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Wines in Luxembourg

focus on Abi Duhr and Château Pauqué

Abi Duhr is one of those personalities in the world of wine whose name
is rarely mentioned. Discreet and always smiling, here's a portrait
of a Luxembourg winemaker of international renown.

Abi Duhr

The Duhr family has played a central role in Luxembourg's wine industry for generations. Abi Duhr's background is singular. His studies in oenology led him to divide his time between Geisenheim and Bordeaux. His vision of winemaking was enriched by his friends Denis Dubourdieu and Paul Pontallier (Château Margaux). In 1982, he started barrel ageing, making both single-varietal and blended cuvées. He also helped create the "Domaine et Tradition" label, and made a name for himself, becoming a member of the European Grand Jury and consultant to numerous estates. This singular career path has enabled him to benefit from the best of two worlds that some would argue oppose each other: on the one hand, the Northern European influence of single-varietal wines, and on the other, the Bordeaux culture based on blending.

Nothing better than to discover his estate!


Château Pauqué,
flagship of Luxembourg wines

“Together with my daughter Laurence, we cultivate 11 ha of vines scattered over a 40 km stretch of the Moselle valley. The furthest vineyard is in Schengen, the village where the Schengen Agreement was signed”.

There are some twenty cuvées, with a wide range of grape varieties, terroirs and winemaking techniques. Riesling for the most part, but also Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir ... and Elbling. This grape variety has been cultivated in Luxembourg since Roman times.

The Riesling Vieilles Vignes cuvée is a single grape variety of exceptional scope, with vines planted in 1943. Matured in stainless steel tanks and fermented using only indigenous yeasts. The typicity of Riesling is perfectly transcribed, as is the terroir, clay on the surface and limestone at depth. The finish of the 2019 offers a skilful balance between subtle spicy notes, a hint of iodine and a lovely play on bitters, adding a breath of freshness.

Cuvée Fossiles, on the other hand, is a blend of terroirs and grape varieties, Pinot Blanc with a little Auxerrois and Chardonnay, aged in barrels, of which around 20% are new. This very measured ageing is harmoniously reflected on the finish of the 2021, contributing to the wine's complexity, but never masking the delicacy of the fruit.

So it's easy to understand his answer when asked about his motivations: “I love challenge vintages, vintages that have already been decried by our colleagues before the harvest. In these vintages, you can let off steam”.

This challenge is perfectly illustrated by the cuvée Raisins dorés. The vines were taken over at the height of the pandemic, with the aim of retranscribing the variations of Elbing on clay-limestone soil.

“The Elbing, intelligently aged in barrels, gives a style of wine that reminds me of certain Chablis and Bourgogne Aligotés. For gastronomy, oysters and caviar go very well with it”.

On the 2020, this proposition comes into its own, with a finish that highlights the work done on the lees, while at the same time having a sapid side, beautifully highlighting the iodized character of the oysters.

Even today, he's one of those die-hards who come to Bordeaux every year to taste the wines at the Primeurs. It's an ongoing learning process, combined with a close eye on the evolution of the properties from which he has acquired a knowledge that many critics would envy. During our discussions with Abi Duhr, this true enthusiast will reveal his passion for wine in different layers, without ever overplaying his hand. What a great wine!

Xavier Lacombe