BW Story - Bernd Sautter
Shaken by Hand - Sparkling Wine from Esslingen
How Kessler Sekt, Germany's oldest sparkling wine producer, finds the perfect balance between tradition and modernity, while also producing top-quality sparkling wine.
Kessler Sekt Winery
Traditional Production for Premium Sparkling Wines
It's gloomy down here. And the air is cool and pure. Hundreds of bottles of sparkling wine, called Sekt, are maturing in wooden riddling racks. There are no fewer than eleven cellars with beautiful old vaults beneath Kessler Sekt's stately medieval courtyard on the market square in Esslingen. On the first floor there is a minimalist salesroom. Georg Christian Kessler founded the sparkling wine winery in 1826, making it the oldest in Germany. Of course, the rooms breathe history and could tell many stories.
You have to imagine this same Georg Christian Kessler as an internationally minded European ahead of his time. He was already a champagne expert, having previously helped Veuve Clicquot to success in France. Now he was producing high-quality sparkling wine in his Swabian homeland using the méthode traditionelle - the traditional production method Kessler still uses today. This means that the cellar master still shakes the Kessler Grande Réserve Georges by hand: the bottles, which are stored upside down in the riddling rack, are regularly turned and returned to the rack with a boom, a little more vertically than before. In this way, the yeast gradually settles in the bottleneck and can be removed by a cooling process in which the frozen yeast plug shoots out of the bottle when it is opened.
Germany's oldest sparkling wine producer has already been through a lot. In the 19th century, thousands of bottles were sold to St. Petersburg after Georg Christian Kessler sent a sample of 300 bottles there. And then there's the time when Konrad Adenauer came to visit and was so impressed by the quality of the sparkling wine that he began serving it as an apéritif at all state receptions. That's great. Fantastic, says Achim Silberhorn - but it's almost a shame, because the sparkling wines also go very well with food. He's in seventh heaven. The Hochgewächs Chardonnay with a seafood starter, a Riesling Réserve with girolle mushrooms or the house-made Rosé Brut with ox cheeks - Silberhorn's eyes light up. But he also loves Saturdays at Kessler, because that's when many of the locals end the market day in the winery courtyard and herald the coming weekend with a glass of sparkling wine. That too is almost a tradition by now.
Tips for Esslingen
Wine Adventure Trail ans Half-Timbered Houses
This small town, not far from Stuttgart, is surrounded by vineyards - a good third of which are steep slopes. There is a wine adventure trail with information boards around Esslingen. Most of the "Wengerter," as winegrowers are called in the local dialect, are members of a cooperative. Other things to see in Esslingen: the old town with its half-timbered houses, the town church and the old town hall.