Monday, 30 November 2009

Discovery from Kirchhofen

After perusing the Christmas market in Freiburg on Saturday, my girl-friend and I stopped for a while at a small wine shop where we were treated to an impromtu wine-tasting by an amiable man by the name of Franz Herbster. He poured an off-dry Sauvignon Blanc for us first, followed by a generous Gewürztraminer and an off-dry Spätburgunder. It was the Sauvignon Blanc that impressed us the most. Herr Herbster explained to us that he had intentionally planted his Sauvignon Blanc vines on a "cool climate" parcel to make a wine with a fresh character and relatively low alcohol. The off-dry interpretation of this particular wine seemed to complement the freshness perfectly ("knackig frisch" were Mr Herbster's exact words to us). We therefore decided to purchase a bottle (EUR 7.50) and enjoy the wine at home.

Weinküferei Herbster, Sauvignon Blanc Kabinett feinherb, 2009
Yes, I kid you not: this really is 2009 vintage. According to the winery website, this is - unsurprisingly - his first bottling of the new vintage.

Grey straw in appearance. On the nose, I'm getting lychee... This is unexpected. By the second glass, this sensation seems to dissipate somewhat, to make way for the signature gooseberry aromas which Herr Herbster also mentioned to us. Maybe also some floral notes.
Bright, fruity and off-dry on the palate, maybe some lychee again, but in no way is this kitschy. Fresh and light. A very pretty wine. It almost reminds me of Scheurebe. The hint of sweetness, which had a favourable effect on the nose, helps to balance the wine and lends it its character. The relatively modest alcohol is welcome, too. In conclusion, I would drink this on its own on the veranda - if I had one - on a mild April afternoon, or else with something mildly spiced and "coconutty" like Chicken Korma.

Franz Herbster is a professionally qualified Weinküfer (wine cooper) - which basically means he is a trained winemaker. However, his is a profession which, before the age of stainless steel vats, also used to be associated with the crafting of wine barrels - a family tradition which was last practiced by Herbster's great-grandfather back in the 1930s, apparently. After working for other wine producers, including WG Ehrenstetten and Weingut Fischer (the latter owned by Joachin Heger from the renowned Weingut Heger), Herbster harvested his first ever vintage in 2005. Based in Kirchhofen, a village situated just south of Freiburg on the southern foot of the Batzenberg hill, a 4-km long and 1-km wide expanse of vines on all sides, his winery comprises 4 hectares in three specific lieux-dits: Kirchhofner Kirchberg, Norsinger Batzenberg and Ehrenstetter Oelberg.

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