Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) Presented: 2017 German Vintage Tasting with Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages, Washington DC, USA

Pictures: The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) Presented: Vintage 2017 Tasting with Phil Bernstein

The annual “New German Vintage Tasting" of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) around February/March/April, led by Phil Bernstein, is always a highlight for the German wine aficionados in the Washington DC area. Phil Bernstein is very entertaining and knowledgeable about German wine. In addition to having been promoted to General Manager recently, he is in charge of German wines at MacArthur Beverages, one of the best German wine retailers in the country.

This year again, we had a full house, with 65 people having signed up and paid US48/ US$58 (members/ non-members) for the tasting. Thank you very much Phil for a great event.

Pictures: German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) President Carl Willner and David Wendler, Event Organizer, with Phil Bernstein

Invitation

Every year we host a tasting to try German wines from the new vintage, with a focus on Riesling. Our host is Phil Bernstein, General Manager of MacArthur Beverages, one of the leading retailers of German Riesling in the country. This is always one of our most popular, best attended events of the year, so register soon!

The new vintage is 2017. According to Terry Theise, 2017 offers “many, many wines that everyone will flip over.”

Please join us as we try these wines and write our own summaries. This year we will be enjoying twelve German wines in six flights, a mixture of dry and sweet wines, of various price levels and from many well-known producers, to appeal to all tastes. There will be an opportunity, as in past years, to place orders for favorite wines with Phil Bernstein for later pickup at MacArthur.

The wine list by flight is as follows (all Riesling and all 2017):

Delicious Drys: Weingut Keller Trocken Von der Fels and Peter Lauer Barrel X trocken

Great GGs: Dönnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Grosses Gewächs and Carl Loewen Thornicher Ritsch Grosses Gewächs

Fine Feinherbs: Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Alte Reben and Selbach-Oster Spätlese Feinherb Alte Reben Graacher Domprobst

A First Flight of Kabs: Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett and Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Kabinett

A Second Flight of Kabs: Carl Loewen Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Kabinett and AJ Adam Dhron Hofberg Kabinett

Spätlese/ Auslese Grand Finale: Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese and Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay Auslese

These are tasting opportunities not to be missed! For example, one of our GGs retails for just under $100, and our Auslese already has garnered an extraordinary 95-96 points from the critics.


DATE: Friday, March 15th, 2019. Doors open at 7:00 pm; tasting begins at 7:30 pm. Registration is due by Tuesday, March 12, 2019, to enable us to give a full list of guests to building staff in advance and ensure wine and food for all.

VENUE: Harbour Square Club Room, 500 N St SW, Washington, DC. Marilyn Scarbrough has reserved a few parking spaces, but we cannot guarantee these will be available. The Waterfront Metro Station is nearby.

COST: $48 for members, $58 for non-members.

Light refreshments (cheese, bread, cold cuts, veggies) will be served. GWS members and guests are reminded that alcohol consumption can lead to intoxication. All those attending the event should use public transportation, rely on a designated driver or taxi, or taste the wines in moderation rather than finish them.

If you have any questions, please email the event organizer, Dave Wendler: davewendler@yahoo.com

Trocken, Grosses Gewächs (GG), Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese

MacArthur's German wine portfolio represents very well the traditional, classic German wine selection in the US market: Heavy on wines from the Mosel region, heavy on Riesling and heavy on wines with residual sweetness. Accordingly, all the wines we tasted were Rieslings, 9 of the 12 wines were from the Mosel region. 8 fruity-sweet Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese wines were at the center of the tasting. Preceeding the Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese flights, Phil poured a Trocken and a Grosses Gewächs (GG) flight. One of the GGs, the 2017 Dönnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Grosses Gewächs, was by far the most expensive wine of the tasting.

Pictures: The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) Presented: Vintage 2017 Tasting with Phil Bernstein

As in previous years, Phil Bernstein did not present any red wines. Indeed, the MacArthur portfolio includes only a negligible number of red wines. Yet, about 1/3 of the Germany’s wine output is red wine. Germany has become one of the leading Pinot Noir producers in the world. At a recent Decanter (the British wine journal) tasting of Pinot Noirs around the world excluding Burgundy, a German Pinot Noir from the Ahr region (Weingut Jean Stodden) was selected as the best wine. But the US market is very slow in discovering what Germany now has to offer in terms of premium and ultra-premium red wines. German red wines are difficult to find in the US. Hopefully, this will change.

As in previous years, Phil Bernstein showed only Rieslings. Yet, Riesling accounts for only 1/3 of the German white wine production. 2/3 is accounted for by other grape varieties. Among the non-Riesling grape varieties, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) are increasingly being planted. Why bother with these other grape varieties, many German wine lovers in the US say. But Germany has become the #1 Pinot Blanc producer in the world and the #2 Pinot Gris producer in the world (as well as the #3 Pinot Noir producer in the world).

Picture: Annette Schiller, Phil Bernstein and Christian Schiller. See: The Annual “New German Vintage” Tasting of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) led by Phil Bernstein - 2012 Vintage, Germany/USA

Terry Theise on the 2017 Vintage

See: Therry Theise’s Best German Wines and Winemakers – Vintage 2017

After an early Spring that was too-warm too-soon, everyone worried about late frosts. And then came late frosts. Before the end of April, nearly all of northern Europe was affected, and the damage ranged from substantial to devastating. Germany was not spared.

Crop losses ranged from 25-30% to nearly 60% in the worst instances. Yet there was a curious phenomenon of second-growth (which the Germans call Verrieseln) which, while somewhat reassuring in terms of yields, made for some confusion later on because the second-growth grape bunches could not be eyeball- distinguished from the original bunches. “We really had not one but two vintages,” said Cornelius Dönnhoff, with parallel bunches ripening around two weeks apart from one another.

Frost was universal, but different regions (and even places within regions) also contended with hail and with untimely botrytis, including one luckless corner which suffered a late-August hail storm which brought mildews in its wake. It was not an easy vintage!

But it is a good one, at times a very good one, and at times perhaps a great one, which we will know in the fullness of time.

Low yields correspond to high extract, and certainly a lot of the growers were pleased with the readings. (Extract gives a mid-palate umami that registers as density, stuffed-ness, like a suitcase you have to sit upon in order to shut.) The more candid growers pointed out that botrytis (and excessive moisture) could also create high extracts, and the warning was apt. 2017 isn’t a vintage you can “read” from a lab analysis. You have to taste.

And what do you taste? After the nearly perfect lissome and sleek 2016s, 2017 is a marked contrast; it is a serious tasting vintage, by no means unfriendly, but levity does not obtrude upon it. There are certainly some charming wines, and there are loads of delicious wines, but ’17 is a vintage of dark character whereas ’16 was lyric and bright. “Dark” can be construed either metaphorically or in some cases almost literally – ’17 has an iron-like cast, almost always smoky, like burning vine shoots. I used “shoot-smoke” quite often in my notes, and I surprised myself by writing “peppery” from time to time. Compared to the mischievous ‘16s, the new vintage seems a little earnest.

But if you’re a serious kind of person (and a taster who appreciates no-nonsense wines) you’ll be richly pleased by these 2017s. And there are many, many wines that everyone will flip over.

Tasting

We tasted 12 wines in 6 flights.

Pictures: The Wines

Delicious Drys: Weingut Keller Trocken Von der Fels and Peter Lauer Barrel X Trocken

Picture: Delicious Drys: Weingut Keller Trocken Von der Fels and Peter Lauer Barrel X Trocken

2017 Weingut Keller Riesling Trocken Von der Fels

Weingut Keller
Rheinhessen
15.8 hectares
60% Riesling
5/5 Stars Gault Millau
VDP

Picture: Annette Schiller and Klaus Peter Keller, Weingut Keller. See: VDP.Rheinhessen Invited to a Gala Dinner: The World Class Wines of the VDP.Rheinhessen Winemakers and the World Class Food of Philipp Stein (1 Star Michelin, Favorite), with Klaus Peter Keller, Philipp Wittmann, H.O.Spanier, Caroline Gillot-Spanier and Other Rheinhessen Stars

Picture: Annette Schiller, Julia and Klaus Peter Keller at the 2015 Rieslingfeier in New York, see: A German Riesling Feast in New York City: Rieslingfeier 2015, USA

2017 Weingut Peter Lauer Riesling Trocken Barrel X

Weingut Peter Lauer
Mosel
7.9 hectares
100% Riesling
3/5 Gault Millau
VDP

Pictures: Florian Lauer, Weingut Peter Lauer, and Christian Schiller in Mainz. See: Germany’s Best Winemakers and Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2016 Awards: The Awards Ceremony in Mainz, Germany

Pictures: Florian Lauer, Weingut Peter Lauer, at the 2016 Rieslingfeier in New York. See: A German Riesling Feast in New York City: Rieslingfeier 2016, USA

Great GGs: Dönnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshöhle Grosses Gewächs and Carl Loewen Thornicher Ritsch Grosses Gewächs

Picture: Great GGs: Dönnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshöhle Grosses Gewächs and Carl Loewen Thornicher Ritsch Grosses Gewächs

Like last year, a Grosses Gewächs (GG) flight figured prominently in Phil Bernstein’s tasting. GGs is the new category of ultra-premium wines dry wines of VDP producers, the association of about 200 elite wine producers in Germany.

What is a GG? In a nutshell, the VDP is moving to a classification system that resembles very much the classification system in the Bourgogne. The classification of the VDP puts the terroir principle at the center of its classification approach. With the latest modifications of 2012, the absolutely finest vineyards are called Grosse Lage and dry wines from these super top vineyards are called Grosses Gewächs. Grosses Gewächs wines are the finest dry wines from Germany’s finest vineyards.

To qualify for the Grosses Gewächs label, a number of criteria need to be respected. (i) The fruit has to come from a Grosse Lage vineyard. (ii) At harvest, the grapes need to be at least at Spätlese level in terms of the sugar content. (iii) Only certain – typical - grape varieties are allowed, including Riesling and Spätburgunder. (iv) Further restrictions apply: there are yield restrictions; only hand picking of grapes is permitted and harvest must be late in the autumn.

2017 Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshöhle Grosses Gewächs Trocken

Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff
Nahe
26 hectares
80% Riesling
5/5 Gault Millau
VDP

Picture: Christian Schiller with Helmut Dönnhoff, Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff

Picture: Annette Schiller, Helmut Dönnhoff and daughter Christina Dönnhoff (Weingut Dönnhoff) and Didier Cuevlier (Chateau Leoville Poyferre) at Weingut Dr. Robert Weil

Pictures: An Afternoon with Riesling Star Winemaker Helmut Doennhoff at Weingut Doennhoff in Oberhausen in the Nahe Valley, Germany

2017 Weingut Carl Loewen Thornicher Ritsch Riesling Grosses Gewächs Trocken

Weingut Carl Loewen
Mosel
15 hectares
96% Riesling
3/5 Gault Millau

Pictures: With Christoph Loewen, Weingut Carl Loewen, at the Wedding Party of Stuart Pigott in the Rheingau (Weingut JB Becker, Walluf)

Fine Feinherbs: Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Alte Reben and Selbach-Oster Spätlese Feinherb Alte Reben Graacher Domprobst

Picture: Fine Feinherbs: Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Alte Reben and Selbach-Oster Spätlese Feinherb Alte Reben Graacher Domprobst

2017 Weingut Josef Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Riesling Alte Reben Feinherb

Weingut Josef Spreitzer
Rheingau
20 hectares
97% Riesling
4/5 Gault Millau
VDP

Pictures: Tour and Tasting at Weingut Spreitzer in Oestrich, Rheingau, with Bernd Spreitzer – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Andreas Spreitzer, David Schildknecht. See: Rieslingfeier 2018 in New York City: Gränd Tasting and Gala Dinner

2017 Weingut Selbach Oster Graacher Domprobst Riesling Alte Reben Spätlese Feinherb

Weingut Selbach Oster
Mosel
22 hectares
97% Riesling
4/5 Gault Millau

Picture: Wine Tasting at Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel, with Johannes Selbach. See: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel, with Johannes Selbach – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Pictures: Annette Schiller and Johannes Selbach at Rieslingfeier 2018 in New York City: Gränd Tasting and Gala Dinner

A First Flight of Kabs: Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett and Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Kabinett

Picture:A First Flight of Kabs: Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett and Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Kabinett

2017 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett
2017 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett

Weingut Willi Schäfer
Mosel
4 hectares
100%  Riesling
4/4 Gault Millau
VDP

Pictures: Christian Schiller, Christoph Schaefer and Annette Schiller. See: Rieslingfeier 2018 in New York City: Gränd Tasting and Gala Dinner

A Second Flight of Kabs: Carl Loewen Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Kabinett and AJ Adam Dhron Hofberg Kabinett

Picture: Carl Loewen Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Kabinett and AJ Adam Dhron Hofberg Kabinett

2017 Weingut Carl Loewen Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett

Weingut Carl Loewen
Mosel
12.5 hectares
96% Riesling
3/5 Gault Millau

2017 Weingut AJ Adam Dhron Hofberg Riesling Kabinett

Weingut AJ Adam
Mosel
5 hectares
100% Riesling
2/5 Gault Millau

Spätlese/ Auslese Grand Finale: Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese and Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay Auslese

Picture: Spätlese/ Auslese Grand Finale: Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese and Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay Auslese

2017 Weingut Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese
2017 Weingut Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay Riesling Auslese

Weingut Selbach Oster
Mosel
22 hectares
97% Riesling
4/5 Gault Millau

Picture: Johannes and Barbara Selbach, Weingut Selbach Oster, and Annette Schiller, ombiasy WineTours, in New York at the 2015 Rieslingfeier.

Picture: Johannes Selbach, Weingut Selbach Oster, and Riesling Guru Paul Grieco in New York City at the 2013 Riesling and Co Tasting. See: Schiller’s Favorites at the 2013 Riesling and Co Tasting in New York City, USA

German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) President Carl Willner

We had a very good New Vintages tasting of 2017 Rieslings last night at Harbour Square ...Phil Bernstein's selection of wines was as always excellent, and we had a strong turnout, with 65 persons registered...

We had a good range of wines this year, with two trockens to start (the Peter Lauer Barrel X, the most inexpensive wine of the event, received favorable comments from many), two strong GGs (with the Donnhoff the most expensive of the ones on the list - we didn’t have a price for the Carl Loewen), two good Feinherbs (Phil thought we had not done a flight of two of these together before), four Kabinetts, all good (even if as Phil noted the AJ Adam didn’t stand out as much as in some past years), and a super Spatlese and Auslese at the end, both from Selbach-Oster (those were the two I purchased for the evening). Eight different producers were represented among the twelve wines - Weingut Keller (1), Peter Lauer (1), Donnhoff (1), AJ Adam (1), Spreitzer (1), Willi Schaefer (2), Carl Loewen (2), and Selbach-Oster (3). Phil helpfully provided information as the tasting went on for those newer to German wines on how to read a German wine label, and the meaning of such terms as Alte Reben and Grosses Gewachs...

Onward to our Austrian wine luncheon! We have events on the calendar now through May, with the Austrian event on April 13, EU Open House on May 11, and the Spargelfest at the Embassy House on May 24, but nothing further planned after that until the Holiday Dinner on December 14.

Picture: President Carl Willner and Nina Kabanova Willner

Previous Years' “New German Vintage” Tastings of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter)

For previous years, see:

The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) Presented: 2016 German Vintage Tasting with Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages, Washington DC, USA

The German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) Presented: 2015 German Vintage Tasting with Phil Bernstein, USA

Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages Presents the new Vintage (2014) to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter), USA/ Germany

German Riesling - What the American Market Wants: Vintage 2013 Tasting with German Wine Expert Phil Bernstein, MacArthur Beverages, Washington DC

The Annual “New German Vintage” Tasting of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) led by Phil Bernstein - 2012 Vintage, Germany/USA

German Wine: Tasting with Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages the 2011 Vintage in Washington DC, USA

The 2010 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society (Aaron Nix-Gomez)

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Announcement: ombiasy WineTours in 2019 - Germany-North and Bordeaux

Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

UPCOMING Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: March 1, 2019)

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine
Therry Theise’s Best German Wines and Winemakers – Vintage 2017

VDP.Rheinhessen Invited to a Gala Dinner: The World Class Wines of the VDP.Rheinhessen Winemakers and the World Class Food of Philipp Stein (1 Star Michelin, Favorite), with Klaus Peter Keller, Philipp Wittmann, H.O.Spanier, Caroline Gillot-Spanier and Other Rheinhessen Stars

A German Riesling Feast in New York City: Rieslingfeier 2015, USA

Germany’s Best Winemakers and Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2016 Awards: The Awards Ceremony in Mainz, Germany

A German Riesling Feast in New York City: Rieslingfeier 2016, USA

An Afternoon with Riesling Star Winemaker Helmut Doennhoff at Weingut Doennhoff in Oberhausen in the Nahe Valley, Germany

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Spreitzer in Oestrich, Rheingau, with Bernd Spreitzer – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany

Rieslingfeier 2018 in New York City: Gränd Tasting and Gala Dinner

Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel, with Johannes Selbach – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Schiller’s Favorites at the 2013 Riesling and Co Tasting in New York City, USA