Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5. Deutscher Grauburgunder Preis – 5. German Pinot Gris Award

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Karl Sonntag, Retired Cellar Master of the Hagnauer Winzerverein

5. Deutscher Grauburgunder Preis – 5. German Pinot Gris Award

The 5. German Pinot Gris/Grauburgunder Award Competition took place in Germany a few weeks ago. Most of the submitted wines were from Germany, but a few other old world producers also participated in the contest.

Grauburgunder/Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio in the World

Grauburgunder is better known as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio in the world, a mutant clone of the Pinot Noir grape. Total production area in the world is about 15.000 hectares.

Pinot Gris has been known from the Middle Ages in the Bourgogne region in France.

It spread from there, along with Pinot Noir, to other European. The grape was a favorite of Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings imported to Hungary and Bohemia.

A German merchant by the named Johann Seger Ruland (re)discovered a grape growing wild in the fields of the Pfalz region in Germany in the 1700s. The wine he produced became known as Ruländer; the Rulaender was later discovered to be Grauburgunder. Many wine producers in Germany sell their Grauburgunder as Rulaender.

Today, Pinot Gris is often associated with the Alsace region of France, where it makes up about 14 percent of the vineyard plantings. The Alsatian Pinot Gris wines were originally labeled Tokay d'Alsace. It is very popular in Italy, known as Pinot Grigio. Plantings can be found in the Lombardy region and in Alto Adige, Italy's northern most wine region, as well as in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Pinot Gris was first introduced into Australia in the early 1800s. Pinot Gris is grown in both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. David Lett, from Eyrie Vineyards, planted the first American Pinot Gris vines in the US, in Oregon in 1966.

The 5. German Grauburgunder Award

338 Grauburgunder - Pinot Grigios - Pinot Gris were submitted from 151 producers from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France. New World producers were absent. The bulk of the producers were from Germany – 133 producers submitting 315 wines.

The German Grauburgunder Prizes were awarded in 4 different categories. The top 3 in each category are listed below. The section below also contains some remarks on two winners which I visited recently, the Markgraf von Baden Estate and the Winzerverein Hagnau.

Category I Winners

Category I: dry (+2.0 acidity, max. 9.0 g/l residual sugar) fruity wine, (not aged or stored in a wooden barrel/barrique) Alcohol content of up to max. 12.5% vol.

1. Köninger Tobias, Weingut, 77876 Kappelrodeck
2009 Kappelrodecker Grauburgunder Kabinett
2. Sonnenhof, Mattmüller M. Weingut, Sonnenhof 1, 79241 Ihringen
2009 Ihringer Fohrenberg Grauburgunder Kabinett
3. Rammersweier WG, Weinstr. 97, 77654 Offenburg
2009 Rammersweirer Kreuzberg Grauburgunder QbA

Among the winners, but not in the top 3 group, was a Birnauer Kirchhalde from Weingut Markgrafen von Baden / Schloss Salem. I visited Schloss Salem a few weeks ago.

Pictures: Birnauer Kirchhalde

Salem Castle is one of the finest cultural monuments in the region around Lake Constance in southern Baden-Württemberg. Founded in 1137 by Cistercian monks, the gigantic monastery complex with its agricultural estates passed into the hands of the ruler of Baden, the Margrave of Baden, during secularization in 1803. After 200 years, it again changed hands a few years ago, when the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg bought it, as the family of the Margrave of Baden was unable to maintain it.

The vineyard area of Schloss Salem totals 110 hectares. Varieties planted here are mainly Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Noir.

Picture: Schloss Salem

The von Baden family had a decisive influence on viticulture in Baden. Großherzog (Grand Duke) Carl-Friedrich von Baden (1738-1811) is regarded as the creator of quality wine production in Baden. In 1782, he brought in 3.500 Riesling vines from the Rheingau region. In the 1920s, the Margrave of Baden was the first Estate in Baden to show faith in the new variety Müller-Thurgau. Since 1998, Bernhard Prinz von Baden has continued the viticultural tradition and manages the Schloss Salem Estate. He also lives there. The original base of the von Baden family is Schloss Staufenberg in the Ortenau, with 25 hectares of vineyard land. These were the only vineyards of the von Baden family until they received the Lake Constanze vineyards as part of Napoleon’s secularization.

Categorie II Winners

Category II: dry, fruity wine (+2.0 acidity, max. 9.0g/l residual sugar) (not aged or stored in a wooden barrel) Alcohol content of more than 12.5 - 13.5% vol.

1. Laible Alexander, Weingut, Unterweiler 48, 77770 Durbach
2009 Grauburgunder QbA
2. Hagnauer Winzerverein, Strandbadstr. 7, 88709 Hagnau
2009 Hagnauer Burgstall Grauburgunder Spätlese

I visited the Wine Cooperative of Hagnau, a little village at Lake Constanze in Germany, earlier this year. Winzerverein Hagnau is the oldest Wine Cooperative in the Baden region, founded in 1881 by Pastor Dr. Heinrich Hansjakob.

Pictures: Hagnau and Truck of Winzerverein Hagnau

The secularization of 1803, when Napoleon tried to reorganize Europe by expropriating the Church and giving the assets to dukes and margraves that were on good relations with him, had an important impact on the economic situation of the Hagnau winemakers. Before secularization, for about 110 years, the winemakers of Hagnau were under the rule of the Benedictine Abbey of Weingarten. These were not bad days. Under the monastery’s rule, the wine makers received as a reward for their work half the wine yield and a field on which they could grow potatoes and vegetables for self-catering.

This changed dramatically after the secularization. The wine makers lost the field on which to grow food and had to bear all costs of wine production themselves, but were paid for their output. As it turned out, prices and revenues kept on falling. In view of the difficult situation of the smallholders, the pastor and civil rights activist of Hagnau, Dr. Heinrich Hansjakob, encouraged them to form a wine cooperative and market their wine themselves. On October 20, 1881, the first wine cooperative of Baden was founded in Hagnau at Lake Constance.

It currently has over hundred members. In the regions of Baden and Wuerttemberg in Germany, being a member of a wine cooperative is the rule. Independent winemakers are the exception.

The vineyard area of the Winzerverein Hagnau is 140 hectares. The grape distribution is as follows: 40 % Müller-Thurgau, 40 % Spätburgunder, 8 % Ruländer/Grauburgunder, 3 % Weißburgunder, 2 % Bacchus, 2 % Kerner, 5 % other, including Regent.

The Hagnauer Winzerverein wine portfolio is broad, focusing on good quality day-to-day wines. The entry wine in the 0.75 liter bottle costs Euro 4.50. This is a tick higher than what you pay in the Pfalz or in Rheinhessen for comparable quality. However, most wines do not exceed Euro 10. One of those beyond Euro 10 is the 2007 Hagnauer Burgstall Spaetburgunder Rotwein Barrique trocken for Euro 14.90, the Haganuer Winzerverein’s best red wine.

3. Reiss, Weingut, Unterdürrbacher Str. 182, 97080 Würzburg
2009 Würzburger Pfaffenberg Grauburgunder Kabinett

Categorie III Winners

Category III: dry (2.0 acidity, max. 9.0 g/l residual sugar) Premium wines, "Selektion", "Grand cru", etc.

1. Pix, Weingut, Eisenbahnstr. 19, 79241 Ihringen
2009 Ihringer Winklerberg Grauburgunder Spätlese
2. Schätzle Gregor u. Thomas, Heinrich-Kling-Str. 38, 79235 Vogtsburg
2008 Schelinger Kirchberg Grauburgunder RS QbA
3. Konstanzer Horst, Weingut, Quellenstr. 22, 79241 Ihringen
2008 Ihringer Winklerberg Grauburgunder Spätlese

Categorie IV Winners

Category IV: sweet wine/dessert wine.

1. Laufener Winzergenossenschaft, Weinstr. 48, 79295 S.-Laufen
2007 Laufener Altenberg Ruländer Eiswein
2. Jechtinger Winzergenossenschaft, Winzerstr. 1, 79361 Sasbach
2007 Jechtinger Steingrube Ruländer Eiswein
3. Bischoffinger Winzergenossenschaft, Bacchusstr. 20, 79235 Vogtsburg
2009 Bischoffinger Steinbuck Ruländer Trockenbeerauslese

Complete List of 2010 Winners

You find the list here.

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