Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The Dry and Ultra-premium Dry GG and GG Reserve Rieslings of Weingut Dr. Loosen – Ernie Loosen in Washington DC
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 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. I already reported about the Mac Arthur Beverages event here: Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages: The Doctor was Back in the House - A Rare In-Store Visit from Dr. Loosen, USA
Interestingly, while Ernie presented at MacArthur Beverages’ his full range of wines, including trocken (dry), fruity-sweet and noble-sweet wines, at the seminar with the movers and shakers of the Washington DC wine scene he poured his dry wines only, including 4 ultra-premium (Grosses Gewächs) wines.
Only Dry Rieslings
At this year’s Rieslingfeier in New York, an annual event with German top winemakers celebrating German Riesling, Josi Leitz from Weingut Leitz, well known for his fruity-sweet wines, poured only dry wines at the “Gränd Tasting”, including ultra-premium GG wines. “Well, everyone who has his/her ears to the ground knows what is happening in the US market as far as German wine is concerned” Josi said.
Along the same lines, Ernst Loosen, well known for his fruit-sweet Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese wines and noble-sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein wines: “There is a growing interest in the trocken style. Therefore, I decided a few years ago to supplement the Dr. Loosen wine portfolio with dry wines, including ultra-premium dry GG wines”. But I will never give up making my delicious Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese wines, Ernst said.
At a recent tasting at the American Wine Society under the title “The New Germany: Dry, Red and Sparkling” Annette Schiller poured dry German wines only, reflecting the growing interest for German dry (and red) wines in the American market. See: The New Germany (from an American Perspective): Dry, Red and Sparkling – Tasting at the American Wine Society with Annette Schiller, USA/ Germany
Ernst Loosen and Dry Mosel Rieslings
100 years ago, Mosel wines, and more generally, German wines, were all dry (except for the rare noble-sweet wines) as winemakers were not able to make low alcohol, fruity-sweet Kabinett, Spätlese or Auslese wines. This changed with the invention of sterile filtration, enabling winemakers to interrupt the fermentation and bottle low alcohol wine with residual sugar, without fear of bacterial spoilage. Until the invention of sterile filtration, German wines were dry. Fermentation continued until all the sugar was consumed, leaving only miscellaneous unfermentable sugars. Only the occasional sweet rarity, made from extremely ripe grapes, kept any residual sugar.
On his father’s side, Ernie said, wines were always produced in a dry style, while on his mother’s side (his mother came from the Prüm family), after the technique to make fruity-sweet wines became available, wines were always made in a sweet style.
Weingut Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel Valley, Germany
Ernst poured 3 entry-level dry wines and 4 ultra-premium dry wines (Grosses Gewächs wines).
What is a Grosses Gewächs - 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.
GG Reserve Wines
In addition to 3 GG wines, Ernst also poured a GG Reserve wine. While the GGs are released 12 months after harvest, the GG Reserve wines aged longer.
Ernst Loosen: “These Reserve Rieslings are a unique approach to Grosses Gewächs wines, which are dry Riesling from the top Grosse Lagen (Grand Cru) vineyards. I am returning to the traditions of my great grandfather who produced exclusively dry Riesling from our best vineyards and aged them for 24 to 36 months in large oak Fuder barrels. I have always believed that dry German Riesling deserved the same respect internationally as sweet Riesling, which has not been the case up to now. With the Grosses Gewächs Riesling Reserve, I feel we are now at the level of excellence I have been striving for over the last 25 years.”
The Wines we Tasted
Here are the wines Ernst poured. In addition to my own notes, I am copying the tasting notes of Todd Goddbout from the WineCompass blog, who also attended the tasting and wrote about it, here: Ernst Loosen Comes To Town to Discuss Dry Riesling
2014 Villa Wolf Dry Riesling (US $12)
This is an entry-level Riesling from the weathered sandstone soils of the Pfalz region, made in the traditional, medium-bodied dry stale of the Pfalz region. Ernst Loosen purchased Weingut Villa Wolf a number of years ago.
2014 Dr. L Riesling Dry (US $12)
This is a relatively new wine. While the Dr. L Riesling (with some residual sugar) has been around for a while, the Dr. L Riesling Dry is being introduced to the US market now, relfecting the groing interest for the dry style German wines.
Clean, crisp and fruity, this wine is produced from contracted growers throughout the Mosel valley. A perfect introduction to the world of dry Mosel Riesling.
Todd Goddbout – WineCompass: This is the winery's entry level wine made from contracted fruit that Dr. Loosen's vineyard manager oversees. Most of these vineyards reside in blue slate soils. For such an inexpensive wine there is a pronounced floral aroma, a touch of minerals and racy acids.
2014 Dr. Loosen “Red Slate” Riesling Dry (US $18)
This dry Riesling is produced exclusively with fruit from estate-owned vineyards with red slate soils. It is fermented naturally in 3000 liter, neutral oak casks and kept on the full lees for 12 months.
Todd Goddbout – WineCompass: This wine is made from red slate estate vineyards in Erden and Ürzig and fermented on its less for 12 months in the 3,000-liter oak casks. This is a richer, rounder, and more elegant wine, with intense minerals that compliment the citrus profile. The finish is more subdued but plenty refreshing.
2013 Wehlener Sonnenuhr (The Sundial of Wehlen) Riesling GG Alte Reben (US $54)
Wehlener Sonnenuhr is one of greatest vineyards in the middle Mosel, one of Weingut Dr. Loosen’s Grosse Lage vineyards. Made from old vines (Alte Reben) that have been fermented in traditional 1000 liter Fuder casks and the wines are left on the full lees for 12 months.
Todd Goddbout – WineCompass: This single vineyard GG wine comes from the steep and rocky blue slate vineyard (VAY-len-er ZON-en-ooer) where the vines are well over 100 years old. The wine is fermented and aged in traditional 1,000-liter Fuder casks on less for one year. The result is a full bodied, yet feminine wine showing more apple over citrus and still plenty of acids for a refreshing finish. Ernst refers to this wine as a graceful ballet dancer.
2012 Erdener Treppchen (The Little Staircase of Erden) Riesling GG Alte Reben (US $54)
Made from old vines (Alte Reben) that have been fermented in traditional 1000 liter Fuder casks and the wines are left on the full lees for 12 months.
Todd Goddbout – WineCompass: Long ago, in order to tend the vines, workers built stone steeps into the hillside of this red slate vineyard. Ernst referred to this wine as a "mountain climber", not only referencing the stone steps, but also because it is a muscular wine - complex and intense. There is also a considerable mineral content - almost minty in flavor that helps transition the wine from its wet stone aroma to the finish.
2013 Ürziger Würzgarten (The Spice Garden of Ürzig) Riesling GG Alte Reben (US $54)
The Ürziger Würzgarten vineyard is planted on red volcanic sandstone producing richer, more tropical wines. This GG is kept in the Fuder caks for 12 months before bottling.
Todd Goddbout – WineCompass: The steep Ürziger Würzgarten (ERTS-ih-ger VERTS-gar-ten) vineyard was planted in red volcanic soil over 100+ years ago. Like the other GG wines, this one is fermented and aged in Fuder cask for one year before bottling. The herbal aroma is overpowering with the palate exploding with tropical and mineral driven flavors. Another intense offering.
2012 Ürziger Würzgarten (The Spice Garden of Ürzig) Riesling GG Alte Reben Reserve (US $92)
This is the same wine as the Ürziger Würzgarten GG but with an extra 12 months in the 1000 liter Fuder cask before being bottled. This stunning wine is richer and more complex, and the acidity more integrated. This is only the second vintage that Weingut Dr. Loosen has made a GG Reserve.
Todd Goddbout – WineCompass: This reserve wine is the same fruit from the previous wine, but kept in oak for 24 months and then aged a year in the bottle before release. Whereas the GG version was intense, this wine is smooth and elegant - almost delicate. The acids are soft, but still refreshing. Fantastic.
Thanks Ernst for a very informative and entertaining event. All the best with your outstanding dry wines.
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