Before being invited along to meet Sybille at an informal evening of food and wine at the excellent Brett Wine Bar in Glasgow, I wasn’t too familiar with her wines, though Scottish distributor and retailer de Burgh Wines has been importing them for some time.
Weingut Sybille Kuntz is located in the Mosel Valley in Germany, specialising in Riesling wines. Sybille has been in charge of her family estate for over 30 years, a bubbly but focused character who runs the esate with her husband Markus, producing a portfolio of wines encompassing the traditional styles, from almost dry Qualitätswein, to super-sweet Trockenbeerenauslese. Farming organically since 1990, certification followed in 2013, with Demeter-certified biodynamic status in 2016.
The 18 hectares of vines here are old, aged between 45 and 80 years, and yields lower than average for the Mosel at 50 – 60 hl/ha. Sybille is not afraid of change and experimentaion, here also pouring two vintages of her ‘orange wine’, made with skin contact as a dry wine, and bottled unfiltered. While the other wines in the portfolio might be orthodox, these are gentle excursions into a new world, but made with attention to detail and no sign of oxidation or fault. From the initial 2015 vintage, production has increased each year, the wines finding favour, especially in Scandinavia.
On the subject of natural wines and biodynamism, Sybille gave a pragmatic shrug: “There is only one convincing argument for organic or biodynamic wines, there is no explanation: the question is simply, ‘does it taste better?’.”
The range is simplified to an extent, according to the colour of the labels, meant to suggest the character of the wines in broad brushstrokes: green for the Qualitätswein, because it is early picked, violet for Auslese representing the berries as they colour, gold for the TBA to suggest the full effect of botrytis. It’s part of a minimalist approach to the range that in some ways reflects the wines and winemaking: natural and hands off, nothing too showy, nothing too loud, but just beautifully pitched and elegant wines.
On this occasion we did not have a chance to taste the wines that Sybille and Marcus make further south in the Baden region. These are vineyards inherited from Markus’ family, and bearing his family name, Riedlin. Two hectares of Pinot Noir fashion dry red and rosé wines, with lovely labels based on paintings by one of Markus’ ancestors, the highly acclaimed abstract artist, Adolf Riedlin (1892 – 1969).