In Germany, there are many enthusiastic bio winemakers and you may count the energetic Christine Bernhard among them. Already for more than 20 years this pioneer of ecological viticulture -Ökoweinbau- has been making wine with much love for her grapes and the environment. Characteristic of Christine Bernard is how she speaks about her (often old) vines. “If you realize that vines give us nutrients then you have to treat them well. You don’t stress the grapes by overproducing, nor resort to chemical pesticides, poison or chemical fertilizers. The grapes are picked by hand, and then very gently vinified in the cellar.”
Natures natural rhythm according to Christine Bernard
At the centre of all her vineyard activities is Christine Bernard’s care for the soil, diverse life in the vineyard and cellar craftsmanship. Right from the start of her career as a ‘vigneronne’, Christine Bernhard turned to bio, even when at a time people were deeply ambivalent about bio. In the old vaulted cellars of the historic wine estate, Christine acts in compliance with natures natural rhythm. “My goal is to make wines full of character, sense of place, and inner harmony,” says Bernhard.
Has she accomplished her goal? Yes! Christine Bernard captured all of the above in the 2015 Janson-Bernhard Pfalz Riesling Feinherb, Alte Reben. The term “Feinherb” is used for everything from 10 grams of residual sugar to 18 grams per litre. The residual sugar in the 2015 Pfalz Riesling Feinherb does not disturb, on the contrary, it increases the fruit flavors and aromas.
In the glass
This Riesling feels fresh yet full-bodied on the palate, mouth-filling and seductive. Floral notes and lots of yellow fruit, pear, apples, but also a discreet sweetness. Janson-Bernhard’s Feinherb evolves in your mouth. Christine Bernard calls the Pfalz Riesling Alte Reben a “long-distance runner”. Unhurried tasting allows you to discover its subtleties in slow motion. Look forward to a long-lasting mineral finish. Enjoy its juicy, almost creamy moments, lots of fruit and a hint of vanilla too.
Dutch founding father
The Janson branch of the Janson-Bernard estate has a Dutch ‘founding father’: the Mennonite Abraham Janson. In 1739 religious persecution forced Janson to leave Holland and settle in Harxheim. Through the ages, the Jansons were known as progressive farmers and winemakers. With Christine Bernhard, the apple does not fall far from the tree. She immediately introduces ecological winegrowing in the vineyards. Result: the vines show a balanced growth, with smaller, concentrated, aromatic grapes. Wherever possible, old wine-growing traditions are utilized, whether through manual (vineyard) selection or the increasing use of spontaneous fermentation in winemaking.
A long history of winemaking in Zellertal
Janson-Bernard (10 ha) has grown into one of the foremost producers of the valley of Zell or ‘Zellertal’ in the German state of Rhineland-Pfalz. In Zellertal, between Donnersberg and Worms, a group of 15 vineyards “Schnepfenflug vom Zellertal” (in the German classification system called “Grosslagen”) have a special cult status. Already in the year 708 AD, a document refers to Zell as a place of viticulture. Therefore people consider “Schnepfenflug vom Zellertal” the oldest wine-growing community in Pfalz. Grape varieties are Riesling, Silvaner, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Pinot Noir as well as the typical regional varieties as Gewürztraminer and Portugieser, which find in the limestone, high mineral soil excellent growing conditions.
Great wine and food matching
The Pfalz Riesling Feinherb, Alte Reben is goes brillant with a summer quiche with fish, chicken with a creamy sauce, belly pork, goose and some game dishes, such as pheasant and apples. Asian dishes, mildly spiced food like stir-fries, curries and sweet and sour preparations match equally well. Same for a vegetarian Chili spiced with orange and cumin, or quinoa salad with avocado.
Wine producer: Janson-Bernhard Area: Zellertal, Pfalz, Country: Germany Grape variety: Riesling (more than 60 years old vines) Year: 2015 Alcohol: 13%