Machos need to stay outside
The Chardonnays by Milch are like the hard door in one of the most known techno clubs worldwide – the Berliner Berghain. You only get in, if you fit into the concept. That is it. Same thing goes for Karl-Hermann Milch, who is 39 years old: Only good grapes and gentle wine making are important adjustment screws for good wines. If you are expecting a wine, that has been soaked in wood, you are going to be disappointed. Because a drinker, who is up-to-date, does not like a big usage of wood. The wines work as honest as the region where they come from, namely from inside the Monsheimer Silberberg. Everything is very unagitated. Without cabriolets and Rolex watches. But not without being less impressive.
2014er Chardonnay ”Valentin” trocken
The name of this Chardonnay goes back to one of Milch’s piece barrels, which also has the name of his son Valentin, who was born in 2004. And a relation between the name and its original meaning (lat. valere = healthy, to have influence) is not as far either. The wine is characterised by a healthy influence on subtle wood aromas and such a nice liveliness. Yes, we can taste the typical Chardonnay fruit, like banana. But it surprises with its mineral freshness and so it is already more than just fun. By the way, this is not a wine only for Valentine’s Day. It is a wine, that fits into every week. We want some pleasure every day!
2014er Monsheimer Chardonnay ”S” trocken
No, do not think about the S-class of Mercedes. The name of the Chardonnay „S“ is the result of a development. The „S“ stands for „Selection“. The problem was, that you could not use the term of selection in the 90s because the official name assignment was not approved yet. But a differentiation was necessary since Karl-Hermann Milch made a big step upwards the quality pyramid with this wine. That is shown by the wine in 2014 too. After trying it, a long „Sssss“ remains in the mouth. The definitely incredible strength of the wine, the spicy Barrique note (600 litres Halbstück barrel), which stands opposite an elegant Burgundy stylistic, lead to a prolonged „Aaah“ or better „Sssss“ feeling. You can feel that the wine grows in seriousness for sure. Just one thing remains open. You can decide what this wine should be named: Super, Summit or Selection. Everything fits.
2014er Monsheimer Im Blauarsch – Chardonnay ”Blauarsch” trocken
Do we want to or do we not? Fine, we want to… explain it to you again. The concise name comes from an old vineyard region near to Monsheim. Not very spectacular. But that does not count for this Chardonnay. We are nearly at the very top with this wine. It is one of the best Chardonnay wines from Rhenish Hesse. It seems concentrated, without looking too powerful. The minerality remains noticeable and the sourness looks alright next to the ripe fruit. The use of wood is very present and integrated intelligently, in the middle of all the other impressive components. We would bet on our naked (blue) butt, that you would have an incredible taste experience for good money.
Have you always known that you wanted to own and lead a vineyard?
Yes. The winery is a family business. I took it over from my parents. My brother on the other side did not want to take the winery. But for me, I always enjoyed pressing wine and being on the vineyard as a child. After the Abitur I knew, that I wanted to work practically.
The apprentice years you spent at Knipser in the Palatinate region and with Klaus Keller. Can you shortly describe what was the most concise thing you have taken with you from this experience?
The fun of good wine. To drink it and to want to do it on your own as well. It actually is not as important what you have learned in particular, but about having fun with creating and producing something good. You have to adjust particular practices onto your own terroir anyway.
One of your Chardonnay wines is called Valentin, which was named after the name of your piece barrel, or better after the name of your son. When is there going to be a Chardonnay called Juliane, the name of your daughter?
When she was born we had the Cuvée „Juliane“. But the grape varieties we used for it, we do not have anymore. Obviously, there is always the thought about naming a wine „Juliane“. But I do not want to rush anything and so we just take our time. A rosé wine that is lively and a bit wild is something I could imagine worth her name (laughing).
Your wine philosophy: Quality-conscious, individual wine making – from the grape to the bottle. Everything in one hand. What is most important?
You should be thinking about every step. You should ask yourself questions and try to give your very best. Of course, you should act wine and grape variety specific, not with scheme F. Every wine should have its own handwriting.
The convention for natural wine RAW is coming to Berlin soon. Germany only has a small role in this segment compared to France, Italy and Austria. How do you see the future and right to exist of these wines?
If the definition of natural wines is about doing as little as possible on a wine, then it is a philosophy that I have always had. A lot of the things that are in style now, I have done already since I started. I have always been looked weirdly from the official side. Let’s just take the spontaneous fermentation. This was my motto at the beginning: 100% spontaneous fermentation. They used to say that spontaneous fermentation is not clear and you should be using selected yeasts. But I wanted to work as natural as possible. And spontaneous fermentation is a part of it. My motto used to be and still is, that you should interfere as little as possible for clean, puristic working.
How about the topic sulphites in this relation?
I did not deal with this topic specially. It is important for me to create a good wine. Obviously we try not to use many sulphites, but we cannot work completely without them at the moment.
And orange wine?
We only ferment must with grapes since 2003. It is still a hot topic at the moment. Since about 12 years, as I said.
Why do you have such a big relationship to Chardonnay?
I have been developing Chardonnays in wooden barrels from the beginning. I met both kinds before. Keller with his Chardonnay from the stainless steel tank and Knipser who developed those fat Barrique wines. I found the Chardonnay especially very interesting. But after a year it was just too much wood for me. I had the idea to create a Chardonnay that had a few wood notes, to support the Burgundy type, also to support the fruit and for it not to cover it. To develop the first Chardonnay in a Barrique was not very typical at that time. There were many resistances because I could not take part in competitions because there were only was only the category „ripened in Barrique“ and „ripened in steel tank“. My interpretation of Chardonnay was not existing yet.
Your label is very unagitated. What influence has the label on consumer choice in your opinion?
In total, I would say that the label plays a bigger role. We are currently thinking about changing some labels. Everything is getting more and more striking at the moment. Our name is super predestined to put it in the limelight so that we are more striking (smiling). I am not a loud person. I find it hard to choose a striking label. The label should not be too shrill for the more significant wines. Not necessarily traditional, but something grown. With hand and foot. Rather down-to-earth than short-lived. It can be a bit louder for the newcomer wines though.
What is the perfect wine moment for you?
If everything fits. The wine has to be really good. That does not mean that it has to be very fat. It has to fit to the moment. Good mood and good food. Voilà.
Are there any unforgettable moments, that happened to you considering your work?
The most beautiful thing is if people try your wine and they like it. If you see, that what you are doing is not mainstream and not loud and it still loved, then it is just amazing.
If your not standing on the vineyard for once: What fascinates you?
I am a member of the local fire brigade (laughing).
That is not very spectacular. It is just fun to help and to do something useful.