A familiar story in the world of natural wine is that of the intrepid artisan vignernon working in a region that is a bona fide sea of bulk, industrial wine – often times these winemakers are from the region and so have a greater appreciation for the nooks and crannies of its worth that are otherwise so often obscured by place-less conventionally-farmed wines. The Languedoc (and its uncomfortably hyphenated bedfellow the Roussillon) is onesuch example – long known as a huge production area with high-yielding watery blends or overly hot, extracted, fruit-bomb reds, was misrepresented by this reputation and, as such, the natural wine movement unsurprisingly had many early pioneers here in the south, devoted to rewriting the history of what this place was viticulturally capable. Similarly in Germany, the Rheinheissen – the largest wine-production-area in the country – has been historically unrenowned in any discussion of character-ful, elegant, high-quality artisan wines. The same old story: high-yielding blends. Bianka and Daniel Schmitt working at Weingut Schmitt – where grapes have been continually farmed for over 200 years! – wanted to chart a new path, to “create grand wines as naturally as possible that embody the true balance between man and nature… wines just from grapes!” In this way, they are at the absolute center of the New Rheinheissen that has become a hotbed for ambitious young natural winemakers (e.g. Martin Wörner and Alanna Lagamba are only 20 minutes north of here, also in the Rheinheissen). Experts in macerated wines of balance, purity, and elegance – theirs are wines of that rare ilk that simultaneously evoke something wild with something controlled, a storm seen from a distance.
Vinification: A blend of organic and biodynamic Scheurebe, Weissburgunder (aka Pinot Blanc), Huxelrebe, Grauburgunder (aka Pinot Gris) and Ortega. Grapes are hand-harvested, followed by a direct pressing of Pinot Gris and Ortega. The Scheurebe, Weissburgunder and Huxelrebe undergo a separate fermentation with time on the skins for about 3 weeks. The wine is blended and bottled unfined, unfiltered with no SO2.Tasting: Beautiful aromatics from the Pinot Blanc and Scheurebe: tropical fruits, pineapple, coconut juice. The Pinot Gris and Ortega give the wine some spice and oceanic salinity. The result is fresh and spirited, marrying the best of the tropical, aromatic whites of Germany with the stoniest and most stoic of German varietals. Serve chilled with a spicy dish.