“I was out to dinner with Strubs, in a restaurant a few miles away in the Rheinhessen, and it was my first or second night in Germany and I was jetlagged and dehydrated. I needed a wine with some fruit. After good-humoredly dispatching whatever dry wines had been ordered, I spotted a 2016 Riesling Kabinett and asked if I could have it. I could. It arrived and was perfect. I mean, perfect; it was every single thing a Riesling Kabinett could be, the Platonic Ideal of the genre. The producer was someone named Braunewell, whom I didn’t know. “Do you know them?” I asked Sebastian. He did; they were in the same group of young Rheinhessen vintners. “Are they good?” I asked. That would be for you to decide, he replied diplomatically.
Samples were asked for and received, and I tasted them four weeks later when I was back in Nierstein, along with samples from another estate who’d been pursuing me, whose wines got higher “scores” but which I didn’t like as much. Braunewell was compelling, but I didn’t have time to visit and didn’t wish to rush into things until I could do it properly. Could we wait a year? Yes, they said – we could.
I saw them a in March of 2019, having checked them out online and in the guides. They belong to my absolute favorite environmental certifier, the manifestly and holistically sensible FAIR & GREEN – google it and be prepared to be made very happy that people can be so wise and humane. All indicators were good, and I was eager to taste me some foxy new Rieslings. Alas, I was ambushed, delightedly, by some truly remarkable Pinot Noirs, of all things, which I didn’t expect and which became the pleasantest surprise of the last four weeks in Europe.” – Terry Theise
We are very excited to introduce these unique Rieslings, Pinots and Sparkling wines to the United States!
Braunewell is located in the village of Essenheim, not far from Nierstein in the Rheinhessen hinterlands. Just 12km southwest of Mainz, Essenheim is in the Setztal, an area just south of the Rhein, which is marked by a persistent wind, and just 8km south of the Rhein river. Driving up from the south, one can see that Essenheim is home to steep and imposing a hillside, jutting out from the generally rolling landscape. The estate is a family run enterprise, with 27 hectares, operating with wisdom, sentiment and competence. The family is serious about what they do, making wines with care and craftsmanship – it’s not a an estate run by amateurs. Braunewell is contemporary, but not “modern”; it has soul and character. In general, the soils are very unusual for Rheinhessen; limestone and limey marl and loess, and only a little clay. Stefan Braunewell and his brother Christian, the third generation at estate, aim to produce wines that are “salty and quivering,” and “less relaxed” than many Rheinhesen wines.
To the east of the village, Teufelspfad is an extraordinarily varied vineyard site and different varieties are favored, based on the parcel and soils. Riesling is grown mainly in two parcels “Zu Morruff” and “Am Klopp”, which have Terra Fusca, the limestone rich soils most commonly found in the Mediterranean. These parcels are steep (30%) and allow for good drainage, perfectly suited to Riesling. Further down the slope are calcareous parcels “Am Stadeckerweg” , “Am Millesand” and “Am Teifelspfad”, where Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are planted. To the west, are “Im Brinkel” and “Am Holler”, where Pinot Noir is also planted, producing stronger and more powerful Pinot. To the south is “Reitenberg”, again with a 30% incline and loess and sandstone soils, where Riesling again is favored.
Blume is of the most famous locations in the northern Selztal, the name of this area, which takes it’s name the village just to the west of Essenheim. Blum is named for the parcel “In der Blum”, but the etymology here isn’t known. The wines do carry a certain floral aroma, but Braunewell isn’t convinced that this is the sole reason for the name. The soil is characterized by strong, tertiary marl with a high proportion of fossil bearing limestone here. The site was too steep for tractors, so to make working the vineyard easier, terraces were created. Blume is planted mostly to Riesling and Pinot Noir which express the mineral and fresh side of these varieties.
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