J. & J. Ratzenberger Bacharacher Riesling Sekt Brut Sparkling Wine 2013
Winegrower: Jochen Ratzenberger
Region: Mittelrhein, Germany
Grape: Riesling 100%
If there's one day in the year to open a bottle of bubbly, it has to be Valentine's Day, and this stunning sparkler is romantic for all the right reasons. Vinified in the manner of Champagne, today’s offer combines delicacy and complexity along with a refreshing and refined finish that lingers on the palate. Dry and elegant, this sparkler speaks German with a French accent. Whether or not sparkling wines are truly an aphrodisiac remains a subject of debate. This wine, however, is the perfect potion to fall in love with. If you prefer to stay away from restaurants and enjoy Valentine’s Day as one-on-one time at home, this is the way to go. This wine offers something for every wine lover; it’s extremely rare, it’s on Michelin-starred wine lists, it’s the product of natural, meticulous winegrowing and cellar work, and it offers great value; at $46 it bests comparable champagnes that easily costs $20 or more.
The Ratzenberger family vineyards have a winegrowing history dating back 400 years. The estate, which is now managed by Jochen Ratzenberger, produces wines of uncompromising quality, beautiful aromatics, elegance, length, and structure. Vineyard work is entirely by hand and in many areas necessitates a system of guide wires to prevent the workers from tumbling down the perilously steep slopes. There is a little sand cover over the slate and growth in between the vines is sparse. One wonders how anything, including the vines, which are mostly over 50 years old, can grow here. Yields are low, what little fertilizer that’s applied is organic, and pheromones are used in lieu of insecticides to attract beneficial insects and chase away the nasty ones.
The estate’s beautiful, extensive vaulted stone cellars were built in the mid 1800’s and provide a perfect, naturally cool place to age the wines. Fermentation occurs spontaneously in old 500-litre wood barrels. The wines are aged in stainless steel and their Sekt, which is one of the Germany’s finest sparkling wines, is made in the traditional Champagne method and is easily their equal.
The Ratzenberger Estate is a member of the Verban Deutscher Pradikatzweinguter (VDP). This organization is a bastion of high quality in today’s globalized world. Members of the VDP oppose anything that is artificial and nondescript and represents the highest achievement in German winemaking. There are about 4,000 winemakers in Germany but only 200 are members of the VDP.
Bacharacher Riesling Sekt Brut 2013: We’ve all had times when we’ve put our nose to a glass of wine and in an instant sensed the exceptional. Welcome to Ratzenberger’s Sekt! Farming is organic, yields are low and only Riesling is used. After the first fermentation occurs spontaneously the wine is then bottled and undergoes its second fermentation, again with natural yeasts; a must, extracted from the same grapes is added rather than sugar. It’s then ages in the bottle, on its lees, for 30 months in the estate’s beautiful, naturally cool, vaulted stone cellars. No additives, including sulphur, are used. The wines naturally high acidity acts as the preservative. The finish is long and supported by a racy, refreshing acidity. Serve at 15˚ to 16° in Champagne Flutes or better yet Burgundy stems so as to best capture the beautiful aromatics.