We are fortunate to import two Mittelrhein producers, Jost and Dr. Kauer, both in Bacharach yet they make dramatically different wines. The vineyards are different, of course, and the styles are as well. Like Jost, Kauer has vineyards in Bacharach, but also in two neighboring villages, Oberdiebach, and Oberwesel.
Dr. Randolf Kauer, the charming, boyish, but apparently quite demanding professor of Organic Viticulture at the University in Geisenheim, has operated his tiny (3 ½ hectares) winery in Bacharach, the heart of the Mittelrhein, since 1982. Then there were few organic wineries, or for that matter, classes in Organic wine making, so Kauer was a kind of pioneer. For a number of years, the winery was a kind of demonstration estate, for students to learn and for a small private base of customers. Indeed, in April or early May, Randolph opens up the winery and you can taste and buy from their selection. There is also a selection of various local meats and sausages and other goodies that you can pick up as well. The first imports to the US were in 2007 and now Winemonger has exclusive rights for the country.
His wines, all harvested in the steep, beautiful, slate vineyards overlooking the Rhein, are noted for their brilliant minerality and lively acid structure. Whereas Peter and Cecilia Jost emphasize their dazzling fruit, mostly from the Bacharacher Hahn, Randolf (with assistance from his younger daughter Anne) seeks an intense minerality. There is plenty of ripeness as well, but the balance is always towards a sleek, stony and refreshing balance, not exactly austere, but with the structure showing. The wines tend towards dryness, even the regular Kabinetts and Spätlesen. In some ways, these wines are more typical of the classic Mittelrhein style, hauntingly beautiful floral scents and a bracing, get-your-attention mouth feel and finish.
Randolf ferments entirely in old and neutral oak, using natural yeasts as much as possible (though he has no particular issue with occasionally adding cultured yeast). The cellar’s west wall is carved into the mountain and is pure slate and always wet. Thus it remains quite cool and assists in the slow development of the wines. Everything in both the vineyards and in the cellar, of course, is organic. The winery has been thus certified since the beginning.