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Peter Keller explains the characteristics and requirements of cuvées and single-variety wines.

Burgundy or Bordeaux?

The title may seem a bit blunt, especially in the context of German wines. But it highlights the following question perfectly: are single-variety wines or cuvées – wines made from several different varieties or vineyards – the better choice?
A red wine from Burgundy is always produced from a single variety: Pinot Noir. A Bordeaux, on the other hand, can contain a variety of grapes, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, combined with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and occasionally Malbec. Which kind one prefers is a matter of personal taste. Both can be excellent.
But what makes winemakers choose one option over the other? The answer lies mainly in the conventions of the wine-growing region. For example, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape is allowed to contain up to 13 grape varieties. Similarly, winemakers in the Douro Valley in Portugal believe firmly in the art of blending. The goal is to create an assemblage that tastes better than each component on its own. Winemakers strive to bring all elements – aromas, tannins, acidity, alcohol and colour – into perfect harmony. However, the fact that not all grape varieties are ready for harvest at the same time also plays a role. A cuvée can smooth out seasonal weather variability. If one grape doesn't reach the optimal level of ripeness or yields are low, another can even the balance.
Burgundy is not the only famous wine-growing region dedicated to a single variety: other examples include the Piedmont with its Barolo and Barbaresco wines made from the Nebbiolo grape, or California and Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines really bring out the character of a grape and the typical aspects of the vintage. Germany, too, has a wealth of single-variety wines, including Riesling, Scheurebe, Pinot Gris and Spätburgunder (the German name for Pinot Noir), to list just a few. The winery of up-and-coming producer Julia Schittler from Rheinhessen espouses this tradition. She made an exception for the Edition Peter Keller, though, blending Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc to create a subtle, complex and elegant white wine – dry throughout with good acidity. This well-executed special bottling is available exclusively at Mondovino.
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Rheinhessen Chardonnay-Weissburgunder Edition Peter Keller 2021 Weingut Julia Schittler

Germany, 2021

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Chardonnay-Pinot Blanc Edition Peter Keller 2021 by Julia Schittler combines two excellent grape varieties in equal proportion. This German white wine has some outstanding features. On the nose, it exhibits a delicate aroma of yellow fruit and spicy herbal notes. The wood element is perfectly integrated, both in the bouquet and on the palate, and does not dominate. This special bottling is dry, medium-bodied, elegant, well-structured, complex and relatively long-lasting. Thanks to its lovely body, the wine goes exceedingly well with fish dishes and white meat. The hand-picked grapes come from Zornheimer Berg in Rheinhessen, where 30-year-old vines grow on calcareous and loamy soils ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot blanc grapes. The wine is spontaneously fermented with wild yeast in barriques. Julia Schittler has aged the Chardonnay in new and the Pinot blanc in used wood. Sulphites were only added in small amounts during bottling. This exciting cuvée will keep for at least ten years and will gain complexity as it matures.

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