ABOUT THIS WINE:
For his Selections, Holger chooses the best grapes from the Herrenstück terraces, which he classifies as *, ***, and Reserve. You can think of the stars like a ski slope: the more stars, the more extreme the conditions, the higher the elevation, the stronger the wind. This Grauburgunder hails from a single parcel in the Herrenstück terraces for maximum expression. It is full of pent-up energy and could age for years.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER:
Holger’s wines are grandpa chic—that is to say, they are how Burgundy used to taste when grandpa was just a fresh young lad: pre-global warming. It used to be that you’d struggle for ripeness in the Kaiserstuhl, even though it’s the warmest climate in Germany. But with rising temperatures throughout Europe, what used to be Burgundy now tastes like Weingut Holger Koch.
It makes sense; France is just twenty minutes away. In fact, the winery is so close to Alsace that during WWII, Holger’s grandmother could stand in the vineyard and see bombs going off across the Rhine River. Whether it’s geographical proximity or the selection massale cuttings from Puligny-Montrachet and Alsace (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Silvaner, Grauburgunder, Weißburgunder, and Spätburgunder) or the terroir-based approach, these wines are distinctly French with a German accent.
Indeed, Holger and his wife Gabriele seem to straddle cultural borders themselves. When you first meet them, you’re struck by how German they seem, but by the time you leave, you’re left wondering if they are in fact French. What at first appears structured and reserved reveals itself to be very generous—romantic, even.
The way they classify their wines is complicated on the surface but actually quite simple, mirroring the Burgundian system. Their wines ascend like a rope ladder draped over the side of a hill. The rule of thumb is this: the more gluggable the wine, the more loess in the soil, the lower on the ladder. The more intense the wine, the higher its volcanic content, the higher its position on the ladder.
The Kaiserstuhl wines, which sit lowest on the ladder, come from loess soils on the flattest land with the least wind and lowest elevation.
The Herrenstück terraces, a level up, all sit at higher elevations than the Kaiserstuhl, but on different mixtures of soil — giving each wine that results in its own distinct terroir. Going up the ladder, the loess topsoil grows thinner, the volcanic soil more concentrated, the wind more forceful.
Just as in Burgundy, though, global warming has changed the game. Holger and his wife Gabriele started noticing in 2015 that their prized high and windy terraces were most at risk. Volcanic soil traps heat, so in warmer years the grapes would be at risk of roasting or drying out. They are extremely careful to harvest at precisely the right moment. “All spring and summer we’re trying to bring healthy grapes,” Gabriele says. They are tasting off the vine constantly, so they know exactly when the grape reaches the perfect balance of “lecker (delicious) and not too sweet.” It’s not an exact science and of course, nature delivers curveballs beyond their control. But “better a day too soon than a day too late.”
$24.99 Excl. tax
$32.99 Excl. tax