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Risqué Germans

Richard Wilson

Posted on March 10 2023

Risk-taking Germans – Sexy MF, brothel keepers, hip hop and graffiti artists.

The world felt a much more stable, certain place when I was growing up. Didn’t it for you? Even when researching the origin of the quote, ‘There are two certainties in life: death and taxes’, I have uncovered an uncertainty: did Defoe speak of this first or was it Franklin? Now even death is off the table with artificial intelligence creating digital immortality! Whatever next?

Well, one thing is for sure: there is no uncertainty over the greatness of German wine. Period. As we spring forward into March, we engage in a month-short spotlight on the classics and increasingly diverse wines that Germany now produces. I offer reluctant thanks here to climate change but more enthusiastic credit goes to the adventurous new generation of grape growers and winemakers.


I believe in miracles since you came along, you sexy thing.

Katharina Wechsler’s journey from an alternative path (in her case, a career in media) to returning to the family farm is familiar to the wine world over. After a period away, the new generation feels a sense of loss and, miraculously, wants to reconnect to the place they were raised. In converting to organic and biodynamic practices, Katharine aims to enhance the microbial life and biodiversity on her patch, leaving the soil healthier and thus, taking her custodian status seriously – a far cry from the intensive agriculture of yesteryear.


Picture of Manuel and Katharina Wechsler from Weingut Wechsler
In her winery too, she uses a soft hands approach with very little processing and makes an unfiltered wine under the ‘Cloudy by Nature’ tag called Sexy MF – the MF not referencing what you might be thinking but rather the clone of Pinot Noir used! It is a perfect springtime or gastronomic rosé as it is darker than your average Provence rosé, is loaded with red fruits and has a gentle grip (from some whole-bunch fermentation for the wine nerds out there).


Madame Flöck

The wines we offer currently with absolutely zero added sulphites can be counted on one hand. However, I have an exciting new addition to our range to talk through with you. But first, you know how we love a good back story at The Good Wine Shop, this one seems barely believable as it is such an unlikely union.

Picture of Robert Kane and Derek-Paul Labelle, winemakers of Madame Flock
Label of the Schmetterling from Madame Flock

 In short, two cellar rats, Derek (a Canadian) and Rob (a New Yorker) met whilst working in Australia. Rob fell in love with his German winemaking wife-to-be in Winningen, in the Mosel, stayed and bought a neglected vineyard terrace. Then, he invited his best mate, Derek, to partner up with him. Having revived the unkempt vines and farmed machinery-free, they admitted to “hands blistered, backs broken, and wits lost by the time they harvest”.  They named the wines Madame Flöck, after the original terrace owner, and used beautiful 19th-century illustrations on the label; with the Schmetterling featuring a London zombie brothel keeper! All insane, right?!

Schmetterling not only rolls off the tongue nicely but quicksteps across it too. There is no questioning its bright, sappy, seriously thirst-quenching nature – that lovely Riesling backbone is apparent – but it is persuasively playful too. Brace yourself for a crafted, natty (natural) wine; there is no denying it has light cloud cover and a controlled touch of skin contact. It will have you flocking for more (sorry flockers but I could not resist!).


Burgundy busters

Meanwhile, I have been banging the ‘Germany’s Burgundy busters’ drum for a while now. The ‘not just rivalling but outdoing the equivalently priced Burgundy’ drum. Yes, that one, remember? Limestone-rich soils, an upbringing in French oak and a comparable climate, all, naturally, draw comparisons to the great white and red wines of Burgundy.


Picture of the Seehof family in their vineyard


Seehof, a fifth-generation family-owned winery, make an elegant Chardonnay from a stony single vineyard where the mother rock is limestone. This wine is classically styled and aged, like white Burgundy, in small French barrels called barriques, some of which are new, and these impart a toasty, nuttiness to the wine. A core of grapefruit-laden fruit is both energetic and juicily fluid at the same time and the creamy richness is reminiscent of Meursault, no less.


Wine and hip hop, really?

Finally, I seem to have met my fair share of crazy winemakers over the years and our adorable mate Moritz Haidle is the most bonkers of them all. Stage-named Ritz, he is a huge hip-hop nerd, freestyles in rap battles (you may have to look that up – I had to) and is a graffiti artist: qualities I have never associated as a conduit to wine. But, I bet you did not know there is a podcast called ‘Wine & Hip Hop’ whose sole purpose is to bring the two together and find the similarities between the two cultures. I do know, very well, what a social leveller wine is and so do see a merger of these two art forms, I think.  Moritz’s radical, passionate creativity has transferred spectacularly to wine and, after all, I have heard winemakers say it is more of an art than a science.


Picture of Moritz from Weingut Karl Haidle


Moritz ripped up most of the family grape growing and winemaking manual but, thankfully, left the vines intact. Riesling and Lemberger (aka Blaufränkisch in Austria), a local speciality in Württemberg, are Moritz’s focus and he now farms both organically and biodynamically.

The Ritzling label is spray graffitied by Moritz and redesigned every vintage. This 100% Riesling is a light wine with refreshingly spritzy acidity and is lime-spiked with green apple flavours and glowing transparency.


I genuinely had no idea that some of the words I have used would appear in the same sentences of this blog piece today – like hand-off and Sexy MF, and rap battles and graffiti – and I saved the document feeling slightly alarmed.

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