Friday, March 28, 2014

New Developments in German Wine - Annette Schiller at the German Wine Society in Philadelphia, USA

Picture: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, Presenting in Philadelphia

At the invitation of Beth C. Sheligo, President of the German Wine Society in the USA and President of the Philadelphia/South Jersey Chapter, Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, gave a presentation and led a tasting at Café Aldo Lamberti, 2011 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Picture: Café Aldo Lamberti

Annette talked about “New Developments in German Wine”, including the emerging new wine regions in the eastern part of Germany, the German red wine boom, and the new German Wine Classification, which is being pushed by the VDP, the association of about 200 German elite winemakers. She also briefly talked about the 2 wine tours coming up to Germany that she is organizing and leading.

We tasted 8 German wines from 8 different regions and had some good Italian food.

The Saale Unstrut Wine Region

The Saale Unstrut wine region is Germany’s most northern wine region, in the valleys of the Saale and Unstrut rivers, around Freyburg and Naumburg. With 730 hectares of vineyard area, it is one of the smaller wine regions in Germany. The oldest record of viticulture dates back to the year 998 during the reign of Emperor Otto III.

Located in the area of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Saale-Unstrut has become a thriving emerging wine region after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 (as Sachsen, the other wine region in the area of the former GDR; Sachsen is half of the size of Saale Unstrut).

Pictures: In the Saale Unstrut region

The vineyards are located on the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers. It all looks very attractive, with steep terraces, dry stone walls and century-old vineyard cottages, interspersed with meadows, floodplains. High above, are defiant castles and palaces. Saale Unstrut is located in a region that was the intellectual and cultural center of Germany (Heiliges Roemisches Reich Deutscher Nationen) for many centuries. The second German university (after Prague) was the University of Leipzig, which is just 50 km away from Saale Unstrut. Schiller and Goethe, to name just 2, lived here. Culture, history, nature and wine are combined here perfectly.

Picture: Germany's Wine Regions

Saale-Unstrut exports almost no wine and sells very little in the western part of Germany. Most of it is consumed in East Germany. The quality price ratio is not very favorable, so Saale Unstrut wines have a hard time to compete with the wines in West Germany. But the Saale Unstrut wine makers have no problems at all to sell their wine, as the Saale Unstrut wine is very popular with the locals and the tourists visiting East Germany, including the Baltic Sea. Of course, when you visit Weimar, Erfurth or Leipzig, to name a few of the many very historic towns of the eastern part of Germany, you want to drink local – either Saale Unstrut or Sachsen wines.

White grape varieties make up 75% of Saale-Unstrut's plantations. The most common grape varieties are the white varieties Müller-Thurgau and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc). The wines tend to be vinified dry and have a refreshing acidity.

The German Red Wine Boom

There is a red wine boom in Germany. The share of red wines in terms of production has increased from 10 percent in the 1980s to about 35 percent now in Germany. Of course, given its location, the German red wines tend to be not like the fruity red wines we know from warmer countries, but lean and more elegant, with a lot of finesse. 30 years ago, in the international scene, people would not talk about German red wine. But this has changed. Germany now produces red wines that can compete with the best of the world.

Picture: Annette Schiller Presenting in Philadelphia

4 Approaches to Classifying German Wine

Although many people think that there is only one wine classification system in Germany – the classification system of the Law of 1971 – this is not correct. There are four approaches to classifying wine in Germany. True, the classification system of the Law of 1971 with its pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest (Qualitaetswein, Kabinett, Spaetlese, Auslese …) at the center is the standard classification system in Germany and the vast majority of winemakers in Germany use this approach. A large number of winemakers, however, have moved away from the standard, in particular the powerful group of German elite winemakers, the VDP (Verband Deutscher Praedikatswein Produzenten), which has conceived its own classification system. Other winemakers moved to a zero classification system – no classification, an approach very familiar in the New World. Finally, there is a fourth group of winemakers that have designed their own classification system.

Pictures: Annette Schiller Presenting in Philadelphia

The VDP Classification

In sharp contrast with the standard classification system, the VDP classification system is based on the terroir principle. The pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest (which dominates the standard German wine classification of 1971) has moved to the backburner in the VDP system. Instead, following Bourgogne, the terroir principle has taken center stage. And here, the VDP has moved from a 3 tiers quality ladder to a 4 tiers quality ladder in its recent modifications, effective with the 2012 harvest. The VDP has added an additional layer to its classification system, which consists now of the following 4 layers. (In brackets, the equivalent quality classes in the classification system of the Bourgogne):

• VDP.Grosse Lage (Grand Cru in Burgundy)
• VDP.Erste Lage (Premier Cru in Burgundy)
• VDP.Ortswein (Village level in Burgundy)
• VDP.Gutswein (Bourgogne régional in Burgundy)

Note that for some legal reasons, the VDP has started to use the terms Grosse Lage, Erste Lage, Ortswein and Gutswein with the pre-fix VDP.

Picture: Annette Schiller with Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Weil, and Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at Kloster Eberbach, Germany

Germany Wine Tours by ombiasy in 2014

As in previous years, the husband and wife team Annette and Christian Schiller will personally guide the tours throughout the trip. Through our friendships with many winemaker and owners, the tours are a very intimate, personal experience for everyone in the small group (10 people maximum) traveling with us.

Quintessential German Whites (Germany-North): From September 04 – September 13, 2014, we will explore six (Saale-Unstrut, Franken, Rheingau, northern Rheinhessen, Mosel, Nahe) German wine regions with visits to 19 top wineries and cultural gems.

The Sun-kissed German South (Germany-South): From September 14 – September 20, 2014, we will explore three wine regions (Baden, Pfalz, southern Rheinhessen) in the south of Germany and will experience the German red wine revolution.

For the exact itinerary, prices and other questions, visit the ombiasy Public Realtions website:
ombiasy Public Relations.

The Germany tours are 2 of 3 tours by ombiasy coming up in 2014:
3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux

For a summary of the 2013 German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, see:
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Picture: Tasting in the Courtyard of Weingut Weegmueller, Pfalz, during the 2013 Germany Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy

What we Tasted

The wines were selected by the German Wine Society (Philadelphia).

2011 Spaetburgunder, Affentaler Cooperative– Baden
2011 Spaetburgunder, A. Christmann – Pfalz

Pictures: The Wines we Tasted

2012 Mueller-Thurgau pur mineral, Fuerst – Franken
2010 Foster Mariengarten Riesling Kabinett, Eugen Muller – Pfalz
2011 Ruedesheimer Klosterlay Riesling Kabinett, Josef Leitz – Rheingau
2011 Niersteiner Bruecken Riesling Kabinett, Strub – Rheinhessen
2011 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett, St. Urbans-Hof, Mosel
2011 Niederhaeuser Hermannshoehle Riesling Spaetlese, Jakob Schneider, Nahe

Pio Boffa and Pio Cesare

Café Aldo Lamberti was packed that night. Of course, Annette contributed to it. The private room reserved for the German Wine Society was solidly filled.

But the star of the evening was Pio Boffa from the famous Pio Cesare winery in Italia. A winemaker dinner with Pio took place at the same time as Annette’s event. Pio drew a crowd of 170 people, compared with 22 people listening to Annette.

Pictures: Annette Schiller and Pio Boffa in Philadelphia

Annette and I recently attended a Pio Cesare winemaker dinner in Virginia, lead by Pio’s nephew Cesare Benvenuto and we had the pleasure to spend an evening with Pio Boffa in 2010 in Washington DC.

The Wines of Pio Cesare with Owner Cesare Benvenuto and the Food of Patrick Bazin at Bazin’s on Church in Northern Virginia, Italy/USA
Pio Boffa and the Wines of Pio Cesare, Piedmont, Italy

schiller-wine: Related Postings

3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Weingut Pawis in the Saale Unstrut Region - A Profile, Germany

Tasting at Weingut Balthasar Ress, Hattenheim, Rheingau, with Stefan Ress, Germany

Impromptu Winetasting with Alexander Jung, Weingut Jakob Jung, Erbach, Rheingau, Germany

A Tasting at Weingut Peter Jakob Kühn, Rheingau, with Angela and Peter Jakob Kühn, Germany

Tasting with Rita Busch at Weingut Clemens Busch in the Mosel Valley, Germany

Ernst Loosen Presented his Wines at Weingut Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel Valley, Germany

Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour, Tasting and Lunch with Georg Rumpf, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Nahe Valley, Germany

An Afternoon with Riesling Star Winemaker Helmut Doennhoff at Weingut Doennhoff in Oberhausen in the Nahe Valley, Germany

The World Meets at Weingut Weegmueller, Pfalz, Germany

Tasting with Johannes and Christoph Thoerle, Weingut Thoerle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen, Germany

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