Germany has a mixed reputation internationally, with some consumers on the export markets associating Germany with the world's most elegant and aromatically pure white wines while other see the country mainly as the source of cheap, mass-market semi-sweet wines such as Liebfraumilch. Among enthusiasts, Germany's reputation is primarily based on wines made from the Riesling grape variety, which at its best is used for aromatic, fruity and elegant white wines that range from very crisp and dry to well-balanced, sweet and of enormous aromatic concentration. While primarily a white wine country, red wine production surged in the 1990s and early 2000s, primarily fuelled by domestic demand, and the proportion of the German vineyards devoted to the cultivation of dark-skinned grape varieties has now stabilized at slightly more than a third of the total surface. For the red wines, Spätburgunder, the domestic name for Pinot noir, is in the lead.
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The Bürklin-Wolf estate is based in the Mittelhaardt, the quality core of Germany’s world-renowned Pfalz, around the towns of Wachenheim, Forst, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg. Here with 85ha under vine they have the largest family owned wine estate in all of Germany originating in 1597, with a treasure-trove of superb vineyards, at the centre of which lies the great Kirchenstück. Here in the tiny village of Forst, Kirchenstück and its neighbours Jesuitengarten, Ungeheuer and Pechstein, have for centuries been recognised as producing not only some of the world’s greatest dry Rieslings, but simply some of the world’s greatest wines. In the nineteenth century, prices for these wines exceeded the prices paid for 1st Growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy.