It was with very great pleasure that I first visited Michael and Melanie Voelker, and their young son Oskar in early 2015.
We had been in contact for more than 12 months and after tasting two of their wines previously I was thrilled to finally get to their property in Kitzingen, about an hour south-east of Frankfurt.
Michael and Melanie have come to wine production only in recent years.
Following careers in publishing and media and working in London and New York, they returned home, having been totally mesmerised by handmade, additive free wine consumed abroad, to begin making wine in Michael's father's domaine in Kitzingen.
Their project at home has startled many in the area. The notion of working totally organically and producing wines without filtration or the addition of preservatives has been met with incredulity by many in the industry there but the results of their work are clear to see. The wines are excellent.
From the original family farm, MIchael and Melanie have taken 5.5 hectares for the 2naturkinder wines. In terms of varieties planted, they are working with Silvaner, Muller-Thurgau, Bacchus, Riesling, Regent, Dornfelder, Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) and Domina.
Fruit is harvested with balance and digestibility in mind and the wines have wonderfully lifted aromas. The Heimat Silvaner is fermented on skins and the 2014 Schwarzriesling had little maceration and reminds me of thirst quenching Loire Valley grolleau in a cool vintage. It's a great tonic.
There is a very interesting soil type here in Franken called Keuper, which is also found in Alsace, that lends a great minerality to the wines. The vineyard soils are composed largely of shell limestone and this and the average altitude of the parcels is 200m. As of 2016, Michael and Melanie will be working nine individual sites.
The very cold, continental climate here aids long fermentations and the resulting wines are marked by primary aromas and flavours. Delicate handling in the cellar leads to wines full of delicious fruit - they're very good fun to drink. Michael seeks to have a real fluidity and balance in the wines and takes great inspiration from the work and wines of the legendary Rudolf Trossen - one of the most brilliant farmers in Germany.
I'm very excited for what Michael and Melanie have already achieved in just a couple of years. They're very serious about their work, very progressive in their approach to wine styles and are totally open-minded and ambitious. With old vines and a brilliant underground cellar that's been in the family since 1843, MIchael and Melanie are spearheading artisan wine and Franken and, indeed, in Germany.