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Lukas Hammelmann
force and meditation, revisited
pushing boundaries in the Pfalz

{ this was one of the greatest visits we had in 2021; Lukas is simply a force of nature and believe us you are going to hear a lot about him and his wines}
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These wines are simply a force unto themselves; they are utterly singular. Somehow they buzz and crackle with electrical tension, yet they also have a textural airiness to them, like a crystalline, soil-inflected vapor. As we wrote before, all of Hammelmann's wines flaunt a kaleidoscopic mish-mash of influence and style, from Schäfer-Fröhlich to Rebholz, Clemens Busch to Lardot and Weiser-Künstler. (Again, see our tasting notes below for the logic, if there is any, of these references.)

We keep trying, and failing, to find the closest, most accurate reference for Hammelmann. The wines not only push boundaries, but they seem to rearrange the walls themselves. I suppose you just have to try them for yourselves.

When we first tasted Lukas' wines in the summer of 2020, safely in quarantine, we were blown away. In August of 2021 we were able to visit him for the first time, and the tasting was revelatory. The 100% truth of this offer is that after tasting all the wines we asked for our maximum allocation. Lukas said we could have one case of each of the Kabinett and Spätlese. We basically begged for whatever might become available and after a few months of back and forth, we got five cases of each wine. This gives you some sense of how much we truly loved the wines and how little there is to go around.

Lukas has, very early on (his first real vintage was only 2016), found his own unique path. And while it references the iconic, more traditional language of Riesling (citrus, stone fruit, mineral, salt) it simultaneously pushes into the new, more "natural" realm as well. At their most searing, yes, the wines cut with citrus and lime-zest. At their most plush and buoyant they float with the red-fruited mysteriousness of a sour beer.

Consider the Kabinett, which matches a restrained 35 grams of residual sugar (many Kabinett have 60+ grams) with an almost unimaginable 11.5 grams of acid! This is force.

Geographically, Rebholz is certainly the closest comparison for Lukas. Both Hammelmann and Rebholz are farming in the southern tip of the Pfalz. Hammelmann, however, is just south and west of Neustadt, heading up into the Haardt mountains. This is a cooler part of the Pfalz. It is also a story we are going to be hearing more and more about: cooler sites that once probably couldn't achieve perfect ripeness, now coming into a beautiful focus.

Lukas is only farming about three hectares and makes, in total, just over 1,000 cases. At the moment, he doesn't have plans to grow the winery at all. He wants to be very involved in every detail and he seems obsessive about the vineyard work - a good sign.

The laundry list of wine references above? They are not arbitrary. 

The top Rieslings reminded me of Schäfer-Fröhlich so much that on day two I opened a 2019 Halenberg GG to compare (the S-F was leaner, more linear and cooler-toned). The wines have a similar force and breadth to Rebholz, which makes some sense given the geography. As with Clemens Busch, the wines have a lavishness, an opulence that pushes right up to the edge, though the effect with Hammelmann is more a glaze that has been deconstructed. The Weiser-Künstler comparison is the most suspect, but there is a delicate amount of oxidation that recalls some of the mineral tones of a Wei-Kü. The Lardot mention is much more relevant, as both use not only a slight oxidation but allow malolactic fermentation, which gives the wines more width and airiness.

Brief notes on winemaking at Hammelmann
As per the winemaking, there is no formula here. Lukas says he says he will macerate, or direct-press, as he sees fit, depending on the vintage. For himself, he calls both 2019 and 2020 "cooler, more acid-driven vintages." Either way, even with the little bit of maceration Lukas employed in 2019 and 2020, the wines do NOT lack in acidity - even in these warmer vintages.

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