Weil am Rhein lies on the east bank of the Rhine river at the most south-westerly point of Germany. The area is a ‘dreiländereck’, a tripoint where the boundaries of France, Germany and Switzerland meet, and from the swathes of vines you can gaze across the borders. Johannes and Christoph Schneider farm here in the 6th generation with family roots stretching back to 1465. Descending the worn stone steps into the cellar and standing amid huge barrels bound with metal, there’s a sense of stepping outside time and into a quiet world steeped in tradition. The brothers farm almost 15 hectares made up of over 70 plots that spread across the Tüllinger Berg, a mountain of forest and orchards harbouring rare birds and an abundance of flora and fauna. The individual plots offer a diversity of limestone soils with varying layers of clay, shaping wines that are crafted to tell the story of their origin. When Johannes and Christoph took over in 2018 they converted entirely to low sulphur but the pure, mineral-driven wines continued as they had been made for generations with a firm focus on quality and local varieties. It’s clear that they have no desire to get caught up in the fast world of young, glou glou wines; with plots rented 40 years into the future and wines ageing for 14 months or more in the cellar, this is very much a long game.
The grapes for La Bohème ’21 come from old Gutedel vineyards in Haltingen, harvested after the Pinot varieties and carefully selected in the vineyard. It’s a process that takes time, but guarantees healthy grapes arriving in the winery for vinification. The result is a charming Gutedel with balanced acidity that dances between grass and pear. Cloudy but not funky, entry level but enticing. A wine with a quiet softness that represents both the region and a local variety.