We meet winemaker Ben Schram from ‘Caves Schram & Fils’ in the Moselle region. He and his cousin Max took over the century-old estate in 2018. A new generation full of promise.
It’s a hot Tuesday afternoon at ‘Caves Schram & Fils’. In the cool interior of a large building in the village of Bech-Kleinmacher, Ben Schram, a young 32-year-old winemaker, sits at the big wooden table in the tasting room opposite Niels Toase, Best Sommelier of Luxembourg 2014, Vice-President of the Luxembourg Sommelier Association and now a lecturer at Luxembourg School of Hospitality and Tourism (EHTL).
It’s an opportunity for the winemaker, who took over from his father in 2018, to present his latest cuvées. He and his cousin Max now hold the keys to the ancestral ‘Schram et Fils’ estate. “There have been vines in our family since at least the beginning of the 20th century,” says Ben Schram.
Since 1951, the Schram family have begun selling their own bottles of wine. “We’re the 4th generation now: My great-grandfather Mathias Schram had three sons, who took over the vineyard, which they then handed down to three of their sons (including my father). I took over the business with my cousin Max…”
Today, their wines can be found on the menus of many of Luxembourg’s restaurants and brasseries, as well as in supermarkets. “Our vineyards extend over approximately 15 hectares and we produce around 120,000 bottles a year. We regularly plant new vines, such as this year’s Rivaner, Elbling and Pinot Gris.”
The return of the Sylvaner
And also the Sylvaner. A grape variety with a long history in Luxembourg, once shunned and uprooted, and which just a few winemakers in the country (including ‘Caves René Bentz’ and ‘Caves Ries’) have in recent years started planting again.
And it is with the ‘Grand Premier Cru Sylvaner 2022’ that our tasting begins: “Well-structured for a Sylvaner. It’s an excellent, full-bodied Sylvaner, with notes of citrus and white-fleshed fruit and a slightly bitter finish,” says Niels Toase. “This autumn, it would pair well with, for example, warm goat’s cheese on toast with thyme and honey, accompanied by a green herby salad.” So, there you have it: The first wine up pleases the connoisseur’s palate.
Ben Schram then unveils his ‘Pi’ cuvée (33.3% Pinot Noir, 33.3% Pinot Blanc and 33.3% Pinot Gris), made in 2018, a year in which “there was a very large yield of good quality grapes,” he says. “We were therefore able to experiment a little, and this cuvée proved a big hit with our customers.”
“While all our wines are vegan, we’re not certified organic, even though most of the treatments that we use on our vines are. We stopped using herbicides seven years ago. We’ve got a weeding machine that works well. It cuts the grass between the vines,” explains Ben Schram, as he opens his perfect pink 2022 Pinot Noir Rosé, ‘Coteaux de Wellenstein’: “This is a very fresh, crisp Pinot, with a lovely fruitiness – cherry, citrus fruits, raspberry… Very refreshing and delicious indeed. It’s a delightful wine that could be paired with soy-glazed tuna tataki with wakame and cucumber salad, vitello tonnato or a grilled veal burger with semi-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese.”
Soft bubbles and pretty simplicity
And since Crémant is one of the jewels of the Moselle, we couldn’t end our tasting without sampling a few bubbles. The Schram brut 2019 cuvée tantalises our sommelier’s taste buds: “The bubbles are very soft; it’s a very pretty Crémant, with a lovely simplicity. Floral, with notes of white-fleshed fruit and expertly measured brioche notes. It’s a Crémant for special occasions, that you could enjoy as an aperitif with small rabbit and pistachio parcels, for example.” Perfect for the festive season, which will soon be upon us!