K.H Schneider, located in Nahe, has long been a favourite of ours here at Vine Arts. Nahe is a small region in Germany with a hugely diverse array of soil types. It is known for brilliantly vibrant Rieslings, that are more concentrated than those of Mosel and typically more lithe than those of its other neighbour, Rheingau. Its diversity of soil types and its relatively youth place in German wine law have led to a wider range of grape varieties to be planted in Nahe. Riesling only makes up about a quarter of the plantings, leaving almost 75% of vineyard to grapes like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Dornfelder. Andreas Schneider is thought to be one of Germany’s up-and-coming winemakers. Usually thought of for their delectable Rieslings, K.H Schneider also makes some unreal red wines. Often, the red wines of Germany are overlooked due to their awe-inspiring Rieslings. While the reputation for outstanding Riesling is certainly deserved, the heavy focus on this signature German grape casts a long shadow over the potential of other grapes; it is hard for producers to justify as much dedication, in terms of time or premium land, to grape varieties that will not see as much acclaim at home or abroad.
This wine, however, is the exception to that rule – in part because of the influence of local wine personality, Peter Vetsch! Andreas Schneider of K.H Schneider came to visit Alberta and was a little perplexed at the enthusiasm Albertans had for his crunchy, juicy Dornfelder, which is a grape that is thought of as simple and easy drinking at home in Germany. Back and forth conversation between Peter Vetsch and Andi Schneider about what a wine from Dornfelder might taste like if given the same care and attention as Riesling lead to this project. Andi Schneider just happens to have Dornfelder planted on a premium plot of land in a vineyard called Domberg. This vineyard is planted with Andi’s oldest Dornfelder on remarkably steep slopes composed of iron-oxide rich rhyolite soils. Usually the grapes from this vineyard go into Andi’s red blend called “Trilogie”, however, it is from here that the grapes for this single vineyard Dornfelder were harvested in 2018, which was a particularly favourable vintage for red wines due to its warmth and sunshine. The influence of these conversations about how delicious Dornfelder might be if it was given a bit more love, paired with a perfect vintage, lead to this wine being made!
The grapes were cold macerated for several days before being allowed to spontaneously ferment in open top wood vats. Just before the conclusion of alcoholic fermentation, the free run juice was transferred to three neutral French oak from Burgundy. The alcoholic fermentation was completed in barrel. The wine spent 12 months in barrique before being racked off and blended. The three barrels blended together were then returned to their barrels for 6 more months before bottling. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The most distinct of the three barrels was chosen for the final wine.
While single vineyard, old vine Dornfelder may not be making waves the world over, we’ll happily guzzle it with pleasure here in Alberta! Bottled with Peter’s name of the label, this wine is particularly special due to the very local influence on this German wine.