Now firmly in control at the helm here is the most likable human being you could ever meet – Martin Franzen. But from 1962 to 2002 this estate employed a man who would become the seminal cellarmaster of his era. Hans-Günter Schwarz’s are the shoulders upon which an entire generation of German vintners stands. And during that time, Müller-Catoir was widely regarded as the best estate in the Pfalz. I myself felt they were the best estate in all of Germany.

Schwarz is warm and avuncular and unpretentious, and so he was widely beloved. Anyone who had to fill his shoes started at a serious disadvantage. All the more reason to admire not only what Martin Franzen has done, but the sang froid with which he did it. He’s about the most agreeable guy you’d ever want to meet, and the students and stagiaires he hosts at the winery are in awe of his knowledge and helpfulness.

The chattering classes talk about how the wines have changed. They say that the Mosel-born Franzen makes them to emulate the cooler style of that more northerly region. They are indeed less overt than many of their peers in the Pfalz, because this vintner is most interested in overtone, nuance and penumbra, and he chooses not to make the fleshpots that would get him “high scores.”

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