Every other month, ‘Whose Wine is it Anyway?’ profiles a German winemaker to give you a behind-the-vines look at the world of German wine. This month, we’re highlighting Simone Frigerio of Reichsrat von Buhl. Located in the Pfalz, Reichsrat von Buhl is a historic, certified organic estate known for its iconic vineyard sites and world famous wines for over 150 years.
Whose *Wine* is it Anyway? Meet Simone Frigerio
Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl has been regarded as one of Germany’s most renowned wineries since its founding in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl, as part of the distribution of the original Jordan estate into three smaller estates: Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan, Von Winning (formerly Dr. Deinhard), and von Buhl. In just a few years, the estate gained national and international acclaim, creating high quality, terroir-driven wines from the Pfalz region’s best vineyard sites and soils.
After Franz Peter’s death in 1862, his son Armand von Buhl took over the winery and came to be recognized as a top authority in viticulture as well as contributing to German social legislation. Armand became the first “Reichsrat” in the estate’s history when he was awarded the title for lords in the kingdom of Bavaria in 1885. The estate and title were later inherited by Armand’s son Franz Eberhard Buhl, who officially added “Reichsrat” to the estate’s name in 1912 after expanding the property to over 200 hectares of vineyards and forests. Over the years following Franz Eberhard Buhl’s management, however, the estate was continuously scaled back due to economic difficulties, until the entire property was left with only 52 hectares from the best vineyard sites in its name – while never wavering from their commitment to quality and timeless wines.
Simone Frigerio joined the Reichsrat von Buhl team in December 2019 as second cellar master, working alongside the estate’s new team. Born and raised in Italy, Simone lived and breathed wine since his childhood, assisting his grandparents in their family vineyard. As he grew, Simone continued to chase his dreams as a winemaker, studying Viticulture and Oenology in Milan and traveling around the globe to immerse himself in each unique winemaking technique. From Australia, Canada, and California to Chile, South Africa then England, Simone found his calling: to create wine connected as closely to each grape’s origin and terroir as possible.
Today, Simone’s official title at Reichsrat von Buhl is Cellar Master, but he oversees much more. From managing the estate’s wine production, inventory, and other members of the cellar team, Simone plays a key role in Von Buhl’s success. While each day is different, Simone prioritizes producing sustainable, terroir-driven wines, all rooted in his deep knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the estate’s vineyards and harvest.
“This is the life of a winemaker. Your brain is always turned on, part of it always connected to work. At a point it is no longer work, but instead it becomes your passion and your life.”
— Simone Frigerio
Today, Reichsrat von Buhl operates on 56 hectares of vineyards in the Mittelhaardt region in the Pfalz. Despite scaling back over the years, the estate never let go of its highest quality sites in Deidesheim and Forst. 45 percent of Reichsrat von Buhl’s vineyard sites are classified as Grosse Lage or Erste Lage (Premier or Grand Cru) by the VDP, and among those sites, the best plots historically belong to the estate.
With this in mind, the Von Buhl team feels obligated to produce wines that reflect their phenomenal vineyards, which they believe is only possible when done in harmony with nature. The estate has worked organically since 2009, adhering to the guidelines of both organic wine production as well as sustainable viticulture, which prioritizes social and economic aspects as well as the environment.
Reichsrat von Buhl does not use chemical synthetic substances, opting for manure and compost as fertilizer. Weeds in the vineyards are only removed mechanically, and vineyards are cultivated with various plants between the rows of the vines to keep the soil alive and bring life into the vineyards. As an experienced oenologist, Simone sees it as his responsibility to interpret the soils that the estate nurtures. Simone supports each wine’s natural development and expression while strengthening sustainable and respectful viticulture.
“Every wine has a different personality and character, much like people.”
— Simone Frigerio
Each Von Buhl wine is unique and terroir-driven, representing the characteristics of the nature surrounding it, which varies based on vineyard site. In other words, no two wines are the same, each showcasing a unique color, taste, and complexity.
The estate creates everything from easy-drinking wines to higher-end Grosses Gewächs and sparkling varieties, but relies on the two classic grape varieties of the Mittelhaardt: Riesling and Pinot Noir. With the exception of two noble sweet wines, all white wines offered at the estate are Riesling, while the rosés and reds are made exclusively from Spätburgunder.
When asked what wine Simone recommends, he answers, “This is a very difficult question, it is like asking a child which toy is his favorite.” From dry to sweet, fruity to acidic, and light to dense, Reichsrat von Buhl offers a wine for everyone. When asked his personal favorite, Simone undisputedly answers with Riesling. Lucky for Simone, around 80 percent of the estate’s vineyards are planted with the classic varietal.
Technology Meets Tradition
When painting a picture of all that Von Buhl encompasses, the estate’s recent adoption of technology is often overlooked. These new innovations were brought on by Simone himself, thanks to his background and experiences in different winemaking techniques around the globe. While the estate’s buildings and wine cellars date back to the late 18th century, Simone has incorporated modern state of the art technologies to meet the highest possible standards in winemaking.
Simone and the entire Reichsrat von Buhl staff prioritize preserving the traditions and respected history of the estate while incorporating the benefits of modern technology. While this combination creates greater logistical challenges during production, it’s this exact tension that keeps Simone going day in and day out.