Knipser - The Grape Pioneers

29 November 2018

Weingut Knipser is a family business that can trace its family background all the way back to the late 16th century Tirol. Interestingly, the Knipser logo is the original coats of arms which was granted to the family in 1582. Today, the family resides in the small town of Laumersheim in the Eckbach valley, where the hills meets the plain. Rumours of a hobo giant in the landscape are whispered in the area sometimes, but we have never encountered any such creatures in Pfalz. Still, the legend adds to excitement of this areas' splendid wines.

The family's 40 hectares of vineyards are located in Laumersheim and nearby Grosskarlbach, and Dirmstein. The family produces almost exclusively dry wines, which has been the trend in Pfalz for some years. Since the '80s, the vinery has also produced a good amount of red wines, which quickly reached an international standard and as of late has proven to reach true excellency. As the vinery focusses on quality beyond all, they take pride in their membership in VDP and their Grosses Gewächs Rieslings and Spätburgunder.

The Knipser vineyards stretch from the neighbouring village of Dirmstein in the north to the Freinsheimer Höhe in the south. Their single vinyard wines are from:

Großkarlbacher Osterberg
Sand and pebbles from the Rive Rhine dominate this windy site with a top layer of loess soil, where the family produces some of their Erste Lage varieties.

Laumersheimer Kapellenberg
Further dominated by sand and pebbles with a more sandy top than Osterberg, this site produces some fine, fruity, and elegant Erste Lage Rieslings, typical for this region.

Großkarlbacher Burgweg
The Southern facing GG site has a limestone soil resembling areas in Champagne. Here, the family produces wonderful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir/Spätburgunder. Typical Southern French varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can also be found here in the more stone dominated parts.

Laumersheimer Kirschgarten
The GG Cherry Garden vineyard is also dominated by limestones with loess and loam. The field produces mostly Red wine varieties, ranging from concentrated Pinot Noirs to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Laumersheimer Steinbuckel
This GG site was once named Mandelberg, like the last of Knipser’s GG vineyard, but was renamed in 2009. Here, modern, elegant Rieslings are produced, as is typical for the region, but also modern Pinot Gris can be found, which are riped in barrique barrels in the family’s cellers.

Dirmsteiner Mandelpfad
The last GG site faces south and is dominated by loess and limestone. Here, the family also produces the typical Bordeaux grapes as well as exceptional GG Rieslings.

Clearly, the family is not afraid of taking chances as they plant very untraditional grapes even in the best of their sites. And it seems their courage continues as they currently experiment with the typical Spanish grape Tempranillo. 

We met the winery at Prowein in Düsseldorf for a small tasting and a chat. This is how we scored their wines:

Knipser Spätburgunder Reserve 2012
94 Aroma had ripe succulent cherries, herb garden, forest floor, leather, currant, oak and smoke. Flavour showed ripe succulent cherries and currants, leather, oak, smoke, forest bed, minerals, and fine herbal hints. Medium plus tannins, medium plus acidity and dry. Good length. What a lovely composed wine!
Knipser Kirschgarten Spätburgunder GG 2013
91 Aroma had succulent red cherries, smoke, herbs, oak, and currants. Over the palate came ripe cherries, forest floor, oak, smoke, hints of tobacco leaves, and forest strawberries. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Knipser Kalkmergel Spätburgunder 2014
88 Aroma had currants, cherries, oak, herbs, and hints of smoke. Flavour showed ripe cherries, black currant, minerals, oak, blackberries, and smoke. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Knipser Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
87 Aroma had black currants, subtle oak, small blackberries, green herbs, and plums. Over the palate came black currants, plums, oak, subtle vanilla, smoke, and spices.
Knipser Gaudenz Trocken 2014
88 Aroma had blackberries, black currant, plums, black cherry, and subtle oak. Flavour showed black currant, black cherry, subtle leather, notes of licorice, oak and blackberries. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Knipser Halbstück Riesling Trocken 2012
88 Aroma had candied apricots, tangerine, orange peel, white peach, green hazels, melon and oak. Flavour showed white peach, oak, orange peel and licorice. Medium acidity and dry.
Knipser Kalkmergel Riesling Trocken 2016
89 Aroma had white peach, lime, pear, mixed apples, minerals and floral honey. Flavour showed peach, honey blossoms, sweet pear, creamy lime, melons and floral honey. Minerals shined through towards the end.
Knipser Chardonnay - Weissburgunder Trocken 2016
87 Aroma had yellow pale fruits, lime, white flowers and minerals. Over the palate came citrus fruits, peach, minerals, pear, and melon. Medium acidity and dry.
Knipser Sauvignon Blanc Trocken 2017
87 Aroma had fresh pineapple, mango, lemons, lime, and subtle pine needles. Over the palate came lime, white flowers, subtle yellow fruits, and minerals. Medium acidity and dry.
Knipser Clarette Rosé Trocken 2017
87 Aroma had raspberries, strawberries, tangerine, sweet red currants, white peach, roses, and lime. Flavour showed sweet red berries, lime, melon, minerals, and floral notes. Crisp fruity and clean. Medium acidity and dry.

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