Monday, November 19, 2012

Schiller’s Favorites from the VDP Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru – Presentation at Kloster Eberbach, 2012, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller at Kloster Eberbach

Germany’s VDP Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru - white wines are released on September 1 in the year following the harvest. These are the ultra-premium dry wines from the very best vineyard sites made by some of the best producers in Germany. Grosse Gewaechs red wines need some time to age in oak and are released later.

At this annual occasion, a number of presentations by the VDP – the association of German elite winemakers - take place in Germany, including in Wiesbaden, Berlin and the historic Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau.

Pictures: During the Tasting

The tasting in Wiesbaden is a pre-release tasting for a group of about 120 wine journalists, sommeliers, retailers, importers, etc from all over the world, but mainly from Germany, in the old Kurhaus in the stately German spa town, which is 45 minutes drive from Frankfurt. It is a seated, very well organized tasting where you have the chance to go through the VDP Grosses Gewaechs wines during 2 days. The invitations for this event are highly sought after. This year, I was happy to get invited by the VDP and to participate in the event. Others I saw at the event were Jancis Robinson from the Financial Times, US wine importer Rudi Wiest and Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland editor Joel B. Payne. I have reported about here:

Germany’s 2011 VDP Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru - Wines Released. Notes from the Pre-release Tasting in Wiesbaden, Germany

Then, during the first weekend of September, the VDP winemakers move to the capital of Germany, where the wines are presented for the first time to the general public. I went to Berlin 2 years ago to take part in these events. For more, see here:

Germany's VDP Wine Estates Celebrate 100th Anniversary in Berlin

70 Galleries - 200 Praedikat Winemakers - 1000 VDP Wines: Art and Wine in Berlin

At the end of September, a presentation at the Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau concludes the first series of presentations of the new Grosses Gewaechs wines. This presentation, on Sunday afternoon, is also the final event of the VDP auction weekend, with auctions in the Mosel Valley on Friday, at Eberbach Ebbey on Saturday and in the Nahe Valley on Sunday morning.

This year, I participated in the Autmn Wine Auction at Kloster Eberbach. I have reported about it here:

At the VDP Autumn Wine Auction at Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau, 2012, Germany

I also participated in the Grosses Gewaechs presentation on Sunday afternoon. It is a walk-around tasting. The winemakers stand behind a table and pour wines. The visitors move from table to table. It is also a nice event to meet and talk to winemakers.

I have also included some quotes from my posting on the VDP pre-release tasting a few weeks earlier in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Schiller’s Favorites at the VDP Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru – Presentation at Kloster Eberbach

436 Grosse Gewächse wines from 157 VDP wine producers from 261 Grosse Lagen were poured.

Peter Crusius, Weingut Dr. Crusius

The Crusius family’s history in the small village of Traisen in the Nahe Valley dates back to 1576. However, it was not until the early 1950’s that Hans Crusius started to turn a mixed farm into a 19-acre winery. In 1990, Hans’ son Dr. Peter Crusius (he has a PhD in oenology) doubled the size of the winery, acquiring vineyards in the renowned terroirs of Traisen, Norheim, Niederhausen and Schloßböckelheim. With these new holdings came a new facility. Presently, the land totals 18 hectares.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Peter Crusius, Weingut Dr. Crusius, Nahe

Riesling is the main varietal, making up 65% of the vineyards. Various pinot varietals round out the portfolio. In 1968 the Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) grape was introduced. This grape is the main component in the estate’s specialty: dry white blends. The red wine program began in 2000 with the Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) grape; Frühburgunder, Schwarzriesling (Pinot Munier) and Domina complete the red wine program.

Weingut Dr. Crusius has been a member of the VDP since 1984.

Georg Rumpf, Weingut Kruger Rumpf

“In our family, viniculture has been tradition since 1708 - a tradition that we have been cultivating in our vineyards as well as in our manor house which was built back in 1830” said Georg Rumpf, when I visited Weingut Kruger Rumpf and George showed me around. Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany The estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim in the Nahe region in Germany.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Georg Rumpf, Weingut Kruger Rumpf, Nahe

Stefan Rumpf, Georg’s father, brought Weingut Kruger-Rumpf up to where it is today: After completing his studies in agricultural sciences, including stints in Californian wineries, and conducting research at the Geisenheim research institute, Stefan Rumpf took over the estate from his parents in 1984. Up until then, the wines were sold almost entirely in bulk. Stefan Rumpf changed this and started to bottle his wines and to market the bottles himself. Less than 10 years later, in 1992, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf was invited to join the VDP, the about 200 German elite winemakers, a clear sign of what Stefan Rumpf had achieved over the course of just 8 years.

Today, the vineyard area totals 22 hectares and the annual production is 14.000 cases. Georg Rumpf has taken over the winemaking aspect of Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, while his father is now more focusing on sales and general management.

The top sites are: Münsterer Dautenpflänzer (slate with sandy loam); Münsterer Pittersberg (slate); Münsterer Rheinberg (weathered quartzite and sandy loam); Binger Scharlachberg Rheinhessen (Rotliegend and porphyry).

Grape varieties: 65% Riesling, 10% each of Silvaner and Weissburgunder, 5% each of Chardonnay, Grauburgunder and Spätburgunder. In fact, Kruger-Rumpf was the first estate in the Nahe region to plant Chardonnay.

In the US, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf is imported by Terry Theise.

Quote Christian G.E. Schiller: “Kruger-Rumpf is generally viewed as a second tier top producer in the Nahe, but I must say, the Kapellenberg, Dautenpflaenzer and Pittersberg were wines with dense mineral notes and great pure fruit that were getting very close to what Doennhoff and Emrich-Schoenleber, the two Nahe stars, put on the table.”

Fore more, see:

Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany 

Lotte Pfeffer-Müller, Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker

The Estate is located in Ludwigshöhe in the Nierstein area Rheinhessen. It was founded in the early 20th century by the two brothers Dr. Johann and Dr. Jakob Becker. Today, it is run by Lotte Pfeffer-Müller and Hans Müller, the third generation of the family. The vineyard area totals 11 hectares and is planted with Riesling (4 hectares), Silvaner, Scheurebe, Pinot Noir, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Regent and Gewürztraminer.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Lotte Pfeffer-Müller, Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker, Rheinhessen

Organic viticulture has been practiced since the mid 1980’s. An own weather station was installed in the vineyards to assist in determining the optimum time for picking. Wines are matured either in stainless steel or in traditional oak barrels, and in the case of the Pinot Noir also in barriques. Bottle-fermented sparkling wine is also produced.

For more, see:

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

Friedrich Groebe, Weingut Groebe

Weingut Groebe was founded in Westhofen in the early 1600s. Today, Friedrich Groebe owns and runs the estate. With 10 hectares, Friedrich  Groebe does everything on his own, with the help of his wife. He has no employees. The juice is fermented in old wooden vats which are nursed with great care and accuracy. Bottling is only done when the wine is ready, not when required by the market. Weingut Goebe has been a member of the VDP Rheinhessen since 2000.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Friedrich Groebe, Weingut Groebe, Rheinhessen

For historic reasons, the wine estate was divided between Biebesheim (headquarter, bottling line, warehouse) and Westhofen (vineyards and fermentation cellar). Friedrich Groebe built a new production hall in 2012 and moved everything next to his vineyard. This has been the last but not the least step to ensure great quality for the next decades.

Daniel Wagner, Weingut Wagner Stempel

Weingut Wagner Stempel is Siefersheim (Bingen area) in Rheinhessen. The foundation of the estate was laid in 1845. Today, Weingut Wagner Stempel is run by Daniel Wagner, with the help of his father Lothar. The vineyards total 14 hectares, with the Siefersheimer Heerkretz and Höllberg being the best sites.

Picture: Roland Ladendorf, Weinhaus Bluhm, Mainz and Daniel Wagner, Weingut Wagner Stempel, Rheinhessen

Daniel Wagner focuses on the traditional white grape varieties Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Riesling (50%), but also produces Pinot Noir, St. Laurent and Frühburgunder.

Weingut Wagner Stempel has been since 2004 a member of the VDP and Message in a Bottle.

In the 1990s, the estate was enlarged by a charming guesthouse.

For more on Weinhaus Bluhm, see:

Weinhaus Bluhm in Mainz: A Cosy and Basic Wine Tavern Serving World Class Wines from Germany

Clemens Busch, Weingut Clemens Busch

The goal at Weingut Clemens Busch is to let the wines express the place the vines are rooted in. Granted, this is something most winemakers will claim to be their goal. But there are only a handful of growers in Germany who not only mention the vineyard on the label but also the particular parcel within that vineyard. Most of the names for subdivisions in vineyards had been erased by the 1971 wine law. But Clemens Busch put the old names back on the label.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Annette Schiller, Ombiasy Wine Tours and Clemens Busch, Weingut Clemens Busch, Mosel

The idea of the terroir is thus further pursued in the subdivision of his vineyard Pündericher Marienburg - based on the different soil types of each parcel in this vineyard. Fahrlay, which literally means "slate at the ferry" (because it's the part of the vineyard that is close to the ferry, which crosses the river Mosel) is predominantly blue Devon slate. Falkenlay ("slate of the falcon", being near a stone pit where falcons nest) is all grey slate. Weissenberg is the part of Marienburg with high amounts of red slate. And finally the Felsterasse where the vines are more than 50 years old.

Quote Christian G.E. Schiller: “With regard to the first group, although I know that my fellow colleagues at the German Wine Society Board (Washington DC Chapter) all love the fruity sweet wines of Ernst Loosen, Dr. Loosen put on a strong performance with his ultra premium Grosses Gewaechs wines from Himmelreich, Wuerzgarten, Praelat, Sonnenuhr and Treppchen. I would also like to mention the impressive Marienburg collection of Clemens Busch, the non-conventional winemaker from Puenderich.”

Franz Werner Michel, Weingut Domdechant Werner

The Domdechant Werner Estate is one of the leading wine producer in Hochheim, Rheingau. Even though it belongs to the Rheingau, Hochheim is actually situated along the Main river, just 30 Minutes away by S-Bahn from Frankfurt am Main central railway station. Coming from Frankfurt, you arrive in vineyards and it is a beautiful walk up the vineyards to the village and the Franz Kuenstler and Domdechant Werner Estates at the village entrance.

Picture: Dr. Franz Werner Michel, Weingut Domdechant Werner, Rheingau, who turned 80 at that day

The Domdechant Werner Estate cultivates about 14 ha/35 acres of vines, 98% of which are planted with Riesling and 2% Spätburgunder. It produces wines of all styles, ranging from dry to lusciously sweet wines. The finest dry Riesling wines are designated Erstes Gewächs, while the finest sweet wines bear the traditional Prädikat Auslese. The red Spätburgunder wines are carefully aged in mature oak casks. Some 60-70% of the wines are exported to about 25 countries around the world, making the estate a "global player" on a small scale. Domestically, the wines are sold to leading hotels and restaurants, as well as upscale wine shops.

In 1780, the father of Dr. Franz Werner, the renowned Domdechant (dean) of the Cathedral of Mainz, acquired from the Count York the Hochheim wine estate.

Domdechant Werner is credited with having saved the Cathedral from being demolished during the French Revolution and was responsible for its reconstruction. The Estate is now owned by Dr. Franz Werner Michel, the seventh generation of the founding family. The eighth (and possibly ninth) generation is now on the scene, as Dr. Michel's daughter, Catharina Mauritz, mother of three sons, has also become involved in the Estate's management.

For more, see:

5 Top Wine Makers at Premier Cru Wein Bistro in Frankfurt am Main, Germany 

Bernhard Pawis, Weingut Pawis

Weingut Pawis – owned and run by Bernhard Pawis - is located in the historic Zscheiplitz Estate, close to Freyburg. It is a gorgeous set-up, but as Bernhard Pawis told us, the renovation of the Estate was a major undertaking.

Bernhard Pawis is a trained winemaker, who got his education in the former German Democratic Republic. Shortly after the Berlin Wall came down in 1990, Bernhard’s parents - Herbert and Irene Pawis– bought 0.5 hectares of vineyard land and founded a small winery cum wine tavern (Strausswirtschaft). They sold the wine they produced in tavern on their premise. Bernhard had a day job, but helped his parents after work. Business was good, so when his father died in 1998, Bernhard decided to quit his job take over his parents’ winery. He constructed a modern winery in the center of Freyburg and enlarged the winery’s vineyard land through purchases and long-term lease arrangements. In 1995, Weingut Pawis produced 5.000 bottles, five years later 2000 50.000 bottles. Not only quantity improved, but also the quality of the Weingut Pawis wines and in 2001, Weingut Pawis was invited to join the VDP, Germany’s association of elite winemakers.

Picures: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy Wine Tours and Bernhard Pawis, Weingut Pawies, Saale Unstrut

The VDP membership put Weingut Pawis on Germany’s wine map and the winery Bernhard had constructed 8 years ago reached capacity limits. Bernard moved again, this time to something grand, the historic Estate Zscheiplitz. The former feudal Estate Zscheiplitz was completely run-down and required a major renovation effort. Bernhard pushed ahead with it, overcoming many obstacles. Since May 2007, the Weingut Pawis is based at the Zscheiplitz Estate in Freyburg-Zscheiplitz.

The vineyard area totals 11 hectares, with holdings in the Edelacker, a 1. Lage (Grand Cru), Mühlberg (Freyburg) and Sonneneck (Naumburg). The area is planted with the white varieties Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Bacchus and Kerner, and with the red varieties Dornfelder, Portugieser, Pinot Noir and Regent. The white varieties account for 80% of the portfolio.

In terms of winemaking philosophy, Bernhard explained that he is following sustainable vineyard practices. The wines are made primarily in a dry style, using temperature-controlled fermentation. The premium wines are matured in barriques made from the Trias oak found in the region. When vintage conditions permit, noble sweet wines are also made. The estate also produces bottle-fermented sparkling wines and grappa-style spirits.

Weingut Pawis sells about 1/3 of its production in the western part of Germany. This is unusually large, but having met Bernhard Pawis, seen the hip tasting room and tasted his wines, I can see why Bernhard Pawis is much more successful in the western part of Germany than his colleagues. But he does not export anything “and this will remain so” said Bernhard.

For more, see:

Weingut Pawis in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Christian Ress, Weingut Balthasar Ress

In 1870, Balthasar Ress set up a restaurant with its own wine business on the main street of the village of Hattenheim in one of the most prestigious German Riesling centers, the Rheingau. The manor house, the vineyards and the expertise required for creating exquisite wines have been handed down in the family from generation to generation.

Picture: Christian Ress, Weingut Balthasar Ress, Rheingau

Today, the winery is managed fifth generation Christian Ress, with active support of his father Stefan. Weingut Balthasar Ress now cultivates 46 hectares of vines, 90% of which are planted with Riesling. The rest of the production is divided between Spätburgunder (Pinot noir) and some Weissburgunder (Pinot blanc). The wines are made by Dirk Wuertz, a renown winemaker and famous wine blogger. More than half of the production is exported.

Quote Christian G.E Schiller: “There was a lot of talk about the wines of Balthasar Ress, which have been made for the past two years by wine blogger and wine maker Dirk Wuertz. All agreed that Dirk Wuertz is leading Weingut Balthasar Ress to unconventional and new heights. The Berg Schlossberg has lots of potential and should be put aside for the next 10 years.”

For more, see:

Hanging out with Rheingau Winemakers: Dirk Wuertz, Desiree Eser, Alexander Jakob Jung, Hansi Bausch and Christian Ress in Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany

Roman Niewodniczanski, Weingut Van Voxem

Roman Niewodniczanski is the owner of and winemaker at Weingut Van Volxem, which is located in Wiltingen in the Saar valley in what used to be called the Mosel Saar Ruwer region, now just Mosel region. Weingut Van Volxem is a winery with a long history.

Roman Niewodniczanski is from the Bitburger Beer Dynasty. He bought Weingut Van Volxem in 1999. Weingut Van Volxem was owned and managed for 4 generations by the Van Volxem family. Roman studied economics before turning to winemaking.

Picture: Roman Niewodniczanski, Weingut Van Voxem, Mosel

After taking over, he invested heavily in the vineyards and the winery. 2000 was the first vintage bottled by Roman Niewodniczanski.

The Weingut Van Volxem vineyards total 45 hectares. Gottesfuß is very particular vineyard, planted with 100 years old, ungrafted Riesling vines (and a bit of Pinot Blanc).  Not many producers have ungrafted hundred-year-old vines.

Since Roman Niewodiczanski took over, he has been on a mission to have the estate once again produce the top wines in Germany and regain for his estate the reputation it had 100 years ago, not just in Germany, but around the world. He is a staunch believer in terroir and dry wine production. His aim is to produce essentially dry wines from specific terroirs, which match any of the finest white wines in the world.

Roman Roman Niewodiczanski practices biodynamic viticulture and looks for extreme ripeness and low yields by late harvesting each vineyard several times to pick only fully ripe grapes.  In the cellar, Roman Niewodiczanski follows the natural wine approach, by gentle and prolonged fermentations using wild yeasts and judicious skin contact.

For more, see:

Best German Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff Deutschland Wine Trophies 2012

Rainer Schnaitmann, Weingut Rainer Schnaitmann

There are a bit more than a dozen VDP members in the Wuerttemberg region. When Rainer Schnaitmann took over the family estate, his father his delivering all the grapes to the local wine co-operative. This is quite common in Wuettemberg, where the co-operatives account for a large share and export is very low. Rainer Schnaitmann produces his first wine under his label in 1997 and was admitted to the VDP in 2006. The vineyard area totals 15 hectares.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Rainer Schnaitmann, Weingut Rainer Schnaitmann, Wuerttemberg

Quote Christian G.E. Schiller: “The best wines (Pinot Noir) came (at the VDP Pre-release tasting) from Gerhard Aldinger, Schnaitmann and Neipperg.”

Weingut Knipser

Weingut Knipser is in Laumersheim in the Pfalz, between the towns of Grünstadt and Bad Dürkheim. The Knipser family, originally from South Tirol, has lived there since 1876. The vineyards are situated in Laumersheim, Großkarlbach and Dirmstein, totaling 40 hectares. The wine portfolio also includes international varieties.

Picture: Too late

Since 1993, Weingut Knipser has been a member of the VDP and is a founding member of the German Barrique Forum.

Quote Christian G.E. Schiller: “Spaetburgunder (Pinot Noir) (mostly 2010, but also some 2009): Knipser presented 3 wines: Mandelpfad, Kirschgarten and Burgweg – all a year older than most of the other red wines (2009). All ultra-premium wines. If I had to choose one, I would pick the Burgweg.”

schiller-wine: Related Postings

At the VDP Autumn Wine Auction at Eberbach Abbey in the Rheingau, 2012, Germany

Germany’s 2011 VDP Grosses Gewaechs – Grand Cru - Wines Released. Notes from the Pre-release Tasting in Wiesbaden, Germany

Germany's VDP Wine Estates Celebrate 100th Anniversary in Berlin

70 Galleries - 200 Praedikat Winemakers - 1000 VDP Wines: Art and Wine in Berlin

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

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

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

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

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

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

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany

Hanging out with Rheingau Winemakers: Dirk Wuertz, Desiree Eser, Alexander Jakob Jung, Hansi Bausch and Christian Ress in Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany

Meeting Winemaker/Owner Desiree Eser, Weingut August Eser, at the Banks of the Rhein River in the Rheingau in Germany

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

A Combination of Extraordinary Wine and Art: Peter Winter's Georg Mueller Stiftung in the Rheingau

Weinhaus Bluhm in Mainz: A Cosy and Basic Wine Tavern Serving World Class Wines from Germany

5 Top Wine Makers at Premier Cru Wein Bistro in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Weingut Pawis in Saale Unstrut, Germany

Hanging out with Rheingau Winemakers: Dirk Wuertz, Desiree Eser, Alexander Jakob Jung, Hansi Bausch and Christian Ress in Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany

Best German Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff Deutschland Wine Trophies 2012

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