Wines from the Netherlands: take a look at Wijndomein Stokhem (Limburg)

We are not going to talk about beer  this time…but about wine. Ah well, a little bit about beer. We brewed Red Red Rye and matured it on Pinot Noir barrels from  Wijndomein Stokhem. We spoke to Jeroen, the owner of the vineyard, while he was walking through the vineyard, about the best wines.

The best soil 
In the south of Limburg, also called the marlland, overlooking the Brand brewery is the 3-hectare wine estate Stokhem. This place is extremely suitable for the pinot noir grape because of the soil of marl with a top layer of loess with pebbles and flint. “We took over the vineyard in 2017, the first vines were planted here in 2004 and a second batch was added in 2007. Only pinot noir vines have been planted here, the previous owner insisted on making a quality Burgundy red wine. Hence, that the domain is also located here in Wijlre, because of the southern slope and the marl subsoil for the lime. Too much lime is not good, but the soil really gives a typical taste to the grapes that you taste back in the final wine.”

A special, but difficult grape
“Pinot noir is a difficult grape to grow, so we had to scratch our heads ‘do we want to do this?’. In the end we realized that this was an opportunity to take, if we manage to get the grape you can make very beautiful wines with it. The fact that it is a difficult grape to grow is mainly due to the compactness of the grape variety: the grapes are close to each other. This allows them to crush each other and in a rainy autumn it is easy to grow fungi. We like to get as much as possible from our vineyard. In addition to red wine, we also make white wine (a blanc de noir) and a rosé, all from the same pinot noir grapes. The longer skin contact you have, the more color your wine gets. So when the contact with the skins after harvesting is short, by pressing the grapes directly, you can make white wine. We don’t make all wines every year, that depends on the quality and ripeness of the grapes We lay our witt e wine also in barrels. This is not so common with white wine, but is done in Burgundy with Chardonnay. The wine loses some of its fruitiness and acidity, but notes of peach and soft, creamy vanilla flavors return.”

The Pinot Noir Process
That sounds really good, but what about the red Pinot Noir? “We harvest the grapes and they go directly to the castle in Wijnandsrade, where the winery is located. Here we de-stem the bunches, because these stems give off too much tannin to a wine. We keep the skins, seeds and juice, we put that in fermentation. We let it ferment for six weeks on the skins, we stir this several times a day with big paddles because otherwise the skins will float and then they dry out. This weakens the color and the taste. And that’s something you don’t want. You can compare that process with pushing the grape skins down through the feet as it was done in the past.”

“After six weeks, we lightly press the wine and it is transferred to another tank. We leave it there for ten days or even two weeks, so that the yeast cells can settle in. During that process, we also add a bacterium called malic acid, this converts into lactic acid, this gives the wine a softer taste. Then it goes into the barrels. We use oak barrels made from French and American oak. The barrels come from Burgundy and are two to four years old. That’s where the wine stays aging for a year. Then we pump the wine from different barrels into a tank and make a French-American blend or a pure wine from only French oak barrels. Depending on how cloudy the wine is (because we don’t filter it) we let the wine rest for a while to lower the yeast, before the wine is bottled. After bottling, the wine continues to mature in the bottles. The bottles remain rested untill they are ready to drink. For the red wine this takes a while. For example, the red wine from 2018 is on sale this year. In the wine you can taste flavors of cherries, subtle wood and earth tones.”

And you can taste these flavors in our Red Red Rye, which is made in the barrels in which the red wine from the top year 2018 has matured. Discover it for yourself and order it here!

Wijndomein Stokhem supplies restaurants, delicatessens, liquor stores and consumers. The wines are for sale at the brasserie of the wine estate, located next to the winery in Wijnandsrade Castle.