Franzen is exactly in between Winningen where Knebel is, and Bernkastel in the Middle Mosel, but the estate is still part of the Mosel Terraces. This is a young family working the steepest site in all of Europe, the Bremmer Calmont. The estate is run by Kilian and Angelina Franzen, both in their 20s. Kilian’s father, Ulrich, had a dream to restore and replant the Bremmer Calmont, which had fallen down over the decades. In the 1800s, the entire Calmont was planted with riesling, but over time, younger generations did not want to work in the steep sites and gave up the vineyards. By 1980, the only vineyards left on the Calmont were vineyards down by the road along the Mosel and the entire mountain was covered in roses and wild vines. In 1999, Ulrich decided to start buying up as much Calmont as he could. He had to research the town records to figure out who owned which piece and over the course of three years, he was able to purchase 112 contiguous parcels, from 112 different owners from Australia to China to the US. This gave him 1.2 ha in the heart of the Calmont, an amphitheater-shaped section near the center of the mountain, facing south. Kilian and Angelina make nearly all dry wine, but they made a kabinett for the first time in the 2015 vintage (it is in stock now). They have 5.8 ha in the Calmont, but also a few hectares in the Neefer Frauenberg, which is also a great site, though less dramatic. The grapes are crushed by feet in large boxes and macerated for 2-4 hours. Then they are pressed, and settled for 12 hours prior to fermentation. All ambient yeast ferments here, and nearly all the wines go through malo.
Grey SlateSlates 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. The Neefer Frauenberg slate is much more weathered than the red slate in the Calmont. Here, there is more humus in the soil and the rocks are smaller. The wines are fruitier and filigreed, straighter and softer, though very expressive and powerful.
Red SlateHere , 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. The wines are very powerful, spicy and full of saltiness.
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