Friday, August 28, 2015

Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2015: Germany's Best 2014 Riesling Kabinett Wines

Picture: The Top 5 Wines of Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2015

The BerlinKabinettCup 2015 took place in Berlin, Germany, a few weeks ago, orchestrated by Martin Zwick. 39 German Riesling Kabinett 2014 wines were included and ranked in the tasting. 2/3 of the wines came from the Mosel Saar Ruwer area. The wines were blind-tasted by 12 sommeliers, wine writers and wine retailers.

Martin Zwick: I select the wines for my Cup based on tastings, recommendations and reading. I serve the wines blind in 2er flights and after 5 flights the jury has to give their scores based on the 100pts-system. Then the next 5 flights will continue. At the end when all wines have received their scores I will show the wines. BTW, the best/worst scores of each wine will be deleted. Note: The estates JJ Prüm and Molitor didn´t send bottles, as it is too early for them. In addition Egon Müller doesn´t provide tasting bottles for competitions, never.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Carl von Schubert of Maximin Grünhaus in Washington DC. His Kabinett came in as #2

See also:
Carl von Schubert from the Maximin Gruenhaus Estate Returned a Favor: With his Wines in Washington DC (and in Seattle), USA

Riesling

There are about 47000 hectares planted with Riesling worldwide. Germany – with 22500 hectares – accounts for about half of the total. The second and third largest Riesling producer are the US (mainly Washington State and Finger Lakes Region) with 4800 hectares and Australia with 4100 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Alsace, Ukraine and Austria follow with 3500 hectares, 2700 hectares and 1900 hectares, respectively.

Picture: Tasting at Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim with Fritz Hasselbach, with Annette Schiller,Ombiasy PR and WineTours. Weingut Gunderloch's Kabinett came in as #4

See also:
Wine Tasting at Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim, with Owners and Winemaker Fritz Hasselbach and Agnes Hasselbach-Usinger – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Overall, Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine. In terms of quality wines, Riesling is usually included in the top three white wine varieties, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is highly terroir-expressive, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin.

Picture: Joel B. Payne, Gault Millau, Thomas Haag, Winemaker of the Year, and Father Wilhelm Haag. Weingut Schloss Lieser came in as #9 and #11

See also:
Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser, Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015

Martin Zwick and his Berlin Cups

Martin Zwick was initially known for organizing the BerlinRieslingCup every year. The BerlinRieslingCup is about Germany’s ultra-premium dry grand cru (Grosses Gewächs) Rieslings from Grosse Lage vineyards. It typically takes place in the second half of September, following the release of the Grosses Gewächs wines of the previous year.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, Max von Kunow, Johannes Hasselbach (Weingut Gunderloch), Alwin Jurtschitsch (Weingut Jurtschitsch) and Christian Schiller at BToo in Washington DC, USA. Max studied with Alwin and Alwin's wife, Stephanie Jurtschitsch, who is Johannes' sister.

See also:
Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Von Hövel in Konz, Saar Valley, Mosel, with Owner and Winemaker Max von Kunow - Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

In the following years, he added 3 other Berlin Cups: The BerlinGutsrieslingCup, which reviews and rates entry-level Rieslings. The BerlinKabinettCup: A ranking of off-dry, light Rieslings that carry the Kabinett predicate. Finally, the BerlinSpätburgunderCup, a ranking of German Pinot Noirs.

Thus, there are now 4 BerlinCups: BerlinRieslingCup, BerlinGutsRieslingCup, BerlinKabinettCup and BerlinSpätburgunderCup. See more below.

Picture: Christian Schiller with Armin and Caroline Diel at Schlossgut Diel

See also:
Tasting with Sylvain Taurisson Diel at Schlossgut Diel, Nahe – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

What is a Kabinett?

What is a Kabinett? That depends. In the framework of the standard classification of German wine (the Law of 1971), Kabinett has a different meaning than in the framework of the new classification adopted by the VDP.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Dorothee Zillike, Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken, at Frankfurt/Wein in Frankfurt, Germany

See also:
Dorothee Zilliken, Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken Presents her Noble Rieslings at Frankfurt/Wein in Frankfurt, Germany

In the standard classification, a Kabinett is defined by the sugar content of the grapes at harvest. It is a wine made from grapes harvested with a sugar content of 67 to 87 degrees Öchsle that was not chaptalized. Such a wine can be fully fermented and become dry. These are the Kabinett Trocken wines.

Picture: Lunch and Tasting at Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstadt with Owner Annegret Reh-Gartner and her Husband, the former Chef Gerhard Gartner

See also:
Lunch and Wine Tasting at Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in Morscheid, Mosel with Owner Annegret Reh-Gartner – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Alternatively, the winemaker could stop the fermentation so that natural sugar remains in the finished wine (and perhaps add a bit of sterilized juice – Süssreserve) to produce a wine that is fruity-sweet. That could be indicated on the label as Kabinett Feinherb, or Kabinett Halbtrocken.

Pictures  Annette Schiller (Ombiasy PR and WineTours), Helmut Dönnhoff and daughter Christina Dönnhoff (Weingut Doennhoff) and Didier Cuevlier (Chateau Leoville Poyferre) at Weingut Weil

See also:
Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour at Weingut Dönnhoff with Christina Dönnhoff – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

In sum: In the framework of the standard classification of German wine, a Kabinett could be a dry or a fruity-sweet wine, with the terms Trocken, Feinherb and Halbtrocken indicating the sweetness level in the wine. In both cases, it is a rather light wine, made with grapes that were picked early in the harvest.

The VDP producers have introduced a new classification, very much based on the Burgundian approach. In their new classification, Kabinett no longer stands for a certain ripeness of the grapes at harvest, but stands for a certain sweetness level of the wine in the bottle. If a winemaker harvests grapes at the Kabinett level (in terms of sugar content at harvest), but wants to make a dry wine out of it, the winemaker has to market the wine as Qualitaetswein (QbA).

Pictures: At Weingut Dr. Loosen with Ernst Loosen and Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours

See also:
Ernst Loosen Presented his Wines at Weingut Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel Valley, Germany

Only wines that have a certain sweetness in the finished wine can be sold as Kabinett. Kabinett Trocken does not exist for VDP producers (although some VDP members still produce Kabinett trocken during a transition period). All the wines sold as Kabinett are in a certain Kabinett sweetness range.

For the VDP winemakers, Kabinett is an indication of a certain sweetness profile. And Auslese is sweeter than Spätlese and Spätlese sweeter than Kabinett. The terms “Halbtrocken” and “Feinherb” have become redundant in the VDP classification system.

Picture: Christian Schiller and Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil, in Kiedrich, Germany

See also:
Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

The wines in the BerlinKabinettCup 2015 were all wines where the fermentation was interrupted to generate a wine “that dances” as Stephen Rheinhardt has put it in the Sueddeutschen Zeitung: A low alcohol wine with some remaining sweetness – Feinherb and Halbtrocken Kabinetts, no Trocken Kabinetts.

Martin Zwick: I made this "BerlinKabinettCup" not because of another Cup, not because of ranking, not because of scores. The true star is the KABINETT. Here in Germany Kabinett was heavily overlooked in the last years, as most people drank trocken, trocken, trocken. My "BerlinKabinettCup" created awareness in Germany for Kabinett and now the people buy more Kabinett. That´s all about.

Pictures: In the Garden of Weingut Schäetzel with Kai Schätzel

See also:
Tour, Tasting, and Lunch at Weingut Schätzel in Nierstein, Rheinhessen – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

BerlinKabinettCup 2015 Ranking

2014 Weiser-Künstler Ellergrub 90pts.
2014 Maximin Grünhäuser Herrenberg 90pts.
2014 Willi Schaefer Himmelreich 90pts.

2014 Gunderloch Jean Baptiste
2014 Schäfer-Fröhlich Felseneck
2014 JB Schäfer Pittermännchen
2014 Julian Haart Ohligsberg
2014 A.J. Adam Hofberg
2014 Schloss Lieser Wehlener Sonnenuhr
2014 R.Haart Goldtröpfchen
2014 Schloss Lieser Juffer
2014 von Hövel Hütte Vollmondwein VS
2014 Diel Pittermännchen
2014 von Hövel Oberemmler Hütte
2014 Julian Haart Goldtröpfchen
2014 Grünhäuser Abtsberg
2014 Zilliken Rausch
2014 Diel Goldloch
2014 von Kesselstatt Domprobst feinherb
2014 Meierer Kesten
2014 Peter Lauer Kupp Fass Nr. 5
2014 Dönnhoff Leistenberg
2014 Zilliken Bockstein
2014 Karthäuserhof Karthäuserhofberg
2014 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen
2014 Robert Weil
2014 St.-UrbansHof Bockstein
2014 Schätzel Nierstein
2014 Schloss Johannisberg Rotlack
2014 Wagner Stempel Siefersheim
2014 MF Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr
2014 Willi Schaefer Domprobst
2014 Werther Windisch
2014 Fritz Haag Brauneberger
2014 St.-UrbansHof Goldtröpfchen
2014 MF Richter Elisenberger
2014 von Hövel Scharzhofberger
2014 von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger
2014 Weins Prüm Domprobst

Charlie Gierling’s Comments (Taster)

My impression is, that the vintage was difficult in those more northern parts. We had wines labeled "Kabinett" with overripe, even burnt fruit, some with unripe fruit und some with unclean (rotten) fruit. As every year, there were some great bottles, but I would have called them rather Spätlese or even Auslese than Kabinett. A producer from the Mosel actually explained why the wines were so different: the time window for harvesting clean, ripe grapes was extremly short on the Mosel. In around one week, the grapes turnde from immature to rot.

I would pick 3 wines of the evening:

- my favorite: Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken, Riesling Kabinett Saarburger Rausch. More like a Spätlese, but what a good one! Precise and full of energy.
- my surprize: Gunderloch, "Jean Baptist" Kabinett feinherb. Good spiciness.
- the most kabinett-like: Willi Schäfer, Graacher Himmelreich.

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Berlin Cups)

Germany’s Best Ultra-premium Dry Riesling Wines - BerlinRieslingCup 2014, Germany
Germany’s Best Ultra-premium Dry Riesling Wines - BerlinRieslingCup 2013, Germany
Germany’s Ultra Premium Dry Riesling Wines – The Berlin Riesling Cup 2012
Germany’s Top Wines – The Berlin Riesling Cup 2011 Ranking

Martin Zwick’s BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2015 - Rating Dry Entry-level Rieslings from Germany's Best Producers

Martin Zwick’s BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2014 - Rating Entry-level Rieslings from Germany's Best Producers
BerlinGutsrieslingCup 2013 – Rating Entry-level Rieslings from Germany
Berlin Gutsriesling Cup 2012, Germany

Martin Zwick's BerlinKabinettCup 2014, Germany
BerlinKabinettCup 2013 - Kabinett 2012, Germany

Germany's Best Pinot Noir Wines - BerlinSpätburgunderCup 2012/2014
BerlinSpaetburgunderCup 2011/2013, Germany

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Tours by ombiasy WineTours)

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Schiller-wine - Related Postings

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Steffen Christmann (Weingut A. Christmann) and Wilhelm Weil (Weingut Robert Weil) Presented the New Wine Classification of the VDP, Germany  

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Wine Consumption: Do Germans Drink Sweet or Dry Wine?

Approaches to Classifying German Wine: The Standard Approach (the Law of 1971), the VDP Approach and the Zero Classification Approach

Wine Tasting at Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim, with Owners and Winemaker Fritz Hasselbach and Agnes Hasselbach-Usinger – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Carl von Schubert from the Maximin Gruenhaus Estate Returned a Favor: With his Wines in Washington DC (and in Seattle), USA

Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser, Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015

Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Von Hövel in Konz, Saar Valley, Mosel, with Owner and Winemaker Max von Kunow - Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Tasting with Sylvain Taurisson Diel at Schlossgut Diel, Nahe – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Dorothee Zilliken, Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken Presents her Noble Rieslings at Frankfurt/Wein in Frankfurt, Germany

Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour at Weingut Dönnhoff with Christina Dönnhoff – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Ernst Loosen Presented his Wines at Weingut Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel Valley, Germany

Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Tour, Tasting, and Lunch at Weingut Schätzel in Nierstein, Rheinhessen – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Olivier Leflaive: Vineyard Walk and Cellar Tour, with Patrick Leflaive – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France

Pictures: Oliver Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru - The Wine and the Vineyard

We spent a morning and part of the afternoon at Oliver Leflaive. The visit comprised 3 parts: (1) We started out with an extensive walk through the vineyards of Puligny Mantrachet. (2) This was followed by a visit of the winery. (3) We ended the stop in Puligny Montrachet with a tasting lunch at La Table de Olivier, the restaurant of Maison Olivier Leflaive.

Pictures: Arriving in Puligny-Montrachet at La Maison d'Olivier Leflaive with Patrick Leflaive

Patrick Leflaive, the brother of Olivier Leflaive and President of Maison Oliver Leflaive, joined us for lunch.

This posting covers parts (1) and (2). Part (3) will be covered in a separate posting.

The Leflaive Family in Pouligny Montrachet

Just after the First World War, Olivier’s grandfather, Joseph Leflaive, was faced with the failure of his steel factory in Saint-Etienne. His investments in Burgundy were all he had left and he decided to enlarge his wine estate. Burgundy had not yet recovered from the effect of the phylloxera epidemic, which meant that vineyards were for sale at a very low price. Joseph Leflaive was able to buy 25 hectares for his domaine.

In 1920, Joseph Leflaive started a program of replantation with better adapted root stock, and progressively started to sell wine under his own label rather than to négociants. It became a family-run operation covering some 35 hectares.

After the death of Joseph Leflaive in 1953, his son, Joseph Régis, the father of Olivier and Patrick Leflaive, was in insurance and along with his brother Vincent, decided to take over the rein of Domaine Leflaive. The estate soon began producing top-flight wines.

In 1973, Domaine Leflaive was given a company structure to avoid splitting it up with subsequent inheritance, with the family members becoming the shareholders. Joseph Régis had 5 children and Vincent Leflaive had 3 children. Joseph Régis and Vincent Leflaive continued to manage the company.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Patrick Leflaive

Olivier Leflaive

Oliver Leflaive is one of the 5 children of Joseph Régis. Initially, he pursued a career in TV and radio for 10 years. In 1982, he joined his uncle Vincent Leflaive to co-manage Domaine Leflaive.

In 1984, Olivier Leflaive launched his own company Olivier Leflaive Frères, which we visited, with the help of his uncle Vincent and his brother Patrick. He quickly established his own reputation amongst Burgundy’s finest.

In 1990, Anne-Claude Leflaive replaced her father Vincent Leflaive in the management of Domaine Leflaive.

In 1994, the share holderss of Domaine Leflaive, i.e. the family Leflaive decided to give the management of Domaine Leflaive to Anne-Claude Leflaive. Olivier Leflaive left Domaine Leflaive and focused henceforth on his own company, Olivier Leflaive Frères, which he had already launched 10 years before.

Maison Olivier Leflaive Frères

Olivier Leflaive founded his own company Olivier Leflaive Frères, which we visited, with the help of his uncle Vincent and his brother Patrick, in In 1984. His brother Patrick invested in the business and became co-owner. His uncle Vincent also invested and acted in an advisory capacity, introducing him to winegrowers, and eventually to Jean-Marc Boillot who became his winemaker from 1984 to 1988.

Together, they brought this haute-couture business to life.

In 1988, Franck Grux took over as a winemaker and still holds this role today. Franck Grux was a young and talented winemaker who had been working at the Domaine Roulot in Meursault. He rapidly became Olivier’s right-hand man. Over the two past decades, he was able to establish a strong, long-term relationships with the best growers in the region.

Olivier Leflaive Frères is known today as a négociant (a wine buyer and seller) of high quality with a focus on the whites from the famous villages of Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault. Olivier Leflaive is continuously expanding and has acquired several vineyards that allow the Domaine to develop and build up its range of Domaines Wines alongside the négoce business.

In 1997, Olivier Leflaive Frères opened the Table d’Olivier Leflaive, Burgundy’s first table d’hôte enabling. In 2001, Olivier Leflaive Frères extended its expertise to the Chablis AOC. In the same year, Olivier’s brother Patrick Leflaive, one of the initial investors, joined the company as President.

As numbers of diners grow, in 2006, Olivier Leflaive decided to open La Maison d’Olivier Leflaive, a 4 star hotel, to allow guests to stay longer in Poulligny Montrachet.

2010, after several long years, Olivier and Patrick received their family legacy in the form of some fabulous terroirs:

– Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
– Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
– Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles
– Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières
– Meursault 1er Cru Blagny Sous le Dos d’Âne

In the same year, Oliver Leflaive retired from Olivier Leflaive Frères.

In the Vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet

We started our visit with a vineyard walk. We walked about a kilometer from La Maison d’Olivier Leflaive to the vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet.

Pictures: Vineyard Walk in Puligny Montrachet

Olivier Leflaive: Our daily mission is to produce top quality grapes. This involves a sustainable approach to working the vines, and also supporting our partner winegrowers in cultivating their plots using an organic or biodynamic approach. We have not any organic certification as we don’t hesitate to use chemical treatment if it’s really necessary.

The harvest is entirely manual and the grapes are picked with the utmost respect for the plant. Harvesting by machine is to be avoided at all costs as it damages the vines and can never match the skill and judgment of a human being.

In the Cellar of Olivier Leflaive

From the vineyards, we walked back to La Maison d’Olivier Leflaive and from there to the new production facility.

Pictures: In the Cellar of Olivier Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet

Olivier Leflaive: Although the quality of the harvest is key, vinification and ageing also play a major role in bringing out the essence of each appellation. Franck Grux and Philippe Grillet make it their daily task to ensure the quality of the wines and respect for the terroir. As such, the estate’s approach is to treat each cuvée individually.

Olivier Leflaive: We vinify and age the equivalent of 120 hectares of vines (including 17 of our own), the majority of which are white wines from the three prestigious Côte de Beaune villages of Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault, as well as from Chablis and the Côte Chalonnaise.

Lunch and Wine Tasting at La Table de Olivier

From the production facility, we walked back to La Maison d’Olivier Leflaive, where we had lunch cum wine tasting with Patrick Leflaive joining us. The lunch will be covered in a separate posting.

Picture: Lunch at La Table d'Olivier (see separate Posting)

Postings on the Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France (Posted and Forthcoming)

Preview: Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015 and 2016)

Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France

Champagne Jean Josselin in Gyé-sur-Seine: Tour and Tasting with Jean Pierre Josselin - Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

The Wines of Tonnerre, France – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet in Maligny, Chablis: Tour and Tasting with Owner and Winemaker Jean-François Bordet – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Domaine Brocard in Chablis: Lunch, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Odile Van Der Moere, Responsable de Cave – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Dinner at Hostellerie Chateau de la Barge in Creches-sur-Saone - Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Domaine Ferret in Fuissé, Poully-Fuissé, Mâconnais: Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Cyril Laumain, Chef de Cave – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Visit of the Abbey of Cluny and Lunch at Hostellerie d'Heloise in Cluny – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Domaine Theulot Juillot in Mercurey, Côte Chalonnaise: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Nathalie and Jean-Claude Theulot – Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France

Maison Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet: Vineyard Walk Cellar Tour and Lunch with Wine Tasting at Restaurant La Table d’Olivier Leflaive with Patrick Leflaive

Wine Tasting at Domaine Mestre Père & Fils in Santenay with Jonathan Maestre

Visit: Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils in Beaune

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Beaune, Bourgogne

Visit: Musée de l’Hospice de Beaune with Karoline Knoth, M.A.

Domaine A-F Gros in Beaune: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Owner and Winemaker Mathias Parent

Visit: Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune

Domaine Faiveley in Nuits-Saint-George: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Mathilde Nicolas (Brand Ambassador)

Wine Tasting at Domaine du Château de Prémeaux in Nuits Saint Georges with Owner and Winemaker Arnaud Pelletier 

Domaine Armelle et Bernard Rion in Vosne-Romanée: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Bernard Rion and  Alice Rion

Domaine Guillon & Fils in Gevrey Chambertin: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Jean-Michel Guillon

Visit: Château du Clos de Vougeot

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Fall Tours by ombiasy WineTours 2015 - A Very Special Treat: Experience Harvest Time ! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Schiller’s Impressions from the 2015 Wine Week in Wiesbaden, Germany

Picture: Achim von Oetinger, Weingut Zum Jungen Oetinger, with Annette and Christian Schiller at the 2015 Wine Week in Wiesbaden, Germany

The 40th Rheingau Wine Festival took place from August 14 to 23 between the Wiesbaden city hall, market church and city palace.

Annette Schiller and I flew from Washington DC to Frankfurt on August 20 and arrived in Frankfurt on August 21. In the afternoon, we drove over to Wiesbaden, just half an hour away from Frankfurt, to enjoy an evening of Rheingau wines at the Rheingau Wine Festival.

Pictures: Mark Barth, Weingut Barth, with Annette Schiller

See also:
Barth Primus is Germany’s First Sekt Made with an Erstes Gewaechs Wine

This year, I had the pleasure to enjoy the wines from the Rheingau with my granddaughter Viatrix, my daughters Cornelia Schiller-Tremann and Katharina Schiller, along with my wife Annette Schiller and Katharina’s friend Patrick Waltz. Below are some photo impressions from the evening.

Picture: The Rheingau

Rheingau Wine Festival

The Rheingauer Weinwoche, begun as a promotional event by the winegrowers of the Rheingau region 40 years ago, is now Europe’s biggest wine festival. It attracts more than 10 million visitors per year over a ten-day run.

Picture: Weingut Allendorf

See also:
Lighting and the Flavor of Wine - With Winemaker Ulrich Allendorf in his Aroma Vineyard and Color Room at Weingut Allendorf in Oestrich Winkel, Rheingau, Germany

During these 10 days, festival dominates the historic center of Wiesbaden, spread over cobblestone streets around the Hessian State Parliament, the Town Hall and the Market Church. The center of Wiesbaden turns into "longest wine bar in the world". At about 100 stands, winemakers present their products, accompanied by a variety of culinary specialties of the area. Music bands and other show acts provide entertainment on a number of stages.

Pictures: Market Church

The Rheingau

It is remarkable: For its entire length of nearly 560 miles, the Rhine flows north with one exception – a 28-mile stretch where the river changes its course. Here, it flows to the west, thereby enabling both the river and the vineyards facing it to bask in the warmth of the sun all day long. This is the Rheingau, one of the medium-size German wine regions. It is a quietly beautiful region, rich in tradition. Queen Victoria's enthusiasm for Hochheim's wines contributed to their popularity in England, where they, and ultimately, Rhine wines in general, were referred to as Hock.

Picture: Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung

See also:
A Painted Winetasting at Weingut Georg Mueller Stiftung in Hattenheim (Eltville), Rheingau, Germany

The third President of the USA - and notable bon viveur - Thomas Jefferson visited the Rheingau in 1788 and wrote that the wine of the "Abbaye of Johnsberg is the best made on the Rhine without comparison … That of the year 1775 is the best." He also referred to the Rheingau’s Riesling as the "small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim". Impressed by the quality of the Rheingau Riesling wines, he bought 100 grapevines to take back to his estate in Virginia.

Pictures: Weingut Balthasar Ress

See also:
Tasting at Weingut Balthasar Ress, Hattenheim, Rheingau, with Stefan Ress, Germany
Dirk Wuertz Presented the 2012 Grosses Gewaechs Wines of Weingut Balthasar Ress, Germany

Although the Rheingau is one of Germany’s smaller wine-growing regions, its 3,100 ha (7,660 acres) of vineyards are vastly diverse in their geological makeup. The soil varies from stony slate at the western part near the villages of Assmannshausen and Rudesheim to loess, sand and marl in the lower central villages of Geisenheim, Johannisberg, Winkel, Oestrich and Hattenheim. Soil reverts to stony phyllite in the higher central and eastern villages of Hallgarten, Kiedrich and Hochheim. Generally, wines from the lower slopes where the soil is heavier—sandy loam and loess—produce fuller wines, while at the higher slopes where it is more stony and slatey, the wines reflect more minerality, elegance and concentration.

Pictures: Achim von Oetinger, Weingut Zum Jungen Oetinger, with Annette and Christian Schiller at the 2015 Wine Week in Wiesbaden, Germany

See also:
Best German Wines and Winemakers – Stuart Pigott’s Favorites (December 2014)

The Rheingau enjoys a distinctly continental climate with cold winters and warm, but not hot, summers. The Rheingau is dominated by Riesling, accounting for 4/5 of the vineyard area. Pinot Noir accounts for 1/10 and is concentrated around Assmannshausen.

Pictures: Weingut Künstler

See also
Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Rheingau: Erstes Gewächs

The Rheingau introduced a few years ago the concept of Erste Lage. These are the best vineyards in the Rheingau. Any Rheingau winemaker, who owns an Erste Lage vineyard and who makes a top dry wine that passes the test of various regulations can name this wine an Erstes Gewächs. Thus: Erstes Gewächs wines are top dry wines from top vineyards (Erste Lage) in the Rheingau.

Pictures: Michael Städter, Weingut Chat Sauvage

See also:
Doepfner’s im Maingau Meets Frankfurt/Wein, with Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier and Weingut Chat Sauvage, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

VDP.Grosses Gewächs

Then came the VDP - the association of German elite winemakers - into the game and introduced the concept of Grosses Gewächs for its members in all 13 German wine regions. A Grosses Gewächs is a top dry wine from the very best vineyards of the VDP members, which had been named Erste Lage until recently and, starting with the 2012 vintage, have been named Grosse Lage. Note, that for some legal reasons, the VDP has started to use the suffix VDP.

Pictures: Urban Kaufmann and Eva Raps, Weingut Hans Lang, with Annette Schiller

See also:
Weingut Hans Lang, Hattenheim in the Rheingau: Eva Raps, Managing Director of VDP, and Urban Kaufmann, Swiss Cheese Producer, Take Over, Germany

Rheingau: VDP.Grosses Gewächs and Erstes Gewächs

Until recently, the VDP winemakers in the Rheingau did not go along with their VDP colleagues in other regions, but they went along with their non-VDP colleagues in the Rheingau: They called their best dry wines Erstes Gewächs. Thus, until recently, the top dry wines of VDP members in the Rheingau were called Erstes Gewächs, while the rest of the VDP members in the other wine regions called their top dry wines Grosses Gewächs.

Pictures: Weingut Jakob Jung

See also:
Impromptu Winetasting with Alexander Jung, Weingut Jakob Jung, Erbach, Rheingau, Germany

This changed with the 2012 vintage. The VDP winemakers from the Rheingau switched fronts and decided to call their best dry wines Grosses Gewächs. So, there is now uniformity on the VDP front.

Pictures: Desiree Eser, Weingut August Eser

See also:
Meeting Winemaker/Owner Desiree Eser, Weingut August Eser, on the Banks of the Rhein River in the Rheingau in Germany

But as a consequence, there is no longer uniformity in the Rheingau: There are now two denominations for the top dry wines in the Rheingau - VDP.Grosses Gewächs (VDP members) and Erstes Gewächs (non-VDP members). Roughly 90% of the top dry wines in the Rheingau are VDP.Grosses Gewächs and 10% Erstes Gewächs.

Pictures: Market Church

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