Chardonnay Spätlese Trocken Annaberg
Koehler-Ruprecht has existed since the 1700’s, but Bernd Phillipi’s hard work over the last 30 years has solidified the winery’s world class reputation. Bernd’s biggest inspiration was his grandfather, and the wines reflect an attitude of winemaking more akin to the 1900’s than the 2000’s. In the vineyard, no irrigation, fertilizers or herbicides are ever used, and systemic treatments against pests or fungal illness are kept to a minimum, only in the rare cases when necessary. In the cellar, long spontaneous fermentations occur in large, old German oak barrels with extended lees contact. Nothing is ever added or subtracted to the wine, and sulfur is only added moderately after alcoholic fermentation and before bottling.
Today, Bernd has moved on to his winemaking projects all over the world (Germany, Portugal, South Africa, consulting in China…), and no longer has any role at Koelher-Ruprecht. Since 2008, viticulture/cellar duties have been passed on to Dominik Sona. Dominik is young but already a seasoned veteran: prior to landing at Koehler-Ruprecht, he’s worked at Neiss, Kuhn, Van Volxem, Flowers, Littorai and as estate manager for J.L. Wolf. Already a fan of the winery before getting hired, he has vowed not to a change a thing in the winemaking process.
The estate consists of 10.5 hectares of vines, principally in Riesling (50%) but also in Pinot Noir (20%), Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Scheurebe on three separate terroirs: Saumagen, Steinacker and Annaberg.
After being hand-harvested, the grapes are pressed outside in the courtyard. The juices settle in stainless steel tanks and then are racked by gravity into the underground cellar’s myriad of casks. The majority of which are large oak called stück, halbstück and dopplestück (1200L, 600L, 2400L). There is no temperature control in the cellar, and fermentation can take weeks or months. Malolactic fermentation is not monitored: it either happens or doesn’t. The wines stay on their lees for about eight months and a light filtration is performed before bottling.
The 120-year-old Annaberg vineyard is known to hardcore German wine fans as the birthplace of Scheurebe, but its south-facing slope of rich, dark soils inflected with sand and chalk also turns out to be prime ground for Chardonnay. Dominik farms this organically and matures the wine without bâtonnage in old oak barrels, rendering a vivid, finely etched style that speaks in its own salty, citrusy, savory idiom. 5.5g RS and 7.5g acid. A Chard unlike any other in the world.