WillemsWillems
Carolin’s estate on the Saar

Five generations of Willems women have managed the family's business. While today a dedicated winegrowing estate, up until 1971 it was still operated as a mixed farm. That was the year Maria Willems married Karl, who shared a distant ancestor and thus the same last name. And so Willems became Willems-Willems, a name still proudly in use today.

Maria’s daughter Carolin and her husband Jürgen are now responsible for the wines. Both Jurgen and Carolin frequently commute from their family home in Appenhem in Rheinhessen to the winegrowing estate on the Saar. General manager Peter Thelen is local full-time, looking after the grapes and the cellar. Grandparents Karl and Maria Willems regularly lend a helping hand as well, including responsibility for the holiday flats located in the historical section of the estate’s residence.

to the holiday flats

Carolin Hofmann
(née willems)

From a young age, Carolin Hofmann was an integral part of her family's estate on the Saar. By 2001 she was producing her own wine. Virtually from the start her focus has been on high-quality dry and feinherb (off-dry) Rieslings. This is not necessarily an obvious choice in a region where many leading producers have made their names with grand naturally sweet wines. But it is a choice that fits her well. She has established her own distinctive style through relatively late harvest dates and extended barrel maturation to tame the famously wild Saar acidity in her slate-forged wines.

Her success speaks for itself: the wines are often described as "distinctive, independent Saar stars" that deliver an "appealingly gentle balance." Stuart Pigott named the university-trained enologist as "Young Winemaker of the Year" (2010). In 2013 she took home first place in the category of dry Rieslings below 12.5% abv in the coveted "Best of Riesling" competition by trade journal WEINWIRTSCHAFT.



Awards and accolades

Eichelmann 2019: 3.5 Stars

Vinum 2019: 3 Stars

Stuart Pigott ("Kleiner genialer Weinführer"):
"Young Winemaker of the Year 2010"

Vita

Education:

2000 – 2004
Studied viticulture in Geisenheim and graduated with the Dipl. Ing. in Viticulture and Oenology

Experience:

1999
Internship at Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt / Trier
2000
Internship at Weingut Deutzerhof / Ahr
2002
Employment at Backsberg Paarl Estate / South Africa
2003
Employment at the winery of the University of Adelaide / Australia
2004
Employment at Weinwelt by Mack & Schühle, a wine distributor
2001 - present
Responsible for the Saar wines of the family estate Weingut Willems-Willems
2006 - present
Joint leadership of the family wine estates Willems-Willems & Hofmann with her husband Jürgen Hofmann

 

Estate management
Peter Thelen

Not every talented winemaker grows up in the vineyard. It seems a stroke of remarkably good fortune that Peter Thelen has made a home at Willems-Willems on the Saar rather than at his parents’ dental practice in Cologne. The dynamic young winemaker carries out Carolin and Jürgen Hofmann's philosophy with the passion of a convert; it's clear he sees his own approach in the vineyard and the cellar mirrored in theirs. That makes it easy for him to treat his work as a true labor of love, as if it were solely his own. His work overseeing operations keeps him perpetually local, overseeing the estate's meticulous quality assurance processes in both vineyard and cellar.

His commitment reflects an abiding low-intervention approach with a focus on sustainability, one that he has championed since 2010. For Peter, outstanding wine quality is built on a balanced ecosystem where plants and beneficial organisms live in harmony.

Experience

After completing training as a winemaker in Württemberg (2009), Peter pursued enology at the University of Geisenheim while also working at the wine estate in Appenheim. He quickly earned trust and respect, and in 2010 accepted a position as managing director of the Saar winegrowing estate. He furthered his enological experience by assuming seasonal winemaker duties at the Gabrielskloof Wine Estate in South Africa during the winter months of 2012 - 2015.

Slate soils and grapes

This region south of Trier is lovingly known by the locals as the Konzer Tälchen, or "Little Konz Valley." The Willems-Willems estate is located here in the small wine-growing village of Konz-Oberemmel, near the confluence of the Saar and Mosel rivers.

Surrounded by hillsides that shield it from the winds, the curved, south-facing vineyards are notably hospitable to Riesling and Pinot vines. The climate here feels almost Mediterranean. The Devonian slate soils, mixed with a proportion of fine earth, hearken back to the age when the Konz Valley was still a riverbed. This particular blend of stone and fine earth lends the wines an unmistakable minerality and delicate fruitiness.

The potential for these vineyards in and around Oberemmel was recognized at least as far back as the Romans, who are known to have planted wine here roughly 2000 years ago. In addition to dry white and red wines, the estate’s best vineyards today produce balanced off-dry Rieslings, as well as a few premium dessert wines. With their reddish and blue slate soils, the steep "Altenberg" and "Herrenberg" hillside sites in particular show incredible potential. A natural and quality-driven approach in the vineyard ensures that their old vines, in some cases up to 70 years of age, can extend their roots deep into the earth to produce character-rich wines that are counted among the finest the region has to offer.

Saar-Wines

Gutsweine (estate level)

Blanc de Noir

Our best Spätburgunder grapes from the Rosenberg vineyard are gently pressed and vinified like a white. The result: a creamy wine of an almost playful character thanks to its delicate, acidity and subtle cassis aromas. The zebra striped label makes a charming visual play on the "blanc de noir" vinification process, where white wine is produced from red grapes.

2018 | Spätburgunder | trocken

Alcohol:
12 % vol
Acidity:
6.9 g/l
Residual Sugar:
6.2 g/l

Weißer Burgunder

This Weißer Burgunder grows on warm, southwest-facing vineyard slopes where the gray slate soils store the sunshine by day and distribute it back to the vines by night. As a result, the fruit can stay longer on the vine, encouraging supple, juicy wines with intense aromas of melon and banana. The unmistakable Saar acidity provides a final polish and clarity that inspired the diamond on the label.

2018 | Weißburgunder | trocken

Alcohol:
12.5 % vol
Acidity:
6.9 g/l
Residual Sugar:
7.2 g/l

Saar Riesling

Our estate-level Riesling grows in a number of different vineyards around the "Konzer Tälchen," all with slate soils but also varied expositions. It combines an enticing combination of juiciness, minerality and fruit with a gentle acidity and nimble lightness on the palate. A typical Saar Riesling, as elegant as Cinderella’s slipper.

2017 | Riesling | trocken

Alcohol:
11.5 % vol
Acidity:
7.9 g/l
Residual Sugar:
8.9 g/l

Riesling Kabinett

The parasol on the label is an accurate portent of what’s inside. This wine was made for warm, carefree days! Remarkably refreshing and deliciously drinkable, this is a quintessential example of a German Kabinett Riesling. Graceful, balanced with delicate aromas and a filigreed structure – a style the whole world would love to copy, but which no one does quite as well as the Saar.

2018 | Riesling | feinherb

Alcohol:
8.5 % vol
Acidity:
9.6 g/l
Residual Sugar:
30.4 g/l

Ortsweine (village-level)

Oberemmeler Riesling "Schiefer"

This Saar Riesling reveals a beautiful harmony of minerality, fruit aromas of citrus and ripe apricots and a nimble acidity. It is crafted from optimally ripe grapes grown on the old vines (30+ years) that thrive in the steep slopes of the Oberemmeler Rosenberg. The sun-kissed hillside rises parallel to the renowned Scharzhofberg vineyard, with warm slate soils that serve as a playground to many creatures bright and beautiful, from lizards to insects. And, of course, butterflies like on our label.

2018 | Riesling | trocken

Alcohol:
11.5 % vol
Acidity:
8.4 g/l
Residual Sugar:
7.4 g/l

Riesling "Auf der Lauer"

The walled vineyard in Oberemmel, planted with vines up to 55 years old, originally bore the name "Auf der Mauer" ('On the Wall'). Another winemaker patented that name, so we've shortened it to "Auf der Lauer" (from a German children's song) and changed its label with a wink to feature a fox. This is our "fun Riesling" — playful and elegant, and just as delicious solo as it is with a wide variety of food.

2018 | Riesling | feinherb

Alcohol:
11 % vol
Acidity:
8.1 g/l
Residual Sugar:
19.8 g/l

Lagenweine (single vineyard)

Riesling "Altenberg"

The galley ship on the label hints at the site's incredible history: 2000 years of winegrowing heritage on the Altenberg, dating back to Roman times. In the Prussian vineyard classification map of 1868, the vineyard was ranked among the best in the region. Today we are proud to source the fruit for our "personal GG" from old vines that grow on this vineyard’s steep, blue slate slopes. A cellarable, off-dry Riesling marked by both this special vineyard and the natural yeasts found there. This wine spends up to 9 months on the fine lees. "Great tension on the palate!"

2017 | Riesling | feinherb

Alcohol:
10 % vol
Acidity:
9.4 g/l
Residual Sugar:
30.5 g/l

Riesling "Herrenberg"

The red slate soils of the Herrenberg bestow an unmistakable character to these wines. We restrict yields from the Riesling vines growing in these terraced vineyards to just 30 hl/ha. The slow, wild ferment wines are left on their fine lees up through summer, lending them a delicious synergy of fruit and elegance. Just as a true gentleman is never fully dressed without hat and cane, this wine proudly wears its deep regional roots.

2017 | Riesling | trocken

Alcohol:
11.5 % vol
Acidity:
7.8 g/l
Residual Sugar:
7 g/l

Riesling Kabinett "Oberemmeler Altenberg"

The finest parcels of the large "Altenberg" vineyard can be found just below its small vineyard chapel. The vines that grow in these steep slopes are more than 70 years old. They have deep roots and produce very small and mineral-rich berries. This deliciously drinkable, quintessential Saar Kabinett is the result of a special combination of extremely small yields (30 hl/ha), slow wild ferment and the plentiful time we grant these wines before bottling.

2017 | Riesling | feinherb

Alcohol:
11.5 % vol
Acidity:
9.1 g/l
Residual Sugar:
53.3 g/l

Riesling Spätlese "Niedermenniger Herrenberg“

This late harvest Riesling from the red tinged and gray warm slate soils of the Niedermenniger Herrenberg walks a tightrope between fruitiness and delicate acidity. The hourglass on the label symbolizes the long hang times for its grapes, which translate into a wine of ripe character, rich in exotic fruits.

2017 | Riesling | -

Alcohol:
7.5 % vol
Acidity:
8.8 g/l
Residual Sugar:
59.4 g/l

Riesling Auslese "Oberemmeler Karlsberg“

The little dots on the label symbolize a meticulous hand harvest — literally berry-by-berry selection — that is essential to the stunning concentration of the final wine. Grown on the warm slate soils of the Oberemmeler Rosenberg, the grapes are allowed to ripen well into late autumn. The renowned Saar acidity moderates the rich concentration and fruitiness of this stunning Auslese. Pull the cork to discover an incredible aromatic spectrum reminiscent of drippingly ripe tropical fruits yet somehow still brilliantly fresh.

2017 | Riesling | -

Alcohol:
7.5 % vol
Acidity:
9.4 g/l
Residual Sugar:
73 g/l

Red wines

Spätburgunder "Oberemmeler“

One might not expect such a deep, elegant and complex Spätburgunder from the Saar. The wine is grown from 20-year-old, small berried vines and matures for 18 months in old French barrique. It is opulent and rich yet also fresh and juicy. Its aromas range from red fruit and spice with smoky accents to chocolate-covered cherries. A sensual wine that can be enjoyed to more than just candlelight.

2017 | Spätburgunder | trocken

Alcohol:
12 % vol
Acidity:
5.1 g/l
Residual Sugar:
0.3 g/l

Sekt (sparkling)

Riesling Sekt brut

The base wine for our sparkling Willems sekt comes from our premium Herrenberg site. The wine is vinified in large barrels, then undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle with extended lees contact and hand riddling. We believe this is the best path to elegant and complex sparkling Rieslings that express the typical fruitiness and minerality for which the Saar is known. Creamy and long with a delicate mousse and fireworks on the palate.

2016 | Riesling | brut

Acidity:
12 % vol
Säure:
6 g/l
Residual Sugar:
6.5 g/l


Special wines

Fusion Weisswein Cuveé, Schiefer trifft Muschelkalk

Weißer Burgunder, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling come together in a light, mouth-watering and deliciously drinkable white Rheinhessen blend.

2018| Weißer Burgunder, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling | trocken

Alcohol:
12,5 % vol
Acidity:
6.1 g/l
Residual Sugar:
4.4 g/l