Subterranean poultice-filled cow horns? Suddenly it all makes sense.
I am delighted to introduce the Pflüger estate of the Pfalz region in Germany. Alex Pflüger has been at the helm since 2010 and is poised for ascension into Germany’s prestigious VDP classification. He practices Biodynamic agriculture (more below) focussing on Riesling. His wines are neither fined nor filtered, and his fermentations are entirely spontaneous, meaning no yeasts are added. The flavours are clear as a bell, fruity and expressive.
I first met Alex a few months ago, visiting Cuculo with his importer/our supplier. I’ve always loved German wines, which do not grace anywhere near as many dinner tables here as they should. He convinced me that with changing conditions favouring cooler-climate viticulture they are poised to become the Next Big Thing. You heard it here first.
My second encounter with him was last month, delivering an illuminating talk about Biodynamic Viticulture. Where the ideals of organic agriculture are admirable, the reality is not the black and white eschewed by its adherents and the whole thing leaves me distinctly ambivalent; Biodynamic, on the other hand, is different. I’ve always felt there was something in it, but had never been inspired enough – or perhaps, more accurately, had it explained convincingly enough – to give it the consideration it merits.
He spoke in English, precisely and elegantly, explaining the detail with neither hyperbole nor waft. Take the famous buried cow horn. It is filled with cow horn manure (i.e. fermented cow dung) to activate the soil life; and with horn silica to activate the light processes. More specifically, the manure fertilises and regenerates the soil while the quartz crystals in the silica enhance the leaf’s photosynthesis upon spraying.
During his talk Alex showed one of the most fascinating images in wine that I have seen – the leaves of three vines each arranged in a circle. One plant conventionally grown, one organically grown, and the third biodynamically grown. It is well known that the conventional is the most thrusting and productive, with the biodynamic the least. Yet the image tells us so much about what’s really happening inside. I call it chaos versus harmony but you can make your own judgement. A second image demonstrated how the bunches are looser, less tightly packed, on a biodynamic vine, reducing the chance of disease, infestation and mould.
The clincher for me, however, was when I pressed him on the reasons that the legendarily difficult 2013 vintage should have been so much more generous to him than his peers: “My techniques make the plants naturally resistant to the poor conditions”.
So I can thank Alex for bestowing upon me clarity as he spoke passionately and convincingly about biodynamic viticulture. More importantly, we can all thank him for his excellent wines.
We currently stock the Riesling Bundstandstein (“coloured sandstone”), which, notwithstanding it being Pflüger’s entry point, is the one garnering all the acclaim. This falls inside Alex’s Gutsweine (“Estate wines”) category, described as possessing an enhanced quality and typical of the terroir. It is refined and balanced with a delicious, lemon zest flavour. The cheeky acidity is perfectly integrated while the fruit flavour hints at a sweet creaminess.
Drink in: £23.95 (bottle)
Take out: £18.95
6 bottles: £17.05 each (10% discount)
Special introductory offer £14.20 (25% discount) per bottle
Read more about German wine classifications here.