We are well-known as the longtime distributors in California of Terry Theise’s incomparable collection of German estates, a role that we continue to embrace and be grateful for. This privilege has resulted in the formation of some of our closest and most enduring relationships. With Terry’s blessing, we have been able to import and distribute some additional producers on our own.
This 600 year-old family estate is nominally in the Hessen but its soils, with their complex amalgam of porphyry, quarzite and loam bear more resemblance to the Nahe, which is just over the hill. Hartmut Bernhard, the current proprietor, is an instinctive wine-grower and maker. He knows exactly what he is doing without intellectualising it.
The fresh, flowery nose of this succulent Pinot Blanc belies the creamy richness of the palate with its discreet sweetness and faint hint of botrytis. An excellent choice for white meat with creamy sauces.
A luscious and highly drinkable sweet wine.
This is not an address where one expects many noble sweet wines, but vintage 2011 enabled Hartmut to make three of them! This was the pick of the bunch – sweet, of course, but ineffably fine and lifted with the purest botrytis tones. A “light” TBA with 184 gm. of R.S., it might actually prove quite useful as such.
2014 was simply too ripe to make a true Kabinett, so Hartmut dropped the pretence and instead offered us a glorious, paradigmatic and unspittable Spätlese with just 9% alcohol.
We waited a long time before buying an off-dry Riesling from Bernhard, but not without admiring this style from them for a long time. The porphyry soils of Hackenheim seem especially apt to the genre, and this beauty sports an expressive nose, reminiscent of the Nahe, and a perfectly poised palate of impressive length. Exceptional value.
The Germans drink more bubbly per capita than anyone else on earth, but little of it is as fine and delicious as this one. Most producers farm out its elaboration to specialist houses, but Hartmut has long been a master of the champagne method and makes his Sekts himself. This bottling was on the lees for some 30 months, and the luxurious dosage is a Beerenauslese! We asked for it to be moderated at about 7 gm., which has brought the wine into a lovely balance, where the innate fruitiness of the Riesling is tempered by the acidity and minerality.
Hartmut’s interpretation of the notion of “feinherb” is a liberal one! The sweetness level here is what you might expect in another producer’s “normal” Kabinett. Endowed with a freakish degree of minerality from the quarzite soils of the Rheingrafenberg, this wine over-delivers in every department.
Bernhard really has a special touch with this characterful grape. This new vintage bursts with the grapefruit and blackcurrant notes we look for, while maintaining an exemplary balance of sweetness and acidity, and sporting the oversized mineral charge characteristic of Bernhard in 2016. A perfect match for Thai curry.