I was in Germany recently to learn about the great Riesling winemakers of the country. There are so many great German winemakers and the wines they make are incredible – from the dry trocken to the very sweet trockenbeerenauslese (TBA), all can be made from just one grape – Riesling.
One such winemaker is Fritz Hasselbach. He is the winemaker and co-owner of Gunderloch Estate in the Rheinhessen. Although Fritz is the winemaker, he married into the family winery. According to tradition, the winery has been handed down through the female side of the family, so it’s Fritz’s wife, Agnes Hasselbach-Usinger, who brought the winery to Fritz by marriage.
Over lunch, Agnes told us that she had originally wanted to be the winemaker, having grown up amongst the vines with her father but at the time, it was unusual for a woman to take over a family winery. Luckily, Agnes married a winemaker and she inherited the winery. Despite Agnes’s winemaking ambitions being thwarted, she is very much involved in the production of the wines and led us through a tasting of their Rieslings.
They strive to make wines of quality and with vineyards situated on the banks of the River Rhein, including the famous Rothenberg vineyard, they are producing award winning wines year after year.
However, not all of their wines are serious. Fritz decided that he wanted to make an approachable wine that didn’t need aging: one that he calls a “Friday night party wine”. He created Fritz’s Riesling as a light and modern wine, easy to drink but also suitable with a meal. I tried it and found it very friendly, unlike some Rieslings which can be as reserved as the Queen, this one is more like Prince Harry: fun and racy! It is, however, a balanced wine with ripe green fruits and a fresh lime finish. Fritz created this wine to be drunk anytime and I think he’s on to a winner.
As a side note, the label was designed by his children; in keeping with the playful theme of the wine.
Fritz’s Riesling is available from Majestic, RRP £8.99.