Von Buhl’s impressive vineyards are principally located in the villages of Forst and Deidesheim and are planted predominantly to Riesling. The QBA Riesling is ridiculous value in good years.
“Wine lovers who are looking for the finest dry Rieslings of the 2015 vintage in Germany shouldn't miss the exceptional wines from Reichsrat von Buhl… Honestly, I was blown away by both the style and quality, but should also add that the 2015s are probably too complex for beginners. You really have to be a Riesling maniac to feel the rhythm of these wines.” Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate, Issue 226
“This beautiful old estate in the center of Deidesheim has just released its first vintage under new leadership and given their label a makeover to make the change in style more readily apparent... The first results, though, speak volumes. Bone-dry, yes, and with no fear of bracing acidity, which is nonetheless well integrated.” Joel B. Payne, vinous.com
“Former Bollinger chef de cave Matthieu Kauffmann (now once again resident in his nearby homeland, Alsace) and co-director Richard Grosche continue to score striking successes here.” David Schildknecht, vinous.com
Where do you go following twelve successful years as Bollinger chef de cave? If you’re Mathieu Kauffmann, you cross the Vosges Mountains of your native Alsace and head straight to the Pfalz. That a winemaker of Kauffmann’s renown could be tempted from one of French wine’s most prestigious postings to join Von Buhl is an indication of this historic producer’s potential and the quality of its vineyards. To give you an idea of how blessed this Estate is with its terroir, under the VDP’s Grosses Gewächs (Great Growth or Grand Cru) classification, Von Buhl ended up with seven Grosse Lage vineyards. Many great German Estates ended up with one or two. At the heart of the estate lie Von Buhl’s mighty quartet of basaltic vineyards, based around the wine village of Forst; Kirchenstück (arguably the most revered vineyard in the Pfalz), and then the equally famous sites of Jesuitengarten (Garden of the Jesuits), Ungeheuer (Monster) and Pechstein (Pitchstone). After that there’s the wonderful ensemble of Erste Lage vineyards surrounding the village of Deidesheim – which includes holdings in Paradiesgarten, Herrgottsacker and Mäushöhle – not to mention a series of fine unclassified sites spread across the hillsides of the Mittelhaardt.
The history: following a period of instability under a series of absentee landlords and overseas investors, this historic Pfalz Estate (established in 1849) is now under the stable and driven ownership of the forward-thinking Niederberger family. It was Kauffmann’s predecessor, Stephan Weber, who got the ball rolling. Weber’s focused on producing full-bodied site specific, organic dry Rieslings – via a medium of low yield, low input viticulture. This approach already had Von Buhl playing to its greatest strengths. Yet, it has been the arrival of Kauffmann – as well as co-director Richard Grosche, who he works alongside, and vineyard manager Werner Sebastian – that got this sleeping giant really going. The vineyards are now managed biodynamically, and there has been a raft of improvements across the vineyards and cellar, some of which we mention below. In short, the rebooted Von Buhl today has the level of vineyard and cellar practices commensurate to an Estate with the finest collections of vineyards in the Pfalz.
Von Buhl’s Kauffmann-era dry Rieslings are wines that seem to suck the minerals right out of their rocky soils. In spite of their textural abundance and sheer mass of diamond-cut fruit, these tightly wound wines remain incredibly precise. And they are now vinified bone dry. The Von Buhl team believe that the differences from one site to the next show through more intensely in the absence of residual sugar. In the cellar, Kauffmann’s preference is to ferment the wines in large, 2,400-litre dopplestück ovals, and he has also introduced the practices of natural yeast fermentation and long, texture-enriching ageing on full lees. So nothing like the winemaking he experienced in Champagne. Then, the Estate has dialled back the use of sulphur dioxide during vinification to the bare minimum (or zero in some cases), the pumps have gone, the wines are now moved by gravity alone, and the wines are not fined. All these factors, and more, have created the conditions for a perfect storm, or some perfect Riesling at least. Dr Jamie Goode puts it well when he writes of the 2015s, “… the new regime is nailing it: these were truly brilliant wines.”