Wednesday, November 10, 2021

French and German Clink Different Wines Salute Sustainability During COP26

The #ClinkDifferent media campaign showcases German and French wines with their winemakers in an effort to create awareness for an American audience. Spreading the word about these wonderful wines is a good enough mission – but this time the idea of sustainability took the program up a notch.

On today’s media tasting, four passionate winemakers expressed their strong views on creating sustainability in the vineyard and winery and using agricultural practices that make winemaking better for the environment – and for the resulting wine. 

Johannes Hasslebach is winemaker for Gunderloch, a winery that has been in his family for six generations. He explained that they just finished their conversion to organic this year. He has been making an effort to bring biodiversity to the steep, rocky vineyards in the Rheinhessen.  Beyond his own winery, Johannes leads a sustainability initiative for a winegrowers organization known as the VDP (Verbrand Deutscher Pradikatsweinguter.)  The Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett 2020 he presented was full of tangy lime notes, minerality, and fresh acidity.

Claire Villars-Lurton of Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal, said her goal for the wine is to express the complexities of the vineyard in the bottle. She acknowledged that it is difficult to be low-intervention with Bordeaux weather, but they have made great strides and have operated biodynamically for 15 years. She notes, “We have to improve all the time.” Claire presented a natural wine with no sulfites, the Ceres de Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal 2020.  The wine had cranberry and eucalyptus aromas. On the palate, this is a big wine with lots of personality and notes of cherry lozenge and blackberry.

Claus Burmeister makes wine at one of the oldest wineries in the world – Burg Ravensburg in the Baden wine region is 770 years old! When the event host noted that the alcohol on his Pinot Noir was below 13%, Claus said “We don’t need to power up our wines.” He believes in finding the perfect moment when grapes have ripeness that will give wine freshness and energy.  Claus is passionate about soil management and aims to increase the capacity of the soil in his vineyard to store water. When talking about his shift to organic winemaking, he notes that the natural fermentation (without use of commercial yeasts) works perfectly, and that the wines show more character and energy. His Burg Ravensburg Sulzfeld Pinot Noir 2017 offered dried cherries and sage on the nose, and on the palate there was more dried cherry and fresh herbal notes. The wine had well integrated tannins and a long finish.

Finally, Jean Baptiste Cordonnier from Chateau Anthonic in Bordeaux discussed how he has been passionate about rebuilding living soils.  Noting the important role of plants in taking carbon from the air, he says “We have in our hands part of the answer to global warning.”  He spoke enthusiastically of a garter snake coming inside from the property and how inspired he is to create a biodiverse environment among the vines. His Chateau Anthonic 2016 was one of the more classic in style among the four wines we tried. It had lovely dark blackberry fruit and hints of green peppercorn on the palate. The wine had a long finish and was a satisfying, big wine with a delicious, lingering finish. 

While many of us have attended to the serious climate news out of Glasgow over the past weeks, this conversation with winemakers who were so committed to sustainable practices was truly uplifting. The winemakers themselves had distinct personalities and their wines did as well. While the Ceres is not yet available in the states, the other wines we enjoyed are able to be purchased here.  Cheers to #ClinkDifferent for showcasing the important subject of sustainable winemaking in a fun tasting session.



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