs produced in northern Rhône, it's evocative of chili pepper, herbs, and red fruits. 

We maintain that each filtration strips taste from wine, something we wish to avoid. As with all our reds, our Syrah is bottled without filtration. By allowing it two years in barriques they fall bright of their own accord. Still, it's normal for our wines to have a small amount of fine deposit.

Our higher level reds and whites are matured in German wooden barrels from the Assmann Büttnerei, a family-run cooperage located in the Franken region."

zeireisen tasting.JPG

We focused on the Pinot Noir's for tasting and the experience was pretty underwhelming. Many of the lower priced wines under 20 euros were heavy in tannin and acid and not in line with their philosophy of "We aim to achieve a balance between acidity, tannin, alcohol, and aroma." Even the pricier offers of 30 euros plus though smoother with better aromas were high in tannin more suited for cellaring rather than immediate drinking despite a 2014 vintage. On the whole disappointed for quality versus price and may be a reflection of its proximity to the Swiss border and Basle.

Weingut Salwey, Hauptstraße 2, 79235 Oberrotweil at the Kaiserstuhl

Weingut Salwey

The Winery Salwey in Oberrotweil in the Kaiserstuhl is family owned under three generations, with Konrad Salwey currently the chief wine maker who was able to lead the tasting. The winery was previously run by Wolf Dietrich who tragically died in a car accident in 2011. 

Salwey is an English name and the family home was originally in West Prussia. A Salwey ancestor fought in the Crusades in the middle East. The family had to flee in January 1945 via Danzig and Berlin to Wolf's mother's home in Oberrotweil and here the winery was established in 1950.

Konrad Salwey

The Pinot Noir's tasted were the Gutsweine Kabinett and they describe them as "They offer a sense of place through a distinctive and fruit-driven character, always at a tremendous value.  Perfect for every occasion.". In addition Reserve Salwey RS Late harvest Pinot fruit from their best vineyards. Described as "Complex with a nuanced acidity and rich, luscious flavors. Excellent with food.  A special wine for a special occasion or simply just to make you feel special."

Spätburgunder salwey

All the Spätburgunder wine 2014 vintage (and one 2012 which had a richer style) Kirchberg and premium Eichberg and Henkenberg vineyards (the latter two 29 and 39 euros) were excellent. Well balanced with super aromas and very elegant French Burgundy style wines. A recommended visit. 

Weingut Karl H. Johner GbR, Gartenstrasse 20, 79235 Vogtsburg – Bischoffingen

After studying oenology in Geisenheim, Karl Heinz Johner and his family moved to England where he worked as a winemaker for a big winery. There he was introduced to the international wine world seen through the eyes of a English wine lover.  He considered whilst Burgundy has a world-wide famous reputation, Baden which also produces the Pinot Noir or Spätburgunder grape, did not.  Yet both regions have similar winegrowing conditions. To unravel this mystery became the work of his lifetime.

Patrick, Karl Heinz & Irene Johner

Patrick, Karl Heinz & Irene Johner

The family say "winemaking means to preserve the “vineyard-born quality” of a wine."

There was an opportunity to try the winery's New Zealand and Baden Pinot Noir's, which were excellent quality and value. In addition they had a great Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend and dessert wines. We didn't try their reds. 

Very friendly family and great tasting with Patrick and Irene. The wines were rich and well balanced, fruit forward and ready for immediate drinking. No harsh tannins here. 

Since we were visiting the winery at the end of September the grapes were coming in for the start of fermentation. A busy time!