Spätburgunder, Kalmit, Weingut Jürgen Leiner, 2009, Ilbesheim, red wine from Germany
Many of the reports you can find about Jürgen Leiner online begin with the perception that he is – I assume actually all mean his son Sven – an extraordinary but very quiet wine maker, who isn’t easy to identify within the mass of winemakers in Germany, but who holds a quite special place. This is pretty amusing because there are incomparably more articles, reviews and reports about this winery than about others in the same region. Even on youtube you’ll find some videos related to Leiner. Thus, this family – who own and run this winery – seem to be pretty smart in marketing and presentation. Salespeople in wine stores sell Leiner’s wines rather cleverly – like they’re sharing an insider tip. This is actually quite distant from the reality – but perhaps it keeps prices up? But anyway, everyone who writes about the wines of Leiner, everyone who circulates a review about it, just likes or even loves these wines. And I honestly agree!
I once wanted to buy “Kalmit” Riesling, having had a wonderful experience with some bottles of this wine – actually another introduction by Billy Wagner (the popstar (!) of German sommeliers: http://www.zeit.de/zeit-magazin/essen-trinken/2014-05/sommelier-billy-wagner). Since I didn’t pay enough attention to what the seller in the wine store (http://www.viniculture.de/) was putting into the boxes, I got stuff which I actually didn’t intend to buy. I was pretty surprised and at first also angry that I had bought the “wrong” wine: a Spätburgunder (which is a red wine) but not the beloved and very good Riesling (which is a white wine). The name of these wines is also Kalmit which refers to the vineyard named Kalmit. Although it wasn’t so cheap (I bought twelve bottles), I was too lazy to drive back to the store and so tried to convince myself that this other wine must be good as well.
Since there are already many reviews of this wine – because it seams that Germany’s elite sommeliers and wine critics know this wine so well, I easily could refer to some of the reviews I would agree with. Though the conventions of a sommelier’s language isn’t my thing – due to lacking knowledge and training – so I would just say: this wine is great and in many ways even amazing. It is light – taste- and colorwise. The finish and the resonance afterwards is impressively beautiful, tender and imposing. Nevertheless I can understand why many people might not “find” their access to this Burgunder, as it isn’t very rich.
Drinking this wine you do understand why some critics write that the wine maker has a “calm” personality. The wine does reflect indeed a credo of slowness: you can really feel a very special balance of what these grapes can deliver if you take care of them, select them very careful, but also take into serious consideration the soil of Kalmit (which I only knew from their Riesling) which gives the wine some coldness and minerality. The wine actually “grows” ca. two years in wooden barrels – according to all information I read – barrique doesn’t become dominant at all. If you’ve ever touched aged wet rough oak and you remember how it felt, take this image as an expression of what this wine is like: soft and delicate. There is a little – unintegrated – sourness which is perhaps the only distraction from an ultimate satisfaction. Probably this disappears if you store the wine for five or even ten years.
Another bonus of this Spätburgunder: the “silence” of this wine offers a multiplicity of food combinations: from classic roast venison to some medium sharp curry meals. Not many wines can offer such a wide range of options.
Family Leiner produces wines which are organic and biodynamic if I am not wrong.
I like to add something different: a winemakers needs to make great wines. She or he needs to know about soil, weather, temperatures and climate and about the difficult process of fermentation and the development of wine. And of course about vines. They usually do not necessarily need to know something about graphic design. Of course this is dangerous as I believe many amateurs or uninformed wine consumers buy wine also because of the labels and graphic image of a bottle.
I must smile writing this – considering the marketing image of these wines – “modest and tiny” – Weingut Jürgen Leiner are inspiring initiators of beautiful and very memorable graphics. For each wine, someone has selected an insect which decorates each label: this Spätburgunder is connected with a Raubwanze (kissing bug).
You can find more information about the wines on the website of the winemakers: http://www.weingut-leiner.de which is somewhat overwhelmed by different ecological messages but doesn’t provide enough straight forward information about the wines. Certainly people who have time will enjoy this kittenish art!
If you like to know how their Rieslings tastes, please read here https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/04/03/riesling-kalmit-2011-weingut-jurgen-leiner/