We are fast approaching the official release of the 2011 VDP wines, which will take place at the Mainzer Weinbörse, April 29-30th in Mainz, Germany. In anticipation of the 2011 vintage, I wanted to reprint an interview about the tricky, but at times amazing 2010 vintage with winemaker, Max von Kunow from the Saar producer Weingut Von Hövel.
Von Hövel, now in its 7th generation of family proprietorship, produces mostly traditional, fruity style Riesling, fermented and aged in German oak until bottling. They source from a few different vineyard sites, the largest of which is the Oberemmeler Hütte, 12.5 acres, which von Hövel owns outright and 7.5 acres in the famous Sharzhofberg. The estate consistently produces very good to excellent Riesling and I am hoping soon to report from the Mainzer Weinbörse about their 2011…So, until then…
E- The 2010 vintage was considered by many producers in Germany as being a very challenging vintage, how would you describe the growing season leading up to the harvest and what made it challenging for you at von Hövel?
MvK- In our case it was a harvest after our taste. We could wait a very long time for harvesting our crapes, the result are very ripe wines with a natural acidity . The wines have got a very good texture and the game between the acidity and the fruit is in a very good balance , we are very happy for this present god has sent us.
E- When did you begin harvest?
MvK- We began at the end of October at 25.10.10 and the main harvest was at the begin of November.
E -How were Yields?
MvK – The yield is between 30 hl and 35 hl very low, but not because of botrytis, the grapes were very concentrated.
E – I heard this vintage had great ripeness/physiological ripeness and that the acidity was also very high. Could you go into further detail about the acidity and PH of this vintage (percentage tartaric versus malic)?
MvK – The acidity from our must was around 10,5 to 12,0 and around 60 percent malic and 40 percent tartaric. The PH level in the wine is around 3,1 PH , but we took no acidity away.
E- Any more detail about the fruit concentration?
MvK – The fruit concentration were very high.
E - Was it difficult to balance the acid with the fruit? Did you need to incorporate any different techniques in the cellar?
MvK – No it was very easy. We stopped the wine in the right moment so we did not need to do any techniques with the wine.
E - The 2010 whites I tasted from your estate showed very well; how did you feel about 2010 vintage overall?
MvK – All people who respect the vineyard and did not to match techniques have got wonderful wines in the cellar but 2010 is the year of the Saar valley all VDP Saar Estates have got a very good wine in the Cellar , also the pinot noir wines from the Kaiserstuhl are great.
E - Would you compare 2010 to any recent vintage? if so, how?
MvK – Yes it is a mix of 1990 and 2005, something between this two great years.
E – What are your favorite von Hovel wines in 2010?
MvK – I like the Oberemmler Hütte Kabinett very much.
E – What was the biggest surprise of the vintage?
MvK – That we could harvest everything from the estate Riesling up to a Oberemmeler Hütte TBA which is a long life wine .
E – What was the biggest lesson(s) you learned in 2010?
MvK – That you have to accept the nature and that you have life with the nature , and don t be nervous.
E – What sets your estate apart from others in 2010, if anything?
MvK – We gave the wine a chance and we used not so much technique.
E – What vineyard/cellar practices set you apart from other producers in Germany?
MvK – No BSA , and not taking the acidity away , we want to give time to the wine.
E – What is one thing you want people to know about your winery/wines that is likely not well known?
MvK – That we are a winery of tradition and that we makes wines like 200 years ago traditional individually wines with a long story of history. We are a producing the old natural german wine nothing other.
E – Outside of Germany, whose wines to you admire the most and whose wines are in your personal cellar?
MvK – I am a big burgundy fan. My favorite wine is the vintage of 1985 in burgundy. That are so great wines. You dream about the taste of this wines , this is great. I like the wines from Dujac and I am a big fan of the Goby wines from Roussillon.
E – That’s it! Unless you want to add a comment, otherwise, I really, really appreciate your time!!!