Wednesday, July 6, 2011

August Kesseler’s Pinot Noir and Richard Wagner’s Ring der Nibelungen in San Francisco, USA

Pictures: Annette and Christian C.G. Schiller in San Francisco and Christian G.E.Schiller with August Kesseler in Berlin

Richard Wagner’s Ring der Nibelungen in San Francisco

In June and July of 2011, San Francisco Opera presents three complete cycles of Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, under the direction of Francesca Zambello. My wife Annette and I went to San Francisco for the second cycle, in late June. It was quite an experience to see the 4 Ring der Nibelungen operas Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung in sequence within a couple of days. We spent about 19 hours in the Opera, but this is clearly the way to do it.

Picture: San Francisco Opera


Jardiniere is one of San Francisco’s top restaurants. Given its location in the Civic Center area, Jardiniere is a popular pre- and post-symphony and opera hangout. Jardiniere was thus the place where we would end up for post-opera small bites and wine after all evening performances to discuss what we had seen and heard at the Opera.

Picture: Cable Car in San Francisco

Jardinière features French-California cuisine. It offers about 20 wines by the glass. The restaurant has a late night menu of light fare plus a selection of appetizers and entrees from the regular menu at the bar and in the lounge area. The wine list is extensive, with wines from all over the world, at a wide price range. Germany is represented with its top Rieslings from top producers and almost all Rieslings on the wine list are sweet. There were no German red wines on the list, except for one: an August Kesseler Pinot Noir. His Pinot N is a very good example of what is going on in Germany, but has not yet been really noticed in the rest of the world: the German red wine revolution, during which the share of red wine in the total production increased to over 30 percent.

Picture: August Kesseler's Pinot N

August Kesseler Pinot N, Spaetburgunder, was just the right wine after listening to Wagner’s dramatic music. We consumed, I believe, 6 bottles of Kesseler’s Pinot N.

Weingut August Kesseler

Weingut August Kesseler is located in the town of Rüdesheim, at the western end of the Rheingau wine-growing region in Germany. Weingut Kesseler was founded in 1924, when August’s grandfather took over the Assmanshausen wine co-operative. The vineyard area totals 20 hectares. More than 50% of the area is planted with Pinot Noir, with some of the vines more than 70 years old. Other varieties are Riesling and Silvaner. The red wines are matured in barriques for 12 to 15 months, while the terroir-specific white wines are matured in stainless steel tanks. Weingut Kesseler is member of the VDP, Germany’s elite winemaker association, and very export-oriented.

The Pinot Noir we had was released under the Weinhaus August Kesseler label, as opposed to the Weingut August Kesseler label. What this means is that the wine is not made with estate-grown grapes, but with fruit that was bought.

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Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

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Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

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JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

The Focus on Dry German Riesling – Daniel Hubbard Presents the German DSWE Portfolio to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter)

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