Johannes Geil-Bierschenk, who farms 30 hectares of Riesling and many forgotten varieties in the village of Bechtheim, is an emblem of the new generation in the Rheinhessen committed to lower yields and higher quality. His ancestors were some of the very first to cultivate and bottle wine here; indeed, plantings in Bechtheim were recognized as superior in the region in the early tax maps of 1780. Geil possesses a diversity of grape material while most vineyards in this region are dominated by high yielding müller-thurgau; Johannes’ plantings include riesling, scheurebe, silvaner, kerner, huxelrebe, muskateller, st. laurent, pinot noir, pinot blanc, and rieslaner. Top sites of the estate include Bechtheimer Geyersberg, sheltered terraces of chalky marl with 35 year-old Riesling vines, and the Bechtheimer Rosengarten, a site heavier in clay soils. In the vineyard Johannes utilizes aggressive pruning and green harvesting to reign in his yields, in some cases to as low as 50 hectoliters per hectare. Once the fruit is picked, Johannes believes in immediate pressing to maintain the liveliness of the juice, and favors ambient yeast fermentations, both utilized to preserve what Johannes believes is the most important aspect of a wine – its aroma. Minimal skin contact, cold fermentations in steel and oak, gravity clarification, racking immediately after fermentation, and fine lees contact all contribute to Johannes’ clean and expressive wines. As he says, “Every year we are trying to make one less mistake… or maybe two.”
Johannes Geil was the Gault Milleau’s 2004 Discovery of the Year Award recipient.
Vineyard area: 30 hectares
Annual production: 20,800 cases
Vineyard holdings: Bechtheim – Geyersberg, Rosengarten (chalky loam, carbonate-rich löss)
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