Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Impressions from the 2011 VDP Rheingau Open at Schloss Johannisberg, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Johannes Leitz, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2011 Winemaker of the Year at Schloss Johannisberg. I visited Weingut Leitz about a year ago: Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

Once a year, after the end of the harvest, the VDP Rheingau – the elite wine producers of the Rheingau region in Germany – invite for a tasting where the VDP members of the Rheingau region do a what they call a Jahrespraesentation (Annual Presentation).

Pictures: At the 2011 Rheingau Open VDP Annual Presentation at Schloss Johannisberg

All VDP producers of the Rheingau – in many cases the owner and/or winemaker herself/himself - were there; in addition VDP producers from Baden, Franken, Mosel and Wuerttemberg were also present. All in all, 50 producers with on average 4 wines each – 200 wines.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Christian Witte, Weingut Schloss Johannisberg. See also: VDP Vineyard Illuminations at Johannisberg Castle

The VDP

The VDP is the oldest association of wine estates in the world. In fact, 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.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Manfred Pruem, Weingut JJ Pruem. Weingut JJ Pruem was a guest from the Mosel. I met Katharina Pruem in Washington DC: JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

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.

Picture: Paul Fuerst, Weingut Rudolf Fuerst, at Schloss Johannisberg, Germany. A guest from Franken. The 2009 Weingut Rudolf Fürst Centgrafenberg Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs was ranked #4 overall and was #2 of the German wines at the recent Pinot Noir Tasting in London, where German wines performed very strongly: The Tim Atkin Pinot Noir Taste-Off of October 2011: Germany Versus the Rest of the World - German Red Wines Show Stong Performance

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.

Picture: Johannes Eser - Weingut Johannnishof

The Rheingau

It is remarkable: For its entire length of nearly 560 miles, the Rhine flows north with one exception – a 28-mile stretch where the river changes its course. Here, it flows to the west, thereby enabling both the river and the vineyards facing it to bask in the warmth of the sun all day long. This is the Rheingau, one of the medium-size German wine regions. It is a quietly beautiful region, rich in tradition. Queen Victoria's enthusiasm for Hochheim's wines contributed to their popularity in England, where they, and ultimately, Rhine wines in general, were referred to as Hock.

Picture: Map of the Rheingau region

The third President of the USA - and notable bon viveur - Thomas Jefferson visited the Rheingau in 1788 and wrote that the wine of the "Abbaye of Johnsberg is the best made on the Rhine without comparison … That of the year 1775 is the best." He also referred to the Rheingau’s Riesling as the "small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim". Impressed by the quality of the Rheingau Riesling wines, he bought 100 grapevines to take back to his estate in Virginia.

Picture: Norbert Barth, Weingut Barth in Hattenheim. Weingut Barth is also a leading producer of Sekt: Barth Primus is Germany’s First Sekt Made with an Erstes Gewaechs Wine

Although the Rheingau is one of Germany’s smaller wine-growing regions, its 3,100 ha (7,660 acres) of vineyards are vastly diverse in their geological makeup. The soil varies from stony slate at the western part near the villages of Assmannshausen and Rudesheim to loess, sand and marl in the lower central villages of Geisenheim, Johannisberg, Winkel, Oestrich and Hattenheim. Soil reverts to stony phyllite in the higher central and eastern villages of Hallgarten, Kiedrich and Hochheim. Generally, wines from the lower slopes where the soil is heavier—sandy loam and loess—produce fuller wines, while at the higher slopes where it is more stony and slatey, the wines reflect more minerality, elegance and concentration.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Joachim and Silvia Heger, Weingut Dr. Heger, a guest from Baden. Weingut Dr. Heger is one of Germany's stars from Baden: Germany's Top Winemakers - The 2010 Wein-Plus.de Awards

The Rheingau enjoys a distinctly continental climate with cold winters and warm, but not hot, summers. The Rheingau is dominated by Riesling, accounting for 4/5 of the vineyard area. Pinot Noir accounts for 1/10 and is concentrated around Assmannshausen.

Picture: August Kesseler is the King of Pinot Noir in the Rheingau and one of the leading red wine producers in the whole country: A Pinot Noir Star: Visiting August Kesseler and his Weingut August Kesseler in Assmannshausen, Germany

The 2010 Vintage

The 2010 harvest was marked by low yields, high sugar levels and unprecedented high acidity levels. The main issue was how winemakers dealt with the acidity. Overall, the 2010s wines tend to be heavy, with good concentration.

Picture: Werner Michel from Weingut Domdechant Werner in Hochheim

What the VDP Winemakers Poured

Gunter Kuenstler and Wilhelm Weil are good examples for what the VDP winemakers poured.

Weingut Kuenstler

2010 Hochheimer Herrnberg Riesling trocken – a dry Lagenwein
2010 Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Erstes Gewaechs – a dry grand cru
2010 Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Beerenauslese – a noble-sweet white wine
2009 Hochheimer Reichestahl Spaetburgunder Erstes Gewaechs trocken – a red wine.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Kuenstler in Hochheim. Weingut Kuenstler is one of 16 German wine producers that are ranked in the top category (5 F's) of the Feinschmecker Guide: Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011

Weingut Robert Weil

2010 Weingut Robert Weil Riesling trocken – Weil entry level wine (Gutswein)
2010 Kiedricher Graefenberg Riesling trocken Erstes Gewaechs – a dry grand cru
2010 Kiedricher Graefenberg Riesling Spaetlese – a young fruity sweet wine
2007 Kiedricher Graefenberg Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel – an aged fruity sweet wine

Picture: Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich. I visited Wilhelm Weil earlier this year: Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany and tasted with him the 2010 vintage: Tasting with Wilhelm Weil the 2010 Weingut Weil Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

schiller-wine - Related Postings

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

1.International Riesling Symposium

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Aging Potential of Riesling – A Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium in Germany Led by Jancis Robinson

Wrap-Up: 4 Extraordinary Riesling Tastings at the 1. International Riesling Symposium at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany

Tasting with Wilhelm Weil the 2010 Weingut Weil Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

Annual White Wine Presentation of the VDP Wine Makers from the Nahe, Ahr and Rheinhessen Regions in Mainz, Germany

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

A Pinot Noir Star: Visiting August Kesseler and his Weingut August Kesseler in Assmannshausen, Germany

VDP Vineyard Illuminations at Johannisberg Castle

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

The Tim Atkin Pinot Noir Taste-Off of October 2011: Germany Versus the Rest of the World - German Red Wines Show Stong Performance

Barth Primus is Germany’s First Sekt Made with an Erstes Gewaechs Wine

Germany's Top Winemakers - The 2010 Wein-Plus.de Awards

Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011

Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Tasting with Wilhelm Weil the 2010 Weingut Weil Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

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