Gutshof Kraatz Wilde Kerle 2018

In 2018, I sampled the Gutshof Kraatz Wilde Kerle 2016. At that point in time, this apple wine made a huge impression on me and landed in my top 10 ciders of 2018. Just a quick reminder, Wilde Kerle means Wild Buddies or Wild Things (if referring to Maurice Sendak’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’) in German. And, it’s entirely made from wildly grown wild apple varieties collected from three different locations.

When I visited Florian at Gutshof Kraatz last summer, Florian passed me a bottle of the 2018 vintage. It took me a while to review this drop but the right moment finally arrived. Now I’m going to share my thoughts about this apple wine with you.Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Apples: made from wild apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a deep clear amber with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is strong with notes of caramel,  baked apples, freshly pressed apples, apple flesh and apple skin.

Taste: it begins rather dry with low sweetness and practically no acidity. On the mid-palate, strong bitterness of seeds and lightly burnt caramel. Further down, notes of bitter chocolate but also fresh apple flesh. Finishes dry with low alcohol, lingering notes of caramel and moderate astringency.

Overall: Wilde Kerle is a great example that cider or apple wine is wine indeed and that weather conditions have a huge impact on cider that ends up in a bottle. Between the 2016 vintage and the 2018 vintage, I can see a huge difference in terms of flavours but not in terms of quality.  It is still very carefully made wine of the highest quality. Taste-wise, both have a different set of flavours, the 2016 vintage was more like white wine, while the 2018 vintage resembles cider in many ways, especially due to the moreish caramel flavour and moderate to high astringency. The 2018 vintage is quite unusual as at the same time it both warms up and tastes refreshing (due to refreshing fresh apple flesh and apple skin flavours). Personally, I enjoyed every sip. And, I can’t really say which vintage is better cause they are just so different. However, as I shared a bottle of it with a friend, and, she wasn’t fond of it, I guess you need to like the bitterness (although it wasn’t just pure bitterness as it came with notes of apple seeds and bitter chocolate).  I will definitely get more of this when I’m back to Frankfurt. 5.5/6

Availability: from their online shop. In Frankfurt from and Apfelweinhandlung. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun.

Price: Florian passed me a bottle when I visited him in the Uckermark.

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

Gutshof Kraatz Kaiser Wilhelm Renette mit Quitte 2018

Florian of Gutshof Kraatz likes to experiment with pears and quinces that are locally grown in the Uckermark, Brandenburg. This time, he blended quince with a winter apple variety, which is widely spread across Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm. From my experience, Kaiser Wilhelm gives lovely acidity but it’s not very aromatic itself. Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Brandenburg, Germany
Ingredients: Kaiser Wilhelm and quince locally grown in the Uckermark
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with dominating notes of ripe quince, yellow apples, fresh apple skin with a distant hint of vanilla.

Taste: my first taste is slightly sweet with a medium acidity of lemon. The mid-palate has a low to medium astringent taste with notes of ripe juicy quince and overripe quince, fresh yellow apple, low bitterness, alcohol, toffee and low vanilla. Finishes with notes of low bitterness, alcohol and vanilla.

Overall: I shared a bottle of Kaiser Wilhelm Renette mit Quitte with my family so there were 5 different judges. My mom who’s not a fan of cider surprisingly enjoyed her glass. My dad seems to like anything that is not sweet and doesn’t taste artificial so he obviously liked it too. My brother and his wife had mixed feelings at the beginning but with the rise of temperature (I served it chilled) or contact with air they even liked this drop. As for me, I loved the refreshing and fruity nose. Also, the bottle content seemed very refreshing despite a pungent taste of alcohol to it. It warmed me up, which is a great feature of a winter cider/apple wine. In addition, I thought it was longlasting with a nice finish. Also, the flavours seemed to change with time, which made it a very interesting drinking experience. But, due to a very intense note of quince both on the nose and the palate, to me, it tasted like a quince wine with Kaiser Wilhelm instead of Kaiser Wilhelm with quince. I’d wished more apple flavours or at least less quince on the palate. Overall, it is a good and quality product that will go well with white fish and crepes with goat cheese. 4.5/6

Availability: from their shop and online shop. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun. Online from QRegio. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinhandlung.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try his apple wine.

Gutshof Kraatz Schwarze Katze 2018

Florian Profitlich from Gutshof Kraatz, based in the North of Germany actually makes apple wine, not cidre or cider as he simply thinks that local apple varieties are not suitable for cider making. But make good apple wine.
Nevertheless, he has been frequently asked, whether he makes also cider or cidre. So accidentally he made one. The yeast, in one of his experimental apple wines, re-tarted to ferment in the bottle producing a lightly sparkling beverage with some bitter notes. Since the feedback for this product has been very positive, Florian decided to release his first cider and name it the Schwarze Katze – the black cat. As every cidery has a cider dog or a cider cat.
Schwarze Katze is made with apples grown locally in Uckermark, Brandenburg and harvested in 2018.  As per Florian, Schwarze Katze should go well with specialities of Frankfurter cuisine or smoked fish, wild boar sausage or salat with feta cheese.

Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Brandenburg, Germany
Apples: made from old apple varieties grown in Uckermark
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 8.5%
Package type: 750ml glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass, chalice glass or flute

Appearance: pours a cloudy golden with a small white head that slowly reduces to a ring. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is lightly sweet and exhibits notes of yellow apples, fermented apples, smokiness and alcohol.

Taste: it begins dry with a medium acidity of lemon. The mid-palate has a low astringent taste with notes of yellow apples, lemon, gooseberry, unripe fruits, unripe banana and berries. Finishes with a note of alcohol and a longlasting note of lees, higher alcohols with low bitterness.

Overall: The Gutshof Kraatz Schwarze Katze is one of these products that will taste better with food than on its own. Similarly to most products made by Florian, also Schwarze Katze has a rich set of fruity flavours and a longlasting taste. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very keen on the longlasting finish, which was dominated by autolytic notes from lees ageing and a note of alcohol. Personally, I thought the finish was slightly disturbing. Nevertheless, in my opinion, bubbles make Schwarze Katze taste refreshing. And I think it should go well on both cold or warm evening preferably with food. 3.5/6

Availability: from their shop and online shop. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try his cider.

Gutshof Kraatz: visit recap

Some of you may already know by now that I am moving to Frankfurt for work soon. But most of you will learn about this only by reading this blog post. But before I make a move to the capital of Apfelwein, I wanted to pay Gutshof Kraatz a visit, one of my favourite producers of apple wine that is easier to reach from Berlin than Frankfurt am Main.

Unlike most German producers or Apfelwein, Gutshof Kraatz is not based in the South of Germany. Gutshof Kraatz is located approx. 140km north from Berlin, in the Uckermark region of Brandenburg. Florian Profitlich, the owner and cider maker at Apfelwein kept inviting me to visit the premises every time we spoke on the phone or met up at CiderWorld in Frankfurt. But somehow only now an opportunity occurred to head north and get a tour behind the scenes of the production of apple wine at Gutshof Kraatz.

img_3064The history of Gutshof Kraatz is very straight forward. Florian together with his wife Edda used to live and work in Berlin. One day Florian and Edda decided to become weekend getaway homeowners and purchased a summer house located outside of Berlin, in Kraatz. Their gateway in Kraatz came with a small orchard with old apple and perry trees. In Autumn, those trees bore lots of fruits that simply fell on the ground. But how many apple pies can one eat and how many jars of apple jam can one make? Florian started looking for alternative solutions. He quickly discovered that there are more abandoned apple and pear trees in the area. And, that nobody cares about these trees.

Just a little clarification. Northern Germany doesn’t have a wine or fruit wine tradition. More like a long beer and vodka- tradition due to the fact that ingredients such as wheat or rye required for the production of these beverages grow well here. And, Uckermark has a too cold climate to cultivate winegrapes. And, apple wine? There is simply no tradition of making Apfelwein here.

Back to Florian. Florian began to think about what to do with the remaining fruit. And, came up with an idea of making apple wine. After solid research, he finally started experimenting with Apfelwein. Since his apple wine turned out really well and the fact that he and Edda started spending more and more time in the summer house than in Berlin, the decision was made to move to the Uckermark and begin a completely new life chapter. This is how Florian an Edda found a real getaway from Berlin in the Uckermark.

img_3081Honestly, I can’t blame Florian and Edda for swapping Berlin for Uckermark. Gutshof Kraatz is an estate consisting of a few houses and a large old barn surrounded by fields full of wheat and corn and a small apple and pear orchard. In addition, to promote the sales of his products, Florian and Edda set up a farm shop, holiday homes and a restaurant serving local products run by Edda. Once you arrive at Kraatz, you immediately feel the good vibes of this place and that time slows down here. Not only the building has been completely renovated but also the right modern farmhouse interior design of the restaurant and farm shop surrounded by a lovely local area make you feel most welcomed and relaxed. Perfect conditions to enjoy Florian’s Apfelwein.

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Florian makes his Apfelwein in a huge barn dating back 1870ties located on the back of the restaurant. He does everything from scratch. Apples, pears or quinces are mostly donated by people who don’t know what to do with the fruit. Also, Florian marked a few locations of wild apple trees or old apple varieties growing at the side of the road or close to the woods not far from Kraatz. Each apple variety and fruit is pressed separately in the barn and then moved to either steel or plastic Speidel tanks. img_3070Florian works with selected wine strains as he wasn’t fond of his Apfelwein experiments made with wild yeasts. Also, he prefers to make single-varietal apple wines as in his opinion a blend might taste right at the moment of blending but a few months later it may taste completely different. Cause cider or apple wine is a living product. So instead he has a very broad product range of different single-varietals apple wines such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Bohnapfel, Adams Parmäne or Boskoop. As per Florian, this huge product selection is really confusing for the guests sometimes as they often are overwhelmed and don’t know what to pick as the range features a number of apple wines or apple sparkling wines. Annually, Florian makes approx. 22.000 litres so it is rather a small operation. And, this year’s harvest will be much smaller than the 2018 crop. As you listen to Florian as he talks about his experiments, you do get his passion for apple wine. He has plenty of ideas, which he wants to try out such as ageing of apple wine in French oak barrels. He clearly is a passionate cider lover and cider maker. And, a great partner to talk about apple and fruit wine.

Florian let me try a few of his apple wines and a quince wine on the spot. And, I adored them all. Also, he gave me a few samples of his products so you may expect a few reviews on his products coming very soon, including his recently released cider the Guttshof Kraatz Schwarze Katze. So stay tuned!

Overall, within less than two hours drive north of Berlin, you not only get to taste great apple wine and other fruit wines made by Florian but also enjoy rural areas, delicious food and interesting discussions about cider and apple wine with Florian. I truly regret I haven’t visited earlier as I would have been a more frequent guest at Gutshof Kraatz. If you like apple wine and you are in the area, you have to visit Gutshof Kraatz and explore everything that it has to offer.

Gutshof Kraatz Zwei Schwestern 2016

Zwei Schwestern, ‘two sisters’ in German, is an Apfelwein created by Florian from Gutshof Kraatz from Uckermark. It is a blend of two old apple varieties, which are not so common these days, Blenheim Orange and Reinette Du Canada. The first apple variety originates from Woodstock, Oxfordshire near Blenheim, UK and was first described around 1740. The second apple variety, Canadian Reinette was documented for the first time in 1771. However, it is not certain, whether it comes from Normandy, France or England. Blenheim Orange produces a sweet juice, whereas juice made from Reinette Du Canada is rather tart. Sounds like a pair of two very different yet interesting siblings.Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Apples: a blend of Blenheim Orange and Reinette Du Canada
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a  clear pale golden with no head. No signs of carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is dry and acidic with notes of freshly cut green apple, light lemon, a light vinous note, a hint of ripe cantaloupe melon and mirabelle plums.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a touch of sweet with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate lingering freshly cut green apple, yellow apples, light ripe cantaloupe melon, mirabelle plum, light astringent taste, gentle bitterness and a light hint of alcohol. It finishes also dry with a green apple note, some lemon and a slightly chalky taste.

Overall: Zwei Schwestern is a very refreshing and pleasant Apfelwein. Rich, complex and nicely balanced with notes of lemon and of green freshly cut apple. A tasty combination of tart and green notes make it very drinkable. Also, lingering notes of mirabelle plums and cantaloupe melon make it even more exciting. I liked it and I think it would greatly complement any food such as cheese, pasta or white meat. Not as divine as my favourite Wilde Kerle 2016 but still a very pleasant drop. Worth trying. 4/6

Availability: from their online shop, Q Regio. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinkontor and Apfelweinhandlung. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun. In Poland through Vinoteka in Szczecin.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Apfelwein.

Gutshof Kraatz Adams Parmäne 2016

Adams Parmäne is another Apfelwein from Uckermark that was provided to Cider Explorer for testing by Kelterei Gutshof Kraatz. Adams Parmäne is a name of an old English apple variety, better known under an English name, Adams Permain, Matchless, Norfolk Pippin or Norfolk Russet, producing a rich and aromatic juice. Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Apples: single varietal with Adams Permain
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a  clear pale golden with no head. No signs of carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry and exhibits notes of caramel, red and pink apples, overripe red apples, apple skin, fresh red apple flesh, red berries, with a lightly smoky note and a light vinous note.

Taste: it starts dry with little residual sweetness and low acidity, which quickly makes room for a strong persistent plain bitter taste, which lingers on throughout the whole sip, including aftertaste. On the mid-palate, a smoky note (only in the beginning), red berries, yellow apple, watermelon and a watery note with a taste of booze. The finish is dry with a lingering apple seed-like bitterness, yellow apple, low astringent taste, watermelon and a hint of vanilla. The bitter note gets milder/smoother with time.

Overall: I must admit that my expectations towards Adams Parmäne were very high after the glorious tasting Wilde Kerle 2016, Boskoop 2013, Cydonia 2016 and Apfelglühwein. But I have to break your heart, Florian, the Adam’s Parmäne tasted terrible. It was rich, with plentiful flavours of red berries and crisp red apple, but the high lingering and unpleasant bitterness in combination with a watery watermelon-note and a booze-like taste made this Apfelwein undrinkable. To be fair, the bitter note has improved with time, but the Adams Parmäne’s taste was still far from being good. Especially the mid-palate made me grimace. It’s the first ever Apfelwein/cider I have received for testing that actually tastes unpleasant. I’m truly sorry, Florian, this time I didn’t like your Apfelwein. 2.5/6

Availability: from their online shop, Q Regio. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinkontor and Apfelweinhandlung. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun. In Poland through Vinoteka in Szczecin.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Apfelwein.