Thursday, September 9, 2010
Germany’s VDP Wine Estates Celebrate 100th Anniversary in Berlin - Overview
Pictures: Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and 100th Anniversary Glass of the VDP
Germany’s Prädikat Wine Estates – the members of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Praedikatsweingueter) - celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the VDP in 2010 in Germany’s Capital Berlin during September 4 to 6, 2010. I was happy and proud to participate.
There were basically 4 main blocks of events.(1) 70 Galleries, 200 Winemakers and 1000 Wines – the VDP winemakers teamed up with 70 contemporary art galleries in Berlin and poured their wines there; (2) the annual official presentation of the Grosses Gewaechs wines – vintage 2008 for the red wines and vintage 2009 for white wines; (3) the official ceremony in the Berlin Cathedral, followed by a birthday party in Berlin’s top restaurant Gendarmerie; (4) a series of side-events in restaurants, wine stores and other places.
We were honored by the presence of Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson, two giants in the wine industry.
Picture: Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson at the Grosses Gewaechs Presentation
This posting provides an overview of the events I attended. Future postings will deal in more detail with particular events or groups of events: (1) 70 Galleries, 200 Winemakers and 1000 Wines; (2) 2010 Presentation of Grosses Gewaechs Wines in Berlin; (3) Official Ceremony at the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the VDP in the Berlin Cathedral and Birthday Party at the Gendarmerie; (4) Wine Dinner at the Hot Spot Restaurant; (5) Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson at the VDP’s 100th Anniversary Events in Berlin; (6) Late Night Bottle Party at Rutz Weinbar; and (7) Celebrating Bio Wines at the Rebgarten Bio Store.
The VDP is the world’s oldest association of wine estates in the world. In fact, as Jancis Robinson said in her speech in the Berlin Cathedral, it is the only one of its kind worldwide. No other country has a national organization of the top wine makers of the entire country.
In 1910, four regional wine-growers’ associations joined forces to form the Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (i.e. estates that sold their “natural” [unchaptalized] wines at auction). These organizations – from the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, founded in 1897 and 1900, respectively, and their counterparts in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Pfalz regions, both founded in 1908 – were the forerunners of today’s VDP. At this time, fine German wines enjoyed a heyday. They were among the most expensive wines, on the tables of imperial houses as well as leading hotels and restaurants.
Throughout the past century, the quality-driven goals and strict standards of the VDP have played no small part in shaping the viticultural and winemaking practices in Germany. With their stringent statutes and their establishment of a German vineyard classification, the 200 members of the VDP have served as role models and justifiably can be viewed as the vanguard of the nation’s producers of top-quality wines.
Germany’s prime white wine variety, Riesling, has long been the grape of choice for VDP members. Other, traditional varietals are also cultivated, e.g. the ancient white varietal Silvaner (particularly in Franken and Rheinhessen), and members of the Pinot family, including Germany’s all-important red wine grape, Spätburgunder , and the white wine grapes, Weiss- and Grauburgunder (Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, respectively).
Picture: VDP President Steffen Christmann with Hugh Johnson
70 Galleries, 200 Winemakers, 1000 Wines
The VDP winemakers presented their wines in 70 contemporary art galleries of Berlin in the afternoon of September 5. Wine and/or art connoisseurs were invited to stroll from gallery to gallery and view the art there while tasting the wines that the winemakers present there poured. Germany’s TV star Guenther Jauch, who bought VDP Weingut Von Othegraven earlier this year, poured his wines in the Gallery upstairs Berlin, along with Weingut Kuenstler and Weingut Rheingraf. 5000 connoisseurs took advantage of this unique opportunity. As part of the wine tastings in the art galleries, the VDP had arranged a Weinparcours – a highly interesting and fascinating educational self-guided tasting event.
Picture: Guenther Jauch Pouring Wine in the Gallery upstairs Berlin
Pictures: Winemaker Joachim Heger and Gallerist Caprice Horn
Grosses Gewaechs Presentation
This was the regular annual Grosses Gewaechs premiere, with the 2008 reds and 2009 whites. Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson were among the many wine journalists tasting the wines and taking notes. It took place at the State Office of Baden Wuerttemberg.
The Grosses Gewaechs wine concept is new; it was introduced by the VDP a few years ago. Grosses Gewaechs wines are always fully fermented, dry wines of exceptional quality . The Grosses Gewaechs lable is thought to resemble the Grand Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines are dry. Grosses Gewaechs refers to a top dry wine from a top vineyard.
Pictures:Jancis Robinson, Georg Prinz zur Lippe and Christian G.E. Schiller
Official Ceremony in the Berlin Cathedral and Birthday Party at the Gendarmerie Restaurant
The Grand Ceremony honoring the VDP’s 100th birthday took place in the Berlin Cathedral on Monday, September 6 in the evening. The program in the Berlin Cathedral featured speeches by VDP President Christmann, Economic Minister Bruederle and Janics Robinson, and an avant-garde theater performance, marking the turning point of the VDP as it embarks on its next century, as well as various musical performances, culminating in Ludwig van Beethoven’s 4th movement of the 9th Symphony - Ode an die Freude. The day ended with a birthday party in the packed Restaurant Gendarmerie with plenty of outstanding wines from VDP winemakers.
Pictures: The Official Ceremony at the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the VDP in the Berlin Cathedral and the Birthday Party at the Gendarmerie
In addition, there were a large number of side-events. I participated in the following.
Jazz Brunch at the Landesvertretung Rheinland Pfalz
The State Office of Rheinland Pfalz, the by far largest wine producer in the Federal Republic of Germany had invited to a Jazz Brunch on Saturday, September 4, featuring wines from Rheinland Pfalz, i.e. from the Mosel, Ahr, Nahe, Rheinhessen regions. Interestingly, there are about 10.000 winemakers in Rheinland Pfalz growing grapes on an area of 63.000 hectares, more than half of Germany’s total area.
Picture: Brunch at the Landesvertretung Rheinland Pfalz
Rutz Bottle Party
Rutz Weinbar is not only a top wine bar—it is also a top restaurant and a top wine store. Rutz Weinbar has an extensive wine list, about 1000 or so wines, largely from Germany and other European countries. The nice thing is that you can consume all wines for the wine-store-price plus a corkage fee of Euro 18.
Billy Wagner, its sommellier, who is not only a gifted wine expert, but also a very entertaining comedian, had invited for the 10th bottle party at 23:30 on Saturday, September 4. The entrance fee was either a bottle of Grosses/Erstes Gewaechs or Euro 19. I went there and had a great time. The place was packed, and the wines were excellent.
Picture: Rutz Weinbar Sommellier Billy Wagner
100 & 25 Years at the Rebgarten
The Rebgarten is a store which specializes on bio-products including wine. This year, the Rebgarten celebrated its 25 anniversary and they did this during the VDP centennial weekend.
We went there and were delighted to meet some old friends: Lotte Pfeffer-Mueller from the Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker in Rheinhessen; I visited Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker recently and have reported about my visit here. Also there was Paulin Koepfer from Weingut Zaehringer, whome my wife met earlier this year at the Millesime Bio 2010 in Montepellier; see here.
Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller, Annette Schiller and Paulin Koepfer
Hot Spot Dinner with Winemakers
The Hot Spot is a Chinese Restaurant in Berlin Charlottenburg, just next to the famous Kurfuerstendamm, well known for its outstanding Chinese dishes and its amazing list of German wines. Mr. Wu, the owner, loves wine and in particular German wine. No wonder that one of the side-events took place at his restaurant. The event was organized by VINICULTURE, one of Berlin’s leading wine stores.
It was a buffet-style dinner with 5 winemakers pouring their wines: Jan Eymael from Weingut Pfeffingen in the Pflalz; Peter Jakob Kuehn from the Rheingau ; Martin Messmer from Weingut Messmer in the Pfalz; Theo Minges from the Pfalz; the young Sven Leiner from the Pfalz and Friedrich Wilhelm Becker from Weingut Friedrich Becker from the Pfalz.
Picture: Annette Schiller and Jakob Peter Kuehn
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