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Naumberg, a patchwork of Pinots

Naumberg is a renowned lieu-dit, or “named vineyard”, in the southern half of the Luxembourg Moselle winegrowing region, which is celebrated for its Pinots. It covers a large area with numerous variations in its subsoil, which some winemakers even isolate to produce special cuvées.

Naumberg is justly recognised as one of the terroirs producing Luxembourg’s best Pinot Gris and Auxerrois. Several independent winemakers grow grapes here that are used to make top-of-the-range Charta Luxembourg wines. Domaines Vinsmoselle use Naumberg Pinot Gris and Auxerrois in their Grands Premiers Crus with indication of terroir, which are also some of their finest wines. A further telling detail is the fact that the lieu-dit is only planted with noble grape varieties, with Elbling and Rivaner occupying minimal space.

While the quality of this area is beyond doubt, it would be simplistic to regard Naumberg as a uniform block. This lieu-dit covers a vast area (almost 40 hectares), its boundaries set some 30 years ago during the great consolidation of vineyards surrounding the village of Bech-Kleinmacher. Prior to that, there had been a patchwork of terroirs including Rëtschelt, Fuusselach, Gaalgenberg, Gottesgôf, Igelsberg and Op de Griewer. Not all these names have been forgotten, with some still even featured on labels.

Our Naumbergs are more rustic, expressive, hearty, and complex. In contrast, the Gottesgôfs are more feminine, rounder and more elegant.

It is important to bear all this in mind, since the different localities imbue wines produced in them with specific characteristics. Domaine Claude Bentz (in Remich) is perfectly placed to discuss such matters, as it produces Rieslings and Pinots Gris under both the Naumberg and Gottesgôf denominations. “Our Naumbergs are more rustic, expressive, hearty, and complex,” explains Carole Bentz. “We’re talking fruit, white flowers, and also spices (including pepper notes) and grilled almonds (with a hint of nougat). In contrast, the Gottesgôfs are more feminine, rounder and more elegant, but still offer the same fruit and white flower aromas.” The only explanation for these cuvées’ distinct personalities is the grapes’ origin, since “the vineyard work and vinification are performed in exactly the same way for our Gottesgôfs and Naumbergs,” she explains.

These significant variations ultimately make perfect sense, as the parcels from which these wines originate each have their own special features. “The vines we use to produce our Naumbergs get the full benefit of the midday sun, and it’s very hot here in summer,” explains Carole. “The soil is clayey and even slightly red. In contrast, Gottesgôf is more sheltered. It gets the sun’s rays until late in the evening. As for the soil, it’s clayey but much lighter and stonier. All our vines here are 35 years old.”

Despite all this diversity, one thing remains constant: “the Pinots and Auxerrois are the crème de la crème – this is a very fine lieu-dit!” smiles winegrower Guy Krier (Domaine Krier-Welbes, Ellange-Gare), who cultivates 2.7 hectares of land here organically. Naumberg is a crescent-shaped terroir running parallel to the Moselle at its north-eastern tip, but fully facing the sun at its other south-western end. It occupies the northern slope of a small valley adjacent to the Moselle carved out by a stream that is now canalised and buried. Most of its slopes are terraced on three levels between the altitudes of 150 and 300 metres, with often steep gradients (of up to 30°). At the bottom, near the village of Bech-Kleinmacher, is a small area of woodland, replacing old abandoned orchards.

The Pinots and Auxerrois are the crème de la crème – this is a very fine lieu-dit!

“This basin shape is useful as it provides the vines with good protection against northerly winds,” says Guy Krier. “Thanks to this layout, temperatures are generally relatively stable. However, two very different scenarios can lead to spring frosts: either Arctic winds bring a sudden drop in temperatures affecting rows of vines closest to the ridge, or sub-zero temperatures persist longer than usual, and frosts are caused by a blanket of cold air that, due to its relative weight, accumulates at the valley bottom near the woodland. In this case, the lowest buds freeze.”

Besides its exposure, this terroir’s subsoil also makes it an ideal lieu-dit for Pinots. The earth in which the vines grow is 210-230 million years old and consists of stony Keuper marls (Steinmärgel Keuper in German). “While it’s true that the substratum is clayey, it’s not particularly heavy,” says Guy Krier. “The earth also contains a lot of pebbles from carbonate rocks (dolomite rocks, etc.).” Moreover, the limestone bedrock is only 30 or 40 centimetres down in places, and therefore relatively close. “This creates perfect conditions to protect the vines against droughts, provided that the soil structure is properly maintained to produce a layer of humus capable of retaining moisture,” he affirms. This position, which strikes a delicate balance between the starkness of the bedrock and the productive capacity of a relatively thin layer of good arable land, also enables yields to be controlled, which is a prerequisite for producing high-quality wines. It explains why Pinots thrive in the richer soils midway up the slopes, while Rieslings flourish in more pebbly areas, often at the top of slopes.

Vines planted after the land consolidation are now in the prime of life. With just over three decades under their belts, they have had the time to put down roots enabling them to draw water and nutrients from the subsoil. It also takes 35 years for soil to recover from the upheaval of an invasive land consolidation. Those carried out nowadays are less severe and more respectful of the environment, which can only be a good thing!

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Area: 39.7 hectares

 

Planted grape varieties: Pinot Gris (11.76 ha), Riesling (9.95 ha), Auxerrois (4.3 ha), Pinot Noir (3.9 ha), Pinot Blanc (3.73), Chardonnay (1.81), Rivaner (1.64), Merlot (0.93 ha), Gewürztraminer (0.65 ha), Elbling (0.44 ha), Zweigelt (0.34 ha), Pinotin (0.26 ha).

Pinot Gris and Auxerrois love this terroir!

2019 Bech-Kleinmacher Naumberg Pinot Blanc Caves Desom

This Pinot Blanc is like a less exuberant version of the 2018 vintage, although it does offer the same sensuous fruity notes (pear, mirabelle plum) and creaminess of the 2018 cuvée, with an added touch of juice (orange is discernible). It is luscious, rather sweet, rich and has good length.

2018 Vendanges Tardives Naumberg Pinot Gris Domaine Schram

Midway between sweet and liqueur-like, this 2018 late harvest takes a little while to unveil its aromas, but explodes in the mouth. A pure, fruity Pinot Gris with no heaviness due to its pleasant acidity.

2019 Bech-Kleinmacher Naumberg Auxerrois Domaines Vinsmoselle

This Auxerrois is rather sweet and its candied lemon notes give it great distinction. While pear notes dominate on tasting, white peach and even melon aromas are also discernible. It is therefore very fruity with good length and no heaviness.

2019 Bech-Kleinmacher Naumberg Vieilles Vignes Élevé en Fût de Chêne, organic Auxerrois Domaine Krier-Welbes

This organic Auxerrois has matured in a 500-litre cask and two barriques, with a short stint in a stainless-steel tank. It is sweet with notes of vanilla and rose. The barrique blends seamlessly into this wine with its distinctive, soft, pleasant style. It is produced with very ripe grapes.

2019 Bech-Mâcher Naumberg Riesling Domaine Claude Bentz

With its round and quaffable profile and enormous breadth, this Riesling offers notes of mint, quince, peach and apricot. This is a magnificent, luscious wine with great length reminiscent of virtually all the estate’s range for this vintage, which is characterised by extremely fruity wines with lower residual sugar content than other vintages.

2019 Bech-Maacher Naumberg, organic Auxerrois Domaine Krier-Bisenius

This Auxerrois is more opulent than fruity, verging on creamy. It offers notes of mirabelle plum, peach and the honey flavour that Burgundy grape varieties adopt in Naumberg soils. Low acidity, good length.

2016 Bech-Kleinmacher Naumberg Charta Luxembourg organic Pinot Gris Domaine Krier-Welbes

This outstanding Pinot Gris has stood the test of time. The exquisite peach, blood orange, pineapple, gooseberry bouquet it exhibited in its youth has given way to honeyed, candied fruit, apricot and grilled almond aromas, with some slightly smoky notes. This organic wine still explodes in the mouth:  what incredible density, texture and richness! The perfect balance! The finish is still subtly peppery, with even some chilli and curry notes. It is a fine example of a Pinot Gris, Charta, organic wine: in short, a complete success. It is undoubtedly one of the best Pinot Gris produced in Luxembourg in recent years and proof that if all the right conditions are met, Pinot Gris offers incredible ageing capacity.

2018 Bech-Kleinmacher Naumberg (Fût 707) Pinot Gris Domaines Vinsmoselle

This is the Domaines Vinsmoselle 2018 Pinot Gris with the highest level of acidity. Its ABV also stands testament to this sun-soaked vintage. Plum and marzipan flavours.

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