Van Volxem Wines Saar
High quality combined with Roman’s outsized physique and flamboyant personality seems to have provoked a little envy as well as an almost cult following since he purchased the estate in 2000. Much of the controversy seems to boil down to his pursuit of drier styles in a region that has traditionally promoted great sweet wines. After all, some of Germany’s top estates can be found in the Saar and their greatest wines are sweet. The estate lies in the wine-producing village of Wiltingen, best known for its top vineyard, Scharzhofberger. It also possesses parcels in the heart of the most famous vineyards in Wiltingen – Braunfels, Klosterberg, Gottesfuss, as well as Scharzhofberger.
This excellent portfolio was further enhanced in 2002 with the purchase of 2.5 ha of the best part of the famous Kanzemer Altenberg and again with purchases of 8ha in the Wawerner Goldberg. The 42 ha of steepslate vineyards here are planted with roughly 40 year old vines, 96% Riesling and 4% Pinot Blanc. In the first growth Wiltinger Gottesfuss, one of the steepest and most renowned Saar vineyards, Van Volxem possesses an extreme rarity, 125 year old pre-phylloxera vines. With low yields barely over 30 hl/ha, Roman produces finely textured, fruity, and elegant terroir wines with enormous depth and complexity, persistence on the palate as well as ageing potential. From the early days of his replanting programme, the use of pristine genetic material of mostly ungrafted vines (no modern clones), labour intensive growing work including organic and biodynamic methods, low yields of small berries in small clusters, and highly-selective hand harvesting have been important factors in the success of the estate.
The goal for these handcrafted wines is to retain the characteristics from each specific vineyard within the bottle. In order to keep the unique style of each vineyard, indigenous yeasts are favoured over selected, cultured yeasts and the wines are never chaptalised. With the exception of the botrytis specialities, Von Volxem wines are an ideal partner with many aromatic dishes with all reaching an acceptable level of alcohol by volume of between 10 and 12%. This is a remarkable diversion from the generally held notion that German wines are either too sweet or excruciatingly acid.
To find out more about Van Volxem and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Regional Guide to Germany..
Or indeed you can check out the new extensively updated 9th edition Wine Behind the Label Wine Guide that is 2250 pages, it reviews around 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines. (DM)