Friday, September 27, 2019

Wine Dinner at Weingut Richard Böcking in Traben-Trarbach, Middle Mosel, with Owner Denman Zirkle - Germany-North Tour 2019 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential Riesling

Pictures: Wine Dinner at Weingut Richard Böcking in Traben-Trarbach, Middle Mosel, with Owner Denman Zirkle - Germany-North Tour 2019 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential Riesling

Following the tasting at Weingut Jos. Jos. Prüm in Wehlen:

Tasting at Weingut Jos. Jos. Prüm in Bernkastel-Wehlen, Mosel, with Amei Prüm - Germany-North Tour 2019 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential Riesling

we drove to Traben-Trabach for dinner at Weingut Richard Böcking, with Owner Denman Zirkle.

Weingut Richard Böcking is a Mosel producer with a long history that was virtually unknown a few years ago, but is now being revived. Interestingly, 2 of the main protagonists in the revival process – Deman Zirkle and his daughter Sigrid Caroll - are Americans and based in the US.

Denman Zirkle is an American, who married into the Richard Böcking family while he was on an external assignment for IBM in Frankfurt.

In 2010 it seemed wise to sell the estate but a new generation of Böckings (Denman Zirkle and Sigrid Caroll) hailing over from the United States invested heavily into the winery and a re-awakening of the historic wine estate took place. Today winery Richard Böcking again produces stunning Riesling wines in the best Mosel tradition.

Owner Denman Zirkle was our host. At the request of Annette, we had a traditional German dinner, which is bread with butter and cold-cuts.

Pictures: Arriving

History

Denman Zirkle: The entrepreneurial story of the Böckings began at the onset of the 17th Century with the formation of their trade and exchange company (“Handels and Wechselcomptoirs”). At the beginning of the 18th Century, the successful businessmen and financiers risked expanding into iron smelting and lumbering industries. Their growing reputation was enhanced by successful trading in wine, spices, coal, and salt, which led in the 18th Century to a trading monopoly negotiated with the Electorate of Trier for the area including Nassau-Saarbrücken and Pfalz-Zweibrücken; the upper reaches of the Mosel and the Saar. The Böckings, however, also attained a lucrative and dominant banking operation, a business that began with their position as the regional treasurer (“Landeskassierer”) for the Prince of Palatinate. Vestiges of their property, like the magnificent family residence overlooking the Mosel that Johann Adolph Böcking (1695-1770) built in 1750, can still be seen in Trarbach today. Since the 1970’s the Böcking villa has been home to the Mittel-Mosel-Museum.

In the 18th Century the prosperity of the Böcking family was at its zenith and had its greatest influence on the wealth of Traben and Trarbach. (The two towns were joined together in 1898 with a bridge that spanned the Mosel River and unified the two into a single municipal government in 1904.)

The fact that Traben-Trarbach was a Protestant enclave amidst a sovereign Catholic region made it the first connection for the wine trade with England, the Netherlands, the Protestant Church, and Friederich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, with whom Heinrich Böcking had a personal relationship.

In the middle of the 19th Century, the wine trade was a stable and self-sustaining industry. At the turn of the 20th Century, Traben Trarbach, along with Bordeaux, were the largest wine trading towns in Europe. During this period the Böckings acquired Ungsberg and Schlossberg, in Trarbach, and Geyerslay, in Wintrich, along with the present day Juffer and Juffer-Sonnenuhr, in Brauneberg-all vineyards with a reputation for exceptional quality.

The well-known 14th-Century “Kaisersaal,” or Rittersaal (Knights hall), is the largest secular building from the Middle Ages on the Mosel. This building, erected as a wine cellar for the vineyards (present-day Burgberg) located just below the Grevenburg Castle, was under the ownership of Louis Böcking and Franz Langguth. In the middle of the 20th Century the Langguths’ part of the building was purchased by the Böckings and, today, it is used for wine storage, guest events, and as the administrative office of the winery. After the devastating town fire of 1857, the foundation and walls of the 400-square meter (4,306 square feet) building remained, but the roof had to be rebuilt. While in need of repair, the building has a historic, romantic ambiance of yesteryear. Today, the Rittersaal stands not only as the center of the wine operation, but is a historic legacy of the Böcking family and the town’s once-mighty wine trade.

At the beginning of the 20th century, fortunes changed for the Böcking family. After ten generations of successful mercantilism, the entrepreneurial spirit of the family died in 1903 with Adolph Böcking. With the marriage of his daughter, not only did most of the family’s fortune pass into the ownership of the wine-trading dynasty of the Huesgen family, but also the prized vineyard of Geierslay as well. Though the Trarbach sites remained with the Böckings, they did not prosper in the historic and economic hardships that followed.

In 2010 a decision faced the descendants of the Böckings: sell the traditional but marginally profitable winery and the accompanying vineyards, or pursue a new vision and direction. The decision occupied the family; nostalgia and economics both needed consideration when reaching an agreement on the proper course to take.

Today a new generation of Böckings owns and manages the vineyard business. They have combined tradition and history with confidence and entrepreneurial vision to lead the family enterprise into the future and reestablish its international following.

Pictures: Sekt Reception

Vineyards

Denman Zirkle: The character of the wines is shaped by the distinctive, steep-slope Grand Cru vineyards. Richard Böcking has 17 acres under cultivation in vineyards that lie in Traben-Trarbach in the famed Middle Mosel River valley, one of the finest Riesling growing regions in the world. These vineyards are shown on the official Prussian vineyard map published at the end of the 19th Century, and their reputation as especially worthy slopes can be traced to the beginning of the 17th century.

The Grand Cru Böcking Vineyards: Trarbacher Schlossberg, Burgberg, Ungsberg and Hühnerberg. In these vineyards grow our “Alte Reben” (old vines) vines from 40-90 years old, along with more recent plantings. Among our Grand Cru vineyards, the Ungsberg is especially dear to our hearts, as it is here that our long family history is anchored. Evidence shows this vineyard was cultivated by the Romans. It was also an early area for cultivating healing herbs and salves. Over 25 different herbal varieties have been identified on its slopes.

The classic village vineyard: Trarbacher Taubenhau. Predominately from this vineyard comes our popular “Böcking Riesling.” This vineyard is a prominent member of the Trarbach community, and was an early example of how vintners came together and rebuilt old steep slopes into more efficient tracts.

Winemaking Philosophy

Denman Zirkle: Richard Böcking develops their wines by hand, from the vineyard to the bottle. Unadulterated; with an originality that can be produced only in a natural vineyard environment. From this tenet springs Böcking's fundamental philosophy—a philosophy of allowing a wine to develop naturally. In the steep-slope vineyards, this philosophy means the small vineyard parcels are cultivated individually and by hand. All wines are developed as bio-dynamically as possible, using naturally occurring yeast and introducing only the sparest amount of sulfur. This meticulous attention to natural agriculture and production create beautifully finished wines while sustaining the vineyards for the future.

Our Grand Cru wines are fermented spontaneously with native yeasts. For these wines we use the traditional 1,000-liter Mosel Fuder casks. For our more structured wines, we use smaller wooden barrels, such as older 225-liter barriques.

Our prized, ungrafted, old vines are found in our Grand Cru vineyards. From these vines we select, for our Grand Cru wines, the ripest and healthiest grapes, at just the right time. Many of these grapes are from “Alte Reben” or old growth vines.

The Grand Cru grapes are pressed, slowly and gently for twenty-four to thirty hours. All of our other wines are gently pressed for eight hours. Clarification of the must takes place naturally.

Pictures: Dinner

Denman Zirkle

Denman Zirkle is an American from Virginia. He married into the Böcking family while he was working for IBM in Frankfurt. His wife was the late Dagmar von Maltzahn, a granddaughter of Kurt Böcking.

Denman Zirkle’s first visit to Traben-Trarbach was in October 1971, just after the birth of his daughter Sigrid in Frankfurt. He returned with his family to the United States in 1974 to continue a professional career with IBM. Later on, his work took him to Franklin Templeton Investments, where he was an executive in finance and marketing. With his family, he often returned to Traben-Trarbach, usually to hike along the ridges overlooking the Mosel River.

In early 2014 he left his position as executive director of a Virginia foundation to begin working directly with the winery in Traben–Trarbach. Bringing his management and financial skills, he is now working with the team on the renovation of existing and newly-acquired vineyards and production facilities.

He was educated at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and received his M.B.A. degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Wines Denman Poured

Denman poured 8 wines.


NV Weingut Richard Böcking Privat Sekt Dry


2016 Weingut Richard Böcking Riesling Off-Dry


2018 Weingut Richard Böcking Weisburgunder Dry


2017 Weingut Richard Böcking Spätburgunder Rosé Dry


2016 Weingut Richard Böcking Devon Riesling Dry


2016 Weingut Richard Böcking Burgberg Dry


2016 Weingut Richard Böcking Schlossberg Off-Dry


2015 Weingut Richard Böcking Hühnerberg Dry


2015 Weingut Richard Böcking Schlossberg Spätlese M (Prädikat)


Bye-bye

Many thanks for a lovely dinner, Denman.

Pictures: Bye-bye

Looking Back: Weingut Richard Böcking at the 2015 Riesling Party

Denman Zirkle was the special guest at our 2015 Riesling Party in McLean, Virginia: Annual Riesling Party at the Schiller Residence in Washington DC, USA (2015)

Pictures: Denman Zirkle at our 2015 Riesling Party. See: Annual Riesling Party at the Schiller Residence in Washington DC, USA (2015)

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