Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lunch with Christian L. Stahl, Winzerhof Stahl, Franken: Not only a Gifted Winemaker but also a Gifted Chef - Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Picture: Chef Christian L. Stahl and Winzerhof Stahl Wines

In Germany, among wine aficiniados, it is well known that Christian L. Stahl is an outstanding winemaker. German wine lovers in the Washington DC, New York City, Boston and Chicago areas know that as well, as Christian has started to export to the US and is focusing for the time being on these 4 areas.

Not so well known on both sides of the Atlantic is that Christian L. Stahl is also an outstanding chef. He demonstrated his abilities to us when he prepared a most exquisite 5 course luncheon for us. Christian was in the kitchen cooking for us. Of course, he served his wonderful wines with the meal that in my view was at  the 1 Michelin star level.

Our visit of Winzerhof Stahl showed that Winzerhof Stahl has 2 pillars: outstanding wine and outstanding food.

Pictures: Winzerhof Stahl in Franken

Winzerhof Stahl

Winzerhof Stahl is located in Auernhofen in the Franken wine area. Winemaking is only a recent activity in the Stahl family. Until the mid-1980s, Winzerhof Stahl did not exist. The Stahl family was doing farming and did not make any wine. Christian’s father then decided to acquire vineyards and to shift to winemaking. Today, the vineyard area totals 20 hectares. Winzerhof Stahl also includes a wine restaurant with 200 seats; the food there is at the highest level, as are the Winzerhof Stahl wines.

Pictures: Welcome


There are various options for eating at Winzerhof Stahl.

We ate lunch at the newly built "Vinothek". The Vinothek is open from April to December on Friday and Saturday. Here, the fine dining meals such as ours are served. You must make a reservation well in advance.

The "Weingiesserei" is open from January to March on Thrusday to Saturday. The Weingiesserei is a modern Franconian "Heckenwirtschaft". Under the law, winemakers are allowed to open their doors for a limited time period to serve their wines and local dishes. The Weingiesserei has Heckenwirtschaft classics as well as fine Franconian cuisine.

In addition, Winzerhof Stahl, including its large court and the cosy garden, is a perfect location for weddings and other special events and people take advantage of it.

On the Winzerhof Stahl website, Christian Stahl labels himself as "Winemaker and Chef". He is supported by Christoph Götz (food and animals) and M.v. Dungen (Vineyard).

Pictures: Winemaker and Chef Christian L. Stahl

Winemaker Christian L. Stahl

With 3/5 grapes in the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2016, Christian L. Stahl, Winzerhof Stahl, belongs to the elite of winemakers in Germany. Winzerhof Stahl is in Franken. Like so many other colleagues from this region, Christian L. Stahl’s Franken wines are virtually unknown outside of Germany.

Within Germany, however, Christian has shown a very strong performance. When Christian Stahl took over the winery of his parents about 10 years ago, the vineyard area totaled 2 hectares. Within a decade, he has gone to 20 hectares. When Christian Stahl took over, the winery was not even mentioned in Germany’s wine guides, like the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland. Within a decade, he has gone from 0/5 to 3/5 grapes. Christian got the second grape in 2012 and the third grape in 2014.

See here:
New Generation – The 111 Best Young German Winemakers (A Listing by Stuart Pigott)
Best German Wines and Winemakers – Stuart Pigott’s Favorites (December 2014)
Best German Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff Deutschland Wine Trophies 2012

Born in 1978, Christian has been in charge of Winzerhof Stahl since 2005. He started his education at Weingut Stein in Würzburg (apprenticeship) in 1999, then spent some time with the biodynamic winemaker Jakob-Peter Kühn in the Rheingau and finished his studies with a Diploma at the Geisenheim University.

Picture: The Stahl Family (Facebook)

Dry, Fresh, Crisp White Wines

All of the wines of Winzerhof Stahl are bone-dry. He does not produce any sweet-style (fruity-sweet or noble-sweet) wines. Many wine drinkers, in particular outside of Europe, when they see a German wine in the shelves, have the association of a sweet-style wine. This is however misguided. German wines as a rule are dry wines.

Steffen Christmann, the President of the VDP, the German elite wine maker association, estimates that 95% of German wine beyond a price point of Euro 15 is dry. Christian Witte, Domain Administrator of Schloss Johannisberg, says that 85% of the wines he exports to the US are sweet-style. This was 95% 10 years ago. Thus, with his bone-dry wines, Christian L. Stahl is in a niche in the American market, but in a rapidly expanding niche as the world discovers German dry wine.

Wine Classification

Christian Stahl belongs to the group of German winemakers, who go their own way in terms of classifying and naming their wines. Also, he does not sell his wines in the traditional Bocksbeutel bottle, as most of his colleagues do in Franken, but in regular bottles, as in the rest of Germany. Right from the beginning when he took over, he has been using screw caps only.

With regard to classifying his wines, Christian disregards the German (standard) classification of 1971 and markets all his wines as Qualitätswein b.A. But he is not in the group of winemakers, who have instead adopted the VDP approach to classify their wines. He has developed his own, innovative classification system, playing with his name Stahl (= steel).

Christian Stahl groups his wines into 3 categories:

Top: Edel STAHL (= precious steel)
Entry: feder STAHL

Stahl Wines in the USA

Christian decided to start exporting to the US in 2016. He focuses on the Washington DC, Chicago and New York markets. See: Welcome to the USA: Christian L. Stahl from Winzerhof Stahl in Franken, Germany

Picture: Christian L. and Simone Stahl at Cleveland Park Fine Wines and Liquor Store in Washington DC, with Importer Chris Bartha, General Manager Anthony Quinn and Christian Schiller.

When Christian came for the second time, he was the guest of honor at our annual Riesling Party: Annette and Christian Schiller’s Summer of Riesling 2016 in McLean, Virginia, with German Star Winemaker Christian L. Stahl, German Wine Journalist Joachim A.J. Kaiser and Virginia Star Winemaker Chris Pearmund

Pictures: Christian Stahl at Annette and Christian Schiller’s Summer of Riesling 2016 in McLean, Virginia

In January 2017 Annette organized a winemaker dinner with him at Evo Bistro in McLean, Virginia. 50 people showed up for the dinner (US$110) and had a great time with the outstanding wines of Christian L. Stahl and outstanding food of Chef Driss.

Picture: Winemaker Dinner with Christian L. Stahl at Evo Bistro in McLean, VA

Before the dinner, Annette and Christian Schiller, had invited to a reception with Christian L. Stahl had their private home. We had Rappahanock oysters from Virginia and Stahl wine. They paired very well.

Pictures: Oysters and Stahl Wines

I had met Christian some time ago in Germany at the top Restaurant SchauMahl in Frankfurt/ Germany, were he came for a winemaker dinner.

Pictures: Christian Schiller and Annette Schiller with Christian Stahl in Frankfurt. See: The Bistronomics Cuisine of Chef Christoph Kubenz and the Wines of Winemaker Christian Stahl at Restaurant schauMahl in Frankfurt, Germany

1 Star Michelin Level Lunch at the Vinothek of Winzerhof Stahl, with Chef and Winemaker Christian L. Stahl

The lunch was served in the Vinothek of Winzerhof Stahl, with the wines of Winzerhof Christian L. Stahl. The food was excellent, both in terms of presentation and taste. It was at a level that I have experienced in 1 star Michelin restaurants.

Christian L. Stahl cooked the food for us. He came out to the table for every cours to explain the cours and the wines.

EDELSTAHL – Brause! 2015
Misobutter, Tomatenbutter, Wood Oven Bread

Damaszener Stahl
Scheurebe [Botenstoff] 2016 trocken
Scallops – Celery – Pineapple – Elderflower – Rice – Coconut

EHL STAHL Sauvignon blanc 2016 trocken
Hamachi - Avocado - Oliveoil-infused Cucumber - Soy Burrata Pearls - Tomatoskin

Damaszener Stahl – Hasennest Müller Thurgau 2016 trocken &
Red Mullet – Fennel - Orangesphere - Fried Nori – Sauce Rouille

roter stahl – barrique 2011 trocken
Dove – Breast & Leg – Aspargus – Bulgur – Chilantro – Brownbutter - Foam

Cassiss Sorbet – Vanilla Ice – Fruits - Cake


Thanks Christian for a 1-star Michelin level lunch with your top wines.

Picture: Bye-bye

Postings: Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

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Michelin-star Level Winepairing Dinner at Winzerhof Stahl, Franken, Prepared by Winemaker/ Chef Christian Stahl

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