Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ernie and his Friends - The Loosen Bros. USA Portfolio Tour 2012

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Ernst Loosen in Washington DC

Loosen Bros. USA just announced the locations and dates of their USA Portfolio Tour 2012. Ernst Loosen is taking the small but growing band of top-drawer winemakers that he represents in the USA to Boston, Chicago and New York City on April 16-18.

In each city, they will have an extensive selection of their wines to taste, and “you can get the real dirt straight from these winemakers who, like Ernie Loosen, are committed to the idea that terroir is real and a wine’s place of origin matters.” Loosen Bros. USA is look forward to showing the current range of wines from:

Dr. Loosen (Mosel and Pfalz, Germany),
Weingut Robert Weil (Rheingau, Germany),
C. von Schubert - Maximin Grünhaus (Ruwer, Germany),
Domaine de Bellene and Maison Roche de Bellene (Burgundy, France),
Gantenbein (Graubünden, Switzerland) and
J. Christopher Wines (Willamette Valley, Oregon).

Dr. Loosen (Mosel and Pfalz, Germany)

Weingut Dr. Loosen – owned by Ernst Loosen - is located just outside Bernkastel in the Mosel region in Germany. Weingut Dr. Loosen is one of Germany’s top wine producers. Weingut Dr. Loosen won the "Riesling of the Year" award of the German wine magazine Der Feinschmecker in 1989. In 2001, the Gault Millau Weinguide named Ernst Loosen German winemaker of the year.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Ernst Loosen in New York City and Washington DC

Although Ernst also produces a range of dry Rieslings, the wines of Weingut Dr. Loosen are known in the world primarily for being prime examples of Germany’s delicious low alcohol, sweet-style Rieslings from the Mosel. These are exceptional wines, skillfully made by first-class winemakers like Ernst Loosen, essentially made by not letting the fermentation going its full course so that natural sugar remains in the wine and/or adding a bit of sweet-reserve (sterilized grape juice) to increase the sweetness level in the wine. These are the wines that are so popular among the fans of German wine in the world. When you go for example to the trendy restaurant Spruce in San Francisco, which has won many awards for its exceptional German wine portfolio, these are the wines you find there.

In 1996, Ernst Loosen took over the J.L. Wolf estate so that he could make traditionally crafted Pfalz wines to complement the light and elegant Dr. Loosen Rieslings he produces in the Mosel. In the classic style of the Pfalz, these wines are more full-bodied than Mosel wines, with higher alcohol and rich flavors of ripe fruit and stone.

See: The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

Weingut Robert Weil (Rheingau, Germany)

Weingut Robert Weil is without any doubt the Rheingau’s flagship winery and one of the top wineries in Germany. In the Feinschmecker Weinguide Deutschland ranking, Weingut Robert Weil is, along with Weingut Dr. Loosen, one of the 16 German wineries with the maximum number of 5 F’s.

Weingut Robert Weil is managed by Wilhelm Weil, who owns the winery jointly with Suntory from Japan. With 75 hectares under vine, it is one of the largest estates in the Rheingau. The historical manor house, the ultra-modern cellars and the vinothek stand side by side in a beautiful park – the same synthesis of old and new that is reflected in the estate’s philosophy of winemaking.

Although often not known outside of Germany, the overwhelming majority of the wines produced in Germany are dry. And the German (dry) grand cru Rieslings can compete with the best wines in the world. The word is getting around - slowly but surely - and more and more dry German Rieslings appear on the international market. Weingut Robert Weil makes these dry grand cru wines (Grosses Gewaechs), in addition to noble-sweet wines. 

I met Wilhelm for the first time at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in 2010 at Schloss Rheinhartshausen und we have been in touch since then. For postings on the various tastings, see here:

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

Lusciously Sweet Rieslings - Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

First Class Dry Riesling Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

Riesling Elegance with a Touch of Sweetness – Tasting at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in Germany, led by Stephane Gass

I was delighted when he invited me over to his Weingut in Kiedrich, when I was in Germany during the summer last year. Wilhelm showed us the vineyards and the winery, followed by a tasting. See:

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

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

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Wilhelm Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Most recently, I had the chance to attend a lovely winemaker dinner with Wilhelm Weil (and Markus Schneider) in Frankfurt am Main:

German Riesling and International Grape Varieties – Top Wine Makers Wilhelm Weil and Markus Schneider at Kai Buhrfeindt’s Grand Cru in Frankfurt am Main, Germany 

Picture: Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil, Kai Buhrfeindt, Grand Cru Weinrestaurant, Christian G.E. Schiller, Markus Schneider, Weingut Markus Schneider in Frankfurt, Germany

C. von Schubert/Maximin Grünhaus (Ruwer, Germany)

The historic Maximin Grünhaus estate lies at the foot of a long, steep south-facing slope on the left bank of the tiny Ruwer river, about two kilometers upstream from where it joins the Mosel. The estate belongs to the family of Carl von Schubert. C. von Schubert/Maximin GrünhausIt is -  a notch below Dr. Loosen and Robert Weil - one of Germany’s top 100 wine producers.

See: Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

Domaine de Bellene and Maison Roche de Bellene (Burgundy, France)

Nicolas Potel, the well-known and highly regarded winemaker in Burgundy, has founded a new Domaine (estate-owned vineyards) and Maison (a négociant, making wine with fruit from other growers).
 
Domaine de Bellene is located in Beaune, the very heart of Burgundy. Nicolas now owns 60 acres of vineyards in several villages throughout the Côte d'Or. The vineyards have been farmed according to organic practices since 2006 and are now certified BIO. Vinification is minimalist in approach — no enzymes, cultured yeasts or acid adjustments are used, and filtration is avoided.

The new négociant company is called Maison Roche de Bellene. It was founded by Nicolas in 2009, after his forced departure from his former négociant company, Maison Nicolas Potel. At Roche de Bellene the terroir-focused winemaking philosophy is the same as when he founded the original Maison in 1998.

Gantenbein (Graubünden, Switzerland)

The Gantenbein Estate is located in the Graubünden district of the upper Rhine valley in eastern Switzerland, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth. Not far from here, the Rhine begins its long journey high up in the Alps. Closer to the foothills is the winery.

Gantenbein is widely considered to be one of the best domains in Switzerland. Daniel and Marta Gantenbein do all of the vineyard and cellar work themselves, by hand. Together, they farm six hectares (15 acres) of vineyards, about 500 meters above sea level on the slopes at the base of the Alps. Most of the vineyards (about 12.5 acres) are planted densely with Pinot Noir clones from Burgundy. Annual production is only about 1,000 cases, of which 25 cases go to the US.

J. Christopher Wines (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

The J. Christopher Winery is located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, a beautiful growing region of more than 100 square miles in Oregon, located just 19 miles from Portland and 45 miles from the coast. It is a new joint venture of Ernst Loosen and the Oregon cult winemaker Jay Somers. J. Christopher Wines specializes in Pinot Noir made in the traditional style of Burgundy; the winery also produces Sauvignon Blanc modeled after the great wines of Sancerre.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Jay Somers in Portland, Oregon

I visited Jay Sommers and the J. Christopher Winery last year in May. My visit consisted of 2 parts: I had a couple of drinks with Jay Somers at the White Eagle Saloon in Portland; Jay Somers is the lead guitarist of Poncho Luxurio, a rock, jazz, funk band and Poncho Luxurio performed that night there. The I went to the winery a few days later and – while  Jay was travelling – I was shown around by Tim Malone, Jay’s collaborator.  See:

A Riesling Guru and a Killer Guitarist cum Cult Winemaker: Ernst Loosen and Jay Somers and their J. Christopher Winery in Newberg, Oregon

The joint venture with Jay Somers is not his first project in the US. He has been making wine for many years in Washington State: Eroica - a Riesling. Eroica is a collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle, the huge Washington State winemaker, and Ernst Loosen. The wine is made at Chateau Ste. Michelle from grapes grown in the Columbia Valley. But Eroica is not in the Loosen Bros. USA portfolio.

CHICAGO

Monday, April 16, from 11 am to 4 pm
Tenzing Basecamp, 165 North Morgan, Chicago
(Will be part of Tenzing Wine & Spirits’ annual portfolio tasting.)

Attending Winemakers:
•    Ernst Loosen, Dr. Loosen (Mosel) & Villa Wolf (Pfalz)
•    Wilhelm Weil, Robert Weil (Rheingau)
•    Nicolas Potel, Domaine de Bellene & Maison Roche de Bellene (Burgundy)

To attend the tasting, or for more information, please contact: Doug Krenik, Director of Sales, Loosen Bros. USA 720-237-8170 or doug.krenik@drloosen.com.

BOSTON

Tuesday, April 17, from 11 am to 4 pm
Catalyst Restaurant, 300 Technology Square, Cambridge

Attending Winemakers:
•    Ernst Loosen, Dr. Loosen (Mosel) & Villa Wolf (Pfalz)
•    Wilhelm Weil, Robert Weil (Rheingau)
•    Carl von Schubert, Maximin Grünhaus (Ruwer)
•    Nicolas Potel, Domaine de Bellene & Maison Roche de Bellene (Burgundy)
•    Jay Somers, J. Christopher Wines (Oregon)

To attend the tasting, or for more information, please contact Ian Dick, NE Region Sales Manager, Loosen Bros. USA 413-429-7063 or ian.dick@drloosen.com.

NEW YORK

Wednesday, April 18 – noon to 4 pm
The Lamb’s Club, 132 West 44th Street, Manhattan

Attending Winemakers:
•    Ernst Loosen, Dr. Loosen (Mosel) & Villa Wolf (Pfalz)
•    Wilhelm Weil, Robert Weil (Rheingau)
•    Carl von Schubert, Maximin Grünhaus (Ruwer)
•    Nicolas Potel, Domaine de Bellene & Maison Roche de Bellene (Burgundy)
•    Jay Somers, J. Christopher Wines (Oregon)

To attend the tasting, or for more information, please contact: Ian Dick, NE Region Sales Manager, Loosen Bros. USA 413-429-7063 or ian.dick@drloosen.com.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wine ratings: Two American/German wines - Eroica and Poet's Leap - on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009

German American Wines: (1) NV Two Worlds Pinot Noir, (2) Poet's Leap Riesling and (3) Herrmann Wiemer's Finger Lakes Rieslings

The Jay Somers Wines of Bill Holloran, Oregon

German American Wines: (1) Pacific Rim Riesling (2) Eroica and (3) Woelffer's Schillerwein

Wine ratings: Top 100 of the Wine Spectator 2009 include Wittmann and Loosen Rieslings

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

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

Lusciously Sweet Rieslings - Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

First Class Dry Riesling Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

Riesling Elegance with a Touch of Sweetness – Tasting at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in Germany, led by Stephane Gass

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

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

German Riesling and International Grape Varieties – Top Wine Makers Wilhelm Weil and Markus Schneider at Kai Buhrfeindt’s Grand Cru in Frankfurt am Main, Germany 

Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

A Riesling Guru and a Killer Guitarist cum Cult Winemaker: Ernst Loosen and Jay Somers and their J. Christopher Winery in Newberg, Oregon

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