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After leaving Clemens Busch in Punderich in the last Germany email, a short 10 minute drive south along the Mosel brings us to the town of Enkirch and the home of Immich Batterieberg. A little history lesson is in order as Immich-Batterieberg ranks among the oldest estates on the Mosel. The middle portion of the estate’s grounds – still standing today – was first mentioned, in 908 A.D., by Ludwig IV, the last East Frankish Carolingian king, in a deed that confirmed the estate’s transfer to the church. In the 12th Century, the estate was ceded as a fief to Prince von Esch (hence today’s Escheburg) and was then remodeled and expanded. But It was the Immich family – among the oldest winemaking families on the Mosel, with a history that spans from 1425 through 1989 – that was especially crucial to the history and the development of the estate. It was Carl August Immich who, in the 1840s, blasted apart a cliff face of solid stone with endless rounds of dynamite reducing the site to rubble. Rendering it cultivable, he created the estate's most famous site, the Batterieberg aka Demolition Hill (hence the label logo of cherubs firing the cannon!). Batterieberg, along with the older top-tier sites Steffensberg, Ellergrub, and Zeppwingert, are all extremely steep slate slopes and all achieved the highest ranking in the Prussian Vineyard Classification of 1868. They are comprised of very old, ungrafted, pre-phlloxera vines almost unknown elsewhere in Germany! (Nearby neighbors Weiser-Kunstler, Ulli Stein and Clemens Busch aside). There is also the Escheberg cuvee that is a blend of all four grand crus. The Immichs held the estate until 1989, after which the subsequent owner basically drove it into bankruptcy.
The new owner introduced a more “industrial” age. The wines produced during this period almost ruined a century-old reputation. It ended abruptly in 2008, when the owner was declared bankrupt. Immich is now helmed since 2009 by Gernot Kollman (pictured above TOP left) after making wine at Van Volxem in the Saar and Knebel farther north on the Mosel near Koblenz. He was able to purchase the Immich-Batterieberg estate with the help of a few investors in 2007; his first vintage was 2009. Since then, he has taken on the task of acquiring and reviving choice old vineyard plots, farming them organically. He painstakingly restored the vineyards and cellars, rescuing them from abandonment and renewing their reputation for world class rieslings. He also added another grand cru vineyard site in 2014, the dizzyingly steep Zoltrum (Toll Tower) in neighboring Traben.
Historically, the Tower was the defacto toll booth for river traffic as it was high enough to see approaching boats in both directions giving the tollkeepers enough time to run down the hill and collect the toll!
The lineup offered today starts with a beautiful vintage sekt, the 2016 brut nature "Jour Fixe". Sourced from the Ellergrube, Zolturm and Obeberemmeler Altenberg vineyard in the Saar, it's a steal to have grand cru champenoise vintage riesling at the mid $50s pricemark! We then proceed to the calling card DRY kabinett C.A.I. sourced from the bottom of Batterieburg and other parcels. Next, we have the Eschenburg cuvee sourced from the five grand crus: Batterieburg, Ellergrub, Zeppwingert, Steffensberg and Zoltrum. Finally, we will have the following grand crus: 2021 Batterieburg, 2019 Ellergrub and the very last case of 2018 Zeppwingert available! A plethora of riches to choose from at multiple price points Again, in the goal of having as large an exploration of Immich wine available, we are offering a special discounted 6 bottle tasting pack with 1 of each!
PROST! Giselle Hamburg
All wines will be availble in store Friday April 7 for pickup and shipping
This wine is sourced from a 1.1 hectare monopole within the Zeppwingert. The 60-year-old un-grafted vines are planted in GRAY SLATE and quartzite soils on terraced plots, in the drier and cooler portion of the slope. The robe is a pale greenish-yellow. The nose is vivacious with aromas of white flowers, pear skin, white rocks, and a hint of peach. The palate is concentrated and tightly wound on the attack with a flinty attack with white tea, white pepper, and mouthwatering lemon pith notes fanning out on the finish. This is deeply stony and has great verticality with great energy. Delicious now, but could use some cellaring to unwind. Dynamite in a bottle! Giselle Hamburg
A preposterously steep grand cru of BLUE SLATE with ancient 100yr old ungrafted vines, fermented and aged in used oak casks for 10 months. The 2019 vintage was vinified just slightly off dry at 11.4 grams of RS, hence the Feinherb labeling as opposed to Grand Cru. The nose is an explosion of juicy peach & white stone fruit enrobing an iodine mineral core giving way to an expansive, spicy, lingering finish. This is still tightly wound, but has all the elements to make for compelling drinking with 5-10 years in the cellar. A blockbuster expression of Gernot's self-proclaimed favorite site. What makes the Ellergrub vineyard so special? Gernot believes it’s the soil: “The Ellergrub has a higher proportion of blue slate than my other vineyards. Also, the slate is finely weathered, with lots of little pieces of stone. This makes for very subtle and elegant wines which can be very mineral and not fruit-driven at first and generally need time.” Giselle Hamburg
Gernot works 8 terraces here of 100-year-old vines on GRAY SLATE and quartzite SURROUNDING the Batterieberg. The wine is a pale straw yellow with hints of green. The nose offers exuberant aromas of white peach, apple, melon, candied ginger and wet stone. The plate, though technically off-dry, is dry tasting and decidedly mineral, with a briny, stony core enrobed by ripe orchard fruit and white strawberry flavors with a hint of pithy citrus character that knits with the earthy character on the pungent, palate-staining finish. This is the most overtly mineral of the lineup and displays the most pronounced old-vine character. This has grand potential and is seemingly coiled at the moment. Decant 6 hours ahead if drinking now but better to wait 5-7 years and beyond for the towering structure to knit. Impressive stuff. John McIlwain
Jour Fixe is a blend of (mostly) ungrafted, single-post trained, 70 year old-vine Riesling sourced from a high parcel in Ellergrub, the western part of Zollturm, and a steep portion of the Oberemmeler Altenberg in the Saar valley. Zero-dosage, almost sulfur free,s as the base wine only had a small amount added in the cellar. Spontaneous fermentation occurred in barrel and the wine finished its journey via the méthode Champenoise, with second fermentation in the bottle. after 24 months on the lees. The 2016 vintage is super mineral and bone dry with extremely concentrated flavors ofslightly underripe stone fruit with a slight herbaceousness. all lifted by its citrusy acidity. Extremely lithe and elegant! Giselle Hamburg
C.A.I. stands for Carl August Immich, owner of the estate in the 19th century, who used gunpowder charges to blast out part of the mountainside in order to plant vines. Grapes are sourced from vineyards in the Mosel and Saar valleys, vinified in stainless steel. C.A.I. has a bright greenish-yellow, translucent robe. The nose offers and intriguing blend of white flower and stone fruit aromas with a hint of gunsmoke (echoes of Herr Immich's munitions?). The palate is racy and mouthwatering with zesty citrus peel and white cherry fruit with a long, lip-smacking finish. Rainwater fresh and bright. John McIlwain
Escheburg is a blend of ungrafted old vines (about 60 year-old) parcels from all Immich-Batterieberg's grand crus. The '21 Escheburg, much like its compatriots, is a terrific wine, pleasurable now but with plenty of life ahead. It feels the driest of the four big players in today's lineup - there is plenty of ripe white and yellow peach up front but offset by a juicy lime component that gives it a bit more snap. There is a touch of fennel in the mid-palate that adds complexity and a general tasty quality and the finish is anchored by a core of slate-y minerality and leaves you thirsty for more. Sam Ehrlich Extremely mineral with super concentration of flavors and aromas, yet with an ethereal body, truly stupendous and a bargain to boot! Giselle Hamburg