Updated: Jan 2
Creative, innovative and so warmly witty-crazy. This is how Alexander Heer meets me. He neither changes nor plays with the spirit of wine. He gives it space, pays attention to it and creates a new body of taste with great sensitivity. Yes! It sounds contradictory and irritating. At first. Already the German lyricist Friedrich Hebbel recognized:
"Wine is the noblest embodiment of the spirit of nature".
Almost 15 years ago, Alexander Herr, a qualified oenologist, began buying up and leasing the best vineyards in the Rheingau (Germany) in order to raise viticultural treasures and select old clones with low yields. It is one of his basic principles to work with nature and not against it. He carefully observes and promotes species-rich revegetation as well as vibrant, diverse soil life. Ultimately, wild flora can only develop in open spaces that provide a good environment for beneficial insects. A low-growth structure with low fertility and a unique mineral composition best reflects the character of a wine. Thus, already during the work in the vineyard, he gains the foundations for healthy grapes, rich in aromas, from which high quality wines are obtained in the cellar.
It is these old vines, ranging in age from 25 to over 60 years, that Alexander Heer treats to much craftsmanship. They are those thick vines that have captured many secrets of the past and which he is now carefully tending. Fortunately, the rows of vines were planted by his predecessors as a dense planting and are responsible for the fact that only a low yield level and high natural must concentration are possible.
Such robust plants with a high proportion of wood and vital vine heads are virtually immortal. Their roots dig deep into the soil and find there the mineral substructure for profoundly honest wines.
And... Alexander Heer loves the interplay of specific soil and old vines, they are the foundation for individual and expressive wines, which together with the aging in clay vessels have the greatest possible personality.
The result is a wine that, far from being a mass phenomenon, does not have to please everyone, but rather the connoisseur who is on the lookout for one or the other variation, and it is a wine that is reminiscent of a great dramatic opera with multiple sounds.
From the vineyards "Hallgarter Würzgarten" with its, splendid, 40 years old vines, the "Müller-Thurgau 19 degrees" was born. This vineyard has a special character. Curiously shaped trunks, which despite their age still have high vitality.
In this vineyard, it is the wild boars that make Alexander Heer pull his few hairs out, but every year they serve as indicators of ripeness, because when the grapes have the moderate sweetness and the acidity is no longer too high, the wild boar rots begin their raids and require a very quick response from Heer and his team.
At the same time, the late harvest character was mostly reached. A level of increased extract value and the best basis for high natural alcohol.
In the cellar, the "19°" is very well suited as a wine for extended barrel aging. Still this wine has an enormous fruitiness. Banana dominates. Long lees aging "sur lie" and the alternating sequence of battonage create an even more complex and full flavor profile.
Long lees contact and the process of agitation is the most classic technique to protect the wine from oxidation.
In addition, Alexander Heer achieves an unbeatable density as a result. However, the technique of Vin Orange is applied here. Open mash fermentation and malolactic acid reduction completely reduce the primary fruit aromas and so develops
this spicy density from the once fragile structure. A peaceful 24-month barrique aging helps the wine to settle its yeast depot optimally and thus needs only reduced filtering. Twenty months of additional bottle aging suits it splendidly and the connoisseur splendidly in the palate and mind.
Since 2012 Alexander dances and toils on Thassos.
Here he can live out his ideals. The revival of old and ancient cultivation (amphorae), forgotten grape varieties and clones rediscovered by him on living soils became his newfound life's work. This is the origin of the Ktima Kazaviti winery. He now offers his stylistically Burgundian, clean Vin Naturel exclusively in Germany.
Completely forgotten, unknown, but also some better known grape varieties - partly clones of them - are cultivated:
Agriostaphila, Agoridis, Assyrtiko, Dopia, Kokinadia, Limnio, Limnio White, Matriaki, Mavroudi, Muscat d'Alexandria, Roditis, Rosaiki, Synonymo and some more.