Located in the Kaiserstuhl sub-region of Baden, this is a 500 year-old estate with monastic origins. It is currently run by the young and dynamic Johannes von Gleichenstein, who impishly calls his top wine “Baron Philipp”, on the grounds that they are a noble family and Philipp is his son’s name. One suspects that he would welcome a lawsuit from the Rothschilds of Bordeaux, with all its attendant publicity! However, even without that, the wines are deserving of attention, offering fidelity to their soils and very good value. We expect to add whites to the two Pinots Noirs we have initially selected.
There are plenty of “Spitzenweine”, what you might call “trophy wines”, in Baden, that command relatively high prices (though nothing like burgundy, or even California!). These are eagerly lapped up by the German market and a handful of mostly-European connoisseurs. It is our hope that the California market will before long wake up to these top wines, and we will bring in whatever we are allocated.
In the meantime, we offer you this amazing bottle, which hails from a sun-blessed parcel within the Eichberg. Its name means “from the boiler”, an allusion to the warmth of the site, which is perhaps counter-intuitive to the notion that Pinot Noir is at its best in marginal terroirs. But it was impossible to resist the sheer grandeur of this wine, whose lavish aroma and shapely structure are testament to the quality of the 40 year-old vines planted in bare volcanic soil in the vineyard’s steepest section. The minty tone is suggestive of burgundy, and the price is very modest for the quality.
“Hofgarten” is the name that they give to their basic estate-grown wines, though this originates largely from the Eichberg, an important vineyard site with alluvial soils over a volcanic bedrock. Unexpectedly serious for its echelon, it exemplifies the ability of Baden to synthesise Pinot’s twin virtues of unexaggeratedly sweet fruit and soil-transparency. It is like conversing with someone who is both charming and erudite.
A happy side-effect of this estate’s substantial Spätburgunder holdings is that they are able to produce an abundant quantity of seriously good Rosé. From a banner year, this has joyously ebullient Pinot fruit through which courses a noticeable volcanic element, appropriate to the wine’s origins. Such a combination of deliciousness and terroir interest makes this a rosé in a thousand.