German wine always means German vineyard names as well. And besides the hundredth Kirchenstück or Schlossberg, there are also a never-ending number of names in this country that keep sticking in your head. The Rödelseer Küchenmeister is one of my favourites among them, literally translating to Kitchenmaster. Not particularly fancy, as there are quite different candidates for that, but somehow a very fitting name for a vineyard that you could not have thought of better. Even more so for Silvaner, pardon, Sylvaner, which is always mentioned as a good food companion and even more often as a perfect asparagus wine. Since the asparagus season is long over, that doesn’t matter at all right now, and the vineyard name also comes from a noble family and not from cooking, although its name in turn actually goes back to something to do with food (Sorry, but there doesn’t seem to be an english wiki entry for that). The vineyard was definitely mentioned as early as the 14th century and even without asparagus, wines that are called Küchenmeister are certainly no disadvantage for distribution on menus and Co. Much more exciting for us wine drinkers is anyway what is behind the vineyard or rather under the vineyard. Here in the west of the Steigerwald in Franconia, it is mainly gypsum marl on which the vines grow. Paul Weltner makes wine here in Rödelsee in his fourth generation. The Sylvaner here accounts for about 60% of wines, being the largest share in the winery and we try a bottle of Rödelseer village wine from 2020 and a bottle from the Küchenmeister from 2021, which is classified as Erste Lage. Both wines have been filled into Bocksbeutel bottles, as can be seen easily on the picture. Personally, I find that quite chic, but at the same time often quite impractical, which is mainly due to the fact that it does not get along with more normal bottle shapes when storing and the Bocksbeutel takes up more space in the fridge door than I want to allow it. But thanks to screw cap this is no problem here and due to the flat shape it does not roll away either. This works really well, at least as long as there is no cork on it.
Let’s start with the village wine, which comes across quite harmless after unscrewing, almost a bit boring. There is light yellow fruit, minimal spice, herbal notes and a bit of yellow apple. In the mouth also rather sparse, tight and cool. This feels extremely young, which it also is of course, and especially with screw cap I have the feeling that this will stay like this for longer. Swirling helps as so often but enormously and the wine quickly becomes more and more exciting. It becomes denser and denser in the nose, there comes foliage and minerality and the structure that builds up on the tongue pleases me really well. This is slightly crumbly, carried by the acidity and leads to me sitting there like an idiot and starting to chew on this sip of wine. Since the better half across the table does that too, I guess it’s okay though. This is more about the sensations it evokes than the actual flavours or aromas. Even more air then leads to more and more fruit coming to light.
This stays like this on the second evening. It will never be a fruity wine and it should certainly not be either and yet there is now more fruit in the wine. It remains quiet, but it is very far from harmless now. A bit of pome fruit, a bit of stone and the crumbly structure that you want to chew on. I have to say that I really like this.
The fruit in the Küchenmeister seems much riper at first. This comes quite unexpectedly considering the year 21, but it is quite nice. This has a much creamier aroma, with notes of mirabelles that have stayed on the tree for a week too long and peaches that have lingered in the fruit bowl for a few days too long. Nevertheless there is nothing overripe or fat to be found here. This seems rather gentle in the nose, discreet, to then really turn up when drinking. Here wine and certainly also vintage bring along proper momentum. This is juicy, appley and fresh with a lot of structure. And when you have the wine in your mouth then also the nose becomes brighter and spicier. The initial impression of ripeness then quietly says goodbye and is replaced by more and more fresh apple, hay and now fresh stone fruit. Towards the end of the evening it becomes hard to say which of both wines is actually younger.
And also this wine continues exactly there without big change one day later. In direct comparison to the village wine there is simply more of everything here. There is more depth, more momentum, more structure and also more tension. This can certainly be attributed to the fact that this is the wine classified as Erste Lage and the other one is a level below it. But the power, the pull and the freshness are also thanks to the vintage difference. To be able to differentiate this better, it would have been smart to have the same Sylvaner once from each year in front of you in the glass. That is my mistake of course. In exactly this combination, I do prefer the Küchenmeister. And that for both reasons, because there is more depth in it and because this also has a whole lot more momentum. In the end, this difference of the vintages, the difference of the sites and also the levels in the assortment of the winery is of course also what makes drinking so interesting, so that the question of better loses a lot of importance anyway.