Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Authenticity is very important to us. Lingenfelder Masterclass in Cork

Authenticity is very important to us. Lingenfelder Masterclass at O'Brien's Winter Wine Festival in Cork
Georg Lingenfelder. Thanks to Liam Campbell for the pic from the Dublin show.

“Half the production in Germany is red.. that is not internationally known. There are big steps in red wine.” This was the surprising opening statement by Georg Lingenfelder as he introduced us to the estate’s wines at a masterclass, part of the O’Brien’s Winter Wine Festival in Cork last Thursday evening. Climate warming may well be a factor in the increase.

O’Brien’s Lynne Coyle MW had introduced Georg, a regular visitor to ireland. “This is the first year of the masterclasses. Georg represents the 14th generation of the family in wine in the Pfalz. Next year is their 500th anniversary.” 

He told us that Pfalz is in the south west of Germany. “One of the driest and warmest areas but still a cool climate. Wines can be more full bodied here in good years. 2018 was warm and dry and some of the 2018 are not too heavy. All hand-picked, all wild fermented, we rely on the natural yeasts that are all around our cellar. 
Georg, at home, with father Rainer

Fermentation is spontaneous - that makes it more individual, unique to our place. It is of course more risky for us and some vintages can be not so good. With wild yeast, you never know how it works. We try and get the temperature to 18 to 20 degrees but it is still unpredictable. But we’ve been doing this forever so we have the experience.”

“The wines with our house on the front label are single plot. We are right next to the Rhine but our vineyards are not too steep - easier to work there. We use sustainable methods, lots of other plants between the rows. This gives bio diversity, very important to us.”

In response to a question on sulphites, Georg explained that sulphite is necessary to make a wine stable. “Sulphur levels in wine are often very low, compared to other foods. Our levels are quite low.”

“We use German oak, from about 15/20 kms away, as authenticity is very important to us. We use some barrels that are 120 years old. There is a big difference between new and old oak and our Pinot Noir is aged in fresh oak.”
The Dornfelder grapes

And he had an invitation for everyone in the audience. “We are a small family winery, always happy to see visitors. Stuttgart and Frankfurt airports are not too far away.”

The first of the three wines in the tasting was their Hare-label Gewürztraminer Qba 2018. “Very aromatic, almost perfumery. Yet this is a dry style, herbal, with an almost bitter finish though the acidity is not too high.” In general, this grape and its “so distinctive” wines, “divides opinions”.
The Hare. The House. The Fox.

The second wine tasted, a Riesling, had the house on the front, so the fruit came from a single plot, quite a small one in this case. The Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2018 is dry, aromatic with crisp, refreshing acidity. Georg pointed to the higher acidity though he also said it was a little sweet on the finish. It certainly has the typical Riesling aromas (citrus-y) and that “little sweetness is well balanced by the acidity. It is, as Georg said, “straightforward and elegant”. He also emphasised that Riesling is a grape “for cooler climates”.

The final wine was the Fox-label Dornfelder Qba 2010, a light red wine, with notes of red berries and a bit of spice and a smoke taint. However it has a nice intensity on the mid palate and is a great match with lamb, beef carpaccio or cheese and is quite close to Pinot Noir.

Georg told us that it is a local grape, initially bred in 1955. It is handpicked, skin fermentation in stainless steel, on the skin for 3 to 4 weeks, the juices take all their colour from the skin (without that, the wine would be white). “It then spends one and a half years (can vary) in German oak, 5,000 litre barrels, so there is really no oak influence. It is a little on the light side, 12.5% abv, cherry fruit, smoke and pepper. It has a lot going for it, including slow -ripening which increases the flavour.”

I like this style and so does Georg who admits to not being a big fan of oaked red: “This is very versatile (in terms of food). It has great ageing potential, good at five to ten years but can get better as the years cool on. Incredibly better.”

Great to have the chance to hear from the latest generation of this remarkable family and to hear how enthusiastic he is about local and authenticity. And so the commitment continues so that the next 14 generations “get a chance to live off the land as well; without herbicides, without irrigation, only minimal fertilisation and lots of biodiversity”.
See also: O'Briens Winter Wine Festival Cork

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