H.O. Spanier & Carolin Spanier-Gillot
70% Riesling, 18% Spätburgunder sowie Weissburgunder & Silvaner
VDP: What is so special about your winery?
Hans Oliver Spanier: Hohen-Sülzen lies on the southernmost tip of the Wonnegau, near Worms, and the region is famous for its calcareous subsoils. Similar to the Nibelungen, the treasure lies invisibly beneath the surface for us winegrowers: mighty lime banks cross the earth here. The vines must root in this porous and water-storing rock to obtain nourishment. Due to the Donnersberg, which intercepts the weather from the west, the Wonnegau is in the rain shadow and summers are drier than elsewhere. The water-storing lime exhibits its virtues and yields wines that are ripe and vibrant. The deeply rooted vines bring out the stone aromas rather than the fruit aromas.
VDP: What is your winery philosophy?
Hans Oliver Spanier: Since 2005, I have enhanced our organic viticulture with biodynamic methods. Not polluting the soil and vine with synthetic fertilizers is logical. In addition to the soil processes that influence fruit formation, there are light processes, which are becoming more and more important due to the changing climate. The application of preparations and teas has led to a significant strengthening of the vines. Their growth is more homogenous and they are more resistant to changes in heat and humidity, which helps to prevent diseases and overripening. Membership in the ‘Renaissance of Appellations’ founded by Nicolas Joly is both an honour and a mission. The exchange of ideas with other biodynamic winegrowers is one of the important pillars of further development.
VDP: For what wine style do you strive?
Hans Oliver Spanier: My wines explore the space between being proactive and letting things be, between reason and risk. Every year, almost every day is unique in viticulture. At the moment I want to take action in the vineyard, I must try to forget everything I have ever learned and felt to be safe. Otherwise, there is no room for intuition. Without intuition, there is only certainty, which unfortunately means arbitrariness in wine. For me, the grape is the interpreter that translates the extremely calcareous soils of southern Wonnegau into wine. And this is what interests me: the spectrum of aromas of the stones and the soil found beyond the transient fruit. Dancing minerals. Salty character of origin. This applies to Riesling as well as to Sylvaner, the white wine as well as the red Burgundy. I don’t grow any other grape varieties.
VDP: Which of your wines would you recommend to someone who does not yet know your winery – as an introduction, so to speak?
Hans Oliver Spanier: Our Riesling VDP.GUTSWEIN. We simply call it Riesling Gutswein, but the wine with the silver label is already a strict selection of Riesling grapes that grow in the calcareous steep slopes of the Wonnegau around Hohen-Sülzen and the Zellertal. Harvested by hand, selected again at a sorting table, aged in large old barrels and left ‘sur lie’ until well into spring: the entry into the premium wine world of Battenfeld-Spanier. On the nose, the wine exudes subtle stone fruit, which is accompanied by delicate herbal aromas. In the mouth, the aromas of Mirabelle plum can be found accompanied by wonderful juiciness. The clearly prominent minerality and the precise character make the wine multi-layered, exciting and enormously stimulating to drink. The mouthfeel is refreshing, accompanied by a long finish – a Riesling that never tires.
VDP: Of which wine are you particularly proud?
Hans Oliver Spanier: Of the VDP.GROSSE LAGE® FRAUENBERG. This vineyard was given to me by a winegrower in 1999 and it is emotionally my most important vineyard. The base consists of limestone gravel, while the subsoil is pure limestone rock. The exposed location and the elevated ridge of the Frauenberg mountain demand everything from the vines. Together with the mineral-rich, yet extremely meagre soil in which the vine has to root very deeply to get nutrients, the conditions for a long and healthy vegetation period are ideal. Aromas of stone dominate in the Riesling from Frauenberg: herbal spices, cool tobacco aromas, polished acidity and a steel mineral structure. In the mouth the wine has a lot of texture, but it does not reveal everything immediately. The Frauenberg wants to be seduced. It needs time and can’t be hurried. It eventually rewards with nearly breathtaking elegance and finesse.
VDP: Why did you become a vintner?
Hans Oliver Spanier: If I hadn’t had a serious traffic accident at the age of 17, I would very probably have become a professional athlete. Perfection in preparation, sensitivity to physical possibilities, endurance and finally, top performance are a combination that has fascinated me ever since I can remember. Ultimately, my work as a winemaker continues this fascination, except that it’s the soil and the grapes that I have to listen to. Riesling is my vision. Here in Wonnegau, there is no grape that can translate the soil and light into wine with more precision and flavour. I consider the fruitiness of the Riesling to be a passing phase before the metamorphosis into an authentic stony wine begins. In the meantime, the business has grown to almost 30 hectares and a strong team of employees has grown alongside the family. The success that has come about is a joint achievement for which I had to develop from a lone fighter to a team player. I also see that in an athletic way.
VDP: Do you have role models?
Hans Oliver Spanier: My grandfather.