Markgräflerland – the stretch from Freiburg to Basel – is bursting with interest at the moment. You have Hanspeter Ziereisen and his merry band of Landwein disciples (Dirk Brenneisen and Max Geitlinger, to name just a couple). You have an exciting new start-up on one of Baden’s best limestone terroirs (Weingut am Klotz). You have classical labels updating and redefining themselves (Schneider in Weil, Blankenhorn in Schliengen). You have names new and old offering ridiculous value for money (Lämmlin-Schindler, Rieger, Scherer & Zimmer). You have the boutique Wasenhaus duo, who are probably in a category of their own. You have the linear, no-frills Gutedel of Dörflinger (English for snörkellos). You even have the main grower cooperative, Markgräfler Winzer, lifting its own quality up a few notches in recent years. And let’s not forget the two Wassmers, Fritz and Martin – Pinot gurus who seem to have been around for ages, even though they haven’t.
All of these names, including Maximilian Greiner, produce Gutedel (aka Chasselas), one of the most underestimated of all cultivars. The grape isn’t popular (and little known) among British palates. Naturally light with modest alcohol and acidity, Chasselas is imbued with a certain neutrality that befits its Swiss origins. It certainly isn’t sexy. And yet, given time on the lees and in bottle, it manages pretty well to refresh and stimulate even without Riesling levels of acidity, while retaining a comforting, handcrafted, yesteryear character reminiscent of something you’d swear you’ve drunk before, even if you haven’t. Wine as pretty as a dumpling, to paraphrase US wine importer Terry Theise.
Apparently, it’s the understatement that makes Chasselas a dream with sushi and sashimi, although I have never tested this theory.
Inspired by Ziereisen’s Gutedel ‘10 Hoch 4’, the world’s most expensive Chasselas, more and more of the region’s growers are doing what their grandparents and great-grandparents used to do by affording the variety the requisite time and respect. This equates to generous skin contact, use of traditional presses, wild-yeast fermentation, longer periods of maturation in large, old wood (including acacia), and minimal, if any, fining or filtering. In other words, old-school. The result is a phalanx of new-wave Chasselas across Markgräflerland that are yeast-infused, minerally, complex and long-lived.
Maximilian Greiner farms according to biodynamic principles. He grows Chasselas, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (the latter for his zero dosage Sekt). Greiner’s vineyards are properly in the foothills of the Black Forest: in the hamlet of Gennenbach and the villages of Feuerbach, Mauchen, and Obereggenen.
🍷 Pale lemon in appearance, with a nose that fills out and gains detail with warmth and air. Pear aromas initially, followed by hints of green apple and almond as well as a faint touch of bubblegum. Floral, meadowy notes – maybe also a suggestion of lemongrass. (Strangely, this reminds me that iconic Black Forest beer Rothaus Tannenzäpfle always has a hint of lemongrass.) An ever-so-subtle lime-lemon combo provides sufficient freshness on a silky medium-bodied palate. Much of the aforementioned notes on the nose offer complexity on the tongue, culminating in a long finish. Exceedingly delicious and right up my street.