A ramble through the wines of Churfranken – from Ortega to Pinot Meunier


As mentioned in a previous post, I was invited by the Hench family to take our bus on a trip to the beautiful region of Churfranken and visit them. Who can turn down such an invitation, with the promise of discovering new wines? Therefore, this time everything will revolve around the wine – clear the stage!

The proof of the pudding is the eating

What could be better than tasting wines where they grow? Therefore, during my visit to the Hench family winery in Bürgstadt, we started directly on the first evening in the premium vineyard “Mainhölle” with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. What a view!

The next day, in bright summer weather, the culinary discovery tour continued with a hearty Franconian vesper (the homemade wine leaf pesto 🥰) and a foray through the wine list.

Enough of the words – let’s leave the wines to speak for themselves

The surprising summer wine – Ortega

Bred in Franconia, the relatively early-ripening Ortega grape variety has been cultivated by only a few winemakers in the recent past. However, it has long had a home at the Hench winery and enjoys an enthusiastic and steadily growing fan base. The fresh summer wine presents itself with fruity and floral notes and its dry finish makes it the perfect wine for me to enjoy on the terrace with friends!

What a sensation in the mouth – Weissburgunder R

Here the “Barrique” pioneer from Churfranken plays out all his experience, after all, in the winery Hench already since 1993 Franconian wine is also vinified with wood contact.
The nose reveals subtle vanilla and caramel notes, complemented by hints of oregano and white flower aromas. The juicy animating and well-integrated acidity ensures that you always keep an eye on the bottle to secure the next glass.

Unique in Bürgstadt – St Laurent

Literally “unique”, as there is no other winery in the nearby region that grows St. Laurent. During his education in Veitshöchheim, Peter, who only took over the winery this summer, got to know and love the advantages of this grape variety. The vineyard and the vines had to get used to each other a bit and after initial challenges, wine connoisseurs are now rewarded with a vibrant red wine. Cassis, red bell pepper, thyme and cinnamon notes play around the taste buds. Thanks to a nearby forest that keeps out cold easterly air, the wine has a round acid structure and a soft mouthfeel.

The “queen” of red vines – Pinot Noir

Already when approaching the wine glass, the scent of clove and a potpourri of red berries first tempts you to pause and feel the anticipation. In the mouth, the powerful structure of this dry and traditionally vinified red wine, classically aged in wooden barrels, impresses. If the (Main)Hölle (meaning “hell”) tastes like this, who wants to go to heaven?

It also works with chestnut – Pinot Meunier

The influence of the wood type is always an interesting topic to discuss. Therefore, it is all the more gratifying to have such an example in the glass. The Pinot Meunier was allowed to mature in a chestnut barrel, giving the wine its full power without being too dominant. Spicy aromas harmonize with light notes of black fruit, and the quality of the wine is evident in a mineral nose. An exciting and successful combination!

“It’s never too late to have a glass of Frühburgunder (meaning “early” PInot)

Almost every winery in Bürgstadt offers an Pinot Madeleine on their wine list, so you have to come up with something special to stand out. This specimen manages that wonderfully! With an extremely small harvest of only about 2000-3000 liters, this red wine is also bottled unfiltered and receives the wine discoverer highly expressive. Slightly smoky aromas, present black fruits, an ethereal note and subtle hints of tea add excitement to the nose. In the mouth, a discreet acidity delights and the 15 months of wood contact are reflected in a slightly dehydrating phenolic structure. This is how tradition goes in Churfranken!

Handmade in its purest form – Handmade 2021

Please excuse me if I put it so directly, but the first thing that came to mind was: “What a mouthful of wine”. You automatically stop and let what you have in your mouth take effect.
“Handmade” is an exclusive selection of red wine grapes fermented with macération carbonique (intracellular fermentation) and pressed after the first full mouth of spring.
The 12-15 months of aging in barrique are pleasantly noticed by balsamic aromas, straw and dried fruit notes and the mouthfeel … yes we already had that 😉

Pinot Meunier, second one – Blanc de Noir / Weissherbst

This wine is not really to be confused with its “big brother” from the chestnut barrel, since this time the red grapes were vinified as Weissherbst or Blanc de Noir. The young wine was allowed to age on the fine lees for about six months and was occasionally “stirred” manually (bâttonage). Thus, it presents itself somewhat more fruit-driven, but still with a full palate.

An encounter full of surprises and delights!

It has been an incredible delight to discover the wines of the Hench family winery. Every bottle had its special features, and the overall experience surprised me again and again. I was also particularly impressed by the family’s commitment to sustainability, the successful combination of modernity and tradition, and their winemaking philosophy.
The wines really convinced me, and this was also confirmed by the jury of the International Organic Wine Award. At the spring 2022 and 2023 tastings, the wines received a total of five gold and six silver medals. Under this link you can see the results in detail.
Just enter “Hench” in the winery name and discover all the results.

Hench wines: A discovery in Churfranken!

My brief excursion into the fascinating world of wines from Churfranken was a true voyage of discovery. From the first moment we arrived at the stunning premium vineyard “Mainhölle” in Bürgstadt to the last drops we tasted, I experienced the passion and dedication that goes into every Hench wine.

The variety of wines, from surprising Ortega to powerful Pinot Noirs and Pinot Meuniers, reflected the family’s wine philosophy and the terroir of this region. It was not only a feast for the palate, but also an insight into the challenges of a family winery that combines tradition and modernity and wants to secure it for the next generation.

There is much to discover for wine lovers and friends of the good taste in Churfranken – have fun on your journey of discovery!

For background information on the history of the family winery and their philosophy in the cellar, I recommend a look at the earlier blog post.