Messmer was founded in 1960 when Herbert Messmer purchased the historical estate and took over the vineyards and winery, and in 1984, the winery was taken over by son Gregor Messmer. Nestled in the forested slopes of the Haardt Mountains in the southern Pfalz, Messmer has so much soil diversity among his grand cru sites that he chooses to label his wines by terroir along with corresponding vineyard names. These include the Erste Lage Schäwer, the only slate vineyard south of the Nahe, whose Devonian slate is similar to the ‘schiefer’ of the Mosel. The Erste Lage Michelsberg is a rare granite/schist soil that contributes a high mineral note to its wines. Additionally, Messmerr has Riesling planted on buntsandstein, the brown sandstone typical to this part of the Pfalz. Gewurztraminer and Scheurebe are specialties of Gregor’s; the varieties do well in the cooler sites protected by the Altenforst, whose climate shares similarities with the Mediterranean: chestnuts, figs, lemons, and even kiwis ripen here. Gregor works to preserve the health and mineral content of his soils. Among other efforts, only organic fertilizers are used in vineyards, and starting in 2011 Messmer began biodynamic viticulture. The same care of preserving terroir and the character of the grape can be seen in his winemaking techniques.
Due in part to a longstanding friendship between Herbert and Hans-Günter Schwarz, Gregor has adopted many of the reductive winemaking techniques developed by Schwarz: multiple selections in the vineyard, never de-stemming more than partially, as well as cool and slow fermentations in stainless in either steel or cask. Gregor explains “we ferment in small parcels, without any fining, and with the gentlest possible handling. We rack only once between fermentation and bottling. We use no preservatives to treat it. We never de-acidify.” The resulting wines succeed in providing the true terroir of the vineyards showcased through finely cut, pure, defined fruit.
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