Monday, 8 December 2008

Two Schneiders

There a quite a few vignerons in Germany who go by the name of Schneider. One of them, Markus Schneider of Ellerstadt in the Pfalz, has carved a niche for his wine thanks to his excellent Rieslings and red blends that combine local varietals such as Portugieser and St Laurent with more internationally recognised varietals such Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. As you can see from his website, he is also good at marketing. However, the quality of his wines speaks for itself. I'm fortunate enough to own a few bottles of his 2005 "Einzelstück" (see photo), which was made exclusively from a single parcel of Portugieser vines that was planted in the 1920s on the sandy flats of Ellerstadt. Portugieser is regarded in the Pfalz as somewhat of a workhorse varietal producing light and cheery reds for everyday consumption. It's quite rare to find them at the high end of wine ranges, However, in a blind tasting you'd be forgiven for mistaking this particular "Portu-geezer" for a top Rhone or Italian red.

Schneider was recently awarded a third Gault Millau "grape", as was another Schneider winery a lot closer to home: Weingut Claus & Susanne Schneider from Weil am Rhein. Personally, I couldn't be happier for them, given that they're my local winery, so to speak. Their range of wines covers Spätburgunder, Gutedel, Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder and Chardonnay, but thanks to the chalky soil of the Weiler Schlipf vineyard, it's the Burgundy varietals which you could call their specialities. Steep limestone slopes - very reminiscent of Burgundy terroir - and a favourable climate lend both reds and whites tremendous elegance and minerally character. The wines also offer great value for money.