Huge congratulations to Steffen and Sophie Christmann of Weingut A. Christmann! The father-and-daughter team from Gimmeldingen in the Pfalz has been named Winemaker of the Year by Germany’s Vinum wine guide.
Judges praised the Christmanns’ entrepreneurial vision and craftsmanship in handing them the award, which was accompanied with another gong for best dry Riesling of the year for their Idig.
“Despite our hundreds of years old tradition in winemaking as a family estate, we consider it our duty to question ourselves and our work constantly, always striving for improvement,” said Steffen. “We are therefore especially pleased that, after Sophie joined me as the next generation in the Christmann family, we have received all this positive feedback affirming us in our chosen path.”
Steffen and Sophie, who are also on a thrilling trajectory with their Pinot Noir, say the coming years will see them focus even more on the things that make the estate special and unique. “In our opinion, less is more, says Steffen. “Fewer vineyards, fewer grape varieties, fewer wines – but always and only the best quality.”
2018 A. Christmann Riesling $40
The Pfalz Riesling is produced from the first few picks of grapes in our classified sites. These are always harvested at the perfect degree of ripeness limiting the amount of fruit acid to a moderate level. The wine unites the minerality, finesse and elegant fruit of the sandstone soils in Gimmeldingen, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg. – Steffen Christmann
A gently flinty nose here with a wealth of ripe-lemon and pithy-lime aromas. This has a very succulent palate that carves a deep channel of yellow-citrus flavor. Taut finish. Drink or hold. Screw cap.93 points. Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com December 2019
2018 A. Christmann Gimmeldingen Riesling $54
The Gimmeldingen Riesling VDP Ortswein is produced from grapes from two young vineyards in Gimmeldingen: the Kapelleberg and Biengarten sites, which are both classified as VDP Erste Lage (premier cru). The grapes used for the village Riesling are always at their optimal ripeness. The red sandstone gives the wine its delicate notes, combined with a greater complexity which comes from the influence of the clay and limestone. The remarkable variation between day and night temperatures gives the wine a piquant acidity and minerality. The wine drinks very well when young and has great aging potential. – Steffen Christmann
Although floral and fruity aromas are always present in Christmann’s Riesling wines, it’s their filigree herbal expression I find the most fascinating. The 2018 is already very impressive at Ortswein (village wine) level. Healthy acidity and fine phenolics give the Gimmeldinger plenty of backbone.17/20 Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com April 2019
2017 A. Christmann Gimmeldingen Riesling $54
Concentration and drive are calling cards of this wine, as are edgy texture, green apple and floral scents, green apple and fennel flavours with general ‘minerality’ in the mix. Zingy, zippy, long and shapely, this feels like high quality wine from the get-go.94 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2017 A. Christmann Reiterpfad-Hofstück Riesling Grosses Gewächs $141
The Reiterpfad site comprises 60 hectares of red sandstone, formed over millennia from the Haardt hills. The large terraces slope gently towards the east-southeast. The best two portions of the land are to be found in the eastern section, along the wine route. As of 2014 only these two sections, the “Hofstück” and the “Achtmorgenweg” retain the “VDP Grosse Lage” classification. The rest of the Reiterpfad site has been revised to VDP Erste Lage status.
The Grand Cru harvest of the Reiterpfad-Hofstück site takes place after the early harvest. During one or two rounds of picking the grapes are selected according to strict criteria, taking only healthy grapes at the peak of ripeness. The yields are generally around 40hl/ha so that the grapes achieve optimal taste.
The whole grapes are carefully transported to the pressing room (Kelterhaus) where they are crushed. After a short period of maceration lasting between 3 and 6 hours, the grapes are slowly and carefully pressed. The must is left to settle overnight and is then fermented using yeast produced by our winery. Until it is ready to be bottled, the unfined and untreated wine is left to mature on the lees and fine lees in both stainless steel vats and large, traditional wooden barrels.
A fabulous GG to drink now, thanks to an exotic-fruit character that’s totally ripe yet so delicate, the succulence not a jot too much. Great balance through the long, very polished finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Respekt certified. Drink or hold.95 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2018 A. Christmann Idig Riesling Grosses Gewächs $165
Idig was more or less forgotten until the early 1990s, when the Christmann family of Gimmeldingen purchased choice parcels of the original site and “put Idig on the map”, with recognition and awards by leading German and international wine critics for its top Rieslings. Idig is the cornerstone of the A. Christmann estate and one of the most highly-prized sites in the Pflaz. It’s situated on top of solid limestone, deposited in the tertiary age from limestone deposits created during the break-up of the Upper Rhine Plain.
The top layers of the site are made up of “terra fusca”, a combination of chalk, clay and red sandstone eroded from the Haardt hills over millennia and deposited on the slopes of Mittelhaardt. In the top layers of the soil there is a large amount of limestone but also a substantial amount of basalt.
The GG grapes are selected according to strict criteria over one or two rounds of picking, taking only healthy fruit at the peak of ripeness, with yields generally around 40hl/ha.
This is a remarkably mineral and taut style with dried citrus, quartz, ivory and brightly squeezed citrus. Edgy and compact on the palate with subtle, caressing phenolics and vibrant, bright acidity. Long and very citrusy on the finish. Drink now or hold.96 points. Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com
One could be tempted to call Steffen Christmann’s Idig the minimalist among Riesling Grosse Gewächse. Whereas others may revel in opulence, particularly in 2018, the Idig excels in noble restraint. But it is exactly this understatement of individual components, whether they be herbal, mineral or fruity, which allows the taster to focus on balance and elegance as the key elements of one of the most sophisticated of Germany’s Grosse Gewächse. The thinking-person’s Riesling.18.5/20 Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com
2013 A. Christmann Idig Grosses Gewächs Riesling MAGNUM $297
Some toasty notes, drizzle of honey, punch of ripe green apple. It’s a beautiful bouquet, evocative of complex, layered Riesling. Hedonistic flavours of green apple, honey, brioche, but with crackling acidity, lively chalky fringes, a focus, but also generosity and drive. Slate and lime characters. Driven and delicious.97 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front March 2015