CODEX

an exceptionally special historic wine blend by Hans Clauer, Heidelberg, Germany

The wine

In the European Union, wine-growing for economic purposes is only allowed to use officially registered and certified varieties. It is not allowed to privately breed, grow and sell un-registered wine varieties. Thus, wine-yards are regularly inspected by official institutions.

In 2003, two researchers of a governmental German wine breeding institute visited yards in South West Germany. In Heidelberg, they checked a very old vineyard, owned by Hans Clauer.

To their total surprise, they found about 50 varieties of wine that had mostly been expected to be extinct since decades, such as "Blue Elbling," "Silk Grape", "Weißer Heunisch", or "Honigler".

An ampelography and subsequent genetic laboratory analysis clearly showed that these plants are growing on own original roots, thus they had not been grafted on roots of other varieties (as common since more than 200 years).

Obviously, this wine yard had survived the so-called "European wine crises" from around 1840 when most European wine plants died due to an imported wine-pest (grape phylloxera) from America.

The probably most important discovery was a group of some living sticks of the variety "White Heunisch".  In the Middle Ages, "White Heunisch" had spread from Hungary to France and is considered as the prototype of at least 72 current varieties such as "Riesling" and "Chardonnay".

Because these old plants in Heidelberg survived the wine pest crises, experts expect genetically stored resistance features and thus now try to transfer this into modern varieties currently used world-wide in the wine "industry".

Hans Clauer, Junior, now offers a very limited number of bottles of a blend from this old wine-yard, covering the taste of several very different historic varieties.

Acknowledging the exceptional importance of this historic wine, Heidelberg University gave a license to the Clauer family to use a picture from the famous “Codex Manesse” on the label.

The name and label

The “Codex Manesse” is a medieval songbook, the single most comprehensive source of Middle High German Minnesang poetry, written and illustrated between 1300 and 1340.

It is the most beautifully illumined German manuscript in centuries, depicting each contributing poet by 137 miniatures.

Originally, the codex was produced for the Manesse family of Zürich. But, the house of Manesse declined in the late 14th century, selling their castle in 1393.

The fate of the codex during the 15th century is largely unknown, but by the 1590s it had passed into possession of German baron Johann Philipp of Hohensax.

Over several further steps the codex became part of the Bibliotheca Palatina of Heidelberg, one of the most important libraries of the time. While the Palatinate suffered heavily in the Thirty Years War, the Catholic League with its General (Count von Tilly, employed by Maximilian of Bavaria) brought most of the Bibliotheca Palatina to Rome. As a consequence, since 1623, the Heidelberg library has been incorporated into the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome.

Following negotiations between the French King and the Pope in Rome, in 1657 the codex became part of the French royal library after the Thirty Years war. From there it passed to the Bibliothèque Nationale.

In 1815, the codex manuscript was studied by German language expert Jacob Grimm.

After long bargaining, the codex was sold in 1888 to the Bibliotheca Palatina of Heidelberg again, following a public subscription headed by German Kaiser William I. and German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Although officially being part of the Heidelberg library, most documents stayed in the Vatican in Rome.

For the 600th Jubilee of Heidelberg University in 1986, parts of the Bibliotheca Palatina and the codex were brought back from the Vatican to be displayed in Heidelberg.