Continuing with last week's theme of highly unusual wines, this wine of the week is a no-added-sulphite crémant from Luxembourg.
From €16.80, $28.99, 325 Norwegian kroner, £35.95
Corinne Kox is the second generation of her family to be making wine in the small winegrowing town of Remich, on the left bank of the River Moselle in Luxembourg. The Kox family have been growing grapes for over a century, but it was her parents, Laurent and Rita, who began making and bottling their own wine in 1977.
When Corinne joined her father at the domaine in 2012, she brought a more experimental edge. She was the first winemaker in Luxembourg to bring in Georgian-made clay qvevri, the first to make orange wine in Luxembourg, the first to produce verjus in Luxembourg, and has gone on to introduce no-added-sulphites wines to her family's range as well as planting PiWi varieties. In 2015, they replaced mechanised work in the vineyards with two horses, Carlos and Billy. In 2019, she began a drone pilot project for precision application of disease treatment in their 12 ha (30 acres) of vineyards and has also begun working with the University of Luxembourg on a research project using robots in the vineyard.
In 2020, Corinne collaborated with Betty Fontaine of the family-owned brewery Brasserie Simon to create a 'grape ale' – a malt-hop-Rivaner hybrid blanche-style beer. And in 2021, she launched her 'orchard' project – vitiforestry. Based on agroecology principles, and with the aim of increasing biodiversity, fighting climate change, restoring soil fertility and restoring a more natural ecosystem to their vineyards, she's begun planting trees in the middle of vineyard rows, as well as hedgerows and native plants, and even growing vegetables between the vines. They have beehives in the vineyards and it goes without saying that they farm without herbicides or pesticides.
This remarkable young woman, who seems to be alight with ideas and vision, is behind a wine that took me completely by surprise. I'd opened a few Crémants from different parts of France, and was tasting through them, expecting solid performance but nothing thrilling. And then I tasted the L & R Kox, Cuvée Sans Sulfites Ajoutés Brut NV Crémant de Luxembourg. I sat back in my seat. This was something pretty special. It had extraordinary richness combined with vibrant clementine-scented fruit, but the elegant, insistent acidity of Riesling. It was long. It was complex. It was superb.
Made entirely from Riesling, mostly from the 2017 vintage, the base wine was fermented in stainless steel with no added sulphites from start to finish. It spent 48 months on lees and received a final dosage of 6.4 g/l. She made just 2,200 bottles.
It's an unusual, rather special wine, made by an unusual, rather special person.
Despite its tiny production, the wine has made its way to the UK, where Benedict Butterworth Ltd is selling it for £35.95 (along with some of her other wines including the orange wine), the US, where Astor Wines are selling it at a very good value $28.99, and you can buy it in Norway (Vinmonopolet) and in Luxembourg, directly from the domaine.
Not many Luxembourg wines make it out of this tiny country, but we do have a small selection of tasting notes and a story of my visit to the Luxembourg wine regions, many years ago!
The photos are all kindly supplied by Benedict Butterworth.