ombiasyPR and WineTours, and Christian Schiller Ready for the Guests at their 2015 Annual Riesling Party in Washington DC (McLean, Virginia)
Our annual Riesling Party took place on August 8, 2015 at our residence in McLean in Virginia in the Washington DC area.
We invited through facebook and Annette Schiller’s Washington DC data base, which is essentially a list of wine lovers we have met over the years at wine dinners, German Wine Society events, American Wine Society events and other occasions in the Washington DC area. 75 wine lovers joined us with 75 Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. The food was basic, but much appreciated: German Knackwurst with Potato Salad.
Our special guest this year was Denman Zirkle, Managing Partner of Weingut Böcking in the Mosel Valley, who poured top wines from his Mosel estate.
Dear wine friends,
some of you already asked: when is the Riesling party this year.
Here it is:
You are invited to join us for the
Saturday, August 08
5 PM - 10 PM
Entrance Fee: one bottle of Riesling per person. However if you are not such a fan of Riesling, feel free to bring a Pinot-Noir.
We will contribute some nice German Rieslings as well as a German Pinot-Noir and to quench the appetite while tasting all those wines: a selection of cheeses, cold cuts, German sausages, German potato salad, and bread.
We are very much looking forward to having you at our house (please send a RSVP mail and in return we will mail you our address) to taste and discuss all those wines and to have lots of laughter and fun.
ombiasyPR and WineTours, 2013/2014 German Wine Princess Sabine Wagner and Christian Schiller at Last Year's Riesling Party in Washington DC.
Riesling Summer at the Schiller Residence in Washington DC, USA (2014)
Summer of Riesling with Annette and Christian Schiller in Washington DC, USA (2013)
75 wine lovers joined us and brought 75 Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. 15 people brought reds, some of amazing quality, up to a Corton Grand Cru by Louis Jadot.
Of the remaining 60 bottles, 40 were from Germany. The lion share of the German wine was sweet-style Rieslings from the Mosel, including some very special wines, like Scharzhofberger from Egon Müller and von Hövel. Contrary to last year, within the group of German Rieslings, there were very few dry wines. I was very pleased with one guest who brought an excellent VDP.Ortswein (village wines) of Weingut Clemens Busch, in my view the perfect wine for a gathering like our Riesling Party.
The remaining 20 bottles were essentially from Alsace and from the US. The American Rieslings included some interesting wines from the West Coast (Washington State and Oregon), while there was not a single Finger Lakes Riesling.
Special Guest: Owner Denman Zirkle of Weingut Richard Böcking
Last year, we were honored by the visit of the 2013/14 German Wine Princes Sabine Wagner. The year before, Austrian Wine Importer Klaus Wittauer presented his portfolio to the guests. This year, Managing Partner Denman Zirkle showed us the wines of Weingut Richard Böcking.
Denman Zirkle is the driving force behind the revival of Weingut Richard Böcking in the Mosel. Denman Zirkle, a Virginia-based American, married into the Richard Böckling family while he was on an external assignment for IBM in Frankfurt. Since then, he has been a regular in the Mosel valley at Weingut Richard Böcking, with his late wife and their daughter Sigrid Carroll, who also grew up in the US.
In 2010, a decision faced the descendants of the Böckings, including Denman Zirkle and Sigrid Caroll: sell the traditional but marginally profitable winery and the accompanying vineyards, or pursue a new vision and awaken the winery to a new beginning? They opted for the latter and are now in the process of reestablishing the glory of Weingut Richard Böcking.
Denman Zirkle: Since 1624 the Böcking Family has been devoted to producing wines of the highest quality – crisp, fruity wines that are the finest a Riesling enthusiast can desire. The roots of the Böcking family can be traced to the early 17th Century, when the family was appointed regional treasurer under Prince Pfälz-Zweibrücken. Soon thereafter, the family became active in the budding wine production and trading business in Trabach, purchasing what may be the oldest Riesling vineyard on the Mosel, the Trabacher Ungsberg. The Trarbacher Schlossberg vineyard was purchased soon thereafter.
ombiasyPR and WineTours, and Panos Kakaviatos (Wine Chronicles and Decanter)
A few months ago, Weingut Richard Böcking got a nice write up in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (February 2015): Since 2011, Leweke Freifrau von Marschall, Denman Zirkle and Sigrid Carroll with winemaker Simon Trös, are trying to link to the great tradition of the Richard Böcking estate in Traben-Trarbach that was established in 1623, and made the Trarbacher Ungsberg (which was 50% planted with Riesling already in 1669) to one of the most prestigious vineyard sites in the Mosel until the late 18th century. For this report I tasted two vintages of the three Trarbach grands crus from ungrafted vines: Ungsberg, Schlossberg and Burgberg. Traditionally made in fuders or old barriques and kept on the lees until late July after the harvest, this is an estate to watch. - Stephan Reinhardt" - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (Issue #217, February 2015).
German Knackwurst and Potato Salad
The food was German Knackwurst with Potato Salad, the way Annette’s mother did it. I like it a bit different, i.e. the way my mother did it, but Annette’s Potato Salad was delicious.
The German Knackwurst was from Binkert in Baltimore. I drove all the way to their store the day before to buy 120 Knackwursts. They were all gone at the end of the party.
Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares.
Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall, Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.
Dry and Sweet Riesling
Many wine drinkers, in particular outside of Europe, when they see a Riesling in the shelves, have the association of a sweet-style wine. This is however misguided. Rieslings as a rule are dry wines. Of course, there are the famous sugar sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein and Schilfwein wines from Austria and Germany, the Sélection de Grains Nobles from France, the icewines from Canada and other Rieslings, made from botrytized, dried or frozen grapes.
The grapes that go into these wines have such a high sugar content that there is nothing you can do to make dry wines out of these grapes. They inevitably produce nobly sweet wines. But apart from these specialty wine, which account for only a tiny share of total production, Riesling grapes in Germany, Austria, Alsace, the US and Australia have normal sugar content at the time of fermentation and tend to produce dry wines, when fully fermented.
However, modern cellar methods allow winemakers in Germany (and elsewhere) to produce wines with a bit of residual sugar with these grapes. These are exceptional wines, essentially made by not letting the fermentation going its full course so that natural sugar remains in the wine. Alternatively, German winemakers are allowed to add sweet-reserve (sterilized grape juice) to increase the sweetness level in the wine, but today, this is mostly done, if at all, for fine tuning the residual sweetness. These fruity-sweet wines are the wines that are so popular among the fans of German wine in the world. These sweet-style wines have lost popularity in Germany, although there appears to be a comeback, but in any case remain very popular outside of Germany, for example in the US.
Red Wine Revolution in Germany
There is a red wine revolution going on in Germany and the world increasingly takes note of it. Of course, given its location, the red wines of Germany 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, the share of red wine in total German wine output was not more than 10 percent; in the international wine scene, people would not talk about German red wine. But this is changing. Germany now produces red wines that can compete with the best of the world; the share of red wines in terms of production has increased to about 35 percent now in Germany and increasingly the international market takes note of what is happening in Germany.
Janet Cam in Washington DC, USA
American Whiskey Producers in Germany
Wine Chronicles and Decanter
ombiasyPR and WineTours, Wine Educator Rob Stewart and Panos Kakaviatos, Wine Chronicles and Decanter
Pinot Noir in Germany
Today, Germany is the third biggest producer of Pinot Noir (called Spaetburgunder in Germany), after France and the US, with more planted than Australia and New Zealand combined. However, despite being the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir, the country exports just over 1% of its production.
Thanks to all our guests, who brought wonderful wine and a special thank to Mark J. Dryfoos, who came all the way down from New Jersey for the Riesling Party. Mark was on the last Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours and plans to come on the next Burgundy Tour by ombiasy WineTours.
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