Outstanding Vinotheks Details
Outstanding Vinothek in Rheinhessen
It came as a complete, but wonderful, surprise to his parents when Nico Espenschied revealed his career plans. Given that he had already finished his university admission exams, parents Heike and Wilfried presumed their son would pursue an academic career, likely eventually becoming a professor. Nothing to complain about with that. But even lovelier was Nico Espenschied's declaration that he actually wanted to continue the family tradition — and become a winegrower.
Father Wilfried and son Nico now run the estate together, with the vinothek's 2008 debut marking the major milestone for both the seventh and eighth generation respectively. The vinothek is built with a linear look and reserved use of color. The interior is dominated by a light green, contrasted primarily by the oak floor and wine shelves. Flonheim's famous sandstone, used to build the cathedrals in both Cologne and Mainz, is also present in all rooms.
The Espenschieds offer matzah (thin unleavened bread loaves) for tastings, but are also happy to prepare a Rheinhessen snack plate with homemade sausage or a Mediterranean plate with hard cheese and olives on request. The estate's 26 hectare holdings are primarily planted with Rieslings, especially the dry, single vineyard "La Roche," and varieties from the Pinot family. But there is also some room left for specialties such as Merlot Blanc and the red "Stammbaum" blend from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. A line of orange wines, the "Nico Espenschied" line, joined the portfolio in 2015.
The Espenschieds put a major priority on a hands-off, minimalist approach in the vineyard, without the addition of artificial preservatives or extensive soil management. Given that their estate sits in the Rheinhessische Schweiz landscape conservation zone, Nico Espenschied and his team view their work as being more "wine caretaker" than "wine maker." The approach has won him significant acclaim. The "Eichelmann 2016" wine guide for example awarded him a third star.
Many estate visitors enjoy hiking to the Flonheim Trullo, an emblem of Rheinhessen. It is a vineyard shed that has been built to resemble the little vineyard houses found in Apulia and other Italian regions. Another highlight is a guided tour with the Espenschieds up to the Trullo to enjoy a sundowner by sunset, looking out over the hills to the west.
Will the estate continue on into a ninth generation? Charlie Fritz, son of Nico and his wife Laura, was only born in August 2015. Perhaps someday he'll have a surprise of his own in store. Time will tell.