Franz Keller - Schwarzer Adler

11 December 2018

In the historic Kaiserstuhl, named after Emperor Otto III’s court from the 10th century, lies this years Gault-Millau ‘Winery of the Year’ Weingut Franz Keller. The area of Kaiserstuhl is characterised by its vulcanic origin and is known for its many rare minerals, which can be found predominantly in the cavaties of remaining vulcanic rocks. The vulcanic base of Kaiserstuhl is covered by a layer of Loess formed during the last Ice Age.

With this highly interesting and expressive underground, it should be no surprise that the terroir of the wines in Kaiserstuhl has a lot to say. And the Franz Keller winemakers firmly believe in terroir-driven wines. At the base of their philosophy rests the sound conviction that the best of wines starts in the vineyard – this is where the Keller wines come to life.

The winery is run by Fritz and his son Friedrich Keller and was founded in 1892. Fritz took over in 1990 from his father Franz Keller (1927-2007), who became known as an opponent of the large-scale land consolidation in the 1970s and 1980s and made a name for himself as an advocate for using barriques and for fully fermented dry wines. 

The quality obsessed family own many of the lovely small, historic vineyards placed in terraces in Kaiserstuhl. The parcels are still tended by hand and carefully nurtured to bring out the flavour of the area. The aim is to show off each of their terraces in Kaiserstuhl and bring out the vineyards’ individual qualities. The vulcanic soils and rather hot climate for Germany means that the wines get a distinct terroir-filled flavour. 

Once the grapes are hand-picked, they go to the winery which uses gravitation methods. There they fully ferment their wines to provide bone-dry, barrique matured, complex and expressive wines from their two VDP Erste Lage; Oberbergener Bassgeige & Pulverbuck and six VDP Grosse Lage vineyards; Enselberg, Schlossberg, Kirchberg, Eichberg, Im Leh and Kähner. A wide variety of the typical burgundy varieties, such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir are produced here in addition to the typical German styles. And the French connection goes deeper than the grapes.

The family embraces the entire experience of enjoying life with wine and food, inspired by French living. ‘We make wine for food’ is Fritz Keller known to have said. He is not kidding, they own three restaurants; The traditional Winzerhaus Rebstock, the Michelin Starred Schwarzer Adler and the modern, International Kellerwirtschaft in their new winery from 2013.

Needless to say, the excellent restaurants are all well worth a visit, not just for the food and wine, but also the interior. The new winery is built straight into the hills and is an architectural pearl - Terraced, just like their vineyards.

In fact, Fritz Keller is so serious of wine and food, he has even driven it into the local football club; SC Freiburg. He is proud that his club is able to serve a proper wine and good food to every visitor, in which he also also plays a role as president of the football club. Food and wine is about people - and so is football, according to him. We met this lovely family at ProWein 2018 and this is how we scored their wines:

Franz Keller Eichberg Spätburgunder GG 2015
92 Aroma had sour cherries, currants, forest floor, plenty of herbs, well-integrated oak and smoke. Flavour showed red cherries, cloves, mixed berries, oak, smoke, subtle leather, and herb garden. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Franz Keller Schlossberg Spätburgunder GG 2015
93 Aroma had herbs, ripe cherries, currants, mixed berries, oak, hints of tobacco, and smoke. Flavour had ripe cherries, herb garden, oak, smoke, forest floor, forest berries, and currants. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Franz Keller Kirchberg Spätburgunder GG 2015
90 Nose held red cherries, currants, oak, butter biscuit, forest floor, and smoke. Flavour had ripe cherries, herbs, mixed berries, oak, smoke, and forest strawberries. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Franz Keller Jechtinger Enselberg Spätburgunder 2015
91 Aroma had sweet red cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries, smoke, oak, currants, butter biscuit, and herb garden. Over the palate came cherries, currants, herbs, forest berries, smoke, and oak. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Franz Keller Oberbergener Bassgeige Spätburgunder 2016
88 Aroma had red cherries, cranberries, herbs, forest floor, oak, and smoke. Flavour had succulent cherries, oak, forest floor, forest berries, smoke, and currants. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Franz Keller Leh GG Weissburgunder 2016
90 Fassprobe: Aroma had lime, white peach, mixed apples, grapefruit, notes of minerals, green hazels, and a hint of oak. Flavour held grapefruit, licorice, vanilla, minerals, salt, and candied lemons. Medium plus acidity and dry.
Franz Keller Oberbergener Bassgeige Grauburgunder 2016
89 Aroma had yellow fruits, white peach, lime, minerals, pear, and licorice. Flavour had lime, white peach, grapefruit, minerals, apples, pears, and subtle licorice. Medium acidity and dry.
Franz Keller Oberbergener Pulverbuck Weissburgunder
89 Aroma had lime, lychee, minerals, white florals, and grapefruit. Over the palate came lime, grapefruit, minerals, subtle licorice, pear, and white peach. Medium acidity and dry.
Franz Keller Oberbergener Bassgeige Weissburgunder 2016
90 Aroma held white flowers, white peach, pear, lime, succulent melon, and pineapple. Over the palate came melon, lime, pineapple, licorice, and candied lemons. Medium acidity and dry.
Franz Keller Weissburgunder vom Löss 2017
88 Aroma had white peach, lime, melons, notes of minerals, and pineapple. Flavour showed lime, pineapple, minerals, florals, and white peach. Medium acidity and dry.
Franz Keller Silvaner Alte Reben 2016
85 Aroma had subtle yeast, minerals, citrus fruits, white peach, and grapefruit. Flavour had grapefruit, buttery oak, minerals, overripe melon, and lemon. Medium plus acidity and dry.
Franz Keller Pinot Brut 2014
87 Aroma had subtle raspberries, peach, white florals, pear, and strawberries. Flavour held raspberries, strawberries, light peach, white florals, minerals, and grapefruit. Medium plus acidity and dry. Clean and crisp.

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