The Kupfergrube is a great vineyard site. This steep terraced slope with a wall-like appearance standing behind the estate house of Gut Hermannsberg is majestically framed by a handful of other great vineyards in the Middle Nahe Valley. Even a superficial glance is enough to make clear that remarkable wines with charismatic personalities must grow there. This is the reason why Gut Hermannsberg only releases its Rieslings from the Kupfergrube when they reach five years of age. “These wines need far more time than all our others,” explained winemaker Karsten Peter, “to drink them earlier than this would be a mistake.”
The decision to move to this “Very Late Release” strategy was taken by the Reidel family last year. “The 2017 Kupfergrube has such a complex structure it was clear that it’s full potential wouldn’t be reached after just two years of maturation,” explained estate co-director Jasper Reidel. It was therefore decided to shift from releasing the estate’s dry Kupfergrube GG (Grosses Gewächs is German for Grand Cru) at two years of age to five years after the harvest. That means the 2017 Kupfergrube GG will be released on the 1st September, 2022.
Gut Hermannsberg’s winemaker Karsten Peter recently proved that the Kupfergrube also has enormous aging potential as a sparkling wine when he made a remarkable Kupfergrube sparkling wine from the 2013 vintage. The cool autumn of 2013 was optimal for the development of fine aromas while retaining a vibrant acidity structure; exactly the combination needed for great sparkling wines.
The 2013 Kupfergrube Sekt’s first fermentation in cask was “wild”, with the indigenous yeast from the vineyard, as it is for all the wines from Gut Hermannsberg’s 30 hectares of GG / “Grand Cru” vineyards. The second fermentation that created the mousse, or bubbles, took place in the bottle where the wine spent five years maturing.
Finally, it was disgorged this July.
“The 2013 Kupfergrube Sekt is bone dry and we added no dosage, because the expression of the terroir is so strong it needs no sweetness at all.” Brut champagnes (the most important category) and other high quality Brut sparkling wines are typically given a dosage of 5 – 15 grams of sugar before being put on the market. The 2013 Kupfergrube Sekt from Gut Hermannsberg is an Extra Brut.
Those who bid for the 2013 Kupfergrube Sekt Extra Brut at the annual Nahe wine auction in Bad Kreuznach on the 22nd September also thought this and for that reason Karsten Peter had to increase the number of bottles sold.
“Originally we offered 240 bottles, but the demand was so great that if we hadn’t increased the number of bottles, then the price would have climbed too high,” he explained. By doubling the number of bottles sold he was able to put the brakes on the price. “We want people to actually drink our Kupfergrube Sekt, not to make it the object of speculation,” said Jens Reidel with a smile.
A total of 800 bottles of the single vineyard 2013 Kupfergrube Extra Brut Sekt were produced. Roughly 300 bottles will land in the Schatzkammer, or rarities cellar, of Gut Hermannsberg. Almost 500 bottles were sold at the Nahe wine auction for a price of approximately 62.50 Euros each including sales tax and broker’s fee. It will be interesting to see if and when some of them come onto the market, and for what price.
Vertical Tasting from 11 Decades
The group of international wine experts who tasted wines from the Kupfergrube going back 105 years in August during Gut Hermannsberg’s celebration of 10 years in the ownership of the Reidel family discovered how very long maturation leads to an unbelievable development of aromas and flavours in these wines. For many of the tasters the most impressive wines were the two oldest ones, from 1914 and 1923, both forgotten vintages with no great reputation. In spite of that they shone like stars thanks to their fantastic combination of balance, elegance and freshness.