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Klaus Peter Keller curates
"The Golden Generation"
Version 2

{ this is the rare opportunity to taste six wines from the next generation of German growers, as curated by one of the most respected winemakers on earth }
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Almost as a joke, in the spring of 2020 I proposed to Klaus Peter (KP) Keller the idea of his curating an offering. I honestly didn't think he'd say yes. But he did.

We both talk about the profound renaissance going on right now in German viticulture. He has called this new generation of young growers "the golden generation." We quickly agreed on some basic guidelines for the selection.

The growers had to be young. They had to be unknown (at least in the U.S.). The idea was to literally shine the spotlight on the younger growers to support, especially in these trying times, the next generation.

Once all this was settled: KP texted me the exact bottlings, quickly choosing the estates, the bottlings and the vintages. It was if he had been curating this 6-pack in his head for a while.

So here we are: Six premieres, six wines never before in the U.S., from five growers and from three different grapes (Riesling, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir), covering three vintages and three unique wine regions (Rheinhessen, Pfalz and Franconia).

If you follow KP on Instagram (@kellerdalsheim), you know he spends as much time (or more) talking about, tasting and photographing other growers' wines as he does his own wines.

One quickly gets the sense that KP feels a responsibility, a duty to help the growers around him – to try and take the white-hot spotlight that is on him, and redirect it to the larger culture of German wine around him.

For the last 20 years, KP and Julia Keller have mentored a new generation of German winemakers. They have become close friends with many of them, following their careers. In some cases they have become serious fans.

As but one example: this is Keller writing about Peter Leipold, who has two wines in this six-pack. “For me, young Peter Leipold is on his way to becoming a genius...He worked for two years at our winery before leaving for Burgundy to work at Liger-Belair... He has that special feeling for wine, something you don't learn at school... his wines touch my heart." I’ve spoken with KP quite a few times about all of these producers and the discussions around this six-pack – which includes two Sylvaners and a Pinot Noir from Franken, two Rieslings from Keller’s own Rheinhessen and a final Riesling from the Pfalz – were eye-opening.

Which brings us to this offer.

The notes below will be a broader overview of the estates, the winemakers as well as random notes from KP.

{ Pfalz }
Müller-Ruprecht Riesling Saumagen "N" 2019

From Keller's home in Flörsheim-Dalsheim to the Müller-Ruprecht estate, it's a quick 20-minute drive almost exactly south. Müller-Rüprecht is located in the Pfalz, in the village of Kallstadt; this is a region famous for powerful, dry Rieslings. Sabine Wöhrwag joined the family business in 2006. Her husband, Philipp Wöhrwag, also a winemaker, worked at the Keller estate in 2010 through 2012. Together, they are beginning a renaissance here at this 300-year-old estate. 

Müller-Ruprecht has older vines in some of the most important vineyards in the area, including the legendary Saumagen vineyard. The bottling Keller chose is the 2019 Saumagen "N", sourced from the coolest part of this awesome site. I did get the chance to taste this wine; it is forceful, with tremendous push and cut. As Sabine wrote me, "I think we try for classic Rieslings, not too rich, but rather very straight, driven by structure and minerality." As Keller has written: "This young family can be very proud of what they are doing!"

{ Rheinhessen }
Huff Riesling "vom Rottliegenden" 2019

The Huff estate is located in Nierstein, near the famed Roter Hang in the northern Rheinhessen. This is a region brought back into the spotlight by Keller and his recent purchases of small parcels in the Roter Hang vineyards of Hipping and Pettenthal. Indeed, Keller and Huff both have parcels in the Pettenthal.

Christine Huff worked with Keller in 2004/2005 before taking over winemaking at her small family estate in 2010. She is now joined by her husband Jeremy Bird in the cellar. Together they are shaping wines that "are elegant and subtle, but with depth and structure." For this offering, Keller has chosen their 2019 "vom Rotliegenden" dry Riesling. "Rotliegenden" is the famed soil of the Roter Hang, a finely weathered red slate, famous for creating profoundly aromatic, delicate wines.

{ Rheinhessen }
Sina Mertz Riesling "von Porphyr" 2018

Sina Mertz comes from a winemaking family; they have around 11 hectares in the largely overlooked (at least in the U.S.) northwestern part of the Rheinhessen. She studied with Keller in 2010-11 and came back to the estate with her head, as she wrote me, "full of ideas." From 2016 she has run the family business and, to put it bluntly: She has reexamined everything at her estate. There is a fire and true passion here – that is easy and obvious to sense, even over email. Julian Haart, who doesn't mince words, has said these wines are "superb."

Keller has chosen the 2018 "vom Porphyr" (Porphyr is a weathered volcanic soil) – again the selection highlights the soil typical in this region. While this is technically the Rheinhessen, it's perhaps useful to think about Sina's wines in the context of the Nahe; this region is quite close and the soil types, climate and ripening dates are very similar. The "vom Porphyr" is sourced from older vines in the coolest sites at the top of the hill, exposed to constant wind. Keller tasted with Sina in June, writing that this wine "is a dancing ballerina on the tongue. This wine is highly mineral, very pure and focused... Very proud of the coming generation in the Rheinhessen."

{ Franken }
Giegerich Silvaner "Schalk" 2018

We are in Franconia now, a profound region that is shockingly unknown in the U.S. This is a place famous for very dry wines of unapologetic structure. It is also a region famous for one of the world's "other" greatest white wine grapes: Slyvaner. While Keller is a self-proclaimed Sylvaner fanatic (there are two in this six-pack), it is not a coincidence that three of the six wines chosen come from Franken. This is a region to watch.

The Giegerich estate is, relatively speaking, young, started only 30 years ago with less than 3 hectares of vines. Brothers Kilian and Philipp are now working together with their parents Helga and Klaus. In January 2021 the brothers will officially take over the estate. Philipp worked with Keller last year and the two brothers are, again, rethinking the estate at every level. They are already transitioning the farming to organic, focusing on hand work in the vineyards and natural fermentations in the cellar. Keller has chosen their 2018 Sylvaner "Schalk," their Grand Cru Sylvaner that sees both extended elevage and then bottle age.

{ Franken }
Leipold Silvaner "Schilfsandstein" 2018
Leipold Pinot Noir Obervalkacher (village) 2017

The Leipold estate can trace winemakers back 12 generations. For our story, however, perhaps it begins with the young Peter Leipold. Born in 1990, Peter has already worked and studied at some of Europe's greatest estates, including Fürst and Rainer Sauer in Franconia, Keller in the Rheinhessen and Liger-Belair in Burgundy. He has been back at his home estate for three years and, together with his parents and fiancé Annalena, is quickly making a name for this estate.
Peter worked with Keller for nearly four years and the two have an obvious rapport – KP is obviously in love with these wines. I'll just quote him: "For me, Peter Leipold is on the way to become a young genius as well. He worked for two years here at our winery before leaving for Liger-Belair. He has a special feeling for wine, something you don't learn at school. His Sylvaner "Schilfsandstein" is a great soil-driven Sylvaner that evaporates in the glass - his Pinots are one of the best kept German Pinot secrets. They are pure, precise and utterly delicious. What Peter does with Pinot and Silvaner in Franconia reminds me of what Julian Haart is doing in the Mosel... Peter's wines touch my heart."

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