16 German winemakers to watch

11th July, 2016 by Darren Smith

8. Axel May – Weingut Steinmühle, Rheinhessen

Axel May is the 11th generation of winemakers at Steinmühle in Osthofen in the Wonnegau region of southern Rheinhessen. The family wine business is based at an impressive flint mill which Axel’s ancestors purchased in 1737 and converted it into a quality-focused wine estate.

Following a viticulture degree from Geisenheim and experience gained at Flowers winery in Sonoma and the biodynamic Seresin estate in Marlborough, May took over winemaking at the 15.5ha Steinmühle estate in 2009, assuming control of the whole business in 2013 – all while still only in his 20s.

In the vineyard May has sought to move in the direction of biodynamics (the Seresin influence), establishing durable green cover with a wide variety of plants to encourage biodiversity and encourage ecological balance, and experimenting with biodynamic preparations.

Low yields, rigorous selection (including several passes in the vineyard during harvest) and hand-harvesting determine that the minimal-intervention approach adopted in the gravity-fed cellar yields wines of intensity and elegance. Wild yeast fermentations and extended time on the lees also add complexity and texture to Axel’s wines.

The wines of the Steinmühle estate are part of the VDP system and concentrate on Riesling and Burgundy varieties (May admits to preferring the Pinots of Martinborough to those of Marlborough, if that’s any indication of style). There’s also some very decent Sauvignon Blanc and Weissurgunder, but the single-vineyard Liebenberg Riesling and Klosterberg Spätburgunder, particularly, are worth a look.

7 Responses to “16 German winemakers to watch”

  1. Dear Darren, “16 German winemakers to watch” – and None of them from Franconia. What about the famous Franconian VDP-vintners, who produce wonderful Riesling (and in fact, not less wonderful Silvaner? Please, I’m waiting for the next article: “16 German winemakers to buy”.

  2. Frank Schulz says:

    Thanks for sharing your findings, Darren! It’s fun to work with http://www.generation-riesling.de (.com). More background information regarding “Positive Marketing from Wines of Germany” http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomaspellechia/2016/06/28/positive-marketing-from-the-other-dwi-deutsches-weininstitut-wines-of-germany/#78b8eb723571

  3. Leigh W Dryden says:

    Not only Franken but Rheinhessen as well as notable young Franken wine makers like Andi Weigand and Rhiehessen rising starts like Lisa Bunn and Juliane Eller have all been missed nbnot to mention a whole rnage of new wine guns in Baden, there are a whole lot more than just 15 qwe should be watching as this is a generational up swing for German wines and wine making.

  4. Leigh W Dryden says:

    My apologies as both Lisa and Juliane are here which is great to see, missed these when scrolling through the insight- great to see as these two are personal favourites and we are about to launch both of their wines in Australia in September so I will keep you posted to see how we go with presneting this new and exciting face of German wine. Cheers Leigh

  5. Monsier Loup says:

    Hi Darren,
    Great Selection of fantastic very motivated young winemakers. I like the fact that most of them learned their craft from iconic KP Keller. His winery and his dinners are for sure a good place to be as a young winemaker to experience great wine and not only Reisling!
    Good Luck to everybody of them and hope to see a few more of them at Londons Indepedents!
    Best,

  6. Pfalzwein says:

    really nice selection indeed. Good to see so much talent preparing the German Wine Industry for an international future.

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