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Shaken by hand

Sekt in the City

Die Spitzensekte des Sektkellerei Kessler in Esslingen werden nach der »méthode traditionnelle« hergestellt.
On the trail of the tingling experience

How Germany’s oldest sekt winery in Esslingen achieves the balance between tradition and modernity, and also produces top-class sparkling wine.

Die Keller der Sektkellerei Kessler in Esslingen

The cellars of the Kessler Sekt winery in Esslingen.

©TMBW

It’s gloomy down here. And the air is cool and pure. Sparkling wine called Sekt is maturing in hundreds of bottles in wooden riddling racks. There are no fewer than eleven cellars with beautiful old vaulting beneath Kessler Sekt’s stately medieval courtyard on the market square in Esslingen. A minimalist sales room has been accommodated on the ground floor. Georg Christian Kessler founded the sekt winery in 1826, making it the oldest in Germany. Of course, the rooms breathe history and could tell a great many stories.

Die Sektkellerei Kessler ist Deutschlands älteste Sektkellerei. Sie wurde 1826 in Esslingen gegründet.

Kessler Sekt is Germany’s oldest sekt winery. It was founded in Esslingen in 1826.

Der mittelalterliche Marktplatz in Esslingen ist beliebter Treffpunkt für das traditionelle Gläschen Sekt.

The medieval market square in Esslingen is a popular meeting place for a glass of sekt.

Im Kesslershop der Esslinger Altstadt finden Sektfans viele prickelnde Köstlichkeiten.

In the Kesslershop in Esslingen's old town, sekt fans will find many sparkling delights.

You have to imagine that same Georg Christian Kessler as an internationally minded European ahead of his time. He was already a champagne expert, because he had previously helped lead Veuve Clicquot to success in France. Now he was producing high-quality sekt in his Swabian homeland according to the méthode traditionelle – which Kessler still uses today. This means that the cellar master still shakes the Kessler Grande Réserve Georges by hand: the bottles, stored upside-down in the riddling rack, are regularly turned and land back in the frame with a boom, a little more vertical than they were before. This way, the yeast gradually settles into the bottleneck and can be removed with a cooling process, in which the frozen plug of yeast shoots out of the bottle when it is opened.

Die Sektflaschen stecken kopfüber in den Rüttelpulten der Sektkellerei Kessler in Esslingen.

The sekt bottles are put upside down in the riddling racks of the Kessler Sekt winery in Esslingen.

Die Rüttelpulte mit den Sektflaschen stehen meterweise im Herz der historischen Kellerei Kessler in Esslingen.

The riddling racks with the sekt bottles can be found in the heart of the historic Kessler Sekt winery in Esslingen.

In der Sektkellerei Kessler in Esslingen werden alle Sektflaschen noch von hand gerüttelt.

At the Kessler Sekt winery in Esslingen, all sekt bottles are still shaken by hand.

Der Kellermeister der Sektkellerei Kessler in Esslingen macht den Hefe-Check.

The cellar master of the Kessler Sekt winery in Esslingen does the yeast check.

Germany’s oldest sekt winery has already been through a great deal: the bottles were sold by the thousand to St Petersburg in the 19th century, after Georg Christian Kessler sent a sample of 300 bottles there. And there’s the time when Konrad Adenauer came to visit and was so impressed by the quality of the sekt that from then on he served the fine wine from Esslingen as an aperitif at all state receptions. That’s great. Fantastic, even, says Achim Silberhorn – but it’s almost a shame, because the sekts go very well with food too. He’s in seventh heaven. A Hochgewächs Chardonnay- Sekt with a seafood starter, Riesling Réserve with girolle mushrooms or the house Rosé Brut with ox cheeks – Silberhorn’s eyes are shining. However, he also loves Saturdays at Kessler, because that’s when many of the locals end market day in the winery’s courtyard and herald the coming weekend with a glass of sekt pur. That too is almost a tradition by now.

Die Sektkellerei Kessler bietet Abfüllungen in allen Größenordnungen - von Piccolo- bis Magnum-Sektflaschen.

The Kessler Sekt winery offers bottlings in all sizes - from piccolo to magnum sekt bottles.

Die Spitzensekte des Sektkellerei Kessler in Esslingen werden nach der »méthode traditionnelle« hergestellt.

The premium sekts from the Kessler Sekt winery are produced according to the « méthode traditionnelle ».

Of winegrowers and paths to wine

Tips for Esslingen

Of winegrowers and paths to wine

This small town lies not far from Stuttgart, surrounded by vineyards – a good third of which are steep-slope vineyards. Around Esslingen there is a wine adventure trail with information boards. Most of the ‘wengerter’, as they call winegrowers in the local dialect, are members of a cooperative. Other things worth seeing in Esslingen: the old town with its half-timbered houses, the city church and the Old Town Hall. 

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