Let's Talk About Sekts

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If you think that modern German sparkling wine is but an imitation of Champagne, you are partially right. Formal production began only in 1826, and it was indeed a former employee of Veuve Clicquot who was responsible, one Georg Christian Kessler, who transported the concept to Esslingen am Neckar, just outside Stuttgart.

While there is a lot of Sekt that is produced in bulk from lesser grapes that are drinkable only with the addition of sugar and bubbles, we are proud to be featuring Sekts that are made from better base wines, where the nuance of terroir is apparent and the effects of limestone or slate can be detected. These are all made by Flaschengärung, meaning the traditional Champenois method with the secondary fermentation in bottle. The only additions in these examples are neutral yeasts to start the secondary fermentation and a minimal dosage in some cases. The 2012 Knauss Sekt 'Zero' has no dosage and would be classified 'Brut Nature' in Champagne. It has the benefit of being a bit cheaper than most Brut Nature Champagne, despite coming from limestone parcels with every bit as much pedigree.

Also from limestone soils is the Hild NV Sekt made from Elbling, an ancient, rustic vine that dominates the Upper Mosel and much of Luxembourg. Elbling is perfect for Sekt ­-- early-ripening, it comes in with low alcohol and presents itself with delicate fruit and plenty of snap. Elbling grown on the Moselle in Luxembourg has a certain status and market for fine wine as Cremant de Luxembourg, while the same vine just across the border in Germany has sadly been denied the same respect and earning ability. In fact, much of the Elbling from the Upper Mosel is sold off in bulk, often ending up in cheap supermarket wine in Eastern Europe. So it’s all the more inspiring to see Matthias Hild and his son making their chalky, refreshing Elbling Sekt with small returns on their hard work despite the serious nature of their wines.

Besides the noble Hild Sekt, the rest are 100% Riesling, from some of our favorite growers in Germany who are often the subjects of our emails. For those not usually enticed by German wine, these soulful sparklers could be an alternative approach to experiencing chameleon-like Riesling in yet another of its charming forms. Prost! JK

Hild NV Mosel Elbling Brut Sekt

The Elbling grape has been grown in Europe for centuries; at one time widely-planted in the Upper Mosel, in more recent decades it has been devalued due to a lack of quality seen in its usage for bulk wines from co-ops. The Hild family has chosen to grow Elbling with care and focus, and are working towards organic certification. Soils in the Upper Mosel are more limestone than slate, due to the swath of the Paris Basin that extends into the region. The chalkiness comes through in this M├ęthode Champenoise sparkling Elbling, aged in stainless steel, spending nine months on the lees. Bright acidity and ripe, juicy pineapple make for a charming and refreshing bubbly for under $20. Cari Bernard

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
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  • no discount
  • $18.99

Knauss 2012 Württemberg Riesling Sekt Zero

This dry, zero-dosage Sekt is sourced from twelve plots of Knauss' Riesling vines of 15-30 years-old grown on a thin, clay topsoil that barely covers the underlying limestone. And the limestone, of course, is what really comes through: like a 18-wheeler barreling down the highway, in fact. Delicious aromas of fresh apricots and nectarines, a zippy, limey, backbone, and an underlying body with chalky texture adds depth, length, and quite a bit of soul. Vibrant, refreshing, and wonderful. Jonathan Kemp

UPDATED 4/20/15: The current bottling is from a June 2014 disgorgement. More leesy and opulent than before, it still keeps the bracing acidic structure and squeaky-clean finish, but there is more complexity. Bone dry at 1-2 g/l of residual sugar. Really fantastic! Jonathan Kemp

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  • white sparkling
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  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Falkenstein, Hofgut 2011 Saar Niedermenniger Sonnenberg Ries Sekt Brut

Erich Weber, grinning from ear to ear, calls this "100% Riesling Winzersekt" presumably to differentiate it from the boatloads of Sekt produced from lesser grape varieties by massive operations. The vineyard chosen for Sekt seems to differ from year to year depending on which site offers the perfect balance of fruit to acid. Just like the Sekt from Lauer, the estate's house style is unmistakable even in the presence of bubbles, and lovers of the Webers' salty, steely, bracing wines with fresh, invigorating acid will be crazy about this. By the way, it's also the best Sekt we've ever tasted under $30. -jfr

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  • $28.99

Lauer, Peter NV Saar Riesling Brut

Sekt has been produced at Lauer since the mid-1900s and while the bottle says non-vintage but the fruit is all 2011, a ripe year in the Mosel and Saar. Total of 10 g/l sugar after dosage, which would classify it as "Brut" if it were made about 250 km southwest of the Saar. Creamy, sponti, deeply mineral nose along with spiced apple notes. The palate is richly textured but linear with an exceedingly long, slatey mineral finish. The leesy, minty, tangerine notes really explode with some air. -jfr

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  • white sparkling
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  • $34.99

Immich-Batterieberg 2008 Mosel Riesling Brut Zero Jour Fixe

In 2008, Gernot Kollmann had just taken over at Immich-Batterieberg (after making the wines at Knebel for a few years), and while he hadn't been involved in the growing of these estate grapes, he decided to make this stunning sparkling wine rather than sell everything off. The wine is dry, mineral, slate-y driven and quite herbaceous. It's made without any dosage and is an acid-lover's dream. It fits in perfectly on the shelf with the bracing, high-toned Champagnes we all love so much and think this is an ideal wine for lovers of both Mosel Riesling and bone-dry Champagne that are looking for a sparkling alternative. -jfr

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  • $37.99