31 Jan Please The Palate Wine of the Week: 2016 Werther Windisch Rheinhessen Portugieser “8 degrees 14 minutes”, Rheinhessen, Germany
There are some nights when you just want an easy dinner at home, as was the case this week. I had an Italian-style pizza in the freezer that I decided to throw in the oven. But just because dinner was so casual did not mean I wasn’t going to open up a bottle of wine. I was intrigued to try the 2016 Werther Windisch Rheinhessen Portugieser “8 degrees 14 minutes” from Rheinhessen in Germany as I had never had a Portugieser. I so enjoyed the wine with my pizza and drank the entire bottle. That is why the 2016 Werther Windisch Rheinhessen Portugieser “8 degrees 14 minutes” is the Please The Palate wine of the week.
The name sounds like it would be from Portugal, but it is a German name. Portugieser is a very old red grape variety. The official name is Blauer Portugieser and the grape did originate in Portugal but no longer exists there. It was introduced to Austria in 1770 and is now found in Slovenia, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and a few regions in Germany, mainly in Pfalz and Rheinhessen. Portugieser is a grape that requires careful maintenance in the vineyard as it has poor disease resistance. Portugieser produces a light-bodied red wine that is usually meant to be drunk young as it is not well-suited to aging.
About Werther-Windisch Winery
Werther-Windisch is run by Jens Windisch whose passion for wine and agriculture is in his blood. His parents, who started the business, cultivated grapes but never made wine under their own label. Jens worked apprenticeships and spent time working in New Zealand before he made his first vintage in 2010 under his own label. Since 2020, Werther-Windisch has been organically certified under the German law for organic certification. Jens makes his own humus and compost from grape skins and uses native flowers in his cover crop to keep the soils alive and the ecosystem diverse and healthy. The wines undergo spontaneous fermentation and are aged in stainless-steel tanks or in oak. He does not use any fining agents made from animal products so his wines are vegan. Jens uses minimal sulfur and part of his minimal approach to winemaking.
The 2016 Werther Windisch Rheinhessen Portugieser “8 degrees 14 minutes” is named for the exact location of the vineyard. The grapes spend 25 days on the skins before being gently pressed into large puncheons and French barrels for 18 months. The wine is racked twice before being bottled unfiltered. With a few years of age on it, the wine was still quite delicious. The color of the wine was pale and the alcohol only 12.5%. The wine was smooth with cherry, tobacco and spice notes. It was light bodied but offered texture, as well as balanced tannins and acidity.
I enjoyed the 2016 Werther Windisch Rheinhessen Portugieser “8 degrees 14 minutes” with pizza. The wine’s texture was a match with the pizza and did not overpower or get lost. It was a delicious pairing and once the pizza was finished, I continued to enjoy the bottle of wine.
Where To Purchase
The 2016 Werther Windisch Rheinhessen Portugieser “8 degrees 14 minutes” retails for $38. It is imported by Tupetz Wine. Tupetz Wine is owned by German-born Lisa Tupetz who is focused on family-run wineries in Germany who follow organic practices. She engages in fair trade practices and purchasing this wine or others from her portfolio is supporting the winemakers directly. You can purchase this wine, and others, directly from Tupetz Wine.