Thursday, April 14, 2016

Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages: The Doctor was Back in the House - A Rare In-Store Visit from Dr. Loosen, USA

Pictures: Phil Bernstein and Ernst Loosen

Ernst Loosen, one of Germany’s most iconic winemakers, was in town (Washington DC, USA) for a series of events, including a seminar with sommeliers, bloggers and journalists at Cork Market on 14th Street (where Ernie poured his dry wines only, including 4 Grosses Gewächs wines. See: A New Dr. Loosen Project Setting the Standard for Dry German Rieslings. I will report separately about the seminar) and a winemaker dinner at Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s Range Restaurant.

Before the dinner, Ernie stopped at MacArthur Beverages, the leading wine store for German wine in the Greater Washington DC area, for a 2 hours tasting, where he presented with MacArthur’s German Wine Guru Phil Bernstein his full range of wines, including trocken, fruity-sweet and noble-sweet wines.

Pictures: Meet and Greet with Dr. Loosen at MacArthur Beverages 


Phil Bernstein: Please join us "in-store" Monday afternoon for a rare DC appearance from one of the wine world's most charismatic figures. Ernie is on a short US tour and has generously agreed to come by for a few hours for a tasting and bottle signing. (The afternoon in-store tasting and "meet and greet" is at MacArthur Beverage and FREE. The evening tasting and dinner is at RANGE by Bryan Voltaggio, RSVP separately here).

Phil Bernstein chose the header for the invitation - The Doctor is Back in the House - A Rare In-Store Visit from Dr. Loosen - in reference to a Dr. Loosen tasting at Mac Arthur Beverages a couple of years ago: The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

Pictures: The Tasting

Ernst Loosen and the Dr. Loosen Estate

Phil Bernstein: Ernst Loosen was born into a great tradition of German winemaking. The Dr. Loosen estate on the Mosel River has been in his family for over 200 years, so you'd think it only natural for him to take up the family legacy as a profession. The truth is, though, that as a youngster Ernst was more fascinated by the numerous Roman ruins in the area than by the family vineyards. So he went off to college to study archaeology.

In the mid-1980s, however, Ernst was faced with a decision. His father fell ill and was ready to turn the estate over to the next generation, but none of his brothers or sisters was old enough or interested enough to take it on. Happily, as it turns out, Ernst agreed to take on the estate and finally found his true calling among the broken slate of his family's vineyards rather than the hewn stones of an old Roman ruin.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Christian Schiller and Ernst Loosen. We visit Weingut Dr. Loosen regularly on the Germany by ombiasy WineTours. See: Wine Tasting at Weingut Dr. Loosen in Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel – Germany-North by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Having made the decision, Ernst dove into winemaking with his customary fervor. He had already completed studies at Geisenheim, Germany's renowned winemaking school, and now he embarked on a self-directed review of the great wines of the world. He traveled to Austria, to Burgundy and Alsace, even to California and Australia. He went wherever great wine was being made, seeking out the best winemakers to find out what they had in common. What he discovered was that they all share a dedication to producing intense, concentrated wines that boldly proclaim their heritage. And they all ascribed to the philosophy that a great wine begins in your head - that is, you must have a clear vision of what you are striving for, before you pick a single grape.

They also have a worldly outlook that allows them to maintain respect for tradition while allowing judicious use of improved viticultural practices and modern winemaking techniques when they will improve quality. It is a philosophy that balances the old with the new. It is a way of thinking that has allowed him to move beyond the easy and familiar, the tried and not necessarily so true, to make wines that stand out as truly distinctive and world-class.

When Ernst Loosen assumed control of the Dr. Loosen estate in 1988, he recognized a lot of potential that was going unused. His father and grandfather had both been more involved in politics than winemaking, so nothing much had been done to maintain the vineyards or update the cellar. Because his predecessors had been unwilling to invest in new vines for what was essentially a family hobby, Ernst inherited a good number of ungrafted vines that were well over 100 years old - vines perfectly suited to the low-yield, highly concentrated style he wanted to produce.

Picture: Ernst Loosen Signing his Bottles

Picture: Annette Schiller Introducing Robert Petry, Wine Rep

 Picture: Ernst Loosen and Al Friedman from the German Wine Society

Picture: Molly Sweeny from Dr. Loosen Bros. and Phil Bernstein

His father's neglect of the cellar also ended up working in Ernst's favor. With no high-tech equipment to tempt them, Ernst and his cellarmaster had no choice but to make wines in a minimalist manner, with very little handling and long, slow fermentations.

Since Ernst took over, Dr. Loosen wines have received countless awards and glowing reviews in the press. The estate has become a member of the prestigious VDP, Germany's association of top-rated wine estates, and has been named one of the 10 best estates in Germany by nearly every wine publication worldwide. Ernst was named Germany's Winemaker of the Year in the 2001 edition of Gault Millau's Weinguide Deutschland and Decanter magazine's Man of the Year in 2005.

Ever restless for new adventures, in 1996 Ernst took over the historic J.L. Wolf estate, in the Pfalz region of Germany. Here he produces the more full-bodied style of Rhine valley Riesling, as well as the Pinot varieties that are traditional in that area.

Looking to the New World to rejuvenate the image of Riesling, in 1999 Ernst entered into a joint venture with Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state. Together they produce a Washington Riesling, called Eroica, which has set a new bar for expressive, top-quality Riesling in the United States. The wine is regularly praised as the finest example of American Riesling currently being produced.

Pictures: Ernst Loosen, Annette Schiller and Christian Schiller at Weingut Dr. Loosen. See: Ernst Loosen Presented his Wines at Weingut Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel Valley, Germany

What Ernst Loosen Poured

Dr. Loosen Sparkling Riesling Dr. L

Dr. L Sparkling Riesling is 100% pure Riesling - the crisp, fruity grape that has made German wine famous for centuries. It is made using the Charmat method, where the second fermentation is done in a pressurized tank to keep the bubbles in the wine. This method produces bright, clean sparkling wines in a more affordable way, which makes it possible to offer this charming bubbler at a very nice everyday price. Sale: US$11.99

2013 Dr. Loosen Riesling trocken GG Alte Reben Wehlener Sonnenuhr

Pale lemon yellow in color, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling trocken GG Alte Reben comes from 70- to 75-year-old vines and displays a pure, deep and enormously complex and mineral-scented aroma of flintstones, crushed slate and herbs, which makes the Sonnenuhr an outstanding wine of the portfolio. This finding is confirmed on the palate which is complex, piquant, pure, juicy and throughout elegant. The finish is complex and very long and gives this wine a great potential to develop over the next 15 years or more. 93 pts. Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate. Sale: US$46.99

2014 Dr. Loosen Kabinett Bernkasteler Lay

Bernkasteler Lay (pronounced LIE) is situated between the Dr. Loosen estate house and the village of Bernkastel. The soil is predominantly slate, but is heavier and deeper than in the neighboring villages of Wehlen and Graach. This site also has a slightly gentler slope than the estate's other vineyards. It produces richly textured, assertive wines. Sale: US$26.99

2012 Dr. Loosen Spätlese Ürziger Würzgarten

Blazing red and insanely steep, the Ürziger Würzgarten (ERTS-ih-ger VERTS-gar-ten) vineyard fills the picturesque amphitheater formed by this dramatic bend in the river. It produces wines with exotic, spicy aromas that are bursting with tropical fruit flavors. The estate's oldest vines are found here. Sale: US$29.99

2013 Dr. Loosen Riesling Beerenauslese

Beerenauslese (pronounced BEAR-en OWS-lay-zuh) means "berry selection" in German. It is an intense, ultra-concentrated dessert wine made from hand-selected grapes that have been shriveled about halfway to raisins by botrytis (the "Noble Rot"). BA has the same minimum must weight as Eiswein, so they have about the same sweetness. But BA has the distinct honeyed character that comes from botrytis, giving the wines a more complex aroma and a lusher texture. Sale: US$24.99 (187ml tubes)

Following: Dinner at Range

Following the tasting session at MacArthur Beverages, we drove to Chevy Chase for an amazing wine pairing dinner with the wines of Ernst Loosen, including an Oregon Pinot Noir, a joint venture with Jay Summers, and the food of Brian Voltaggio.

Picture: At the Winemaker Dinner at Range

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wine Tasting at Weingut Dr. Loosen in Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel – Germany-North by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY 

A New Dr. Loosen Project Setting the Standard for Dry German Rieslings

Riesling from Germany and Pinot Noir from Oregon: A Winemaker Dinner with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen and J.Christopher Wines, at Black Salt in Washington DC

Riesling, Pinot Noir and Indian Cuisine: A tête-à-tête Dinner with Winemaker Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at Rasika in Washington DC, USA

Ernst Loosen and Dr. L. Riesling - His Hugely Popular Entry-level Wine Sold Throughout the World

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

Riesling Revolution in China: Weingut Dr. Loosen, Germany, Domaine Hugel et Fils, Alsace and Jim Barry, Australia - China Tour to Promote Riesling

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

The World of Riesling in Seattle - Fourth Riesling Rendezvous in Washington State, USA

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