Cider Tasting – Gutshof Kraatz in Frankfurt

img_4397Have I already told you that Frankfurt is a fantastic city, especially if you’re into Apfelwein? Apfelwein can be purchased pretty much everywhere here. One of the great apple wine spots in Frankfurt is the Apfelweinhandlung run by Jens Becker, where recently a tasting of apple wines made by Florian Profiltich of Gutshof Kraatz from the Uckermark took place. Actually, it’s not so long ago when I visited Florian in the Uckermark and had a guided tour of the facilities located 200km north of Berlin. For detailed visit recap, click here.

Actually, Florian together with his wife Edda just started their vacation. Their plan was to visit Metz, Luxembourg and Pfalz. But they also decided to squeeze in a short stop in Frankfurt and showcase Florian’s apple wines at Apfelweinhandlung before really going on vacation. Florian brought a couple of bottles that I have already tried and even reviewed. But, he also brought with him wines that were new to me so I was very excited to taste them.

Altländer Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein 2017 (ABV: 8% )

img_4386It’s not my first acquaintance with this apple wine as I tried it at Florian’s Gutshof Kraatz and also reviewed it recently (click here for the full review) so I was happy to be able to try this beautiful sparkling apple wine again.  Florian mentioned that this apple variety needs a marine/coastal climate and is rare to find in other regions of Germany. It’s a typical cooking apple used for baking. In addition, it’s a great apple to press and quite similar to Bohnapfel but with less astringency. The 2017 vintage was made from apples grown in two locations and bottled in 2018. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, lemon, yellow apples, a distant hint of Bretts. Taste: dry, moderate lemon-like acidity, yellow apples, smokiness, low bitterness, low astringency. Overall: Just like the last time and time before last time, drinking the Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein was a pure pleasure. Smooth, quite light, nicely balanced with a long-lasting taste. Interestingly, the wild notes were less strong both on the nose as on the palate. Other participants were fond of this drop too! 5.5/6

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Schwarze Katze 2018 (8.5%)

Schwarze Katze is made mainly with Bohnapfel. The juice was pressed 5 days after crushing, so the fermentation kicked in spontaneously and gave better juice yields. After the primary fermentation, Schwarze Katze underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was aged on lees. Appearance: cloudy, golden, medium carbonation. The body is medium. Aroma: yellow apples, not strong. Taste: dry, moderate to high lemon-like acidity, moderate astringency, low astringency, off-notes, short taste. Overall: Again, this was the 3rd time I was tasting this drop (here is full review). And, it still didn’t convince me. The off-notes are too strong. Also, the taste was rather short. Despite nice apple-y flavours on the palate, I’m not going to be friends with this one. 3/6

Bohnapfel 2018 aus dem Holzfass (8%)

img_4391This is a single-varietal apple wine made with Bohnapfel that was aged in French oak barrels that were previously used for red wine. Florian recommended decanting the Bohnapfel 2018. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, moderately strong, vanilla. Taste: dry, moderate to high lemon-like acidity, yellow apples,  lightly watery, low astringency, lemon, caramel, vanilla. Long taste. Overall: I tried this wine for the first time. It lacked the body although it was rich in terms of flavours. Others liked it and thought it was interesting but could imagine drinking only a glass of it, not more. I think it’s a good description as it didn’t strike me as well. 3.5/6

Goldrenetten 2018 (9.5%)

img_4394-2Goldrenette is a blend of 5 different renettes including Kasseler Renette, Blenheim Renette, Goldparmäne, Graue Renette and Boskoop. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, butter caramel, strong. Taste: lightly sweet, low acidity, low but lingering burnt caramel-like bitterness, medium astringency, caramel, butter caramel, vanilla. Long taste. Overall: Again, I tried this wine for the first time. There was lots going on both the nose and the palate. And, it was indeed a pleasure to drink this drop. I love the rich apple wines that make you discover more notes with every sip. Also, I personally loved the flavours of butter caramel. Definitely, something that I would like to try again. 5/6

Adamsparmäne 2018 (9.5%)

img_4396Adamsparmäne is actually an English apple variety also known as Norfolk Pippin. It gives quite small apples according to Florian. Appearance: almost clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: quince, strong, aromatic, apple skin, vanilla. Taste: lightly sweet, low acidity, moderate caramel-like bitterness that lingers on, caramel, butter caramel, quince, low astringency, alcohol. Long taste. Overall: I didn’t like the 2016 vintage at all (for full review click here) as I thought it tasted way too bitter. Hence, I was very curious to taste the 2018 vintage. The 2018 vintage is admittedly also quite bitter but the bitterness is not striking, not unpleasant. It’s just not a plain bitterness but a nicely incorporated bitterness contributing to the overall taste instead of killing it. Its taste is rich, with lovely notes that go on and on. I enjoyed it this year. 4.5/5

Wilde Kerle 2017

img_4398Florian makes this apple wine from wild apple varieties that once. Appearance: clear, pale golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, quince, rather weak – but the tasting temperature was here a bit too low. Taste: dry, moderate to high acidity, yellow apples, moderate caramel-like bitterness, quince, high astringency. Long taste. Overall: It’s different to the 2016 vintage that I absolutely adored (to read the full review click here). The taste is still very long and a lot is going on on the palate here. Interestingly, the level of acidity was higher than I remember and made this apple wine taste very refreshing. Still, the acidity was a bit too strong even for me. It didn’t compliment this offering. But from what I heard also others had similar thoughts to mine. 4.5/6

Wilde Kerle 2018

img_4399It’s the 2018 vintage of the same blend. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is img_4404medium. Aroma: vanilla, caramel, lightly citrusy. Taste: slightly sweet, low acidity, caramel, apple seeds and apple seeds- bitterness, apple skin,  moderate astringency. Long taste. Overall: It’s fascinating to compare two very different vintages that were made from the same apples but in a different year. The 2017 vintage had a much higher acidity, while the 2018 vintage was rather low in acid. Also, while the 2017 vintage is more fruity with notes of quince, the 2018 vintage has more body and alcohol with more caramel-like notes. Even the colour was different. It shows how different weather conditions were in this region in both years (see the pic above). 5/6

Sauerkirschen 2018 (16%)

img_4400This is not an apple wine  as you can judhe by the colour but a wine made with sour and sweet cherries. Florian made only 300 bottles of this drop. It was the first time he managed to get the fruit as previously the birds would eat almost the whole crop. But somehow in 2018, starlings spared the cherries so Florian could also experiment with cherries. Appearance: dark magenta, still. The body is medium. Aroma: cloves, cinnamon, blackberries, like mulled wine, very strong. Taste: moderately sweet, low acidity of cherries, cinnamon, cloves, low bitterness, moderate astringency. Long taste. Overall: I double-checked with Florian if he added any spices to this wine. So no spices added. I was amazed as the notes of cinnamon and cloves together made this drop taste like a not so overly sweet mulled wine with extremely strong notes of Christmas spices. All participants loved this offering including me. 5.5/6

Overall, I knew Florian before and tried many apple wines or fruit wines made by him. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that most of the wines tastes during this evening were really brilliant. But this tasting gave me a rare opportunity of comparing different vintages of the same wines from the range of Gutshof Kraatz. It was striking that most of the 2018 vintages had a rather unusually low level of acidity but higher alcohol level. This is in line with weather conditions that were in 2018 that caused lower acid levels in apples. Also, it was interesting to see how the taste of Altländer Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein 2017 evolved. I tried this wine three times within 3 months and now there were almost no funky notes on the palate.  It just shows that there are truly many factors influencing the taste of cider and that apple wine is a wine not without a reason. With age, it changes. I wish there would be another tasting in another 3 months so I can compare my notes. From left to right: Edda Müller, Natalia Wszelaki, Florian Profitlich, Christine Isensee-Kiesau, Jens Becker, Michael Stöckl