When we first spoke to Fridolin Baumgartner about joining the Freimeisterkollektiv, it came to no one’s surprise that he suggested producing a spirit based on grapes or wine. His distillery is located in one of Germany’s best wine-growing regions and, since its founding in 1983, they’ve been distilling everything related to grapes: from grape marc, to wine yeast, grapes, or brandy – there’s no other distiller who’s showcased this much knowledge, skill, and sensitivity to this particular discipline.
Fine and elegant scents of vanilla notes mix with hints of cedar.
The barrel-aged brandy develops a complex fruitiness with notes of vanilla and caramel, while the grape marc is lightly floral with notes of wood and a light, well-balanced bitterness to it.
Long, intense finish with slowly developing notes of caramel and white chocolate.
Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau (from the Kaiserstuhl)
Barrel-aged in German Oak, also from the Kaiserstuhl
The first idea included a cuvée, made as a blend between all grape distillates. After numerous attempts though, it became obvious that grape brandy is too delicate to mesh harmoniously with wine yeast brandy. Which is why Baumgartner began experimenting with various combinations of wine and grape marc. He tested both barrel-aged and neutrally aged versions. In the end we all agreed: the perfect balance between the typical characteristics of a brandy and those of the grape marc is found in a cuvée that was made from a blend of different distillates, partially barrel-aged for over 25 years.
Baumgartner uses brandy made from Pinot noir, Pinot gris, and Müller-Thurgau grapes, all matured in 110-152 liter barrels. Not only are the wines for this spirit exclusively sourced from the Kaiserstuhl, but so is the oak for the barrels, which are bound in the neighboring village of Vogtsburg.
We’re very proud of the result. Not only are we treading a new path far off from classic spirit categories, but this product has a particularly dense and complex taste, which creates something that’s larger than the sum of its parts.
Distiller | Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl
Fridolin Baumgartner is considered a grandmaster in all things grape marc, kirsch, and brandy. For several generations now, his family has engaged in a mixed agricultural practice in the Kaiserstuhl. Baumgartner is originally a skilled office clerk, but over time his passion for distillation grew bigger and he began working in the field as an autodidactic in 1983. His father’s cousin helped him expand his knowledge on the subject but his help came with a very clear warning: “I’ll take your hands off if you ever produce anything as a moonshiner”.
In the early years, Baumgartner produced only grape marc which, to this day, remains his favorite thing to distill. Though he’s quick to add that kirsch comes in at a very close second.
Baumgartner is very strict with the selection of his harvest and a clean work process, in addition he attaches great importance to the closed fermentation tank, which keeps the mash from oxidizing. He pumps the mash from the fermentation tank directly into the still, because, “as soon as you open the tank, the aroma is gone”.
This precise, passionate approach to work and his years of experience with grapes, marc, wine, and wine yeast have been rewarded with over 150 awards and gold medals at various international competitions. Fridolin Baumgartner explains his success as follows: “It’s like an addiction to make good distillates”.