Kranz Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé Brut Sekt
Weingut Kranz is a top-quality winery in the German region of the Pfalz (aka Palatinate). It started in 1948 in the south of the Pfalz region, not far from the French (Alsace) border. Today, it’s run by the fourth generation, Boris and Kerstin Kranz. The estate is organic and a member of the prestigious and influential VDP.
The VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) is a private growers association with strict quality rules in the vineyard and wine cellar, including those governing origin and sustainability. These go much further than those of the general German wine classifications. Although the membership of the VDP represents a tiny proportion of Germany’s total vineyards, it includes a high proportion of its most outstanding wines*.
The Pfalz can trace its development of wine culture back to the Romans. These days, it’s the second-largest wine-growing area in Germany. This southern part of the Pfalz** is an area of gentle hills, with views over the plain of the upper Rhine and the Black Forest beyond. The soils here are diverse, from sands to clays, and the microclimate is surprisingly warm, dry, and benign. It’s protected from cold winds and rain by surrounding mountains, and its southern-facing aspects soak up the sun.
In short, the Pfalz is ideal for grapes, and its vineyards dominate the agricultural landscape. 78 white and 53 red grape varieties are authorised for cultivation in these parts; Riesling is only about 20% of production. The Pfalz was once primarily a source of mass-produced wines, but it has become one of Germany’s most dynamic wine areas.
The mainstays of Weingut Kranz are Riesling and the Burgundian grape varieties, on which its reputation is founded. However, there are a few surprises in the long Kranz line-up. The whites are Riesling, Sylvaner, Muskateller, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Sauvignon Blanc, Scheurebe and Cabernet Blanc (the latter a relatively recent Swiss hybrid crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon x Regent). The reds are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Cabernet Sauvignon.
It may be thought unusual that Cabernet Sauvignon, not widely regarded as a cool climate variety, is grown so far north in Europe, though doubtless ongoing climate change assists. Cabernet Sauvignon in the Pfalz isn’t misguided or some novelty, although it is undoubtedly still a risky ripening proposition in colder vintages. However, there’s a great way to mitigate those risks and ensure top quality: making it into a wine that needs a lighter colour and relies on acidity. In other words, a sparkling rosé! In Germany, sparkling wines are known as Sekt.
Sekt is the German form of sparkling wine, whose overall international reputation generally ranges between dull and awful. While German Sekt producers have hundreds of years of experience to call upon, demand for vast lakes of cheap fizz has too often ruled the day. Consequently, 85% of it doesn’t even use German grapes, relying instead on low-quality imported grapes, must or wine from other countries such as France and Italy. Hence, rule one of Sekt is to look out for the wording Deutscher Sekt on the label because at least the grapes are German.
Furthermore, the winemaking is by the tank (cuvée close) process. While it is possible to produce high-quality wine with this method, it’s also easy to turn out cheap, quick and inferior wines compared to the Traditional Method used by Champagne, Crémant and other world-class sparklers.
But it’s a mistake to dismiss Sekt entirely. This is because the best Sekt is artisanal, organic and made by the Traditional Method. Sadly, these examples only account for 1.1% of German Sekt production. Even so, one of the critical areas for their output is in the southern Pfalz. Here, individual winery production is becoming more than a sideline. Kranz is one of these exponents, making Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut from Chardonnay, and their Rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon.
Weingut Kranz, Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé Sekt, Brut NV. 12%
The wine comes in the usual Sparkling wine bottle with a foil-covered capsule. However, the front label of this bottle provides few clues as to the sparkling wine inside, apart from the words Rosé Brut. Refreshingly, there’s no gothic script or long words – even the Sekt-word is missing.
However, turn the bottle around, and the back label provides clues. First off is the VDP logo, which inspires trust. Next is the word Flaschengärung, meaning “bottle fermented” (so this is the Traditional Method), and Deutscher Sekt. Production is tiny, with only 1,500 bottles, so I would like to have seen individual bottle numbering included, which, while of no great import, does convey a subtle and deserved sense of quality.
The grape picking is by hand, with pressing in whole bunches. Only the best central press juice is fermented, with the first and last pressings omitted. This wine is an NV, though I have no information on the age of the base wines. The second fermentation is in the bottle, with those bottles hand-riddled during a maturation period of 15 months (the same time as NV Champagne) before disgorgement. I’m unsure whether there was a dosage, as the wine has a low residual sugar of just four g/l. While that’s in the Brut category, it’s also in the overlapping Extra Brut category, a fashionable gastronomic style. There’s plenty of gas pressure, too, matching Champagne’s six bars rather than the lower Crémant pressure.
Any Rosé worth a light has to have a splendid colour. The coppery colour of this wine is lovely, enhanced by strong streams of tiny bubbles that are always a hallmark of quality. The aromas are redcurrant, cherry, and raspberry, with hints of roses and yeast. On the palate, the fresh, high acidity is relatively naked but stops short of bracing – so for me, it’s more an Extra Brut than Brut in style. Hence, this wine is bone dry, super-fresh and racy but with an excellent balance of fruit and alcohol, making it surprisingly delicate and offering considerable finesse. The fruit is redcurrant and sour cherry, with an intriguing tangerine pith and citric zestiness before a long mineral finish. A triumph, up there with Sparkling Rosé from Champagne and the UK – and get this – at a fraction of the price.
Available in the UK exclusively from German wine specialists The Wine Barn, £25.70.
This gastronomic wine can pair with a wide range of food. Terrines, paté, ham and wurst are classic, as you might imagine. Also, try potted shrimp, smoked salmon, quiche and salads. For cheese, try fresh, softer examples such as goat’s cheese. And don’t restrict it to summer drinking – I’d be happy to kick off Christmas with this!
This wine is an excellent example of modern German wine – world-class wines in various styles. I’ll leave you with this thought: Would I choose two bottles of Kranz Rosé over one bottle of Grande Marque Rosé Champagne? In this case, yes, it’s that special.
Mörzheimer Strasse 2,
76831 Ilbesheim bei Landau in der Pfalz
*Find out more about the VDP here
** The Südliche Weinstrasse
Want to discover more great German wine? Try this Silvaner from Franken.