– Less handling of the wines and less “winemaking” overall in favor of hard work in the vineyards. This can be called his guiding philosophy.
– The previously all-reductive cellar is now seeing more barrels, longer maturations, and more skin contact on the wines. This is having a profound impact on the house style.
– Spontaneous fermentations are now the norm; all the estate wines are fermented with native yeasts. Johannes is also doing groundbreaking work starting his fermentations in the vineyards before bringing the wines into the cellar. His experimental wine called VIRGO is entirely fermented by vineyard yeast started outside during harvest.
– The estate has been practicing organic farming for five years. Johannes is currently considering certification. He has also become one of the "young guns" leading the charge for studying and promoting chemical-free viticulture at the VDP.
– The wines at Gunderloch have all been VEGAN since the 2017 vintage.
– The wines are getting drier, more focused, and less baroque. Lowering his alcohol levels on the dry wines is a priority for him–and a challenge, given the warming climate and placement of his vineyards. His residual sugars across the board are starting to skew lower as well, which of course reflects the general trend in German winemaking.
In sum, Johannes is actively directing his steps forward at Gunderloch, not passively staying with past practices or assumptions. He feels that with changes to the ecology and culture around him, this is not only a good idea but crucial to the success of his family’s estate.
Meanwhile, the Rieslings here, particularly those from the Rothenberg, remain among the finest and most important in the Rheinhessen and in Germany. Taste them and it is obvious why: these are rich, elegant wines full of yellow fruits, great structure and fine acidity for long aging. But it is their newfound balance and the intrinsic energy within them–a direct reflection of their winemaker’s youth, vitality and new ideas–that we find so compelling.