Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Distinguished American Wine Blogger Lindsay Morriss from New England Interns at Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider in Rheinhessen
Pictures (from top to bottom): Lindsay Morriss, Christian G.E.Schiller tasting wines with Lindsay Morriss and wine guru Matthias Pohlers, and Christian G.E.Schiller with Albrecht Schneider
If you follow German wines in the American wine blogger scene, you inevitably come across the wine blog Lindsay du Vin. The author is Lindsay Morriss, an energetic and very charming young women from Rhode Island, who just graduated with a MBA from INSEEC in Bordeaux.
As part of her studies, she interned at Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider in Nierstein. Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider is well known in the German wine scene in the US, as it exports about half of its production. I was lucky to be invited by Lindsay Morriss and Albrecht Schneider to the winery in Nierstein in Rheinhessen, with its famous Roter Hang vineyards.
Rheinhessen is an area that used to be known for winemakers often focusing on quantity and not quality. Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards. 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 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 mostly young and ambitious winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. Lindsay fully agrees: “I have been living here now for almost two months and I am never, ever bored with the wide diversity of wines that come from this region. Every time I turn around, I am confronted with yet another grape crossing or a new take on an old favorite --most of which sadly will never reach the U.S.”
Rheinterrasse, Nierstein and the Red Slope (Roter Hang)
One region of Rheinhessen, the Rheinterrasse, had always been in a somewhat different league, the stretch of vineyards which runs from Bodenheim, south of Mainz, in the north to Mettenheim in the south, often referred to as the Rheinterrasse. The vineyards of the Rheinterrasse have a favored mesoclimate in comparison with others in the region. The Rheinterrasse accounts for one-third of the region's Riesling wines. The wines from the Rheinterrasse were at some point even more expensive than Bordeaux wines.
The Roter Hang (Red Slope) is at the center of the Rheinterrasse. This steep slope extends for some five kilometers (three miles) with a total of 180 ha (445 acres) around Nierstein on the left bank of the Rhine.
The Roter Hang has a very special terroir, resulting from the drop of the Rheinhessen plateau before human life started. As a consequence of these movements the Roter Hang has a mineral-rich soil, a mixture of iron and clayish slate, which is at least 250 million years old (Permian Period). Further, the slope faces south to southeast, which helps in terms of the solar radiation. The red slate retains warmth, and additional warmth comes from the sunlight reflected from the surface of the Rhine.
Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider
Lindsay interned at Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider. The wine estate, owned by Albrecht and Ulrike Schneider, is located in Nierstein in Rheinhessen. The vineyard area totals 15 hectares. More than two thirds of the area is planted with Riesling; other grape varieties include Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner. “We own many very good vineyards and have planted them with Riesling” Albrecht Schneider says. In addition, grape juice, perlé wine, bottle-fermented sparkling wines and grappa-style spirits are also produced. In terms of the Gault and Millau ranking, Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider is in the 2 stars category.
Picture: Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider
Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider has been exporting for over 30 years, currently about half of its output. Of the export, 70% goes to the US and the remainder to Japan. “Our big markets in the US are are Massachusetts, California and New York” says Albrecht Schneider. I met Ulrike Schneider recently in Washington DC, where she presented her wines. See here.
Lindsay Morriss just graduated with an MBA focused on the wine industry from INSEEC in Bordeaux. Her Thesis is “Raising the Profile of German Wines in the US”. As part of her studies, she interned for 9 ½ weeks in Rheinhessen.
In her thesis, Lindsay argues that Germany should place more emphasis on promoting other grape varieties outside of Riesling when marketing its wines in the U.S. Lindsay says:“I especially believe there is great opportunity for red German wines such as Spätburgunder, Lemberger, Dornfelder, and others. Germany is the third largest producer of Pinot Noirs in the world and where do you find German Pinot Noir in the US?”
And she feels that “Germany really needs to start promoting its white Pinots (Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris). I’ve tasted plenty of both now, which are very common in Rheinhessen. A good Pinot Blanc or Weissburgunder is refreshing with lots of Mediterranean fruit―no, not tropical―I mean Mediterranean, e.g. mandarin, persimmon, mirabelle (yellow plum), etc. As for Pinot Gris or Grauburgunder, these wines tend to be a bit more earthy—I have found the best expressions to be those harvested at Spätlese level and fermented dry.”
Picture: Lindsay Morriss at the Riesling Lounge at Lomo in Mainz, presenting the wines of Weingut Georg Albrecht Schneider, with Uschi Müller (nee Schneider)
Lindsay also feels that, on the question of oak, “since red wine for the most part is only a fairly recent phenomenon in Germany, most winemakers are just beginning to experiment with barrel-aging. Overall, I found most of the red wines to be too delicate to withstand barrique-aging and generally found the extra oak contact to overpower the wine.”
If you want to study Lindsay’s research in more depth, please contact her via her website Lindsay du Vin
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