Weingut Ziereisen is based in the German village of Efringen-Kirchen, on the eastern bank of the Rhine and only 15 kilometres from the Swiss city of Basel. This puts it into the Baden wine region, Germany’s warmest, third biggest and longest wine region (Anbaugebiet), mirroring much of the Alsace wine region on the west bank of the Rhine. In fact, Baden is so long that it is divided into nine different districts (Bereiche); Ziereisen are in Markgräflerland which is the second most southerly.
Their philosophy is based on minimal intervention, using natural yeasts and avoiding filtration (which they believe strips out flavours).
They make a wide range of wines. Gutedel – also known in Switzerland as Fendant and in Alsace as Chasselas – is the local speciality white grape in Markgräflerland. Believing it to be under-rated, they pick it at low yields, macerate the must on skins before fermentation, and mature the fermented wine on its lees.
Pinot Noir is the chief black grape here, known by its German name of Spätburgunder – literally “late [ripening] Burgundian [grape]” Different blocks are vinified and bottled separately, and are given different amounts of exposure to oak depending on the fruit.
Other grapes grown in their vineyards are Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. They also source Riesling from Rheinhessen, Wurtemburg and the Mosel to flesh out their range.
Here are the Ziereisen wines which stood out for me at the Winemason tasting earlier this year:
Ziereisen Heugumber Gutedel 2015 (11.5%, RRP €17 at Green Man Wines & Mitchells)
The proof that makes the pudding – a delicious Chasselas! (and no, Monty Python fans, not Château de Chasselas) The (relatively) warmer climate of southern Baden helps to make this a fruity and approachable wine, though with a fine mineral streak through it. Moderate alcohol makes this a perfect lunchtime tipple!
Ziereisen Baden Blauer Spätburgunder 2015 (13.0%, RRP €21 – stockists TBC)
The different style of label compared to the other reds below is deliberate – it signals that this is an approachable wine and that it is made with bought-in fruit. It’s still a mighty fine Pinot Noir, however – full of fresh red fruit and well balanced. Maturation in old 3,500 litre barrels means there is no oak influence on the palate.
Ziereisen Talrain Baden Spätburgunder 2014 (12.5%, RRP €30 – stockists TBC)
The Talrain vineyard has clay and iron over limestone, adding heft to the wines grown there. With its red and black fruits it actually made me think of Black Forest Gâteau – though it also has a meaty, umami aspect – and somehow the two don’t clash! This is a classy wine that deserves consideration alongside good Burgundy.
Ziereisen Rhini Baden Spätburgunder 2011 (12.5%, RRP €49 – stockists TBC)
The Rhini Spätburgunder is the top of Ziereisen’s range, and it has more of everything – more time in oak, more tannin, more fruit, more earthiness and more meatiness. It needs more time to settle and open up than its stablemates, so this 2011 is just starting to sing. This is a serious wine which could be all things to all men (and women, and any other gender you choose!) It’s far from cheap, but I think the quality in the bottle definitely justifies the price.
Another Brick in the Wall series:
- Part 1: Turner-Pageot
- Part 2: Germanic Whites
- Part 3: Ziereisen of Baden
- Part 4: A Medley of Whites
- Part 5: Pittnauer
And I’ll just leave you with a snap of Hanspeter Ziereisen’s T-Shirt: