Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Caroline and Armin Diel, Schlossgut Diel (Nahe Valley), Presented their New Wines (Vintage 2012), Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Caroline Diel at Johann Lafers Stromburg

Caroline and Armin Diel, Schlossgut Diel, presented their new wines at Johann Lafers Stromburg to 50 or so wine journalists, sommeliers and trade people. A reception in the garden of the Stromburg preceeded the tasting. Following the presentation of the Diel wines, Jean-Nicolas Meo presented the new wines of Domaine Meo-Camuzet, Bourgogne. The event concluded with a light lunch in the Bistro of Johann Lafers Stromberg. Also present were Caroline and Armin’s team, including Christoph Friedrich, who has been oenologist at Schlossgut Diel for the past 15 years. Finally, Caroline came with her youngest child and Armin had to fill in as babysitter, when Caroline was talking about the wines.

See also:
Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany
President Obama Serves a “German” Riesling at State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao
Visiting Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Washington State - Where Armin Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling is Made, USA
Terry Theise: 2012 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany


Armin Diel, in his introduction, alluded to the amazing development of the Nahe region in the past 25. Before 1971, the Nahe region did not exist as a separate wine region. It was created in the wine law of 1971. In the past 25 years, the Nahe won the prestigious Feinschmecker Cup – Best German dry Riesling – 7 times; 3 times in the past 5 years. Many wine experts see the Nahe with the Pfalz region competing for the best dry Riesling region in Germany.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller at the Nahe Valley

Schlossgut Diel

Schlossgut Diel is one of Germany’s leading wine producers. In the US, it is imported by Terry Theise (Michael Skurnik Collection).

Schlossgut Diel is in the town of Rümmelsheim in the Nahe Valley. The old buildings of Schlossgut Diel comprise a tower and the walled remnants of castle Burg Layen. It was built prior to 1200 and changed hands numerous times. Over the course of time, three castle buildings were erected in the location, with different aristocratic owners, and with extensive holdings of vineyards and agricultural land. The Schlossgut in its present form was purchased by a forefather of Caroline and Armin Diel, in 1802, after the family had already leased the land for several decades. From 1792 to 1796 Napoleons troops conquered German territory on the left bank of the Rhine declaring it French.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Armin and Caroline Diel at Schlossgut Diel

The vineyard area is 17 hectares and annual production 10,000 cases. Grape Varieties: 65% Riesling, 20% Grauburgunder, 10% Spätburgunder, 5% Weissburgunder. Bottle-fermented (and hand-riddled) sparkling wines are also produced.

Schlossgut Diel is a member of the VDP. In terms of sales, Schlossgut Diel sells 25% to private clients, 25% to fine restaurants, 25% to the German wine trade and 25% is exported.

Caroline Diel

Caroline, with her third child in the arms, conducted the wine tasting. She told me at an earlier occasion that she spent the last 2 high school years in a boarding school in California, south of San Francisco. Initially, Caroline wanted to study hotel management but ended up going to the famous Geisenheim college and study winemaking. She also interned quite a bit and at well known wineries, for almost a decade: In 1998 for 3 months at Chateau Pichon-Lalande in Bordeaux; then at the German Weingueter Jost (Mittelrhein) and von Winningen (Pfalz); then at the Champagne House Ruinart; in 2004 in South Africa at Vergelegen and at Romanee Conti in the Bourgogne; in 2004, after she got her Diploma at Long Shadow Vintners in Walla Walla in Washington State, where Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling is being made; for a whole year at Schloss Halbturn in the Burgenland in Austria and finally at Rippon Vineyard in New Zealand. With this huge experience, she returned home to make wine at Schlossgut Diel. For a number of years now, Caroline has been in charge of the wines of Schlossgut Diel.

Caroline is married (to a Frenchman) and is the proud mother of 3 little children.

Armin Diel

Armin welcomed the guests, but let Caroline talk when it came to the wines, unless the newborn got too excited and Caroline had to devote all her attention to the baby. Armin Diel took over the estate from his father in 1987. A few years ago, he handed over to his daughter Caroline. Her brother Victor is working on the marketing side, based in Hamburg in the northern part of Germany.

Armin Diel carries several hats. First, he is the senior boss of Schlossgut Diel. Second, he is VDP President of the Nahe region. Third, until very recently he was the co-editor, jointly with Joel B. Payne of the Gault Millau WeinGuide, Germany’s leading wine guide. Fourth, more generally, Armin Diel has built up a reputation as gastronomic and wine journalist since the early 1980’s, and is a member of numerous national and international tasting panels. He has moderated gastronomic TV series, written accompanying books and accompanied culinary wine tours.

Pictures: Reception

Portfolio Presentation

2012 Eierfels Riesling – 50% Goldloch, 50% Burgberg, made from the best grapes of these vineyards that did not go into the Grosses Gewaechs wines, kind of a second wine, fermented and aged in a (large) “Stueckfass”, mineral notes and excellent fruit.

2012 Pittermaennchen Riesling Grosses Gewaechs - Apples, yellow fruits and minerals on the nose, good acidity, elegant, lively on the palate, good length.

2012 Goldloch Riesling Grosses Gewaechs - Apples, lemons and refreshing on the nose, good acidity, lemony and refreshing on the palate, long.

2012 Burgberg Riesling Grosses Gewaechs - Apples, lemons and minerals on the nose, good acidity, lively, elegant, and playful on the palate, long.

Let me quote Terry Theise: “Armin fusses at me that I visit too early for these “serious” wines to be properly appraised. This year he was part-right: Pittermännchen was really mean and phenolic and opaque, but Burgberg while cerebral, was ultra-violet and digital, micro-pixilated, a very dry Riesling of scruple and stature. Though it was just one of three components of the final wine. Goldloch has the most fruit and its few grams of RS are helpful; there’s still a serious interplay of smooth stone and dried apricot, and it will be the grandest of the three.”

Pictures: Portfolio Tasting

During an earlier visit of Schlossgut Diel, I spent some time with Caroline in the famous Grosse Lage vineyards of chlossgut Diel. The vineyard area totals 17 hectares, all located in the commune of Dorsheim, with holdings in the top-rated Burgberg, Goldloch and Pittermännchen sites. “The age of the vines are similar in the three sites, the microclimates are similar in the three sites, only a few meters separate them from one another, yet they are entirely different based on terroir,” said Caroline.

Goldloch: In 1756, the top site Goldloch was first officially named “Im Loch”. In 1819, the name “Goldloch” was registered in the land register. The name allows three interpretations: It is said that gold was found here; further the name could refer to the disappointment of miners who came here to dig for gold but only found ore. Or it refers to the vintners who owned parcels of this excellent site making a fortune with wines that are worth their weight in gold.

The soil consists of a layer of clay over a rocky conglomerate of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic slate rock from the first phase of the perm.

Since its beginnings the Diel Estate has owned parcels of this valuable site. Over generations the Diel family managed to acquire more acreage either through exchange or purchase. Today the Estate owns just over 11 acres (4,5 ha) making it the largest owner of this premium single vineyard site.

Burgberg: This site was officially mentioned for the first time in 1400. Georg von Leyen was given a hillock called the “Burgberg of Dorsheim”. As this hill had neither a castle nor a fortress at the time the name may refer to the steep cliffs on the eastern side that reach a height of up to 60 feet. However a second interpretation exists: The documents of the year 1400 mention a hill that must have included a larger area than the present-day land register. Accordingly, the vineyard site “Goldloch” must have been part of this area. Supposedly, a part of the Dorsheimer Hill – formerly registered by the name Burgberg – was thus a part of the hill belonging to Burg Layen. In the period after 1815 the vineyard site Burgberg became property of the Prussian state. The vineyard often exchanged hands. In 1927 the state-owned Domaine Niederhausen purchased the largest portion of the site until it came into possession of Schlossgut Diel in the 1990s. Today the Estate owns 4,5 acres (1,8 ha) of this top site making it the largest owner of this vineyard site.

Today the Estate owns just over 11 acres (4,5 ha) making it the largest owner of this premium single vineyard site.

Pictures: In the Vineyards with Caroline Diel and Anouk

Pittermännchen: The vineyard Pittermänchen neighbors the site Goldloch and stretches to the Dorsheimer boundaries ending just before Burg Layen. Schlossgut Diel owns 2,5 acres (1 ha) of this prestigious site, making it the smallest member in the exclusive circle of top vinyards of the Estate. The name dates back to the 16th century when a Pittermännchen was a small silver coin and implies that the wines made here were significant value. The soil of the southward aligned site consists of slate with a lots of quartzite and gravel. This combination provides a refreshing mineral note to the subtle racy wines.

Caroline explained: “The Trollbach valley is one of the driest and warmest regions in Germany. The mountain range of the Hunsrück Hills keep most of the rain away. The valley is influenced by warmer temperatures from the upper Rhine valley. Spring and fall get most of the rain. In winter, temperatures rarely drop below 32° Fahrenheit (0°C).”

The cliffs of the Trollbach valley offer harsh conditions for plants. However, it produces most interesting microclimates and habitats. Tresses and draught-resistant moss species in particular, produce acidity that contributes to the erosion of the rocks. In addition, the sun plays an important role. On hot summer days, temperatures on the rocks of Goldloch and Eierfelsen sometimes reach 122 to 140 ° Fahrenheit (50 – 60° C). The rocks that heat up quickly during the day, cool down at night. Strong changes in temperatures of up to 104° Fahrenheit (40°C) are common. This microclimate can be compared to Mediterranean, if not North African conditions. Even after heavy rainfall the well-drained soils dry out just a few days later. The diversity of rare plants is enormous, making this valley a most interesting place for the botanist.

2012 Pinot Blanc Reserve - Bourgogne wines have established themselves as an important component of the Diel wine portfolio. Over the years, the barrique share has increased and the “Stueckfass” share decreased. The 2012 Pinot Blanc Reserve: Notes of pear and apricot on the nose, there is a hint of wood, good structure, lively and refreshing on the palate, long end. Only 3000 to 4000 bottles. Rarity.

2012 Pinot Gris Reserve - Notes of caramel, mocha and ripe yellow fruit on the nose, smoother on the palate than the Pinot Blanc, long finish.

2012 Cuvee Victor - This is a blend of Pinot Gris (30%) and Pinot Blanc (70%). Aged in old “Stueckfass”.

2011 Pinot Noir Caroline - Caroline explained that this is a “back to the roots”, “minimal intervention” wine. Even the pressing was done by feet. No new wood. “Pure fruit approach” as Caroline said.

Let me quote Terry Theise: “We make sure not to pick higher than 95o Oechsle because otherwise you get these marmalade flavors,” says Caroline. Indeed hers is a classic Old World PN, on the cool side and very sophisticated. This `11 is a total sweetheart, sandalwood and soy and a delicate mélange of pink duck breast and 5-spice; sweet tannin and less new oak than before. Only about 3,000 bottles of this are produced annually. Open top fermentation is the preferred method. Mostly all 2nd use barriques are used for aging.”


Aperitif: 2006 Dorsheim Goldloch Rieling Brut Schlossgut Diel

Picture: Aperitif

Spinat-Cremesuppe mit geraeucherter Forelle

2011 Schlossgut Diel Eierfels Riesling

Feinstes Kalbsrahmrulasch auf Kraeuterknoepfle und Erbsengemuese

2006 Domaine Meo-Camuzet Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Chaumes

Dukatenbuchteln mit Zwetschgen und Vanilleeis


Pictures: Lunch

Poet’s Leap Riesling from Washington State

The Diels not only make wine in the Nahe Valley, but also in Washington State: The Poet’s Leap Riesling is one of the best American Rieslings currently on the market produced in a joint venture at Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla in Washington State. Long Shadows in Walla Walla has become, in a short time, one of the premier wineries in Washington State. It is an unusual set up: Former Simson-Lane CEO Allen Shoup works with renowned winemakers from around the world for this venture. Each winemaker produces a single wine using Washington State fruit and resident winemaker Gilles Nicault assists them to shepherd all of the wines along at Long Shadows in Walla Walla.

Pictures: With Resident Winemaker Gilles Nicault at Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla in Washington State

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

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

President Obama Serves a “German” Riesling at State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao

Visiting Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Washington State - Where Armin Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling is Made, USA

Terry Theise: 2012 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany

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

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

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

1 comment:

  1. Wow! wineries are looking hot. I love to taste different kinds of wines and I am so glad to come across your blogs.