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Henri Ruppert has had a good year after all!

While recent months have brought their share of uncertainty, some winemakers have also received a fair amount of recognition. Henri Ruppert, for example, has been showered with awards and outstanding ratings outside Luxembourg.

Speak to any winemaker and they’ll tell you: “it’s not about the medals!”. That said, many still enter their wines for competitions and it’s always better if the stickers are on your bottles rather than those of competitors! Since 2020, Henri Ruppert has hit a winning streak in this little game that, contrary to outward appearances, is actually something of a big deal.

His success has been all the sweeter since he takes a less than obsessive approach to competitions: “I don’t send samples to many competitions, just the more professional ones where seasoned tasters perform blind tastings,” he explains. “There are loads of competitions being held pretty much everywhere – with more and more springing up all the time – and there aren’t that many with any true value.”

The most recent praise for his work has come from the Austrian Falstaff magazine (which also has a very large readership in Germany and Switzerland). In its March/April issue, the publication featured a new tasting of wines from the Luxembourg Moselle region. After the special issue on fizz published before Christmas, in which Luxembourg crémants figured prominently (we’ll come back to this), this is becoming something of a habit, which is definitely good news!

In the recent tasting, the Schengen-based winemaker never scored less than 90/100 with no fewer than six wines up for rating. The scores were as follows: 2019 Barrique Auxerrois: 93 points, 2017 Ma Tâche Pinot Noir: 92.5 points, La Brute crémant: 92 points, 2016 Barrique Pinot Blanc and 2019 Quartz Riesling: 91 points, and 2019 “Sélection 12” Pinot Gris: 90 points. Such incredible consistency across several grape varieties, wine types and vintages is testament to fine craftsmanship! 

In the same magazine’s special autumn edition on sparkling wines (“Sparkling Trophy”) his La Brute white crémant and the Gëlle Fra rosé and white cuvées were all rated 93/100 (La Brute was actually given 93+/100). “When I saw the results, I was obviously very happy,” smiles Henri Ruppert. “These crémants don’t always do so well in national competitions and I find it interesting that they are given a different reception abroad. While they may not be considered classics in Luxembourg, I now have confirmation that they are in fact fine wines!”

The results of the AWC Vienna competition prove that the Austrians are big fans of Henri Ruppert. In 2020, he scooped nine medals, seven of which were gold. His estate was awarded the maximum overall score of three stars and he was named “Best national producer”. Gold medals were awarded for his 2018 Barrique Auxerrois, 2018 Barrique Chardonnay, 2018 Barrique Pinot Blanc, 2018 Wintrange Hommelsberg Pinot Gris, 2015 Ma Tâche Pinot Noir, 2018 Vendanges Tardives Riesling, and 2018 Wintrange Fels Riesling.

Falstaff magazine pays tribute to Luxembourg

Taster Gerhild Burkhard is very familiar with Luxembourg wines. In the latest issue of the Austrian Falstaff magazine, she explored a full range of wine made in the Grand Duchy as part of a “Luxemburg Trophy”. Five wines emerged victorious in this rating with the outstanding score of 93/100. These were: 2018 Areo (an Auxerrois-based straw wine) by Domaine Viticole Schumacher-Knepper (Wintrange), 2019 Barrique Pinot Blanc by Henri Ruppert (Schengen), Cuvée Spéciale Blanc de Noirs crémant and 2018 Peteschwengert Riesling by Pundel Vins Purs (Wormeldange-Haut), and Grande Réserve Pinot Noir by Marc Berna (Ahn). Hot on their heels with a score of 92+ were the crémant with no added sulphites by Domaine L&R Kox (Remich) and the 2017 Ma Tâche Pinot Noir by Henri Ruppert.

All the results are published on the website www.falstaff.at under “Luxemburg Trophy”.

His Gëlle Fra is due to emerge from the mine in 2022!

On 19 March, the big news story on the Moselle was brought to us from … Minett, the mining region in southern Luxembourg! Henri Ruppert hatched the plan of ageing a special crémant cuvée in a former mine gallery, now used (when public health conditions permit) by the Minièresbunn, a restored mining train that serves mines between Fonds de Gras (Pétange) and Saulnes across the border in France. After all, only 45 kilometres separate the vineyards in Schengen and the mine, which is nothing on the scale of a normal wine-growing region. 

However, while the concept was basically quite simple, its implementation proved epic! “There were endless problems that needed to be resolved,” the winemaker is now able to say smiling. “The first issue was location. While there are loads of galleries, not so many are sufficiently accessible (and safe) for storing 14,000 bottles.” Moreover, 14,000 bottles are rather heavy … so all the necessary permits were required to lay a concrete slab sufficiently sturdy to carry the pallets. This work was carried out by the companies Bétons Feidt and Bonaria Frères.

Make no mistake though – the wine is still the real star of the show! “We tried numerous different blends before finally settling for a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Pinot Noir,” says Henri Ruppert. The focus was on producing a complex crémant with a sufficiently robust structure to support aromas based on the champagne model.

Now we’ve discussed the contents, let’s consider the container. Henri Ruppert commissioned marketer Will Kreutz to design the packaging for his fizz. The bottle will be wrapped in a thin sleeve featuring the elegant and highly recognisable outline of the Gëlle Fra, the war memorial to fallen Luxembourgers that stands on the Place de la Constitution in Luxembourg City. This statue is the work of Claus Cito, the artist who also sculpted the statue of Saint Mark on Markusturm tower near Henri Ruppert’s cellar, so the circle is complete!

It will have escaped no one’s attention that 2022 will be a time for celebration in the Minett region, when Esch-sur-Alzette becomes European Capital of Culture. The fact that it will also mark the release of this new crémant is therefore not entirely coincidental, even though no official partnership exists yet between the organisers of Esch22 and the estate.

That said, although the idea was initially intended as something of a promotional stunt, there is nothing to stop it from enduring. “It’s certainly possible that visitors passing the stacks of bottles while aboard the mining train may wish to take one home. I think a Moselle crémant that has aged in an old gallery in the southern mining region would make a great idea for a souvenir and a fantastic gift!” This idea could prove to be pure gold, considering that operators in the tourism sector are constantly in search of ideas for a quality range of souvenirs from Luxembourg!

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