Thursday, October 9, 2014

Deputy Managing Director Jochen Becker-Köhn and Export Director Nicolas Pfaff of Weingut Robert Weil in Singapore

Pictures: Deputy Managing Director Jochen Becker-Köhn and Export Director Nicolas Pfaff of Weingut Robert Weil in Singapore

When at the end of 2013, Robert Parker stepped down as editor-in-chief of The Wine Advocate, he took three investors from Singapore on board and appointed Singapore-based Lisa Perrotti-Brown as editor-in-chief; this was another sign that emerging wine country Singapore was on its way to become a major player in the world of wine.

Clearly, Weingut Robert Weil from Kiedrich in the Rheingau in Germany, one of Germany’s top wine producer, has to be present in Singapore. The recent tour around the world of Weingut Robert Weil Deputy Managing Director, Jochen Becker-Köhn and Export Director Nicolas Pfaff, taking the two of them to more than a dozen countries around the world, included a stop in Singapore.

I happened to be in Singapore at the same time, for reason unrelated to wine: My granddaughter Viatrix was borne on September 16, 2014 in Singapore. This provided me with the opportunity to join them for 2 events and dinner.

Pictures: Raffles Hotel and Marina Bay Sands Hotel with Museum of Arts and Science (and Viatrix Tremann with her Parents and Grandparents)

Weingut Robert Weil is represented in Singapore by Taste of Tradition (Importer and Distributor of Fine Wines Around the World). Joe Chia was our host.

Wine in Singapore

Singapore - known as The Little Red Dot - covers just 700 square km and has a population of a bit more than 5 million people. It is a very expensive city (and became the most expensive city in 2014 according to the Economist) and also a popular tourist destination; on average every day, there are 36,000 additional people on the island.

Pictures: Clark Quay Area and the Fullerton Hotel at Night

The restaurant, bar and club scene is amazing, ranging from inexpensive hawker centers to premium restaurants serving both eastern and western cuisine.

Axel Ritenis: I have been constantly amazed at the explosion of gastronomy and culinary delights that has occured here this latest developmental wave,.. and I amazed by the sheer diversity and quality of food available! If this is not the food capital of the world ,.. I don't know what is? The latest wave has seen the arrival of the French and Italians,... with many newly opened wine bars and restaurants manned by enthusiastic young chefs and sommeliers,.. and other wine and food professionals ,.. intent on carving out a business niche for themselves,.. and succeeding in a dynamic Singaporean economy as opposed to the stagnant European market that many have escaped. And wine culture is exploding as well, needless to say there are many new Wine Bars and Stores specializing in Fine Wine in spite of the exorbitant import taxes and duties.

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller at Ku de Ta Bar, the rooftop bar of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, voted as one of the top ten global hotspots by The New York Times

Traditionally, Singapore’s wine market has been dominated by French wine. The selection of Bordeaux and Bourgogne wines, including older vintages, in the large number of wine bars and restaurants in Singapore is amazing. Today, the interest is shifting to other red wine regions. “But more importantly white wines are increasingly popular and after the Sauvignon Blanc boom, finally fine Rieslings or Grüner Veltliners are offered by the glass in some of the top restaurants” says Michael Thurner, who founded Austria’s Fine Brands in Singapore.

According to the International Enterprise Singapore, a government agency, six countries account for more than 80% of import volume into Singapore. Australia and France are at the top with 31% and 26% of volume share, respectively, followed by Chile (9%), Italy (7%), US (6%) and New Zealand (6%). Spain, South Africa, Argentina and Germany each have approximately 3%.

Who’s buying? With US 55.000, Singapore has a higher per capita income than Germany and the US, for example.

On the supply side, the number of importers has mushroomed in recent years. Berry Brothers and Rudd moved into Asia in 1998, establishing offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan, is now also present in Singapore. Berry Brothers and Rudd predicts that its Asia businesses will account for half its global sales in five years’ time, up from 15% currently.

“People have always looked at Singapore as a small market rather overshadowed by China, Hong Kong and Japan. But people are realising that it's not just an interesting market by itself, it’s a hub for Southeast Asia too,” said Simon Berry, chairman of Berry Bros.

Weingut Robert Weil

Founded in 1875, Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich is the Rheingau’s #1 estate and one of Germany’s best. Four generations and over a century ago Dr. Robert Weil, who was a Professor of German at the Sorbonne, was forced to leave Paris because of the Franco-Prussian War (1870/1871). He subsequently joined his brother August in Kiedrich in the Rheingau and established the Robert Weil winery.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Wilhelm Weil at Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Dr. Robert Weil purchased his first vineyards in Kiedrich and moved there in 1875, when he bought the estate manor from the heirs of Sir John Sutton, an English baronet. A man of vision, he built up the estate by purchasing 2 local wine estates and the vineyards of Count von Fürstenberg. Contacts throughout the world and the production of great wines brought rapid growth to the Weingut Robert Weil.

Picture: The Rheingau

Today, Weingut Robert Weil is managed by Wilhelm Weil, who owns the winery jointly with Suntory from Japan. With 90 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.

In 1988, the estate was sold by Robert Weil to the Japanese beverage group Suntory, and his son Wilhelm appointed as estate director.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller, Martina Weil, Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, Wilhelm Weil at the 2013 Rheingau Riesling Gala

The vineyards are planted 100% with Riesling. The estate’s dedication to Riesling since 1875 has led numerous observers of the international wine world to regard Weingut Robert Weil as a worldwide symbol of German Riesling culture. A Riesling wine of the 1893 vintage, grown on the Gräfenberg site, made the estate famous. The imperial Habsburg court in Vienna purchased 800 bottles of this wine at a price of 16 gold Marks per bottle in 1900. The 1920 vintage of the Kiedricher Gräfenberg Trockenbeerenauslese is described as a Zeppelin wine, as it was served on board the LZ 127 „Graf Zeppelin” dirigible on its circumnavigation of the world in 1929. Robert Weil’s top botrytis wines are sold today at extremely high prices - they are among the most expensive in the world. The current world record (in 2006) is held by a 1999 Weil Trockenbeerenauslese, at DM 5.000 (EUR 2500).

Weingut Robert Weil’s top vineyards all belong to the group of the highlying sites of the Rheingau: Kiedricher Klosterberg, Kiedricher Turmberg and Kiedricher Gräfenberg. Inclination (up to 60 %), exposure (southwest) and the ability of the barren stony soils to absorb heat are the factors that make for three perfect Riesling sites. These conditions, as well as ideal circulation, enable the grapes to remain on the vine for a long time, ripening well into November.

Tasting at Roosevelt’s Diner and Bar


Roosevelt’s Diner and Bar: If you love sweet wines but have ever been told by snobs that they aren't 'serious wines' or don't pair well with food, hang out less with those people, we say! Well - that, or come for our exclusive Riesling tasting this Tuesday 7th October from 7 to 8pm.

Robert Weil, famous German winemaker of Classic Rieslings will be in the house to share with you the passion, philosophy and story behind his wines.

It's going to be an intimate wine tasting session, where our wine director will also do a little workshop explaining basic food pairing, and why the love for sweet wines is determined by your genetics!

The Tasting

Pictures: Tasting at Roosevelt’s Diner and Bar

The Vintner on Duxton

We were then received by Fonz Row, the cellar master of The Vintner on Duxton, which is located in one of the coolest areas in town.

The Vintner on Duxton: Fonz Row has been a professional wine merchant since 1997. His journey started in Canada and USA where he attained his accreditation from Culinary Institute of America - Certified Wine Professional. He remains an active Wine Critic in local and international wine events with a deep passion for boutique, cult vineyards and winemakers.

Pictures: Tasting at The Vintner on Duxton


The day ended with a dinner at a local Chinese restaurtant.

Pictures: Dinner at a Local Chinese Restaurtant

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Christian G.E. Schiller's Review of the Book: Ralf Frenzel (ed.) - Riesling, Robert Weil. Tre Torri, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2013, in: Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 9, 2014, No. 1, Cambridge University Press

Weingut Robert Weil, Kiedrich, Rheingau, Germany: Super Sommerfest/Summer Party 2014

Weingut Robert Weil Goes Facebook, 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

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

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

The German Winemakers at the 4th Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, USA

The 2nd International Riesling Symposium in the Rheingau, Germany

Steffen Christmann (Weingut A. Christmann) and Wilhelm Weil (Weingut Robert Weil) Presented the New Wine Classification of the VDP, Germany

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

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