Germany’s answer to Champagne, I found five fantastic Winzersekt for you to ring in the New Year.
We all know by now that champagne is protected by strict regulations, limiting the use of the word champagne to only those wines made in a specific area in the Champagne region in France.
Thankfully, this does not mean sparkling wines from other locations cannot be made using the same production method. In fact, around the world there are many sparkling wines that are produced using the classic French champagne method. While once again, there are regulations that even forbid to state méthode champenoise and Champagne method on a bottle that comes from outside the Champagne region – a lot of bubbles are made using those method. They will usually be labelled as made in the ‘classic’ or ‘traditional’ method or similar.
Perhaps the best-known sparkling wines made according to the classic method are Crémant de Loire, Crémant de Bourgogne, and Crémant de Alsace (all from France), Cap Classique from South Africa, Cava from Spain, and sparkling wines from the Franciacorta in Italy.
But did you know Winzersekt from Germany is made in the classic French method as well, with second fermentation taking place in the bottle?
If you are still looking for the ideal champagne or sparkling wine to celebrate the New Year, German Winzersekt is a fantastic alternative. Made according to the classic French method and following strict quality standards, these bubbles do not have to hide behind anything that comes from France’s champagne region.
Background: What is Winzersekt?
In Germany, sparkling wines are known as Sekt.
This includes a wide range of styles and quality levels, and the bulk of German Sekt is made according to the tank method. And while this is often perceived as producing lower quality sparkling wines, some very nice ones are made using the tank method too. But they are possibly not the type of bubble you would want to open for a special occasion.
And that’s where you should look at Winzersekt.
Literally translated into ‘vintners sparkling wine’, Winzersekt is a relatively new phenomenon in Germany’s wine landscape.
That said, excellent sparkling wines according to the classic method have not been made in Germany for a long time. But they have been few and far between over the more recent German winemaking history.
All that changed in the early 2000s with few adventurous winemakers starting to produce top notch sparkling wines according to the classic method to rival what comes out of the Champagne region.
So what exactly is Winzersekt?
Winzersekt is not just made according to the traditional method. To qualify as Winzersekt, these sparkling wines must adhere to a range of very strict requirements.
- Winzersekt must bear the name of the winemaker (winery) on the bottle.
- Grapes must be carefully selected, and hand harvested and must come from the vintners’ own vineyards (no buying grapes from other locations and definitely not outside of Germany, as is usual practice for many tank-method produced Sekt).
- The minimum time for a Winzersekt to age on their lees is nine months. In most cases, however, it will be longer and several of the best will mature for years.
On the other hand, Winzersekt comes in a huge variety of styles – from bone dry (brut nature) to different levels of dry, semi-dry and mild, and from a single vineyard sparkling wine to vertical, vintage and blends. A growing number are now also organic and even vegan.
By the way, the term Winzersekt too is now a protected product under EU sparkling wine regulations.
What started in the early 2000s with only a handful of names has mushroomed into a new boom in Germany – and yet it remains a niche market with a limited number of well-known names making huge strides into the German quality sparkling wine market.
In fact, there are quite a few that have ramped up many awards and in international blind tasting award events even rival the bottles coming from Champagne.
So why not indulge in the great quality of German Winzersekt this New Years’ Eve?
5 awesome Winzersekt for New Year’s Celebration
Germany’s top sparklers, Winzersekt, are the perfect treat for any occasion, whether that’s celebrating anything special or just because you like to have something bubbly in your glass.
With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, stock up on some Winzersekt to celebrate the New Year.
Below, I have selected five of my current favourite Winzersekt.
Sekthaus Krack Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature
Founded as recently as 2015 and led by Christian Krack, his partner Anna and his two younger brothers, wine knowledge nevertheless runs deep in the Krack family. Christian’s grandfather already made wine and his father was in the sparkling wine business too, producing sparkling wines commissioned by other wineries.
Located in the small but widely famous wine town of Deidesheim on Germany’s well-known Wine Road route in the Pfalz and surrounded by a good number of famous award-winning historic wineries, Sekthaus Krack already attracts visitors to the area in its own right. Thanks to the excellent range of sparkling wines that can be tasted on site, and the warm welcome visitors will receive from the knowledgeable staff.
The Krack Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature is made 100% from Chardonnay. The base wines are matured in stainless steel tanks and 500 litre wooden barrels. It is disgorged after 24 months on the lees.
In the glass, a light lemon yellow with hues of copper.
On the nose, scents of lemons, apples, pears, apricot, and mandarin followed by aromas of freshly baked brioche, oat biscuits, and dried apricots.
On the palate, lively and intense with aromas of lemon, apples, pears, apricot, mandarin, and oranges along with a salty minerality. Long finish.
Kessler Sekt Blanc Réserve Vintage Extra Brut
It’s not only newcomers that are revolutionizing the German sparkling wine scene these days. In fact, the oldest existing sparkling wine house – Kessler Sekt – firmly remains one of the best and of course produces a range of bubbly made according to the classic method as well.
Founded in 1826 by Georg Christian von Kessler, at the time also co-owner of one of the famous Champagne sparkling houses in Reims, France, the winery today remains one of the main benchmarks of German sparkling wines.
The Kessler Blanc Réserve Vintage is a blend of Chardonnay (87%) and Pinot Noir (13%).
In the glass, a bright yellow with green reflections. Lively and intense perlage.
On the nose, aromas of quince, apples and melon accompanied by clear yeast notes of toasted almond and nut butter. Followed by fine notes of summer blossoms and honey.
On the palate, creamy with a charming melt and fine perlage. Spicy with a long mineral finish.
Oliver Zeter Zeró Grande Cuvée Extra Brut 2014
Oliver Zeter, the man behind the winery is not new to wine business. His father was a wine merchant in Hamburg but Oliver himself was eager to make great wines instead only selling them. So after learning the wine business at prestigious Van Winning winery in the Pfalz, and working abroad in Italy and South Africa for two years, he returned to the Pfalz to open his won winery.
The first Oliver Zeter wine was bottled in 2007 and today the winery produces an impressive range of wines from white to rosé and red and across a wide range of international grape varieties.
Sparkling wines are part of the portfolio as well, and except for the Perlage Rosé all of them are made according to the classic French method.
The Zeró Grande Cuvée Brut is made only in selected years and limited to small numbers. The 2014 vintage is made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. It will be matured on the lees for over five years and that’s where it develops its unique character. No dosage is added after disgorging, thus making it a classic extra brut.
It’s the perfect sparkling wine to be enjoyed alongside snacks and appetizers.
In the glass, a light yellow.
On the nose, dominant citrus notes with aromas of essential orange oil, lemon zest and hints of grapefruit.
On the palate, elegant perlage. Delicate salty-mineral touch. Impressive length.
Trenz Winzersekt Riesling Urgestein Brut 2018
Calling the prestigious Johannisberg in the Rheingau wine region home, Trenz winery is looking back at more than 340 years of making wine.
Like so many of the historic Rheingau wineries, Weingut Trenz makes a wide range of excellent Riesling. After all, Johannisberg is one of the earliest locations where Riesling grapes were planted in Germany. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines complete the Trenz offering.
Made from 100% Riesling grapes, the single vintage Trenz Winzersekt Riesling Urgestein Brut beautifully reflects the minerality and strength of the quartzite slate soil uniquely found in the Rheingau.
Riesling Urgestein Brut is made from hand-selected grapes and fermented in stainless steel tanks before resting on the lees for 16 months in the bottle.
In the glass, a brilliant light yellow.
On the nose, aromas of plums, pears, morello cherries, and pears.
On the palate, fresh and lively yet complex with delicate fruit aromas of peaches. Elegant acidity.
Franz Keller Pinot Rosé Brut 2018
Most German Winerzersekt – in line with global sparkling wine production – is made from white grape varieties. But with rosé bubbles getting more popular by the day, many German vintners have started to make their own rosé Winzersekt.
Franz Keller Winery being both steeped in a long-lasting history and always open to innovation, it’s no big surprise the winery makes an excellent rosé sparkling wine using the classic French method.
The Franz Keller Pinot Rosé Brut 2018 is made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Blanc.
In the glass, a vivid pink salmon.
On the nose, slightly yeasty notes of wild strawberries, red currents, pomegranate, peach, and raspberries. Followed by earthy notes and mild spices.
On the palate, typical pinot notes with dense aromas of red fruit. Vivid and energetic acidity, mild tannins, and basalt stone minerality.
Are you familiar with German Winzersekt? What is your favourite bottle?