What a beautiful discovery the Luxembourg vineyard was! Postcard landscapes, beautiful parcels of vines planted on the hillside, charming vine growers. And to top it off, a very nice production of white (and red) wines! We were seduced.
Of course, Luxembourg is a small producing country, with 6 million liters of wine produced in 2016(1) (0.03% of the world production), but it is full of nuggets. With 1,280 hectares and 42 km long, the Luxembourg vineyard extends from Schengen to Wasserbillig, mainly along the Moselle. Visit of one of the northernmost and oldest wine regions in Europe.
A vineyard first made for white wines
On the way to Luxembourg, our friend Geoffrey Avé joined us to film a bit of the Luxembourg vineyards.
We visited the family estate Bastian Mathis et Fille, a beautiful property of 18.5 hectares in the town of Remich (nicknamed the Pearl of the Moselle), along with Anouk Bastian, the owner of the place. “Luxembourg is a little treasure, you just have to know how to find it”, she told us, smiling.
Because we must face the facts: hidden between the vineyards of Alsace and the German Moselle, the Grand Duchy vineyard is struggling to make a name. Wrongly.
It has a great terroir, with calcareous soils in the north and clay marls in the south. Which, combined with the freshness of northern Europe, present a perfect equation for the production of great white wines, especially from Riesling, Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc grape varieties.
The Bastian Mathis et Fille estate produces innovative and very precise wines, such as a combination of Riesling, Auxerrois and Gewurztraminer, a blend of two vintages (2015-2016), for more complexity.
An initiative to highlight, for a gourmet wine. We loved it!
Different styles of wines, different approaches, but always with irrefutable proof that Luxembourg plays in the big leagues. We met with Abi Duhr, a Luxembourgish vintner of character and owner of the Château Pauqué – in his family for 350 years – Abi is a true artist.
A lovely person, as intriguing as attaching, producing among the greatest white wines of the country (and elsewhere). Abi completely impacted our spirits and made us travel the time of an unforgettable tasting. “I have a weakness for the Auxerrois grape variety, it ages like a Grand Chablis”, he confided.
Abi has given acclaim back to this little too neglected grape variety. A great moment of sharing and some beautiful emotions on the wine side, after having tasted 24 white wines, one more interesting than the next.
We even touched the stars with an old vines Riesling. An invitation to meditation.
Luxembourg, from surprises to discoveries
The good thing about the vineyards of Luxembourg is that although we only talk about their white wines, they also produce incredible sparkling wines and a few red wines that are worth a visit. Example with two great successes.
Domaine Alice Hartmann, an estate located in Wormeldange and created in 1850, proved to us (as if it was still needed) that Luxembourg is a leading player with its crémants. Under the supervision of André Klein, this 15-hectare estate has some of the most beautiful terroirs in the country, on the slopes of the Koeppchen, all around the chapel overlooking the valley.
Alice Hartmann‘s sparkling wine cuvée (50% Chardonnay-50% Pinot Noir), aged three years in barrels, then five years in bottle, is a pure delight.
Domaine Henri Ruppert, in the municipality of Schengen (world famous for the treaty on the abolition of controls at European borders that was signed there in 1985), is now famous for its Pinot Noir.
Henri Ruppert, 8th generation of passionate winemakers on the estate (which dates back to 1680), works with 18 hectares. His red wines made from the Pinot Noir grape variety are models of finesse and delicacy.
“A good wine is not the result of chance, it is planned. Its quality depends entirely on the vine that gives it life, with the production of ripe and healthy grapes”, Henri rightly summarized.
Ahn, charming village par excellence
We fell in love with Ahn, probably the prettiest village in Luxembourg. At least the one which has impressed us the most.
At the estate Madame Aly Duhr, a family property of 13 hectares, the two brothers, Max and Ben, develop wines of a more contemporary and innovative style for the country, with longer aging in barrels. As a result, beautiful wines, at the antipodes of those produced by their uncle Abi Duhr (Château Pauqué), and which mark their own signature in the Luxembourg wine landscape.
5th generation on the estate, Max and Ben lost their dad very early and wanted to take over as soon as age allowed them.
Walking through the vineyard, Max showed us their oldest plot of 0.5 ha: Riesling planted in 1972. The harvest is expected to be early but beautiful this year.
Luxembourg is a wonderful wine country and I highly recommend a visit. “A small jewel full of resources and with nearly 400 wine farms”, enthuses my friend Dominique Rizzi, a renowned sommelier, in charge of the wines of the European Court of Justice.
Only 4 hours drive from Paris, let yourself be charmed for a weekend, for example.
Thank you to Bastian Mathis et Fille, Château Pauqué, Alice Hartmann, Henri Ruppert and Madame Aly Duhr, for their warm welcome. Thank you also to Dominique Rizzi, figure of the luxembourgish and international sommellerie, for her lighting on the vineyard of Luxembourg. Finally, a big thank you to André Klein, from Alice Hartmann, for his precious help in our research.
(1) Source : European Commission, 2017