Leitz

Rheingau | Rüdesheim

Under the direction of Johannes Leitz, Weingut Josef Leitz has earned the reputation of being one of Rheingau’s top growers and moreover, one of the finest producers in Germany. Since taking over his family estate in 1985, Johannes has grown his holdings from 2.6 hectares to over 40, most of which are Grand Cru sites on the slopes of the Rüdesheimer Berg. Once the home of some of the world’s most sought after and expensive wines, the region fell to mediocrity in the years following the Second World War. Josi has made it his life’s work to reclaim the intrinsic quality of his native terroir and introduce the world to the true potential of the Rheingau.

The Rheingau is a small region, stretching only 20 miles from east to west. It is marked by a course change in the Rhein River’s flow to the North Sea from its origins in the Swiss Alps. As the Rhein flows north along the eastern edge of the Pfalz and Rheinhessen, it runs directly into the Taunus Mountain range which has a subsoil comprised of pure crystalline quartzite. Rivers, no matter how mighty, are lazy and the Rhine has yet to break through the quartz infrastructure surrounding the town of Mainz. At Mainz, the Rhein turns west and the 30 km stretch between Mainz and Rüdesheim makes up the majority of the Rheingau. Even though the region is further north than the middle Mosel, its south facing slopes get hotter than the narrow Mosel Valley which therefore provides important diurnal temperature variation.

Leitz’s estate vineyards lie entirely on the westernmost part of the Rheingau on the Rüdesheimer Berga steep, south-facing hillside of extremely old slate and quartziteplanted entirely to riesling, encompassing the Grand Crus of Schlossberg, Rottland, and Roseneck. Leitz trains his vines in a single-cane, cordon system to improve the quality and character of the fruit, differing from the majority of Rheingau growers where the practice has long been to prioritize yield via a double-cane system. Johannes is a firm believer that the crucial work of the vigneron takes place in the vineyards. Focused on farming as sustainably as possible and working by hand, the grueling hours of labor on the ultra-steep slopes allow these ancient vineyards to reach their maximum potential.

After harvest, Josi is equally focused on working gently in the press house and ageing the wines on their gross lees. Johannes selects bottle closures to reflect, and more crucially serve, the individual cellar practices employed for each wine; Stelvin closures are used for wines raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness while wines raised in cask are bottled under cork to allow for a long development in the cellar.

With the 2011 vintage, Leitz began to designate the pre-1971 parcel names on select bottlings, reviving the individual voices of “Hinterhaus” (Rottland), “Ehrenfels” (Schlossberg), and “Katerloch” (Roseneck). He has also resurrected the once neglected site of Kaisersteinfels, which has become one of the most sought-after wines of the Rheingau. “Der Kaiser” sits high, just beneath the forest line of the Rüdesheimer-Berg, with a spectacular view overlooking the confluence of the Nahe and Rhein Rivers. The singular terroir on the westernmost point of the Rheingau is composed of quartzite, very old grey slate, as well as some iron-rich red slate and produces wines with incredible complexity and length.

In 2011 Johannes was recognized by the esteemed Gault Millau as “Winemaker of the Year.” We could not be more excited to be a small part of the Leitz project.  We believe that these are some of the finest white wines in the world.

Soil Reports

  • Grey Slate
    Grey Slate

    Grey Slate

    Slates are debris soils where the landscape is dominated by a grey color of the weathered grey-blue Hunsrueck slates. Dark-brown humus rich topsoil is often covered by slate debris and rubble which protects the soil from desiccation. The spaces between the loose materials are therefore well aerated. It is possible to feel loess as well as clay and mineral-rich fine earth derived from weathered slate. The vines are well supplied with minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium and iron from the clay fraction. Slate weathers rapidly thus ensuring a continuous supply of nutrients and mirco-nutrients.
  • Quartzite
    Quartzite

    Quartzite

    Summits of the Taunus mountain range consists of a hard rock called quartzite. The sandy sediments washed out of long gone mountain ranges were deposited near a coast during the Lover Denovian (about 400 million years ago). These deposits were soon compacted to form sandstone, which was subjected to high pressures when it became buried beneath thick layers of rocks. This resulted in a modification of the crystalline structure of the sandstone turning it into a hard quartzite and finally to Taunus mountains. The Taunus quartzite contains more than 90% quartz (SiO2) and very little impurities. Therefore, the rock has a very low carbonate and iron oxide content. The mineral nutrient content is low. The weathering processes of quartzite and slate results in solid white quartzite blocks. They are particularly wheather resistant and therefore accumulate the soil.
  • Red Slate
    Red Slate

    Red Slate

    Here , the soil contains a combination of red clay slate and quartzite. Red slates are soft water sediments; the color comes from the iron content that has oxidized due to its arid climate, resulting in a very rocky, hard soil. It has less minerals than the rich soils of grey slate but still contains more than the quartzite soils. Vines' root systems struggle to penetrate this stony soil in search of water which drains easily; the plants cope with limited water supply by reducing the quantity and overall size of the grapes which results in low yields and highly concentrated berries.
  • Loess + Loam
    Loess + Loam

    Loess + Loam

    Ice age dust is found in most vineyard soils. Storm winds moved these fine dust particles from ancient gravel beds deposited by wide rivers. The dust dropped out of the wind in shielded locations, amassing thick loess beds. The fragile substrate makes it easy for roots to penetrate deep into the soil and reach water and nutrients; the most notable quality of loess is its high water retention. This sandy loess is partially mixed with gravel sediments of the former terrace banks of the Rhine, with quartzite or slate or coarse coastal sediments from the Tertiary.

Wine

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