Monday, March 28, 2016
Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages Presents the new Vintage (2014) to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter), USA/ Germany
The annual “New German Vintage” tasting of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) around February/March/April, led by Phil Bernstein, is always a highlight for the German wine aficionados in the Washington DC area. Phil Bernstein is very entertaining and knowledgeable about German wine. He knows more about German wine than many of my wine friends in Germany. He is in charge of German wines at MacArthur Beverages, one of the best German wine retailers in the country.
This year again, we were at full capacity with 60 German wine lovers attending. Thank you very much Phil for a great event.
Grosses Gewächs (GG), Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese
The MacArthur German wine portfolio represents very well the traditional, classic German wine selection in the US market: Heavy on wines from the Mosel region, heavy on Riesling and heavy on wines with residual sweetness. Accordingly, all the wines we tasted were Rieslings, 4 of the 11 wines were from the Mosel region and Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese flights, with increasing residual sweetness, were at the center of the tasting. As a novelty this year, Phil Bernstein also featured prominently a Grosses Gewächs (GG) flight. GGs are the new category of ultra-premium dry German wines that are increasingly gaining popularity around the world. We started the tasting with 3 entry-level wines.
As in previous years, Phil Bernstein did not present any red wines. Indeed, the MacArthur portfolio includes only a negligible number of red wines. Yet, about 1/3 of the Germany’s wine output is red wine. Germany has become one of the leading Pinot Noir producers in the world. At a recent Decanter (the British wine journal) tasting of Pinot Noirs around the world excluding Burgundy, a German Pinot Noir from the Ahr region (Weingut Jean Stodden) was selected has the best wine. But the US market is very slow in discovering what Germany now has to offer in terms of premium and ultra-premium red wines. German red wines are difficult to find in the US. Hopefully, this will change.
As in previous years, Phil Bernstein showed only Rieslings. Yet, Riesling accounts for only 1/3 of the German white wine production. 2/3 is accounted for by other grape varieties. Among the non-Riesling grape varieties, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) are increasingly being planted. Why bother with these other grape varieties, many German wine lovers in the US say. But Germany has become the #1 Pinot Blanc producer in the world and the #2 Pinot Gris producer in the world (as well as the #3 Pinot Noir producer in the world).
Unlike in previous years, a Grosses Gewächs (GG) flight figured prominently in Phil Bernstein’s tasting this year. GGs is the new category of ultra-premium wines dry wines of VDP producers, the association of about 200 elite wine producers in Germany.
What is a GG? In a nutshell, the VDP is moving to a classification system that resembles very much the classification system in the Bourgogne. The classification of the VDP puts the terroir principle at the center of its classification approach. With the latest modifications of 2012, the absolutely finest vineyards are called Grosse Lage and dry wines from these super top vineyards are called Grosses Gewächs. Grosses Gewächs wines are the finest dry wines from Germany’s finest vineyards.
To qualify for the Grosses Gewächs label, a number of criteria need to be respected. (i) The fruit has to come from a Grosse Lage vineyard. (ii) At harvest, the grapes need to be at least at Spätlese level in terms of the sugar content. (iii) Only certain – typical - grape varieties are allowed, including Riesling and Spätburgunder. (iv) Further restrictions apply: there are yield restrictions; only hand picking of grapes is permitted and harvest must be late in the autumn.
The 2014 Vintage in Germany
John Gilman calls the 2014, "A roller coaster of a year which turned out very, very well at the top estates and there are some absolutely superb wines in the pipeline that are going to delight lovers of classic German wines. The wines tend to be elegant and pure rather than powerful."
Terry Theise: “This is the vintage where you finally learn what the “H” stands for in Jesus H. Christ, because that’s what you’ll be saying over and over again.”
2014 Dragonstone Riesling Weingut Leitz (US$ 15.99)
Schatzi Wines: While Johannes’ dry wines solidified his reputation in Germany and throughout Europe, no other wine made him as popular in the US as did Dragonstone. Coming from the Rüdesheimer Drachenstein, the pure quartzite soil, being a silicate, lends a saltiness to the orange citrus-flavored wine which buffers the acidity and counterbalances the palpable sugar. When it was first produced, the residual sugar of this wine was near 80 grams/liter (2002 vintage); the wine now hovers around 40 grams/liter—the perfect balance for this style of wine. Hands down, Dragonstone is Josi’s most successful wine in the United States because it delivers a quality level well above its price point.
We have scheduled a visit of Weingut Johannes Leitz during the forthcoming Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2016): Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY
2014 Graacher Riesling Weingut Willi Schäfer Feinherb (US19.99)
2014 Pur Mineral Riesling Weingut Fürst Trocken (US$26.99)
Pinot Noir Legend Paul Fürst, Weingut Rudolf Fürst in Bürgstadt, Franken – Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
2014 Hermannshöhle Riesling Weingut Dönnhoff Grosses Gewächs (US72.99)
Weingut Dönnhoff is in a transition period with Cornelius Dönnhoff taking over from his father Helmut and this is creating a bit of a discussion in German wine circles. While the leading German wine guide, Gault Millau Deutschland WeinGuide, demoted Weingut Dönnhoff and took away its 5th grape, New York and Berlin based Riesling expert Stuart Pigott made Cornelius Dönnhoff his Winemaker of the Year, see: Cornelius Dönnhoff, Weingut Dönnhoff: Stuart Pigott’s Winemaker of the Year, Germany
John Gilman: “Aromatic mélange of grapefruit, tart orange, slate, wild yeast, citrus peel. Really superb.”
Weingut Dönnhoff with Christina Dönnhoff – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
2014 Felseneck Riesling Weingut Schäfer Fröhlich Grosses Gewächs (US$69.99)
John Gilman: “Complex and very precise nose of grapefruit, lemon, smoke, slate, wild yeasts, citrus peel and topnote of lemongrass. Great, great juice.”
2014 Drohner Hofberg Weingut AJ Adam Riesling Kabinett (US$31.99)
Terry Theise: It's all steel; light and spicy, old-school Kab, really salty, high-pitched. There's even an agreeable tartness -and super length.
2014 Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Weingut Dönnhoff Kabinett (US24.99)
Terry Theise: What a fragrance! Palate is racy, mineral, charming and complex, begging drink-me! stunning finish.
2014 Felseneck Riesling Weingut Schäfer Fröhlich Spätlese (US39.99)
John Gilman: “Complex blend of white cherries, apple, wild yeasts, a profound base of slate, bee pollen and just a whisper of petrol. Great Spätlese in the making.”
2014 Felseneck Riesling Weingut Schäfer Fröhlich Spätlese Goldkapsel (US49.99)
John Gilman: “Electric bouquet of apple, pear, very complex slate tones, spring flowers, ornage zest. A brilliant wine.”
We have scheduled a visit of Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich during the forthcoming Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2016): Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY
2014 Rausch Riesling Weingut Zilliken Auslese (US79.99)
Weingut Zilliken is one of the few German wine producers that almost exclusively makes sweet-style wines and exports about 90% of its wines. It will be interesting to see, if this approach continues with Dorothea Zilliken taking over from her father Hanno Zilliken, see: Dorothee Zilliken, Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken Presents her Noble Rieslings at Frankfurt/Wein in Frankfurt, Germany
John Gilman: “Lovely bouquet of pineapple, lemon, honeycomb, salty soil tones, white flowers and a dollop of slate minerality in the upper register. Beautiful.”
We have scheduled a visit of Weingut Zilliken during the forthcoming Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2016): Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY
Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken Presents her Noble Rieslings at Frankfurt/Wein in Frankfurt, Germany
2014 Niederberg Helden Riesling Weingut Schloss Lieser Thomas Haag Auslese Goldkapsel (US73.99)
John Gilman: “Botrytis influenced. Complex and beautiful glazed nose of peach, tangerine, flowers, slate, honeycomb and citrus zest. Fine juice.”
We have scheduled a visit of Weingut Schloss Lieser during the forthcoming Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2016): Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY
Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015
Previous Years' “New German Vintage” Tastings of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter)
For previous years, see:
German Riesling - What the American Market Wants: Vintage 2013 Tasting with German Wine Expert Phil Bernstein, MacArthur Beverages, Washington DC
The Annual “New German Vintage” Tasting of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) led by Phil Bernstein - 2012 Vintage, Germany/USA
German Wine: Tasting with Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages the 2011 Vintage in Washington DC, USA
The 2010 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society (Aaron Nix-Gomez)
Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness
schiller-wine: Related Postings
Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY
Tasting and Tour with the Pinot Noir Legend Paul Fürst, Weingut Rudolf Fürst in Bürgstadt, Franken – Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Dorothee Zilliken, Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken Presents her Noble Rieslings at Frankfurt/Wein in Frankfurt, Germany
Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser, Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015