January 28, 2011 Reichsrat von Buhl
Reichsrat von Buhl Armand
In the January snow is a bottle from the estate which supplied the wine to toast the opening of the Suez Canal, and which could count among its fans Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who tipped a glass of Buhl riesling on her hundredth birthday.
Reichsrat von Buhl dates back 150 years. It is in the Pfalz region of Germany, an 80-km stretch of vineyards just north of Alsace in France. The climates of the two regions are very similar. And like Alsace, Pfalz has been traditionally known for its white wine.
The estate’s key historic figure was a politician and close friend of Bismark, Franz Armand Buhl, after whom today’s wine is named. In the latter part of the 19th century he groomed the estate to an international award-winning reputation. It was a time when Buhl rieslings brought higher prices than did the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
As Germany’s fortunes declined in the 20th century so too did those of Reichsrat von Buhl. Its vineyard holdings fell to a quarter of what they had once been, although, fortunately, the best sites were retained. Today the 55-hectare estate is owned by entrepreneur Achim Neiderberger, its operations leased to a company that includes the estate’s managing director Stefan Weber. Under Weber, and with considerable investment in new facilities and with a young, committed team behind him, the estate has re-established itself as one of Germany’s leading wineries. It has been operating organically since 2005.
The soil here is variegated sandstone. Yields are firmly controlled and harvesting is selective. Fermentation is carefully monitored to produce a clean, pure wine, with maturation in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. It is racked after eight weeks and eventually bottled without fining. The results find their way to wineshops of the world bearing the distinctive label designed in 1887 by the famous German Symbolist and Art Nouveau painter and engraver Franz von Stuck.
Reichsrat von Buhl Armand 2009
The Armand Riesling is designated Kabinett, which by German wine law indicates wine made from fully ripened grapes in a light style, non-chaptalized (no sugar added to increase the alcohol level after fermentation). This Kabinett is semi-sweet, with 8.7 g/l of residual sugar. The level of alcohol is just 8.3%.
With lightness comes elegance. It has a clean mineral nose with an understated fruit quality. A measure of spritz on the palate, giving way to a near citrus juiciness, but with a saline edge. Tasty. A definite personality. Nobody’s fool. Not to my tasting partner’s taste, but I can’t get enough of it. $