Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dirk Wuertz and his Bag-in-a-box Rieslings

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller and Dirk Wuertz in the Freudenhaus in Hamburg

Dirk Wuertz and his Bag-in-a-box Rieslings

Dirk Wuertz is a winemaker from the Rheinhessen region Germany. He is different from the mainstream German winemakers in various respects. First, he exports a large share of his wines; most German winemakers do no export wine. Second, he is the leader in terms of social media in the German wine industry. Twitter and Facebook are only slowly entering the German wine industry and most winemakers do neither have a Twitter nor a Facebook account. Dirk is the most popular wine blogger in Germany. In January of this year, Dirk even launched his own internet TV show “100 Grad Oechsle”. This is a very professionally made one- hour talk show with prominent guests from the wine industry. Third, he sells his wines not only in bottles, but also in bags-in-a-box; very few in Germany do this. One noteable exception is the Gunderloch Estate, also from Rheinhessen and also very present in the US market; they sell the wine “Fritz” in a bag-in-a-box.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dirk recently in the Restaurant Freudenhaus in Hamburg during the production of Hendrik’ Thoma’s TVINO Late Night Show. See here.

Picture: Dirk Wuertz, Freudenhaus Wirt Mathias Storm and Christian G.E.Schiller in the Freudenhaus in Hamburg


Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. About one third of Rheinhessen’s agricultural area is cultivated with vines, more than 26000 hectares. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards, and Silvaner and Dornfelder both for 1/10. Riesling is on the backburner. Unlike in other German wine regions, where monoculture of the vine is the norm, here the many rolling hills are host to a wide variety of crops grown alongside the grape. Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch.

At the same time, Rheinhessen is at this time among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. This is not because of the terroir, but because of the people. There is an increasing group of young, ambitious and dynamic winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. Dirk Wuertz is on of them.

Dirk Wuertz’ Bag-in-a-box Riesling

Bag-in-a-box wines are not yet very popular neither in Germany nor the US, but are slowly gaining friends. Bag- in-a-box wines – in a resealable plastic bag in a cardboard box – have many advantages. Unlike a bottle, which goes bad after a few days even when you pump the air out or spray preservers in it, wine in a box lasts. Inside the box, the wine bag collapses as you drink and the liquid doesn't get exposed to oxygen. It is also very advantageous in terms of carbon footprint. The problem? Not enough winemakers are putting good wine in boxes. Dirk Wuertz is one of the exceptions.

Dirk Wuertz’s bag-in-a-box Riesling is available in the US market for around $ 23. This is a bit less than US$ 6 per bottle.

I tasted it. Here are my tasting notes: straw color in the glass, attack of juicy green apple, pineapple and lemon on the nose, a light-bodied wine, fresh , crisp and bone-dry, good acidity, notes of nuttiness and muskiness with some petrol on the palate, refreshing finish, a very good party wine.

Ten Bells Wine Bar Serves Dirk Wuertz Bag-in-a-box Riesling

One place that serves the Wuertz bag-in-a-box Riesling is the trendy wine bar Ten Bells in lower Manhattan. They focus on natural, organic wines. In addition to wines procured from small producers in Europe, Oregon, and Morocco, the 30-seat spot serves cheese, cold cuts such as wild-boar sausage and bresaola carpaccio, and small dishes such as duck-breast salad with hazelnuts. When I was there I had oysters with the Wuertz Riesling. See here.

Dirk Wuertz’ Bag-in-a-box Mein Wein

In addition to being a gifted winemaker, Dirk is also good-looking. He has taken advantage of this and has posed naked for the box of his new bag-in-a-box wine “Mein Wein”. Of course, this kind of box is not available in the US, but mainly selling in the Scandinavian market. The drawings come from Siri Petterson, one of the best know cartoonists of Scandinavia.

I tasted the Dirk Wuertz Mein Wein during Hendrik Thoma’s TVINO Late Night Show taping in Hamburg: Fresh, crisp, bone-dry, good acidity, hints of tropical fruits, nice finish, good party wine.

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller, Dirk Wuertz and his "Mein Wein"

Weingut Wuertz-Weinmann
Gau-Odernheim, Germany

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