Monday, June 11, 2012

Judging at the ECOVIN Ecowinner 2012 Contest in Oppenheim, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller as a Judge at the ECOVIN Ecowinner 2012 in Oppenheim, Germany

I participated as a judge in the ECOVIN Ecowinner 2012 Contest, which took place in the lovely village of Oppenheim at the Rhine River in Rheinhessen. This was a one day event on June 5, 2012.

Picture: Oppenheim, Germany


ECOVIN is an association of winegrowers in Germany whose nearly 200 members with 1.000 ha vineyards are practicing organic viticulture and organic winemaking according to ECOVIN guidelines. To date about one percent of viticulturists in Germany produce wine according ECOVIN guidelines. Importantly, the ECOVIN certification covers the whole process of wine making, comprising grape growing in the vineyard and wine making in the cellar.

What is Organic Wine? Organic  and Other Green Concepts of Winemaking

Last year at Weingut Meinklang in Pamhagen in Austria in the stone cave below the winery with Werner Michlits, where Werner showed us his magic cow poop and other ingredients for biodynamic farming, I was really at the forefront of wine making with an ecological mindset. There are many others on this route. But these “green” winemakers come in different colors. I just tasted the Santa Julia wines of Familia Zuccardi, who produce mass wines in Argentina with organic grapes. Argentina, in general, is very well suited for organic wine making. “We practice sustainable agriculture in the vineyard” said Yann-Leon Beyer when I visited Domaine Leon Beyer in Alsace in France. The Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley produces wine according to the natural wine concept in the midst of the city of Berkeley without owning any vineyards. Researchers have found out that from a point of view of minimizing the carbon footprint, New Yorkers should drink Bordeaux instead of domestic wine from California. For a primer for "green" wines see: Organic, Sustainable, Biodynamic, Natural Wines … A Primer for “Green” Wines

Organic Wine Making in Germany: Bio Label

Germany introduced comprehensive organic legislation - and the Bio label - as part of an European effort in 2001. The Bio label is a hexagonal logo with the inscription "Bio". The Bio label is not a wine specific label, but a general food label.

Picture: Bio Label in Germany

As for wine, the German/EU regulations only provide rules for organic grape growing in the vineyard. The wine making part in the cellar is not covered by the current German/EU regulations and Bio label. Just a few days ago, however, the EU came out with a broadening of the legislation to also include the wine making part, which will become effective with the 2012 vintage.

Organic Wine Making in Germany:  ECOVIN Label

While the Bio label is a government and general food logo, the ECOVIN label is a NGO and wine specific logo. In the German-speaking countries there have been non-government organizations that had issued labels for organic food long before the advent of the EU organic food regulations and the Bio label. Their labels are still used widely as they significantly exceed the requirements of the EU regulations.

Picture: Ecovin Logo

When it comes to wine, the ECOVIN label is – with the Demeter label - the most important one. The ECOVIN logo is a stylized grape fruits with ECOVIN on top.

Lotte Pfeffer Mueller

Lotte Pfeffer Mueller is the current President of ECOVIN. I visited her and her Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker and wrote about the wines of Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker: "Excellency and Ecology: The Wines of Gebrueder Dr. Becker in Rheinhessen, Germany"

Picture: ECOVIN President Lotte Pfeffer Mueller with ECOVIN General Manager Ralph Dejas

The Categories of Ecowinner 2012

The wines we judged at Ecowinner 2012 were grouped into 17 categories. For each category, the top 3 wines were selected. Here are the categories.

Kategorie 1 | Sekt - Sparkler

Kategorie 2 | Secco

Kategorie 3 | Rosé | Weißherbst

Kategorie 4 | Riesling trocken, bis inkl. 12,5 Vol. % - Riesling dry, up to 12.5% alcohol

Pictures: At the Tasting

Kategorie 5 | Burgunderfamilie trocken, bis inkl. 12,5 Vol. % - Pinot family (white), up to 12.5% alcohol

Kategorie 6 | alle anderen Rebsorten trocken, bis inkl. 12,5 Vol. % - all other white grape varieties, up to 12.5% alcohol

Kategorie 7 | Riesling trocken größer 12,5 Vol. % - Riesling dry, more than 12.5% alcohol

Kategorie 8 | Burgunderfamilie und alle anderen Rebsorten trocken größer 12,5 Vol. % - Pinot family (white) and all other white grape varities, more than 12.5% alcohol

Kategorie 9 | Riesling Restsüße 10-24g/l – Riesling, fruity sweet

Kategorie 10 | übrige Rebsorten Restsüße 10-24g/l – all other grape varieties with remaining sugar 10 – 24 g/l

Kategorie 11 | alle Rebsorten Restsüße größer 25g/l und Dessertweine – all white noble sweet wines, with more than 25 g/l remaining sugar

Kategorie 12 | leichte Rotweine bis 12,5% - light red wines

Pictures: Michael Hornickel, President of the FIJEV (International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers) and Dagmar Ehrlich (above). Peter W.F. Schneider from Vinoselect (below). More on Dagmar Ehrlich: A New, Very Useful Wine Book: Dagmar Ehrlich’s “Rebsorten ABC”

Kategorie 13 | Spätburgunder, ohne Barrique größer 12,5 Vol. % - Pinot Noir without oak and more than 12,5% alcohol

Kategorie 14 | alle anderen Rotweine, ohne Barrique größer 12,5 Vol. % - all other red grape varieties without oak

Kategorie 15 | Rotweine aus dem Barrique, alle Rebsorten größer 12,5 Vol. % - red wines aged in barrique with more than 12.5% alcohol

Kategorie 16 | Weiße PIWI – white fungus resistant grape varieties

Kategorie 17 | Rote PIWI – red fungus resistant grape varieties

The Selection Process

373 wines from 68 wine producers were submitted to the ECOVIN Ecowinner 2012 contest. 36 judges tasted and rated the wines in 2 rounds.

In the first round, 6 groups of 6 tasters rated about 60 wines, using a 20 points system. This took us from 10 a.m. to lunch time. We then had lunch prepared by the vegetarian restaurant Radieschen in Darmstadt.

Picture: Norbert Walter, owner of Radieschen

In the second round after lunch, each table had to select the 3 winners of 2 or 3 of the 17 different categories. At my table, we had to select the top 3 wines of the category 3 (Rosé | Weißherbst) and the top 3 wines of category 7 (Riesling trocken größer 12,5 Vol. %).

I will report about the winners of the ECOVIN Ecowinner 2012 contest a separate posting in due course.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Blogging for Organic Wine – New Ways of Wine Experience: The Organic Wines of Oekoweingut Hubertushof at Prowein 2012 in Germany 

Judging at Wine Competitions in Virginia (USA), Pfalz (Germany) and Rheinhessen (Germany)

The Natural Wines of the Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley, California

Visiting Jared Brandt and his Donkey and Goat Winery – Natural Wines Made in Berkeley, California

Excellency and Ecology: The Wines of Gebrueder Dr. Becker in Rheinhessen, Germany

Wine Event: President Obama and the First Lady eat at the "Green" Restaurant Nora and have a "Green" Spottswoode Wine

The Millesime Bio 2010 in Montpellier, France: A Discovery of Organic and Biodynamic Wines at the one of a Kind Wine Trade Show

Benzinger Wines Served at the 2010 "Green" Annual White House Correspondents Dinner

The Natural Wines of Terroir in San Francisco

Skype and Biodynamic Winemaking - Winetasting in the US with Winemaker Werner Michlits, Weingut Meinklang, in Austria

At the Forefront of Biodynamic Winemaking: Visiting Werner and Angela Michlits and their Weingut Meinklang in Austria

Julia Zuccardi from Familia Zuccardi in Argentina Visited the US to Introduce New Santa Julia Wines

One of Oregon's Pioneering Winemakers - Myron Redford - with his Amity Vineyard Wines in Washington DC

Visiting Yann-Leon Beyer at Maison Leon Beyer in Eguisheim in Alsace

Organic, Sustainable, Biodynamic, Natural Wines … A Primer for “Green” Wines

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. I wasn't aware of these organizations.

    As a big proponent of a natural approach, I'm thrilled to see more and more growers working this way,

    As a consumer and marketer by trade of course, labels alone, especially when there are many, tend to simply fade away in meaning unless they are clearly communicated.

    Confusion is less the result than non impact.

    In your opinion, are these labels being effective for the customer in Germany?

    My thoughts on the marketing of natural and the use of the term from RAW in London here:

    A natural wine blogger\'s view of London’s RAW fair