The wines of Karl H. Johner and Johner Estate
One family, two wineries, in Baden Germany and Wairarapa, New Zealand



The Johner family make wines in Baden, Germany, on their 18 hectare estate on the western side of the Kaiserstuhl. The domaine isn’t an ancient one, but was actually founded in the mid 1980s by Karl Heinz Johner, who the winery is named after. They attracted some controversy by their use of oak barrels for all the wines, experimenting with must concentration, and eschewing the usual German wine classification.

In 1998 Karl Heniz Johner also started working in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. Initially there was a partnership with Kai Schubert, but they pulled out and started again in 2000 with Johner Estate, based on 12 hectares of vineyards in the Gladstone sub region. First release was 2002.

Karl Heniz Johner now spends most of his time in New Zealand, leaving his son Patrick Johner (pictured above), who I tasted with, to run the German operation. 


Johner Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Gladstone, New Zealand
Quite a rich style with ripe, bold, intense fruit. A bit tropical with nice texture and ripness. Rounded finish, quite sweet. 89/100

Johner Pinot Noir 2008 Gladstone, New Zealand
Sweet, expressive bright cherry fruit here with some richness and a hint of meaty savouriness. Very appealing, with sweet fruit and some complexity. 91/100

Johner Cabernet Merlot ‘Lyndor’ 2008 Wairarapa, New Zealand
From a 26 year old vineyard near Masterton. Very ripe, sweet, appealing berry and black fruits nose with a hint of blackberry jam. The palate is sweet, pure and berryish with lovely concentration and a spicy, savoury edge. Nice sweetness here: delicious. 93/100

Karl H. Johner Rivaner 2009 Baden, Germany
Crisp with nice focus, showing well balanced pear and apple fruit. Very appealing and well balanced. 88/100

Karl H. Johner Grauer Burgunder 2009 Baden
Fresh, textured white with some spicy notes and a hint of herbs. Rich and grapey, but finishing dry with lots of appeal. 89/100

Karl H. Johner Weiss Burgunder/Chardonnay 2008 Baden
Bright and quite nutty with rounded, honeyed character. Expressive and elegant with a  nutty finish. 89/100

Karl H. Johner Chardonnay 2007 Baden
Attractive, open and herby with apples and nuts, as well as subtle greenness. The palate is dense and nutty with herbiness and sweet appley fruit. 87/100

Karl H. Johner Grauer Burgunder 2008 Baden
Complex, grapey, melony fruit here with nice texture, a bit of fleshiness and subtle spicy notes. Very attractive. 90/100

Karl H. Johner Spätburgunder Kaiserstuhl 2007 Baden
Sweet herb and cherry nose with some berry fruits too. The palate is ripe, quite dense, sweet and rounded with cherry and berry fruit. Finishes slightly herby. 87/100

Karl H. Johner Blauer Spätburgunder 2007 Baden
Quite dense and spicy with sweet, fresh, rounded berry fruits. Mellow smoohness here with lovely expressive fruit. 90/100

Karl H. Johner Pinot Noir Birchoffinger Steinbuck 2006 Baden
From new clones planted in 1999 and 2001. Smooth, sweet, pure, elegant cherry and berry fruit with nice savoury, herby, spicy notes. Quite lush but still elegant. A lovely ripe style. 92/100

Karl H. Johner Blauer Spätburgunder ‘SJ’ 2005 Baden
From a single, 30 year old vineyard planted with German clones (which go for high yields). Herbs, tar, spice and cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is dense and berryish with nice spicy notes as well as hints of earth. Dense, savoury and full of intensity. 92/100

Karl H. Johner Gewürztraminer Spätlese Bischoffinger Steinbuck 2009 Baden
Planted in 2004. 30 g/l rs. Complex, off-dry white with lovely texture and notes of grape and lychee, as well as herbs and spice. Lovely balance and intensity here: a delicious wine. 93/100

Karl H. Johner Saint-Patrick Beerenauslese 2008 Baden
A blend of Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Gewürztraminer. 9% alcohol. Golden colour. Viscous and intense with sweet apricot, melon, apple fruit and a herby twist. Viscous, very sweet and powerful. 90/100

See also:

Visiting Germany's wine regions
Visiting the Wairarapa/Martinborough, New Zealand

Wines tasted 05/10  
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