Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In the Glass: The Wines of the Industry Giant “United Internet Media AG” Board Member Matthias Ehrlich

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with wine maker Matthias Ehrlich

People may know Matthias Ehrlich from the internet industry. He is a member of the board of United Internet Media AG, responsible for the media marketing of this internet giant’s portals WEB.DE, GMX, 1&1 and SmartShopping.de as well as for the international advertising networks AD Europe and AD Europe Global. He was previously employed as Chairman of the WEB.DE subsidiary more.de AG, and since 2001 he has been a board member of Media Sales & Marketing WEB.DE AG. Since May 2007 Matthias Ehrlich has been Vice President of the BVDW (Federal Association of the Digital Industry e.V.) in Germany.

Yet Matthias Ehrlich not only produces marketing revenues for United Internet Media AG: he also produces outstanding wines. Well, not exactly “produces”, but he owns a vineyard in the Mosel valley. The process of grape growing and wine making is managed by the Martin Kerpen Estate, in close consultation with Matthias Ehrlich. The wines are bottled under the label Ehrlich’s Sonnenuhr.

Martin Kerpen is a highly regarded and very charming wine producer in Bernkastel-Wehlen in the Mosel valley. The Kerpen family has been involved in wine production for 250 years, with Celia and Martin Kerpen, the eighth generation of the family, now in charge. The Kerpen Estate is a small, family-run Estate. With three hectares, it is the third largest holder of the famous Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard. Overall, Kerpen produces 4,100 cases annually from his 7 hectares in Germany's Mosel region.

Picture: Ehrlich's Weinkontor in Karlsruhe, Germany

Those who live in Karlsruhe, Germany, may know Ehrlich’s Weinkontor, a wine store for off the beaten track wines in Karlsruhe. Matthias Ehrlich founded it in 1982, jointly with his sister Dagmar Ehrlich, and they managed it successfully until 1989, when they sold it to Annette Sych, who has owned and managed it since then. Matthias and Dagmar have both had successful careers, he as a business manager and she as a journalist focusing on wine, food, and health issues.

We tasted three Matthias Ehrlich wines.

NV Schampus Riesling Brut

Germany is one of the largest sparkling wine markets in the world, which is not well known around the globe. One out of four bottles of sparkling wine is consumed in Germany, roughly 500 million bottles. Sekt is made in all German wine regions, both in the méthode traditionnelle and charmat method. Increasingly, there are a number of top quality winemakers, who, in addition to their still wines, have started to include Sekts in their portfolio. These Sekts are typically vintage Sekts, from a specified vineyard, made of specific grapes, often Riesling, in the méthode champenoise and with little or no dosage (brut or extra brut). Matthias Ehrlich’s Schampus – a Germanized short form of Champagne – belongs to that category.

Tasting notes: Light yellow in the glass, lively, but not over-strong bubbles, wave of melon and pineapple on the nose, dry and almost austere at first taste, but at the same time fairly creamy and fruity on the palate, lingering finish. 88 Schiller Wine Points.

2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Lazy Sunday Riesling Kabinett

A sweeter style low-alcohol Kabinett wine with a good mix of sweet fruit and brisk acidity, medium straw in the glass, light ripe apple and pear aromas on the nose, charming aromas of pineapple and melon on the palate, leading to a beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity, finishes clean with light fruit notes. A feminine, pretty wine. 89 Schiller Wine Points.

2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kristall Spaetlese trocken

For this dry Spaetlese Kerpen is using a Vino-Seal as the bottle closure instead of a natural cork. Vino-Seal, or Vino-Lok, is a plastic/glass closure that was introduced into the European market in 2003. Using a glass stopper with an inert o-ring, the Vino-Seal creates a hermetic seal that prevents oxidation and contamination. A disadvantage with the Vino-Seal is the relatively high cost of each plug and –outside of Europe - the lack of appropriate bottling equipment.

A light-bodied dry Spaetlese from one of the top single-vineyards – Wehlener Sonnenuhr – of the Mosel valley. On the nose, attack of Granny Smith apple with citrus and bath salts, very refreshing and crisp, with aromas of quince, wet slate, crushed stone and more green apple on the palate, a bit of petrol on the finish reminding me of Washington State Rieslings. 90 Schiller Wine Points

The label suggests a pretty low level of alcohol ( 8.5 %), but I would suspect it is a bit higher than indicated on the label- at least this is the mouth feel you get.

Those interested in Matthias Ehrlich’s Lazy Sunday, Kristall or Schampus wines should contact him in Munich, Germany

Phone: 089/49003137
Fax: 089/49003138

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In the Glass: 2005 Christian's Cuvee Woelffer Estate Vineyard Long Island USA

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