The remarkable story of an Estate reborn from the ashes, long forgotten vineyards and one of the best 2014 dry Riesling.
The Weingut Immich-Batterieberg is one of those great classic Estates whose wines have been revered by Riesling lovers for decades. Whoever had the chance of tasting a majestic 1949er or 1953er Enkircher Batterieberg will be bowled over by rarely seen finesse, freshness, complexity and elegance.
Yet this Estate was almost done over at the end of the 2000s. In 1989, the Immich family, which had owned the Estate since the early 19th century, sold it to a new owner who introduced a more “industrial” age. The solid but essentially dispensable wines produced during this period almost ruined a century-old reputation. It ended abruptly in 2008, when the owner was declared bankrupt.
This could have been the end of Weingut Immich-Batterieberg and its coveted vineyards was it not for two wine loving investors and Gernot Kollmann.
They took over the Estate in 2009 and returned to proven methods from the past: Ambient yeasts, cask fermentation, long contacts with the lees to give the wines the time to develop (as the traditional Fuder were all broken, Gernot switched to used barrique, a decision he is very happy with).
They also restructured the portfolio around a series of "Cru" wines from their prime vineyards planted with old vines in Enkirch: Steffensberg, Zeppwingert, Ellergrub and Batterieberg as well as two high profile Estate wines. As of 2015, a new “Cru” graces the Estate’s portfolio, the Trabener Zollturm.
The quality of the vineyards (and talent of Gernot Kollmann!) immediately came through and the 2009 collection proved a roaring success, as if the bleak period of the 1990s and 2000s had never existed (we highlighted the 2009er Enkircher Ellergrub as "wine of the month" in 2011).
The Estate has gone from strength to strength since, producing, year-in year-out, some of the finest dry or dry-tasting Riesling. Also in 2014, several Immich-Batterieberg wines made it on our list of Dry Riesling Highlights.
The most famous vineyard of the Estate is its Batterieberg, a vineyard solely-owned which an Immich blasted out of the slate rock in 1845. However, the Estate’s parcels in the Enkircher Ellergrub give this vineyard more than a run for its money. This is hardly surprising, as the neighboring and befriended Weingut Weiser-Künstler also produces little jewel of wines out of the Ellergrub vineyard (... incidentally from a parcel previously tended by the Immich family).
What makes the Ellergrub vineyard so special? Gernot believes it’s the soil: “The Ellergrub has a higher proportion of blue slate than my other vineyards. Also, the slate is finely weathered, with lots of little pieces of stone. This makes for very subtle and elegant wines which can be very mineral and not fruit-driven at first and generally need time.”
The 2014 Ellergrub was made with only clean grapes ("a huge selection work" says Gernot) without any pre-fermentation skin contact. The wine was fermented in used barrique right through to fully dry (less than 4 g/l of residual sugar) levels, though the word "Trocken" is not indicated on the label. It was then left on its lees and bottled late, in August 2015.
The result is staggering, even if backward at this early stage (as great Riesling often is). But the finesse and lightness make for pure Riesling pleasure for whoever has the patience to wait a few years and give this wine the time to blossom (for reference, the 2009 Enkircher Batterieberg is only starting to blossom now). This is a great wine by any standards.
A review of the superb 2014 Immich-Batterieberg wines was published in Issue No 29 (Oct 2015). You are a subscriber and miss this Issue? Simply send us a request by email and we will be happy to send you a copy. You are not yet a subscriber and wish to get this Issue? Subscribe free of charge by registering yourself here below and ask us for a copy by email.
Enkircher Ellergrub Riesling
This delivers a stunning nose of cassis, ginger and grapefruit as well as some floral nuances and yellow fruits. The wine is loaded with flavors and mineral grip on the palate and the finish is airy, complex but also still quite primary at this stage, with the underlying grapefruit and ginger still dominated by herbs and smoke. But the overall balance, finesse and elegance is staggering. This needs bottle age but should then prove a cracker of a dry Riesling. What a great wine in the making! 2019-2029+
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.