The Rheinhessen Wines of Bianka & Daniel Schmitt
The Rheinhessen is the largest wine growing region in Germany and is largely associated with bulk production. In recent years the region’s reputation has begun to shift as a new generation of young, talented growers are working with minimal intervention, reducing yields and realizing the excellent, undervalued terroir they possess.
Approaches among the Rheinhessen's avant-garde does, naturally, vary but fairly universal is the switch from hybrid towards Riesling, Sylvaner, Weissburgunder and Chardonnay and a variety of reds with Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) particularly favoured.
The Schmitt winery has been in the family for over 230 years with Bianka and Daniel working their 16 hectares for the last decade. They work in full biodynamics which they learned from legendary Alsace vigneron Patrick Meyer and are one of only 80 producers in Germany to be certified by Demeter.
Bianka is from Hungary, Daniel is German. They met in 2012 when she was cellar hand in his parent’s winery. Together they have taken over the family winery and are producing excellent natural wines made without additions. The Schmitts farm various plots in Flörsheim-Dalsheim, Monsheim, and Kriegsheim, biodynamically.
This is essential to their desire to make natural wines, as are long ambient fermentations (in used barrels), variable skin maceration, lees ageing, minimal handling and bottling without filtration or added sulphur.
They are never afraid to experiment, making over a dozen wines.
Frei Körper Kultur is a great introduction to Bianka and Daniel’s wines. A blend of Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc and Huxelrebe on skins blended with directly pressed Pinot Gris and Ortega, it is aged in fibreglass tanks and filled in a one litre bottle. Golden-yellow in colour, it has aromas of orchard fruits, wild herbs and white spice. Very drinkable indeed.
Riesling M undergoes five days maceration and is aged for one year in small used barriques. A beautifully reserved wine, with aromas and flavours of wild apple and rhubarb, and a mellow, almost buttery finish.
Zöld is Sylvaner fermented four weeks on skins, aged in 1200-litre barrels. No sulphur added. Golden with a hint of amber, textural mouthfeel. Initially, the wine shows a slightly dried yellow-fruit characteristic combined with a touch of bitterness. Enough acidity to provide counter-balancing freshness. Tannins are indeed present and imbue the wine with a pleasing bitterness. Like all of Bianka and Daniel’s wines, this wine becomes rounder and harmonious the longer it is open for.
Rot Natur is an intensely purple blend of Pinot Noir, Sankt Laurent, Merlot and Portugieser from vines grown variously on limestone, sandstone and clay. Spontaneous fermentation in old oak with indigenous yeasts in 4,500 litre oak barrels and aged in the same. Amazing nose of black olives, blackberries, thyme and pepper with chalky tannins – almost Rhône-like.
Finally, Erdreich is Scheurebe & Gelber Muskateller from vines on limestone, sandstone and loess with a four-week spontaneous fermentation on skins in oak with indigenous yeasts, before ageing 14 months in 1,200 litre barrels. This very fine natural wine is aromatically seductive with the Muskateller providing the floral foreground, but it also has flavours of golden orchard fruit, lees-spice and a whiff of sherry.
To a wine, we think, these are exemplars of an exciting new wave in German viticulture and are thrilled to be working with Bianka and Daniel!
Interested in finding more about the wines of DB Schmitt? Contact us directly:
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Images © Weingut Schmitt