Claude Pundel, together with his nephew Mathis Bohnenberger, produces still wines and Crémants in his company in Machtum, where the two family-businesses excellently complement each other and whose future is secured.
It’s not really the norm that a vineyard doubles its production area from one vintage to the next. But for Claude Pundel from the vineyard Pundel-Hoffeld in Machtum this is exactly what happened in 2008. His uncle Jupp wanted to “kind of” retire at the age of 70 and Claude took over the Domaine Pundel-Err in Wormeldingen in addition to running his own business. So, basically overnight, an area of six hectares became a vineyard of around 12 hectares.
“It was as big of a challenge back then as it is today,” Claude Pundel emphasises. Since the takeover, he is responsible for producing all wines and Crémants of the eight-kilometre distant vineyards.
How does one manage something like this? “I really don’t know either,” smirks the 59-year-old winegrower somewhat bashfully. “It’s not easy but we undertook everything that was necessary to run both the businesses in a way that pleases our clients. And it worked!” Stylistically, the wines from Wormeldingen and Machtum are certainly different but the transition phase never really presented major side effects.
Passion for the winegrowing business
The talent of the winegrower from Machtum has not least contributed to his success. Since childhood, he knew he wanted to have an agricultural job. “I liked the work in the stables and with animals and, as a young boy, I wanted to be a farmer and drive a tractor.” But the then mixed business was too small in order to be sustainable through agriculture and fruit growing. At the start of the 1970s, “only a few vineyards had the necessary equipment to create an independent business.” It was over time that the family Pundel decided to exclusively focus on winegrowing and to expand the business.
Of course, it helped that Claude Pundel “had developed a passion for winegrowing” in the meantime. He took part in courses at the institute of viniculture in Remich, “a school in which there was not much to learn but it was rather a school of life,” before he finished his training in Trier after two years.
The younger history of the vineyard goes back to Jos Hoffeld-Schons, who ran it from 1939 to 1967. In 1967, the business in Machtum was continued by his niece Irène Hoffeld and her husband Lucien Pundel, the brother of Jupp Pundel, until Claude Pundel took over completely twenty years ago. But he had already left prints: Already in 1992, Claude Pundel planted Chardonnay and one year later Muscat Ottonel, in 1995 he produced his first Crémant and in 1996 he planted Pinot Noir vines. In 2000, a new wine tavern was opened with a view onto the Moselle River and in 2005, Claude belonged to the pioneers who reintroduced the red wine variety Saint Laurent into Luxembourg.
The absolute best location and plot
The many terroirs surrounding his home region Machtun (Hohfels, Widdem, Alwéngert, Gëllebour, Ongkâf), in Ahn (Palmberg), and in Grevenmacher (Leitschberg), as well as the numerous locations in Wormeldingen, allow Claude Pundel to offer a rich range of still wines and Crémants. In Wormeldingen, the grapes stem from the areas of Weinbour, Elterberg, Niedert, Pieteschwengert and, of course, from the top location Koeppchen, where the vineyard Pundel-Err owns the best plots.
Claude Pundel and his nephew Mathis Bohnenberger, who studied viniculture and oenology and is since 2017 part of the business, have obvious fun offering the new Cuvées to taste. Completely new on offer are, for example, the Mouton Blanc, an assembly of Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Pino Gris, part of which matured in older barrique barrels. Or the Cuvée Dou’Aux Le Secret (not a spelling mistake and take care when pronouncing the syllables!), a one hundred percent, intensive-tasting, fruity Auxerrois. Claude Pundel also produces several Crémant-Cuvées and even a variety with muscat. “Crémant suffered in the pandemic because festivities, parties and receptions could not take place,” says the winegrower sadly, “but people consumed more at home.” For a few years now, Rosé takes the top spot. “Everything that is rose coloured is popular,” confirms the winegrower. Meanwhile “rose-coloured wines” make up more than one fifth of sales, just as much as Crémant. “Rosé is even drunk in wintertime, that’s new!”
The family tradition is safe
Claude Pundel looks back onto the coronavirus years with a laughing and a crying eye: “The bottom line is that we didn’t do badly but I look forward to returning to normal life in order to organise the classic tasting weekends once more.” Without the help of his nephew Mathis, who supports him in the vineyard and in the cellar, and his new office co-worker Max Brandenburger, Claude Pundel would not manage the massive effort. And, last but not least, his son Louis – 15 in May – is already a big help. The young man helps where he can and undertook his first internship in Nittel with enthusiasm last year. Already at the young age of three Louis knew that he wanted to become a winegrower and take over the business. And drive a tractor, of course.
Domaine Pundel-Hoffeld Domaine Pundel-Err
6, rue de l’Eglise — L-6841 Machtum
Tel. +352 / 75 02 76