Dreams need to be big. Otherwise, they’re just thoughts, aspirations or plans.
When I first started studying wine, I thought that I would be making it, too, in the not too distant future. London’s plethora of fascinating wines and fast-paced lifestyle took over and my winemaking path is still under construction.
Hence, I was so incredibly happy and inspired in equal measures to meet Olympia and Hannes, a true power-couple, who created Weingut Roterfaden, a biodynamic winery based in one of Germany’s most exciting regions, Württemberg, just outside Stuttgart.
Olympia Samara and Johannes Hoffmann are not new to wine. They both graduated from Geisenheim University, where I spent the second year of my Masters and then started their winemaking journey around the world. On a hot, summer day, I was kindly invited by Maria Samou, a Bordeaux-educated oenologist and founder of Bientot, to try the weingut roterfaden’s wines under the guidance of its two founders.
Weingut roterfaden was born out of Olympia’s and Johannes’s genuine love for wine and all things natural. With their winemaking degrees under their belts, they travelled the world cutting their teeth in a variety of winemaking regions; Spain, Italy, Austria, California and Australia to name just a few. They fell in love with Lemberger (or Blaufrankisch), a native Austro-Hungarian grape and wanted to further explore the potential of the variety.
So, it all started in Johannes’s grandparents farm; a perfect environment for biodynamic culture, where he used to grow grapes that were eventually sold at the local co-op. When Olympia and Johannes came along, they terminated the cooperative contract and started re-designing the farm and acquiring equipment for the cellar. Their fossil-laden vineyard area, structured in steep terraces on mainly argilo-calcaire soil, is merely 2 hectares!
The grape juice is fermented with wild yeast, coming from both the vineyard and the cellar zhile the alcoholic fermentation takes place in big wooden casks where it stays in contact with the skins for 3-4 weeks and the wine matures in them until May.
They handle the grapes very delicately avoiding crushing and racking completely and they prefer to wet the cap with their hands in order to have an as elegant extraction of tannins as possible. As Olympia put it : “We made this wine with our own hands and feet!”
This attention to detail and praise for elegance and clarity is reflected beautifully to their wines.
The Roterfaden Pinot Noir is gorgeous – stunning bright ruby colour with a refreshing bouquet of crunchy strawberries and Maraschino cherries and hints of black and white pepper. So easy -drinking, almost dangerously so. THE go-to-red for the warmer months! Very impressive.
The second wine of the roterfaden range is a Lemberger; a grape more widely known as Blaufränkisch in Austria but many growers in Germany call it Lemberger. True to its varietal style, the wine is energising and spicy with a distinctive black fruit character (blackberry, black cherry) beautifully blended with black pepper chilly and nutmeg notes. Certainly more tannic than their Pinot Noir, but with a silky mouthfeel and a long finish. A celebration of finesse and power.
From our tasting, it was evident that the wines have a rather gastronomic focus and would work brilliantly with a selection of dishes.
I would personally pair the Pinot Noir with a green salad, grilled goat cheese and nuts, a Comté cheese or even smoked or lightly grilled salmon. Because of its acidity and refreshing finish a chilly dish could work, too.
The Lemberger I would like to try it next to grilled vegetables, seasoned pork dishes and BBQ delicacies, as it has this lovely, appetising spiciness to it and the right weight to accompany a meat dish.
Olympia and Hannes have many fascinating plans for their farm and winery: they hope to start growing their production and they are working on redisigning their barn into a fully functional cellar (3/4) and their home (1/4). Last year they produced just 4,500 bottles, so try to find their wines as soon as possible before they sell out! There is also a tiny production of Riesling…but you need to be extra lucky to get your hands on this one 🙂
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