The 13th generation family winery, still making waves
Wednesday 30 March 2022
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Despite being established almost 400 years ago and now run by the 13th generation of the Zenzen winemaking family, Einig Zenzen are not the traditional winemakers you expect when you visit the green, rolling countryside of Rheinhessen or on the banks of the Mosel river. Their centuries of winemaking experience has not stood in the way of technological advancement, and visiting their cellar is full of surprising modernity. Quality is everything to the Zenzen family, and this means a commitment to improving and developing their winemaking practices over time — not simply following tradition for tradition’s sake.
However, some of their wines do hark back to the German Feinherb style, showing their loyalty to their chosen styles in the face of trendier, dryer wines. Feinherb Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) is made using a technique that stops the fermentation of the grape juice before all the fruit sugars are converted into alcohol by the yeasts within. This leaves what’s called ‘residual sugar’ — a palatable sweetness, and the real trick is to balance this sweetness with fresh acidity in the cellar.
In your Wine52 box this month, you may find a bottle of Dr Zenzen’s Pinot Blanc. This wine’s off-dry style brings out lovely ripe fruit flavours from the grape, of quince, apricot and even tropical fruits like guava or passionfruit. However, it’s not over-sweet, and please don’t be put off by the thought of a sweeter wine if you’re usually a bone-dry sipper. This wine is balanced perfectly with a fresh acidity, and drinks as easily as any of your favourites. Give it a go alongside the other Pinot Blanc in this month’s box if you can — the difference between the two in sweetness and flavour is fascinating.
The Zenzen family have been based in the pretty village of Valwig since the 1600s, a pretty winemaking centre on the banks of the Mosel. This region is famous for its slate and its steep valley slopes pinstriped with vineyards, and this gives Einig Zenzen a point of difference between themselves and their fellow Reinhessen winemakers — their terroir. In Rheinhessen, the land is rolling and protected from the worst of the weather by a helpful microclimate, and the soil is diverse, from sandstone, limestone to schist. In Valwig, the soil is primarily slate schist, and the climate begins to turn to the Mosel; cool mornings, frequent mists, fast-draining soil, warm summers. The light from the sun reflecting back from the wide river helps, too.
Now a global concern with links to Chile, the business of Einig Zenzen has changed a lot since the first days of hand-picking grapes in 17th Century vineyards. What hasn’t changed, however, is the family’s constant devotion to the grapes they cultivate and the desire to continue moving to wherever their wine takes them next.
“Fascination for wine as a fruit of mother nature is the driving force,” they say. “We carry on in order to enjoy a surprising and fascinating future. Let’s go for it together!”
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