Every 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 Caroline Diel, winemaker and proprietor of Schlossgut Diel and a member of a new generation of winemakers. Schlossgut Diel, located in the Nahe, has been known for producing exceptional wines for seven generations, with Caroline carrying on “tradition that looks to the future.”
Whose *Wine* is it Anyway? Meet Caroline Diel
The Diel family’s rich history in winemaking began over two hundred years ago, when Peter Diel acquired the estate along with Layen Castle in 1802 from Baron von Dalberg (who had prevented its confiscation by Napoleon’s troops in 1789). While the castle estate originally focused on mixed agriculture, it was gradually converted to viticulture over the generations since. Schlossgut Diel found real success as a winery with the help of Armin and Monika Diel. As a sixth generation winemaker, Armin Diel oversaw the winery’s transition to focus on traditional Nahe grape varieties: Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc. Armin is regarded as a highly-acclaimed Riesling producer in Germany, and the winery is one of the few that still vinifies wines from each Grosses Gewächs site at each level of the Pradikät system.
The daughter of Armin and Monika, Caroline Diel was destined for an impressive future in winemaking. She spent her childhood in her family’s vineyards, which shaped her love for terroir and wine. Caroline learned more about winemaking at Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Bordeaux, as well as renowned German wine estates like Robert Weil, Toni Jost, Ökonomierat Rebholz and Dr. Deinhard.
Caroline studied oenology at Geisenheim University, during which she traveled to France to work at the famed Champagne house Ruinart and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy. From Austria to South Africa to New Zealand, Caroline gathered insights from some of the finest estates in the world and returned to the Nahe in 2006, where she expertly tends to the vines and winery at Schlossgut Diel.
The combination of exceptional vineyard sites, vineyard management and winemaking has led the Schlossgut to receive continued acclaim. With 25 hectares under vine, Schlossgut Diel’s vineyards are positioned on steep south-facing slopes in the lower Nahe. The estate’s three esteemed vineyards, Dorsheimer Goldloch, Dorsheimer Pittermännchen, and Dorsheimer Burgberg, were documented as early as 1901 as producing exceptional wines.
The Goldloch site is known for producing deep and powerful wines that still maintain elegance and finesse. Diel owns about half of the steep slopes in the Burgberg vineyard, where ageworthy Rieslings are as elegant as its namesake, the castle Burg Layen. With just one hectare in the Pittermännchen vineyard, the steep, south-facing slopes and mineral soils allow for Diel’s complex, racy wines. The fruit is either whole-cluster pressed or destemmed by hand to preserve skins and prevent oxidation, and fermentation takes place in Stückfass, Doppelstück, and stainless-steel tanks, with small barrels used for the red wines.
The climate and soils of our region come together in racy, refreshing wines with an elegant fruitiness and a long, beautiful future to come.
— Caroline Diel
Schlossgut Diel’s wines are a quintessential taste of the Nahe, offering Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. The VDP member estate is about two-thirds Riesling and one-third Pinot varieties with a small amount of Chardonnay. With its vineyards destined to produce beautiful Rieslings, Schlossgut Diel’s wines are equal parts minerality, vitality and delicate fruitiness. However, its fragrant and juicy Pinot Noirs and Blancs are not to be forgotten. In particular, Schlossgut Diel is known for its Sekt, Kabinett and Grosses Gewächs wines. For newcomers, Caroline recommends the Diel de Diel VDP Gutswein. A blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling, it’s the perfect wine for any occasion.
We love the minerality of the Riesling, the finesse of the Pinot Noir and the complexity of the white Burgundy varieties.
— Caroline Diel
A Family Affair
Family is at the heart of Schlossgut Diel’s success. Caroline Diel and her husband, Sylvain Taurisson-Die, are sole owners of the Diel estate. The couple met in 2007 at a wine-and-chocolate pairing event and have owned the estate since July 2019. While Caroline tends to every aspect of wine from vineyard to cellar, Sylvain (a former professional volleyball player) is responsible for the rest, from overseeing sales, marketing, and customer service to hosting trade fairs and events. Together with their three children, the pair are members of a new generation of winemakers.