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Wine Enthusiast Podcast: Old Vines, New World

Managing Editor Lauren Buzzeo interviews two key individuals that have spearheaded South Africa’s remarkable Old Vine Project, plus we talk with pioneering vintners from Vienna and Alsace on the trending phenomena of field blends.

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Host: From Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this is the Wine Enthusiast podcast. Coming up on today’s podcast, old vines, new world. Managing Editor Lauren Buzzeo interviews two key individuals that have spearheaded South Africa’s remarkable Old Vine Project, that wants to preserve the vital heritage of old vines.

Rosa Kruger: It’s not about the aromatics, it’s not about the expression that a young vine often gives you, it’s about the texture and the mouth feel and the structure of the wine. It gives you much more weight in the body, much more…not concentration, but just more texture.

Host: Plus, Vienna and Alsace has managed to preserve and revive something that used to rule across Europe and even California, field blends. Contributing Editor Anne Krebiehl speaks with pioneering vintners from both regions on this trending phenomenon and how a symphony of grape varieties can create a unique and superior wine.

Mathieu Deiss: You know, we think of the terroir like music. For me, the terroir is the feeling that you will have when you taste, or like when you listen to something. The question is not necessarily to know how many do or re or fa or mi is in the music, the question is it…is it organized together to give you a strong feeling?

Host: Plus, paired down pairings, wine basics and more all coming up on the Wine Enthusiast podcast.

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Old vines make wines with unique character. In South Africa, decades of growing in one place have produced delicate but powerful wines. The Old Vine Project wants to preserve vines older than 35 years by creating an awareness of the legacy and heritage of old vines. Managing Editor Lauren Buzzeo, who reviews wines from South Africa, talks with André Morgenthal and Rosa Kruger who have both been instrumental in establishing the Old Vine Project.

Lauren Buzzeo: So we are here at Cape Wine 2018 and I have the immense pleasure of sitting here with…

André Morgenthal: André Morgenthal, manager and marketing for the Old Vine Project.

Rosa Kruger: Rosa Kruger, vineyard manager.

LB: We’re going to talk today about specifically the old vines in South Africa, and the prominence that they have taken over recent years and really shaken up the industry. To start, there’s a lot of buzz in the wine world right now going on about old vines, but really many Americans don’t realize that some of the best examples come from what is widely considered a New World wine region.

So we’re here to talk about changing that perspective and where consumers can look for these old vine bottlings. What does the Old Vine Project strive to do today and how are you trying to get the word out about these old vine wines?

AM: Well what’s interesting is that we set off with a mandate to keep old vines in the ground. Then we had to set the standard, like what’s old? With Rosa’s research, we figured out that at 35 to 40 years, a vine pretty much settles in and gets in balance with the environment. There was a professor at university, Professor Deloire, puts it beautifully. He says, “That vine sits there and can’t move. For 60, 80, 100 years has to adapt to that one specific site. It’s not like people who can run inside when it rains or when the sun’s too hot and put on the air-con. That vine sustains wind and cold, everything, all weather conditions and then they adapt to it.” That’s the beauty of these old vines, that they read that vintage. They understand the environment. We set the standard for 35 according to that and then we started to figure out what is the business model? What are we trying to achieve?

What happened was we realized that there’s much more than vineyards, it’s about the people as well. As we interviewed the farmers, they told us the stores are struggling, not getting enough money for their grapes and we heard heartbreaking stories of where they’ve almost been bankrupt. Now, when Rosa starting selling off these tons at proper prices, the farmers are still in business, the workers have jobs, their kids are at university…

RK: Fantastic.

AM:…and we have a wine on our stand which is a celebration for us. When we started last year, we went around to co-operatives and one of the co-ops was extremely cooperative, mind the pun. They said there’s this derelict vineyard that they want to show us, it was of Clairette Blanche, which looked and was neglected for four years, the farmer had no money to prune or to irrigate, to weed, nothing, but it looked fine, we could salvage it. It was salvaged, the company Daschbosch invested in the vineyard and today we have wine at Cape Wine two years later from that vineyard, which is very pleasing for us and there’s more projects like that happening now.

Once we establish this platform, more and more new names came up. So we had, what? 10 members by the end of last year, which was about a year and a half into the project because August this year was two years. But six, eight months later, we’re on 45.

LB: Wow.

AM: Because they could see the value of being part of the project by having an old vine wine on the table because it differentiates them as a brand in terms of quality, it also raises the prices and we raised the price of the wine because of the quality that goes back in the value chain.

LB: So can you elaborate a little bit about what exactly that quality means coming from an old vine wine? How does that translate to a consumer palate?

RK: We just had a seminar of old vines and Marco Ventrella, the chief viticulturist of KWV actually put it so beautifully, I must say. He said, “It’s not about the aromatics, it’s not about the expression that a young vine often gives you. It’s about the texture and the mouth feel and the structure of the wine.” It gives you much more weight in the body, much more…not concentration, but just more texture.

LB: Depth of character?

RK: Depth of character’s a very good one, yes and there seems to be a freshness about the wine. The analysis of the wine might not be exactly what you want. There was just a very, very interesting study done by Professor Johan Burger at the University of Stellenbosch and one of his findings was that the acidity in old vine wines in comparison with the sugar or the brix is more in balance than with young wines. So you’ll have a natural high acidity at a lower balling and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. So this perceived freshness is actually a real freshness that comes with old wines. Why that is we don’t know, maybe because of the low yield but it’s also because what Marco mentioned this morning is that all the vines have reached phenolic ripeness at an earlier age than young vines.

AM: So they can actually harvest earlier.

RK: Yes, at full ripeness.

AM: Yes, that means a slightly lower alcohol.

RK: Yes.

AM: It’s not to say that all old vines make great wines, it’s got a lot to do with viticulture, and how the grapes are handled in the cellar and that’s artistry. It also equates to minimal intervention. I’m not saying young vines don’t make great wines, there’s fantastic wines from vineyards that are 15.

RK: It’s not either or, they both bring something.

AM: Yes, this is just a very interesting development in terms of what we’ve now researched. There’s been organoleptic research done on old vine Chenin Blanc that proved that they’re different, so we’re talking about different, and a quality aspect that’s adding value to the wine offering out of a wine region like South Africa.

LB: So again, you’re going back to that concept that these vines have been there for so long that they’ve just actually slightly maybe morphed and evolved to better suit themselves to the terroir and their conditions in that they don’t need manipulation, they know exactly what they need to do to produce beautiful fruit and these eventually beautiful wines. So for people who are looking for potentially low-intervention or hands-off wine making, these are the types of wines that are made from these old vines that would suit them. Is that a fair analysis?

RK: I think it’s very clear that a winemaker that overstates his hand in the cellar will not make a good wine from old vines. Old vines are very fragile, you have to follow their lead, you cannot dominate them. You must let them speak and tell you where they want to go and you just do what they say.

AM: They’re like older people, I often say the care that you have in the vineyard with these old vines are…if you do a comparison between young vines, which is like a schoolyard with younger kids or teenagers and then you’ve got these old vines, that’s like an elderly home and each vine is different. They’ve developed their own personality. It’s not pruning any more, it’s sculpting and each vine needs to be considered by itself. It’s like an elderly home where each room is different, the little pill box is different every evening for that person because their reference frames are so much different because they’re 60, 80 years old and they’ve seen life. When you’re 25, there is no 30, you don’t think you’re going to grow old. So the approach is vastly different.

LB: Can you tell me some of the oldest vineyards that South Africa has for red wine and white wine and what are the varieties?

RK: The oldest red wine vineyard that we have is a Cinsault vineyard in Wellington, a fascinating vineyard. We discovered that vineyard about six, seven years ago, Chris and Andrea Mullineux are making the wine. The yield at the time when we found it was about 400 kilograms per hectare, less than half a ton a hectare. By sculpting, careful pruning, a more organic approach to farming, very, very careful manipulation of the canopy, very low interference, environmentally friendly approach to the viticulture, we’ve increased the yield now to three and a half to four tons a hectare. It’s a beautiful wine.

LB: So it is a hundred and…

RK: 118 years old officially.

LB: Wow.

RK: There’s about nine vineyards in South Africa that’s older than 100 years but they only started recording the age of vines in South Africa 118 years ago so those vineyards could be older than 118 years.

LB: Sure.

RK: We plan to actually take some cuttings and send it off to José Vouillamoz, the guy that works with, fantastic scientist, that works with Jancis Robinson. We met with him a while ago and he’s going to test our vines and tell us exactly how old they are because I think there’s one for example, T Voetpad, that Eben Sadie makes the wine, that’s a field blend of Semillon, Chenin, Palomino, Semillon Gris and a little bit of Muscat. That in terms of what the neighbors say, it was planted in 1887 but we don’t know, we’re not sure so now we’re going to have it tested. So I’m very happy about that.

LB: So you also have now introduced with the Old Vine Project a seal that wineries are going to start using on their labels to denote that the wine was made from old vines. Can you tell us a little bit about what that exactly means for the wine?

AM: That thought process took a long time because attached to that seal is the guarantee, as you said now, of a wine made from vineyards 35 years and older, but how do you prove that? As Rosa mentioned, we’ve got SAWIS and the record, so we trace it back. So the seal’s traceability’s back to the records of the planting date. We’re the only country in the world that can do that because we’ve got that system. It’s important that in terms of the planting date the consumer would understand that this is guaranteed, it’s not just slapped on and that in itself differentiates that producer or that brand in terms of quality and integrity.

LB: How do you see the future of the Old Vine Project? How will that best be achieved in the vineyards?

AM: The discussion today was focused on viticulture and sustainability and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do with the research. Rosa and I, we realize that the days of the romanticism and the fairy tales of the special places are over, those capture the imagination of the consumer or journalist but the story’s now been told. It’s now time to understand how this business model is going to work. Not only in terms of the project itself but for the vineyards as well. That’s why we’re talking about propagating the cuttings, looking at what we have and learning from the ageablity of these vineyards.

Why did they grow old there, and to understand that and then apply that to what we call, a plant-to-grow-old mentality, that you put a vineyard in the ground from the beginning with a vision of it growing old, healthily to a ripe old age of 60, 80 or 100 years.

LB: What do you see as the most interesting thing that should be on the horizon for viticulture?

RK: Three things. We are looking at planting in different spots because of climate change. We’re planting higher, very, very exciting new places, in Ceres Mountains and other mountains. People are moving higher, because of the altitude, because of the coolness at night as well. We looking at completely new areas where we did plant before but now those areas would be more suitable for grapes.

We’re looking secondly at taking cuttings from our oldest vineyards and making new plant material from it, because those vineyards have been surviving the climate change of the last hundred years. If they could survive that, they will probably be able to survive the climate change of the next hundred years. We think so. We imagine that. So we’re taking cuttings from that. Vititech has taken about 25 different spots, taken cuttings from it, clean it up from all known viruses and propagating new material.

Thirdly we are trying to farm much more environmentally friendly, closer to nature. We’re doing more mulching, we’re going more organic, we’re doing less pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. We are considering the viticulture more in a holistic, natural way than before, rather than the industrial way of killing everything and using chemical fertilizer. We’re looking at using organic fertilizing, farming in a more organic way. And finally of course we imported new varieties from all over the world and planting varieties that might be more suited to our climate in future rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc.

The Old Vineyard Project is not only about the vines of the past, it’s also about viticulture for the future. I was recently at the Masters of Wine Seminar in Rioja in Spain and I was approached by many other countries asking for some kind of participation with us, saying that they would really…they really admire what we’re doing and how do we do the seal and how do we approach our members and what did we do viticulturally and there’s many other countries that are now starting to look at their own old vines and wanting to work with us, which is of course great for us.

LB: Clearly you guys have been such an inspiration for and absolutely a lot of people have tremendous respect for the work that you’ve done, but certainly at the end of the day, the wines speak for themselves right?

RK: Exactly.

LB: Rosa, André, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

AB: You’re very welcome. Thanks for the opportunity.

Host: And next Senior Editor Layla Schlack has tips for integrating simple foods and flavors into your wine lifestyle.

Layla Schlack: In today’s paired down pairings, we’re gonna talk about one of my favorite fruits, grapefruit. There’s something sophisticated about it, don’t you think? All those floral notes and that slightly bitter edge, plus it’s just such a joy to cut open a bright juicy fruit mid-winter. I’m afraid it’s gotten a bad rep as a food that’s hard to pair, but I’m here to guide you through that.

First though, here’s a bit more background. It’s probably a hybrid of pomelo and a wild orange. The name comes from the fruit’s tendency to grow in tight clusters like grape bunches do. The U.S. is the world’s number two grapefruit grower, in terms of quantity. China holds the top spot. It’s one of the more cocktail friendly fruit juices. Think Paloma, Greyhound, Sea Breeze and Hemingway Daiquiri.

When you’re looking to pair grapefruit with wine, you’re probably not eating it on it’s own. Maybe it’s in a salad with something creamy, like avocado or a mild cheese. Maybe it’s in a fish dish. Maybe it’s dessert. Whatever the situation, look for crisp citrusy white wines with herbal, floral or stone fruit elements. Fresh fruity Verdejos from Rueda have a pleasing bitter finish, that plays well with grapefruit. Briney Greek Assyrtikos exploit grapefruit affinity for salt.

For savory dishes that call for a red wine, like salmon with a grapefruit shallot reduction, look for a high acid variety, like Barbera, its herbal and savory notes can bring out the grapefruit sweeter side. One no-fail option, Sauvignon Blanc is usually the best choice with grapefruit, due to it’s natural grapefruit aromas and flavors. In particular, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, are the most expressive, exhibiting a sweet grapefruit quality, as well as pungent herbal notes that compliment grapefruit based dishes. So there it is, that’s how you pair a grapefruit. Thanks for listening.

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And you’re listening to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, simply put, several varietals planted in the same vineyard, and vinified together is a field blend. Contributing Editor Anne Krebiehl, who reviews wines from Austria, Alsace and England, talks with vintners from Alsace, France, and Vienna, Austria about why this trend is on the rise, and how it can be a superior method of wine making, that brings out the wine’s terroir. All the physical elements of a place that can affect the character of wine made from it and how everything old, is new again.

Anne Krebiehl: I am high up above the city in the vineyards, I’m on the Nussberg with three Viennese vintners who make wine here. And they’re going to tell us all about a very special way of making wine. We’re going to talk about Wiener Gemischter Satz, about field blends and I’m here with Fritz Wieninger. You are from Weingut?

Fritz Wieninger: Yes Weingut Wieninger in Vienna. I’m Fritz Wieninger, the owner and winemaker of the estate, and we work with about 75 hectares of vineyards all located within the city limits of Vienna.

AK: Vienna is the only national capital in the entire world that has a sizeable and significant wine industry, that’s really remarkable. And from where we are, we can actually see all of Vienna at our feet, and we can see the magnificent stream that is that is the Danube. It’s still a bit misty here, but it’s kind or a beautiful silver huge stream, I’m told, but at night all you can see here is the glittering capital, as the lights twinkle. So here is Rainer Christ. Hello, good morning Rainer.

Rainer Christ: Good morning. Good morning, my name is Rainer Christ from the Christ winery, a very old family driven estate in the north-east part of Vienna, so we have a family tradition of around 400 years, and we are located at the Bisamberg, the hill in north-east part of Vienna.

AK: And here is Gerhard Lobner, of Weingut Mayer am Pfarrplatz. Hello, good morning.

Gerhard Lobner: Hi, and welcome to the wine area of Vienna.

AK: We are here to talk about Gemischter Satz, what is Gemischter Satz?

FW: Gemischter Satz is a unique style of wine of the Vienna region. It’s the case that you have different grape varieties planted together, completely mixed in one, and the same vineyard. They grow together the whole year and then at harvest time, you harvest everything at the same time. There’s a minimum of three grape varieties, that have to be together, but usually we talk about six or 10, 12 different grape varieties that play each their roles like instruments in an orchestra.

AK: How does it work and how did it come about? Because field blends like you described, used to be far more common in the old days, but there is a reason for that. Why did people plant in the past? Why did they not plant mono-varietal vineyards?

FW: That’s true, that’s the most traditional way of wine making, to have these different varieties in one piece of land, it was really unusual to think on mono-varietal vineyards, so that’s more an item after the Second World War. In the past, nobody was interested to plant single-varietal fields. You have a lot of advantages when you do it like we make our Wiener Gemischter Satz wines, you have a lot of diversity. You have, maybe, lessor problems with infections and of course that’s also an interesting item when you are focused on varietal driven wines, because maybe you have not only the character of one single grape on the palate. It’s really a unique style, which makes the region, maybe, in its best way tastable.

AK: By planting various varieties, you express more of the site where the wine is grown, than of the variety itself.

RC: Yes, that’s true, because when you have maybe 10 different grapes inside one vineyard, each grape variety at each particular maturing stadium, have a unique impression of the soil characteristics, so every grape variety it shows us a very fascinating facet from the soil.

AK: We’re talking about a field blend, but what varieties actually go into this field blend?

GL: In Vienna there are actually no rules which variety you have to take. Every vintner, every winemakers have his own philosophy, which varieties are in a field plan, so at Mayer am Pfarrplatz, we do have mainly Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Zierfandler, Rotgipfler. Those varieties, which do have a very fresh and clear character. At our boutique winery, which is called Rotes Haus, the vineyards are located on the Wiener Nussberg with a very, very high limestone content, and at this Wiener Gemischter Satz, in this field land we do have the Pinot varieties, like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Neuburger, a little bit of Gramin, so a kind of Burgundy way.

AK: And you can now label your wines as Wiener Gemischter Satz, and this is enshrined in law as of 2013, so Wiener Gemischter Satz celebrates its fifth birthday this year. So, happy birthday.

RC: Thank you.

AK: It’s an amazing revival that happened just in the past 20 years really. How do you feel about that Fritz, ’cause you were one of the leading lights of the movement?

FW: Well I feel very comfortable with that, I think this is great what we’ve done, and we did it together, not one single person is the one that made it. It’s more like a group of producers, with different ideas, different emotions to that. Different styles of wine, but each of the wines is of very high quality, and that is the reason why the market accepted that so quick. We knew from the very beginning on, that this is truly our roots, our history, our most important heritage and we would be idiots if we would not concentrate exactly on this. In the wine business you always have to look far back, what was great 100 years ago, 200 years ago, cannot be bad today, and so we focused on the Gemischter Satz and showed first the Vienna scene, later a whole Austria, and later the whole world, that Gemischter Satz, Wiener Gemischter Satz can be a wonderful wine,and thanks to the quality of really all the producers that are amongst this group, we made it and we were able to convince the people out there.

AK: Well you certainly convinced me, and I just love this idea of the metaphor you used first, of the orchestra, that in my glass there is a whole harmony, a harmonious sound and a playing together of so many elements and it’s a beautiful thing to taste it here with you this morning. It’s a beautiful summer morning with a slight breeze in Vienna. So thank you everyone.

AK: And now I’m here in a very beautiful vineyard. I’m sitting here with Mathieu Deiss. Hello Mathieu.

Mathieu Deiss: Hello.

AK: We are sitting in the vineyard, Burlenberg. There are grasshoppers hopping across our feet. We’re sitting on a bank of rock in the vineyard, which is overgrown with beautiful daisies and we see the mountain chain of the Vosges in the distance. We see the German Kaiserstuhl and the black forest in the distance but I’m excited to be in the Burlenberg. We were talking about field plans, which here in Alsace, are called, ‘complantation’ and I really wanted to come to the Burlenberg because it is a red field plant of red grapes. So, Mathieu, first of all, tell us a little bit about your domain and then, tell us a little bit about the Burlenberg.

MD: So, I joined the winery 2007. I just take over my father, who’s still there and will be there for a long time, for sure. He’s a very strong character, so we manage to work together and I think it’s successful for the moment. In the last few years, we took some new land and I started to exchange a lot of flat things to some beautiful slope, and Burlenberg is one of the nice places we own today. It’s also one of the oldest parcel from the domaine because Burlenberg is just on the slope between the village of Bergheim and just under the village of Tannenkirch. Tannenkirch was a village of people who’s working on the forest. Most of the land from here, from the Burlenberg, was owned by people of Tannenkirch, and my grandmother was from Tannenkirch.

So, this is really one of the first places we started to work, who was planted in 1947, still like it was at the time, and still a little bit field blend because a good part of Pinot Noir but also all the Pinots. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, a bit of Auxerrois mix on the vineyard.

AK: In the past, before mono-varietal plantings were the order of the day, people planted mixed planting and here in Burlenberg, why is this a red field plant and not a white one?

MD: This is a red field plant because of the situation. I mean, it’s maybe one of the view, the more opened for the winery, for the land we owned and we worked. It’s means, it’s very exposed to the wind. Alsace is by situation, very protected from the wind, by the wauge. So, most of the vineyard is not very windy. If you have to compare so to France and Alsace, it’s maybe wind who’s make one of the biggest difference. Here, it’s really, really not often that we have a lot of wind, and Burlenberg is at one of the windiest situations. So, that means this is the perfect place to grow some grapes without having any botrytis because that means it’s never really humid. It’s always very dry. Stay dry during the night. So, this is a very nice place for this and so people put a lot of red by the past because of that, here.

AK: What Mathieu means is to say for fungal diseases to thrive, they need humidity and here, the vineyard is ventilated and the vines are ventilated at all time, so those fungal diseases haven’t really got a chance. But still, it’s a beautiful thing to think. Well, 90% of Alsace production are white and so we have this super unusual red field plant. The reason I wanted to come here and speak to you about it is because I still remember tasting Burlenberg for the very first time. There was something that grabbed me by the heart. Perhaps not an elegant wine but a very touching wine that definitely has a lot of personality. So, tell me, how do you go about it and how do you know what is…you say it’s pinot noir but how much is Pinot Noir and how does it work?

MD: The first things you have to know is, the Pinot, the family of the Pinot, it’s what we call an unstable varietal. You have to know that the varietal himself, is normally Pinot because the Pinot Blanc, the Pinot Noir, the Pinot Gris, all the Pinot actually, there is mutation between them. So, that means, from the human being, you don’t see so much but if you look at for one century, you plant 100% of Pinot Noir, after one century, you will start to have some grapes with other color on the vineyard. So, that means it’s not so stable and the second meaning of that is that, by the past, people wasn’t so interested about having very pure, pure things. And especially if it wasn’t pure by origin. They were just taking the wood on the very old parcel, to graft and replant, and so, it was tradition to have a bit of white on the middle of the red. Like it was a little bit everywhere.

We didn’t create or make an invention for that. We just take the past from example, to build the future. Everybody speak about biodiversity. It’s so trendy, I would say and it’s just what was before. What people does before, without thinking biodiversity, blah, blah, blah. There was just taking the way to make wine every year and have the more balance every year, and the diversity was the way to do it, instead of having wine, only one. We were maybe one year, producing nothing and maybe the year after, too much. So, having a diversity was just a way to have something more stable through the year.

AK: So, perhaps we can talk a little bit more about the sense of place in the Altenberg. Shall we do that?

MD: Yeah, sure we can.

AK: So, let’s take glasses, finish our drink, and then move on to the Altenberg. Thank you, Mathieu.

AK: Mathieu and I have come to a different vineyard now. We are still in the village of Bergheim. We can actually see the roof of Bergheim and the church spire, and if you hear a rumbling in the distance, that is tiny tractor, doing some canopy work here. So, Mathieu, where have you brought me?

MD: This parcel is planted with many, many varietal. Actually, all the varietal we can have on the Alsace AOC and it’s a very interesting parcel because this is maybe the one where we pushed the idea of biodiversity, the deeper we can. Because we made eight row of wines, field plan with all the different varietal, like I said, but also, every eight row, we bring one row of tree. All type of tree that was used to be on the vineyard, so that’s a real complete biodiversity parcel with I really believe speak all together, and express more a family coming from the place. This is a little bit the idea from this parcel.

AK: And we are in the Altenberg. Grand Cru Altenberg. What varieties are here, in terms of grapevines and what kind of trees?

MD: The better picture I can give from this parcel, we think the terroir like a music. For me, the terroir is the feeling that you will have when you taste or like when you listen something. The question is not necessarily to know how many do or re, or fa, or mi, is it on the music. The question is it, is it organized together to give you a strong feeling. Is it Beethoven? Is it Wagner? Is it Chopin? It’s not the same. It doesn’t give you the same feeling. It’s made with the same note. Okay? So, this is my idea of terroir. It’s what the place said by the organization of all of that together. And I think this is maybe the most beautiful picture I can give, for the idea of terroir and it’s cause of that we’re starting to work with the field blend, and also the biodiversity by the tree.

AK: The mycorrhizal fungi. So, these are soil microbes and they help breakdown nutrients in the soil, and they live in symbiosis with the vine. So, the more microbial life you have, the easier it is for the vine to take nutrients and to be resilient, and to be healthy. Like a person who eats well and lives well, rather than living on junk food. It’s just a kind of balanced, old fashioned, natural, harmonious way of…

MD: Exactly.

AK: …feeding the vines and of farming.

MD: Actually, it’s just like something who is helping all the wines to speak together, to live together and actually, to bring more harmony. To make the music more elegant or I would say, more personal, with touching your hearts better. And this is the meaning of the field blend for me.

Marina Vataj: Hi, I’m Marina Vataj, digital content director at Wine Enthusiast Magazine and in today’s wine basics, we’re giving you four tips for storing open wine. These are the best ways to preserve the last glasses of your open bottle.

One, re-cork it right. The first rule of preserving your wine is to replace the cork correctly. While the clean side may seem easier to fit in the bottle, resist. The stained side is actually, already been exposed to the wine and it tasted fine. That clean side may actually not be so clean and it can taint the rest of the bottle’s contents.

Two, use half bottles. Air flattens your wine, lessening flavors and aromas. To minimize air exposure, use a funnel to pour the remaining wine into a screw cap half bottle. Even if there’s a little air at the top, it’s far less than the regular bottle.

Three, refrigerate it. It’s amazing how often people will leave leftover wine on the counter, after they’ve re-corked it. You would do that with food, so why do it with wine? The cool temperature can’t stop exposed wine from breaking down but it can slow the process down significantly.

Four, finish it. There are roughly five glasses of wine in a regular 750 ML bottle. If you and yours has two glasses each and splits the last glass, all while you’re eating a decent size dinner, it’s not too bad. For more wine basics tips, visit

Host: That’s it for today’s Wine Enthusiast podcast. To read more about wine, visit or pick up the current issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine to see our annual best buys list. 100 wines under $15. You can subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast podcast on Apple Podcast, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcast. And please write us a review. We’d love to hear what you think. We’d also love to stay in touch. Use the #WineEnthusiastMagazine and follow us on Facebook, and Twitter. You can also send us an email at

The Wine Enthusiast podcast is produced by Marina Vataj and Mike Sargent. See you next time.