TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Wine Rambler on the road: Lake constance views and wines from Aufricht

Posted by Julian 07 Jun 2009

Unexpected pleasures are the most enjoyable. We had confidently expected to spend the best part of this first day of the pentecostal holidays stuck in traffic jams. But no, for once we actually managed the early start we always try for and reached the half-stage of our usual drive to the black forest, lake Constance, in good time and in beautiful early-summer sunshine, and what's best: with extra time.

I had had Aufricht, the rising star winery of the region, and arguably the lake's best, in the back of my mind for some time, and clearly, it was now or never: Over bumpy vineyard roads and after some false turns, we reached their gates, and were lucky. They were open for tasting, even for unannounced and slightly car-dishevelled customers.

Clearly, hefty architect and interior designer fees had gone into the stylish glass-fronted, lake-view tasting room. Everywhere, the ambition to create something classy and upscale was in evidence. Part of this ambition goes into the pricing of their extremely well-made wines, poured professionally and courteously for us by the co-owner. Again and again, the hefty prices asked by up-and-coming estates from low-profile regions take you aback when compared to utter world-class estates in more traditional areas like the Mosel.

My issue with the wines, however, is their over-modern make, their text-book fruit-driven, stainless-steel, cultured yeasts perfection - perfection that in the end held no appeal for me. I don't want to act the terroir fundamentalist here, but for one thing, I have got used to minerality as a component in white wines, and that they all lacked completely. For another, while I can see that this style of wine is commercially very successful (nothing wrong with that), to build up quality profile in the long run, surely what's needed is to put a sense of place into the wines - the same sense of place that is already cleverly, but rather hollowly at the core of their marketing ("Außergewöhnliche Weine eines außergewöhnlichen Ortes").

After the short tasting, a pleasant stroll through the vineyards, with gorgeous views of grapevine-framed, turquoise-coloured, sailing-boat-dotted, mountain-surrounded lake Constance over to the Swiss shore.

Looks a beautiful place. It

Looks a beautiful place. It would be interesting to compare grapes from the same vineyard, fermented in parallel with yeast from different regions, to see how much variation you get. It is hard to imagine that that yeast from the cellars of 700 year old wine makers in the Mosel, for example, wouldn't add a lot to the wine.

Has this be tried?


Yeasts

Well, I'm shaky on the microbiology, but the way this is discussed in the forums, 90 % of wineries buy cultured yeasts to ferment their must, which is "safe" and fast. A lot of biotechnology goes into those, as stems who produce particular aromas in the wine can be selected.
Much less is known about natural yeasts and spontaneous fermentation, which makes for richer, more complex, wines, but is seen as too "risky" within mainstream winemaking training. It doesn't seem to be known, for example, if those yeasts come predominantly from the vineyard or from the cellars, how and when they "take over" when cultured yeasts are stopped being used, and so on. This is mainly because the technical realities of winemaking are commonly veiled by marketing terms like "natural", "wild" or "terroir".

An interestingly honest and well-informed blog about these things by an austrian winemaker is

http://www.bernhard-fiedler.at/weblog/

(Alas, german language only)