Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Riesling Cup 2009 - Germany's Top Dry 2007 Rieslings

Der Feinschmecker is the leading German Gourmet and Wine Journal.

Every year the Feinschmecker awards the Riesling Cup for the best dry German Rieslings. In 2009, 460 wineries from all over Germany took part in the competition and submitted their best dry Rieslings from the vintage 2007.

Die 13 best dry German Rieslings of the vintage 2007 are:

01. Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Münster-Sarmsheim (Anbaugebiet Nahe)
für den 2007er Münsterer Pittersberg Riesling QbA trocken
"Großes Gewächs"

02. Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff, Oberhausen (Anbaugebiet Nahe)
für den 2007er Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling QbA trocken
"Großes Gewächs"

03. Weingut Klaus Keller, Flörsheim-Dalsheim (Anbaugebiet
Rheinhessen) für den 2007er "Von der Fels" Riesling QbA trocken

04. Weingut Gebrüder Kauer, Windesheim (Anbaugebiet Nahe)
für den 2007er "Vom roten Sandstein" Riesling QbA trocken

05. Weingut Wittmann, Westhofen (Anbaugebiet Rheinhessen)
für den 2007er Westhofener Morstein Riesling QbA trocken
"Großes Gewächs"

06. Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenau (Anbaugebiet Nahe)
für den 2007er Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling QbA trocken
"Großes Gewächs"

07. Weingut Kanzlerhof, Pölich (Anbaugebiet Mosel) für die
2007er Pölicher Held Riesling Spätlese trocken "S"

08. Weingut Fritz Haag, Brauneberg (Anbaugebiet Mosel)
für die 2007er Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr
Riesling Spätlese trocken

09. Klosterweingut Abtei Sankt Hildegard, Rüdesheim
(Anbaugebiet Rheingau) für die 2007er "Domus Domini"
Riesling Spätlese trocken

10. Weingut Emrich-Schönleber, Monzingen (Anbaugebiet Nahe)
für den 2007er Halenberg Riesling QbA trocken "Großes Gewächs"

11. Weingut Erik Sommer, Siefersheim (Anbaugebiet Rheinhessen)
für den 2007er Siefersheimer Heerkretz "Max" Riesling QbA trocken

12. Weingut Josef Biffar, Deidesheim (Anbaugebiet Pfalz)
für den Deidesheimer Kieselberg "Große Hohl" Riesling QbA
trocken "Großes Gewächs"

13. Weingut F. B. Schönleber, Oestrich-Winkel (Rheingau)
für die 2007er Erbacher Steinmorgen Riesling Spätlese trocken

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller

The strong showing of the Nahe and Rheinhessen regions is impressive. The Nahe is a very small wine region between the Mosel in the North and Rheinhessen and the Rheingau in the South. By contrast, Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards, and Silvaner and Dornfelder both for 1/10. Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch. At the same time, Rheinhessen is among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. This is not because of the terroir, but because of the people. There is an increasing group of young, ambitious and dynamic winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. Three of them made it to the Riesling Cup list.

Almost half of the wines are Grosses Gewaechs wines. More than half of the wines, including all Grosses Gewaechs wines, were classified as QbA and thus were potentially chaptalized. The purpose of the chaptalization, however, is not to add sweetness to the wine, but to increase the alcohol level. As a rule, a Grosses Gewaechs wine needs to be a least Spaetlese level at harvest, but is always declassified as a QbA wine.

The concept of Grosses Gewaechs was introduced by the wine estates that belong to the exclusive club of VDP wine estates a few years ago. In order to be able to use the Grosses Gewaechs label, a wine maker needs to be a member of the VDP association. It excludes VDP winemakers from the Rheingau region, which went on a separate route and uses the “Erstes Gewaechs” label instead. In the Rheingau, any, and not only VDP winemakers, can produce Erstes Gewaechs wines.

The Grosses/Erstes Gewaechse lable is thought to resemble the Grand/Premier Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines are dry and refer to a wine from a top vineyard. See more here.

Weingut Wittmann, 5th place, one of the Rheinhessen stars, is also one of the two German wine makers that made it to this year’s Top 100 Wine Spectator list.

Weingut Schaefer-Froehlich, 6th place, is this year’s Gault Millau winemaker of the year.

Tim Froehlich, from Schaefer-Froehlich, and Hermann Doenhoff, 2nd place, a grandmaster of German wine, also from the Nahe, were interviewed recently by Hendrik Thoma and I had posted the interview on my Blog. It can be viewed here.

Schiller Wine – Related Postings

Wine ratings: Top 100 of the Wine Spectator 2009 include Wittmann and Loosen Rieslings

Wine Ratings: Gault Millau Wine Guide Germany 2010

Saturday, December 26, 2009

German Winemakers in the World: Swiss-German Donald Hess, US, South Africa, Argentina, Australia

To be clear, Donald Hess is not a German wine maker. He is a Swiss wine maker. Switzerland consists of three different areas, an Italian speaking region, a French speaking region and a German speaking region. I found Donald Hess’ live very impressive so I decided to include him in my series German Winemakers in the World although he is not a German, but a cousin so to speak, as he comes from the German speaking part of Switzerland. Donald Hess is also half American as his mother was American.

Donald Hess is known in the US for being the owner of the Hess Collection winery in California. But he has bought or established several other wineries all over the globe, in Argentina, in South Africa, in Australia and the US. He used to own wineries in Switzerland, which he sold.

It all began in 1844, when Johann Heinrich Hess laid the first cornerstone for Hess Family Estates with the founding of a beer brewery in Bern, Switzerland. For more than 100 years, beer was the central business.

Donald Hess was born in 1936 in Bern. His mother, Louise McNeir, was an American from New York City, who had met his father Hector Albert Hess during ski holidays in Switzerland. But she returned to the US after a few years, when Donald was 7.

After graduating from high school, Donald went to Germany to study beer brewing there. But at the age of 20 his father died and the young but bold Donald Hess had to return and take over the over the Estate. The next 20 years were marked by Donald’s successful attempts to restructure the business in Switzerland. In the early 1960s, anticipating the surge of demand for bottled water, he created Valser Water, which would become Switzerland's leading mineral water company.

In 1978, when he was in his early forties, Donald Hess finally turned to wine and started his astonishing journey of buying and establishing wineries around the globe.

He purchased his first Napa Valley vineyard in 1978 and soon after acquired the old Christian Brothers property on Mount Veeder, which is now the home of Hess Collection winery, as well as part of his collection of modern art.

Today, Hess Family Estates own six New World cellars and vineyards:
(1) Hess Collection winery on Mount Veeder, 2,000 feet above the Napa Valley
(2) Artezin Wines in Napa, which specializes in wine from the heritage grapes Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Carignan.
(3) Sequana Wines in Russian River, a venture into Pinot Noir.
(4) Glen Carlou Vineyards in South Africa. Located in South Africa's Paarl region, the Glen Carlou Winery is known for its Chardonnay and Bordeaux varietals.
(5) Bodega Colomé in Argentina, with presumably the highest vineyard in the world at 10,200 feet/3,111 meters above sea level in the northern part of the Calchaqui Valley. Bodega Colomé focuses on Argentina's two traditional varietals, Malbec and Torrontes.
(6) A major share (85 percent) in Peter Lehmann Wines, Australia. Founded in 1980 by the legendary Peter Lehmann and now managed by his son, Doug Lehmann, Peter Lehmann Wines is one of Australia's most respected wineries, located near Tanunda, in the heart of the Barossa Valley.

Donald Hess has many interests. One of them is art. His Napa Valley collection opened in 1989 in the original winery built in 1903. The Museum at the Glen Carlou Winery outside Paarl South Africa opened in 2006, and his latest passion in Bodega Colomé, not only has an art gallery but also has a stunning hotel.

All his live, Donald Hess remained Swiss citizen and resident of Bern. But he also kept an apartment in London, and, of course, traveled a lot and spend a lot of time at his different business ventures. He owns a dozen or so restaurants in the Bern area as well as other businesses. A few years ago, in 2002, at age 66, he withdrew from the operational side of his world wide imperium.

Schiller Wine --- Related Postings

This is part of the series German wine makers in the world:

Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, US

Anton (Antoine) Mueller, 1800s,France,

Dr. Konstantin Frank, 1900s,USA

Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth, USA

Robert Anton Schlumberger, 1800s, Austria

Robert Stemmler, USA

Eduard Werle, 1800s, France

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wine region: Upcoming Long Island, New York State

Pictures: The wine regions of New York State, the wineries of Long Island on the North and South Forks and Christian G.E. Schiller in Long Island at Woelffer Estate, 2009

About 35 years ago, there was no meaningful wine industry on Long Island. In little over a quarter of a century, however, the Long Island wine industry has grown from one small vineyard to 3,000 acres of vines and over thirty wineries producing world-class wines. Located in New York State, on the East Coast of the United States, Long Island extends some 120 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The wineries are all located at the East End, on the North and South Forks. The heart of Island’s wine country is the town of Southold, where more than 20 of the 30plus wineries are located.

Wine lovers have come to realize that its maritime climate, geography and soil characteristics provide ideal conditions for producing wines of exceptional quality. People talk a lot about Bordeaux on Long Island and the Bordeaux comparison is not so far fetched. Some attribute it to the fact that the most planted grapes are the Bordeaux varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Others attribute it to the Bordeaux-esque climate on Long Island. Three bodies of Gulf Stream-influenced water surround the two folks at the tip of Long Island. Long Island Sound is to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and in the middle, splitting the two forks, is Peconic Bay. All three create a very moderate climate and an extended growing season that is over a month longer than at the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.

The first winery on Long Island was founded by Louisa and Alex Hargrave in 1973. This is when it all started and the Hargrave couple can be considered as the parents of the wine industry in Long Island. Marco and Ann Marie Borghese bought the vineyards and the winery in 1999 and renamed it Castello de Borghese Vineyard and Winery. See my tasting notes on Borghese wines here.

I have visited the Borghese Estate and the Woelffer Estate.

Marco Borghese comes from the famous Borghese family in Italy, which includes many well known personalities, including Pope Paul V (he was Pope many centuries ago) and Marco’s cousin, well know from the popular TV romance US reality series “The Bachelor: Rome,” in which attractive and sexy women were competing for an eligible, handsome, and presumably rich bachelor, Marco’s cousin.

When the Borgheses bought the property from the Hargraves, they inherited an unenviable tradition of making Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir has become their flagship wine, although many consider Long Island to be a Merlot region. The vineyard has 84 acres under vine and produces around 10,000 cases per year.

The Woelffer Estate is one of the few Long Island wineries that is located in the Hamptons, while most Long Island wineries are cluttered on the North Fork. The rustic, Tuscan-style winery is set on a rise overlooking the vineyards to the east and the gently rolling Hamptons landscape to the west. The Woelffer Wine Estate, one of the top wine estates on Long Island, New York State, would not be what it is today without the two Germans Christian Woelffer, its founder, and Roman Roth, its wine maker. I have written about them in my German Winemakers in the World series.

The leading grape variety is Merlot. In 1990, the first merlot vines were planted in the Hamptons at Channing Daughters and soon thereafter at Woelffer Estate Vineyards. More new growers coming into the region saw and heard of the success of merlot in more established vineyards and committed to further plantings. Today merlot acreage on Long Island is approximately 700 acres, making up 30% of the overall vineyard acreage on Long Island.

Formed in 2005, the Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA) strives to develop quality standards in the production of Long Island Merlot and to establish Long Island as the leading region for Merlot in the New World. In 2009, the founding members Raphael, Pellegrini Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards and Woelffer Estate Vineyard welcomed Clovis Point, Castello di Borghese and McCall Vineyard to the group. Together, the members co-produce a 100% Merlot wine each year, named Merliance.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Wine Tasting Notes: Woelffer Wines from Long Island, New York State - Nov. 23, 2009

Wine Tasting: Castello di Borghese, Long Island, New York State - November 18, 2009

In the glass: 2005 Christian's cuvee, Woelffer Estate Vineyard, Long Island, US - November 11, 2009

German Winemakers in the World: Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth - November 13, 2009

Wine ratings: The 2009 New York State Favorites, Long Island, Finger Lakes, Niagara

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In the Glass: Gluehwein at Frankfurt am Main Christmas Market

Picture: Gluehwein at the Frankfurt am Main Christmas Market with Joelle Earley, Christian Ottesen, Dorothea Schiller, Cornelia Schiller, Christian G.E. Schiller, Benjamin Schiller, December 2009

Glühwein, the popular mulled wine in German-speaking countries and the region of Alsace in Northeastern France, just across the border from Southwest Germany, is the traditional beverage offered and drunk at Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmaerkte), but is also offered in cafés and restaurants during the Advent and Christmas season.

Glühwein is made from red wine that has been heated and spiced with cinnamon, citrus, vanilla pods, cloves and sugar. In Frankfurt am Main, the base wine can be cider.

The German Christmas Markets markets open in early-December and sell ornaments, advent calendars, springerle molds and other Christmas items. Every city and town in Germany has a Weinachtsmarkt.

We had our last Gluehwein this year at the historic market square in Frankfurt, which is a blaze of lights. The air is scented with a Christmassy mixture of roast almonds, gingerbread, hot chestnuts and mulled wine. Large and small visitors gladly let themselves be enchanted by this pre-Christmas atmosphere. On a stroll through Frankfurt Christmas Fair, the stress and hectic pace of everyday life are quickly forgotten.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Cornelia Schiller

Against the imposing back-drop of the over thousand year old Cathedral of Frankfurt am Main and the Roemer, the mayor’s office, showmen and craftsmen offer Christmas specialities and original presents. People saunter leisurely past festively decorated stands, collecting many suggestions for fine Christmas presents in passing. Home-made Advent garlands and straw stars, Christmas tree decorations, wooden toys, carvings, ceramics, candles and much more are on offer.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings - In the Glass:

In the Glass: A 2007 Pinot Noir from the Gault Millau Shooting Star of the Year - Estate Baron Gleichenstein

In the Glass: 2007 Rheinhessen with Oysters at the Ten Bells in the Lower East Side in Manhattan

In the Glass: 2001 Riesling Gold Quatrat trocken Weingut Sybille Kuntz Mosel

In the Glass: 2005 Christian's Cuvee Woelffer Estate Vineyard Long Island USA

In the Glass: Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - #1 Top 100 Wine Spectator 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wine event: Wines served at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 - Zero carbon footprint?

Picture: UN Climate Change Conference Dec 7 -18, 2009 in Copenhagen

118 Heads of State or Government met in Copenhagen on December 17 on the eve of the final round of discussions of the climate summit for dinner. The dinner was offered by Queen Margarete II and Prince Hendrik.

From Germany, Chancellor Merkel was there, from the US, Secretary of State Clinton, from the UK, Chancellor Brown. President Obama had not yet arrived in Copenhagen. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had arrived but was not invited. A controversial guest was President Mugabe from Zimbabwe who attended the dinner with Ms. Grace Mugabe.

Picture: Greenpeace action organized in the Bourgogne in 2009 ahead of the Copenhagen summit

What do you put on the dinner table at a climate conference? The answer: you make sure that the carbon footprint is low. Indeed, key ingredients for the royal banquet placed the emphasis on locally-sourced products rather than exotic materials flown in from afar. But the dessert -- a date cake with caramel sauce -- carried a little carbon guilt, as did the wines.


Brandade with Scallops
Sauce Verte

Ballotine of Turkey
Puré of Peas
Fried Potatoes
Tarragon Sauce

Date Cake
with Caramel Sauce


La Cigaralle du Prince 2005
Chateau du Cayx 1999
Madere Hors d’Age
Mercier, Champagne

The first two wines came from the Château de Cayx. Situated at the heart of the Cahors region in France, the Château de Cayx is owned by Prince Hendrik, the husband of Queen Margarethe, who is French by origin.

La Cigaralle du Prince is a white Vin de pays du Lot. It is produced from a 4-hectare plot situated essentially on limestone terraces surrounding the Château. It is 100% chardonnay. Low-temperature fermentations in stainless-steel vats help to preserve the fruity character and freshness typical of the Chardonnay varietal. The wine is estate-bottled.

The Chateau du Cayx is a red AOC Cahors. It is produced essentially on limestone and clay terraces surrounding the Château. It is Malbec 85%, Merlot 10%, Tannat 5%. Vinification in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks followed by a 12-18 months’ period of barrel-ageing, depending upon the potential displayed by the wine.

Madeira is a fortified wine made in the Madeira Islands, which belong to Portugal. The wine is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry to sweet wines. The islands of Madeira have a long wine making history dating back to the days when Madeira was a standard port of call for ships heading to the New World or the East Indies. To prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape spirit was added. On the long sea voyages, the wines would be exposed to excessive heat and movement which transformed the flavor of the wine as the wine producers of Madeira found out when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip. Today, Madeira is noted for its unique wine making process which involves heating the wine up for an extended period of time and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation.

Mercier is a famous Champagne Estate based in the Epernay. The house was founded in 1858. Today, the house is under the umbrella of the LVMH group and is the number one selling brand of Champagne in the domestic French market.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Climate Change and Wine: Video Blog - CNN's Jim Bitterman on Climate Change and Wine from Paris

Climate Change and Wine: France

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 German Eiswein - Ice Wine - was Harvested on December 18 and 19

Picture: Bild Zeitung - snow chaos!

Generally Germany is well geared for colder weather. But nobody anticipated that last weekend would bring the year's coldest. Temperatures sank as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius in some areas and snow and ice affected road, rail and airport services. The weather resulted in several deaths and hundreds of accidents.

At the same time, this frost was what lovers of German ice wine and German vintners had been looking for; those vintners who were holding out with their fruit in order to produce ice wine this year.

Ice wine is a very special wine that belongs to the group of noble-sweet wines. There are basically two methods of producing noble-sweet wines in Germany.

First, wait for the grapes to be botrytised. Botrytise Cinerea (noble rot) is a fungus that under the right conditions attacks already-ripe grapes, shriveling them, concentrating the sweetness and acidity. The grapes end up looking disgusting but they make profound sweet white wines with complex apricot, honey and spice flavors and good balancing acidity. Typically noble rot forms best in conditions where morning mist from a lake or river gets burnt off during the day by hot sun.

Botrytised wines are not unique to Germany. Other famous botrytised wines include the Sauternes (France), the Tokaji (Hungary), and the Beerenauslese, Ausbruch, Tockenbeerenauslese from Austria.

Second, wait for the grapes to be frozen. Grapes used for producing ice wine have a substantially lower level of sugar in the vineyard than the botrytised Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese wines, but that night, when the grapes are harvested, the frost has converted the grapes into ice. Because the grapes are frozen, most of the mass is water, and is left behind as ice in the press. Only a small amount of concentrated juice is extracted. This also produces profound sweet wines, but without the taste of the noble rot.

In Germany, there is no guarantee for the vintners for the frost to come and to allow them to pick frozen, sugar-rich grapes to make the sweet and expensive elixir. So, it is always a risk to let the fruit hang and wait for the temperature to fall.

The VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter), an association of many of the top German wine estates, reports that the freezing temperatures last Thursday and Friday morning allowed many producers to do what they had been hoping to do during the last few weeks. They harvested early in the morning, when the temperatures were between -9 and -11 ºC (between 15 and 12 ºF).

The following VDP estates picked on December 18 and 19, 2009. Here is some information at what day and time the ice wine was harvested, the vineyard, the grape variety and the sugar content of the must (measured in Oechsle).

AHR - Weingut Deutzer Hof
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:30 Uhr
Temperatur -10° Grad
Lage Altenahrer Eck
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 163° Grad
FRANKEN - Fürstlich Castell`sches Domänenamt
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -9° Grad
Lage Schlossberg, Kugelspiel
Rebsorte Silvaner
Oechsle 180° Grad
FRANKEN - Weingut am Stein
Lese 19. Dezember ab 6:00 Uhr
Temperatur -17° Grad
Lage Am Stettener Stein
Rebsorte Silvaner, Riesling
Oechsle 220° Grad
FRANKEN - Weingut Schmitts-Kinder
Lese 18. Dezember ab 6:30 Uhr
Temperatur -11° Grad
Lage Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl
Rebsorte Silvaner
Oechsle 212° Grad
FRANKEN - Weingut Hans Wirsching
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -8° Grad
Lage Iphöfer Kronsberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 193° Grad
MOSEL-SAAR-RUVER - Weingut S.A. Prüm
Lese 18. Dezember ab 8:00 Uhr
Temperatur -10,5° Grad
Lage Kraacher Himmelreich
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 165° Grad
PFALZ - Weingut Pfeffingen - Fuhrmann-Eymael
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -8,0° Grad
Lage Nussriegel
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 180° Grad
PFALZ - Weingut Fitz-Ritter
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -10,0° Grad
Lage Dürkheimer Hochbenn
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 165° Grad
RHEINGAU - Wein- und Sektgut Barth
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -8,5° Grad
Lage Hallgartener Jungfer
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 183° Grad
RHEINGAU - Weingut Joachim Flick
Lese 18. Dezember ab 6:30 Uhr
Temperatur -8° Grad
Lage Wickerer Mönchsgewann
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 170° Grad
RHEINGAU - Weingut Langwerth von Simmern
Lese 18. Dezember ab 6:30 Uhr
Temperatur -8° Grad
Lage Eltviller Sonnenberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 160° Grad
WÜRTTEMBERG - Weingut Gerhard Aldinger
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:30 Uhr
Temperatur -10,5° Grad
Lage Vellbach Goldberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 190° Grad
WÜRTTEMBERG - Weingut Karl Haidle
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -12° Grad
Lage Stettener Pulvermächer
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 210° Grad
WÜRTTEMBERG - Weingut Drautz-Able
Lese 20. Dezember ab 5:00 Uhr
Temperatur -15° Grad
Lage Heilbronner Stiftberg, Gemarkung Riedenberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle Erster Anstich 310° im Ergebnis 270° Grad

If you are interested in a more comprehensive picture of the German 2009 ice wine situation, go here.

The first ice wine was reportedly produced in Germany in 1794. Today, ice wines are highly prized wines that are made not only in Germany, but also in Austria and Canada as well as other countries, including the United States. Canada has experienced an amazing ice wine boom in the past decades. At the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Banquet for President Obama in Oslo, an ice wine from Canada was served.

In the context of ice wine, people also talk a lot about cryoextraction. This is an approach, which kind of simulates the frost in the vineyard in the wine cellar. It was developed by the French. Instead of waiting for mother nature to produce frosty temperatures in the vineyard, the winemaker subjects the grapes to frosty temperatures in the cellar and presses them while frozen. In France, the method has been used for many years to boost the sugar content in the famous (botrytized) Sauternes grapes, including the top notch chateaus.

This method is now common in a number of countries, including the United States. But in the United States, wine from grapes frozen after the harvest cannot be called ice wine. In Austria and Germany cryoextraction is under discussion, but has not yet been made legal.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wine tasting: Twitter Wine Tasting

Picture: Twitter wine tasting with www.TasteLive.com

Wine tastings can take different forms. As far as I am concerned, I do the following.

Most of the wines I taste with my wife Annette over dinner with food. I always choose very deliberately what wine we have for dinner. Normally, I open 1 bottle, sometimes 2 bottles. Typically, we have wines still open from the day or days before, so we usually compare 3 to 4 bottles every night. And we talk extensively about the wines during dinner

The second most popular route for me is to taste wines in a group. This could be the German Wine Society of Washington DC, the Hochheimer Weinfreunde or a tasting group at a wine retailer in Washington or Frankfurt. Typically, somebody would take the lead, ideally the winemaker himself as was the case recently at the Out of Site Tasting of Soter Wines.

Picture: Annette and Christian G.E.Schiller in McLean, Virginia

Another option is to do a tasting with oneself, drinking the wine and reading the notes in the Wine Spectator for example or watching a video of Gary Vaynerchuck or Hendrik Thoma. Or Susan Sterling's naked wine show videos with some extra spices.

Recently, I have tried something new, twitter tasting, both in the US and in Germany. This works as follows.

In the US, I did it with www.TasteLive.com at the initiative of www.winesofgermany.com that managed the whole process. Here is what happened. First, I signed on with www.TasteLive.com. Then I went to my wine store and got the four featured German wines. I RSVPed as the third participant on www.TasteLive.com.

On December 3, at 8:00 pm I sat down in front of the computer and moved to the www.TasteLive.com web site. The process was hosted by the 1winedude from http://www.1winedude.com

The upstate New York's House of Bacchus http://www.bacchuswineonline.com and Manhattan's Roger Smith Hotel http://www.rogersmith.com were supposed to host tweet ups, but I am not sure, anybody showed up there.

Not much happened during the tasting, frankly. There were a few tweets on the wine, but overall I felt it was not worth the effort.

In Germany, it was basically the same process, but without www.LiveTasting.com. Instead, somebody had created a Twitter wall. The next thing I needed to know was the hash tag for the concerned Twitter wall. I just had to add the relevant hash tag, which always begins with a # and was #twv (Twitter Wein Verkostung) and sent the tweet. The tweet would then appear on the Twitter wall. www.LiveTasting.com also works with has tags, but they are automatically included in your tweets once you are on www.LiveTasting.com

Overall, there was not much of a difference. The twitter wine tasting in Germany was also very limited. And, in Germany, I had to go back and forth between my Twitter account and the Twitter wall if I wanted to send tweets. In the US, with www.LiveTasting.com my tweets and the Twitter wall were on the same web site.

Looking ahead, I could see a scenario, where the winemaker, for example, participates in the twitter event and leads the tasting with a lot of tweets and providing a lot of information. Perhaps also if the group is larger, this would help. But in my case it was pretty dull as there were not enough tweets. I rather prefer the conventional approach, tastings over dinner with my wife, but not everyone has this privilege.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Wine Tastings: Soter Wines from Oregon at Out-Out-Site Wines in Vienna, US

Hochheim am Main, Germany: Summary of August to November 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

German Winemakers in the World: Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, USA

“Wiemer is considered by many to be one of the top Riesling producers in the United States.”
The New York Times

Hermann J. Wiemer is regarded as one of the pioneers of viticulture and winemaking in the Finger Lakes region in upstate NewYork. He was born and raised in Germany, and arrived in the US in 1968. His first wine was released in 1980. In the 30 years since then, the winery has been lauded as one of the nation’s premier white wine producers, in particular of Riesling.

Hermann J. Wiemer was born in Bernkastel into an influential family in the wine business. Hermann's father was the head of the Agricultural Experiment Station in Bernkastel and was responsible for restoring vines in the Mosel region after WWII.

Hermann Wiemer came to the US in the early 1970s. When he arrived, wine making in the Finger Lakes area was dominated by native American grapes and crossings between American and European grapes. Riesling, for example, for which Hermann Wiemer became famous, was not grown. Initially, he made hybrid and native American wines for Walter Taylor at the Bully Hill winery on Keuka Lake.

The struggle for the best suited grapes in this part of the world goes back many centuries. In the original charter of every one of the thirteen colonies from Maine to Georgia was a royal commission to pursue three luxury items that England was unable to provide for itself: wine, silk, and olive oil. Every colony made repeated attempts to satisfy the requirements of its charter.

The problem was that on the one hand there were the native American grapes. All of these native American grapes were cold tolerant and disease and pest resistant, but unsuitable for winemaking, due to their coarseness, high tannins, and "foxy" flavors. On the other hand, the European tis vinifera were not cold tolerant and uniformly unable to survive long enough to produce a crop.

Despite many years of failure to produce good wine from native grapes, the early Americans persisted in their efforts. They planted several different native varietals in the same vineyard and over time some natural mutations occurred. The results from some of these hybrids were far better than any of the unadulterated natives. A big success came in 1740 when a natural cross pollination occured between a native American grape and a European vinifera grape. The new hybrid was named after its discoverer and became known as the Alexander grape. It was the first of a long series of semi-successful efforts to cross American and European varieties.

When Hermann Wiemer decided to experiment with European tis vinifera, others were on the same track, in particular Konstantin Frank. In 1973 Wiemer bought 140 acres of land, the barn and a mid-19th-century house on the west side of Route 14, which runs along Seneca Lake and turned it into one of the premier vineyards and nurseries in the region. Starting with four acres, he developed the right root stock for grafting European vinifera on them. The first vintage, a 1979, was released in 1980. Hermann Wiemer quickly became known for his German-style vinifera wines. He claims that he made the first dry Riesling in the US and said that many scoffed at him for making Riesling even though today it's the flagship wine grape variety of the region.

Picture: Finger Lakes Region in New York State

The Finger Lakes AVA in upstate New York encompasses seven glacial lakes, although the majority of plantings are around Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Most vineyards are planted on hillsides overlooking the lakes. These deep lakes help to moderate the climate, as stored heat is released from the lakes during the winter, keeping the weather mild (relative to surrounding areas) and preventing early frosts. The reflection of the sun off the lakes during summer extends the growing season. This cool-climate region is often compared to the Mosel winegrowing region of Germany, and like that region, has had special success with Riesling.

Hermann Wiemer was not the first to insist that the climate, altitude (650 feet) and land contours of the slopes leading to the lakes were ideal for vinifera. Dr. Konstantin Frank discovered that in the early 1950's. But he probably was the first to plant vineyards exclusively of European vinifera and was bucking the corporate wineries, where the belief endured that the European vinifera, more fragile than the American lubrusca, could not withstand the Northeastern cold and was too susceptible to disease. For years, the large commercial wineries had been using hybrids of the vinifera and the native American labrusca grapes (of which the Concord grape is a variey).

On the floor of the winery, Mr. Wiemer has installed German stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. Wiemer has three estate vineyards within 10 miles of the winery on the west side of Seneca Lake: Magdalena, Josef, and HJW. The vineyards are farmed under strict sustainable agricultural practices.

Herrmann Wiemer has retired a few years ago. Today the winemaking process is managed by Hermann J Wiemer’s long-term winemaker Fred Merwarth who has worked closely with Hermann as one of his winemakers for the last 8 years. Hermann is still passionately and practically involved in the life of the winery, and Fred continues faithfully executing the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard legacy and heritage.

I visited the winery in the spring of 2009.

Schiller Wine --- Related Postings

This is part of the series German wine makers in the world:

Anton (Antoine) Mueller, 1800s,France, November 28, 2009

Dr. Konstantin Frank, 1900s,USA, November 14, 2009

Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth, 1900s/2000s, USA, November 12, 2009

Robert Anton Schlumberger, 1800s, Austria, November 7, 2009

Robert Stemmler, 1900s/2000s, USA, November 3, 2009

Eduard Werle, 1800s, France, October 29, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

New World wine country: New Zealand – facing the fate of neighboring Australia?

Picture: The wine regions of New Zealand

One of the wine success stories in the past couple of decades is New Zealand. New Zealand’s wine makers have penetrated the global wine market with stunning Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines, but also with other grape varieties and sparklers.

In line with this development, Tim Atkin, the renowned British wine journalist writing for the Guardian, for example, felt that New Zealand is the most improved wine country in 2009 and he gave his “Most Improved” award to the winemakers of New Zealand.

I was very impressed recently with the wines at

The Providores and Tapa Room, 109 Maryleborne High Street, London, W1U 4RX

If you want to taste New Zealand wines and if you are in London, this is the place to go. I have never seen such a broad and deep selection of excellent wines from New Zealand outside of New Zealand. Naturally, the focus is on Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

But the New York Times published an article a few days ago that has poured cold water over the New Zealand success story. The New York Times writes that the New Zealand wine industry faces major challenges, as bulk exports rise and prices fall. In fact, according to the New York Times, the country’s vintners are “desperate to avoid the fate of neighboring Australia”.

Here is first an introduction to the wine country New Zealand, as the wine makers advertise themselves.

New Zealand Wine – Pure Discovery. New Zealand is a land like no other. New Zealand wine is an experience like no other. Our special combination of soil, climate and water, our innovative pioneering spirit and our commitment to quality all come together to deliver pure, intense and diverse experiences. In every glass of New Zealand Wine is a world of pure discovery.

International acclaim. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is rated throughout the world as the definitive benchmark style for this varietal. The growing recognition for New Zealand Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends is helping to further cement New Zealand's position as a producer of world class wines.

Diverse styles. New Zealand is a country of contrasts with dense, native forest, snow-capped mountains and spectacular coastline. With wine growing regions spanning the latitudes of 36 to 45 degrees and covering the length of 1000 miles (1,600km), grapes are grown in a vast range of climates and soil types, producing a diverse array of styles. The northern hemisphere equivalent would run from Bordeaux (between the latitudes of 44 and 46 degrees) down to southern Spain.

Temperate maritime climate. New Zealand's temperate, maritime climate has a strong influence on the country's predominantly coastal vineyards. The vines are warmed by strong, clear sunlight during the day and cooled at night by sea breezes. The long, slow ripening period helps to retain the vibrant varietal flavours that make New Zealand wine so distinctive.

Food friendly wines. New Zealand cuisine draws inspiration from the traditional kitchens of France and Italy, as well as the exotic dishes of Asia and the Pacific Rim. Wine styles have evolved to compliment this extensive menu. There are bright and zesty wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling for fresh and subtly spiced dishes, while complex, mellow Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends and Pinot Noir offer a timeless marriage with the classical dishes of Europe.

Ensuring the future. New Zealand's small population, distant location and agricultural economy have earned the country a 'clean, green' image. Visitors often describe it as 'an unspoiled paradise'. New Zealand's winemakers and grape growers are determined to keep it this way. Innovative practices in the vineyard and winery which deliver quality in a sustainable and environmental manner, ensure that New Zealand meets a growing world demand for wines that have been produced in a 'clean and green' fashion.

Picture: Auckland, New Zealand

Second, here is Tim Atkin’s upbeat assessment of New Zealand’s wines.


New Zealand has been on an upward curve for the past decade, but with its world-class Syrahs and ever-improving Pinot Noir it deserves special praise this year.

2008 Saddle-back Pinot Noir, Central Otago (£14.99, 13.5%, selected branches of M&S) Light, but with lovely perfume and supple raspberry fruit.

2007 Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah, Hawke's Bay (£16.99, or £13.59 by the mixed case, Oddbins) Craggy's Syrahs are as good as anything in the New World – spice, pepper and depth.

Third, the New York Times article suggesting that the future may be less rosy for New Zealand’s wine makers.

Finally, my posting about the The Providores and Tapa Room in London, where I had outstanding wine from New Zealand.

I had an amazing Riesling

2006, Riesling, Waipara West, Waipara, North Canterburry

The wine displayed a nose of citrus with mandarin and lime and slight floral aromas. Green apple, floral and lime aromas, a full palate with an oily texture and a persistent finish.

The knowledgeable waiter told us that Waipara is situated some forty - five miles north of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. Vines were first planted there in 1981 although commercial winemaking really only started in 1990.

Schiller Wine – Related Postings

Emerging wine country: China's wine boom since 2000

New World wine country: Chile and the Carmenere grape

Wine country South Africa: Grape varieties

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wine ratings: Austria - Falstaff Top Red Wines 2009/2010

The Falstaff is Austria’s most prestigious wine guide. The Fallstaff Rotweinguide 2009/2010, the wine guide for red wine only, was released on December 9, 2009, in Vienna, Austria, in a ceremony in the Wiener Hofburg, the 3oth Red Wine Gala.

At first thought one might think of Austria’s climate as being quite cool for red wine. In the Alps and the western and northern reaches of the country this tends to be true. The eastern plains that border Hungary and Slovenia, however, are a different story. Right in the heart of this region is Mittelburgenland, and this is Austria’s red wine country, with 95-percent of the vineyards planted to red wine varietals. And there is global warming changing the wine map. Yes, Austria has an international reputation for its white wines, but there has been a revolution going on in terms of red wines in recent years. In Austria, red wine now accounts for about 1/3 of the wine production.

Earlier this year, for the first time, a red wine from Austria has earned 95 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Moric, Blaufränkisch, Neckenmarkter Alte Reben, 2006 scooped the high ranking.

This success of the Burgenland red echoed a bit the triumph of the Pinot Noir of Weingut Meyer-Näkel Dernauer Pfarrwingert Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs 2005, from the Ahr region in Germany that won the 2008 the International Pinot Noir Trophy (Over £10) of the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Here are the three FALSTAFF-SIEGER 2009 (Falstaff-Rotweinguide 2009/2010)

1. Blaufränkisch Perwolff 2007 Weingut Krutzler, Deutsch-Schützen
2. Rêve de Jeunesse 2007 ME/CS/SY/ZW Weingut Pöckl, Mönchhof
3. Blaufränkisch Spiegel 2007 Weingut Paul Achs, Gols

In addition, Falstaff also gave awards for each of the major gape varieties (Sortensieger). Traditional wines such as Blaufrankisch, Saint Laurent, and Zweigelt dominate production, but varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are being seen with greater regularity.

DIE FALSTAFF-SORTENSIEGER 2009 - Falstaff-Rotweinguide 2009/2010

Blaufränkisch: Common in Burgenland this makes spicy, sturdy, berry fruited reds which can have some tannic structure. Probably Austria’s best red grape.

1. Blaufränkisch Perwolff 2007 Weingut Krutzler, Deutsch-Schützen (1. Falstaff-Sieger)
2. Blaufränkisch Spiegel 2007 Weingut Paul Achs, Gols (3. Falstaff-Sieger)
3. Blaufränkisch hochberg 2007 Weingut Gesellmann, Deutschkreutz

Cabernet Sauvignon:

1. Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Weingut Anton Bauer, Feuersbrunn
2. Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Weingut Kollwentz, Großhöflein
3. Cabernet Sauvignon Tribun 2007 Weingut Taferner, Göttlesbrunn


1. Rêve de Jeunesse 2007 ME/CS/SY/ZW Weingut Pöckl, Mönchhof (2. Falstaff-Sieger)
2. Steinzeiler 2007 BF/CS/ZW Weingut Kollwentz, Großhöflein
3. Ab Ericio 2007 BF/ME/ZW Weingut Hans Igler, Deutschkreutz


1. Merlot Reserve 2007 Weingut Nehrer, Eisenstadt
2. Merlot Privatkellerei 2007 Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg, Gobelsburg
3. Merlot Schneiderteil 2007 Esterházy Wein, Eisenstadt

Pinot Noir:

1. Pinot Noir Baumgarten 2007 Weingut Pittnauer, Gols
2. Pinot Noir 2007 Weingut Gernot und Heike Heinrich, Gols
3. Pinot Noir 2007 Weingut Pöckl, Mönchhof

St Laurent: Makes soft, slight herby, expressive reds; it’s a bit like Pinot Noir.

1. St. Laurent Haidegrund 2007 Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg, Gobelsburg
2. St. Laurent Altenberg 2007 Weingut R. und A. Pfaffl, Stetten
3. St. Laurent Vom Stein 2007 Weingut Umathum, Frauenkirchen


1. Syrah Schüttenberg 2007 Weingut Franz und Christine Netzl, Göttlesbrunn
2. Syrah 2007 Weingut Leitner, Gols
3. Syrah 2007 Weingut Artner, Höflein

Zwiegelt: The most abundant red grape; makes good wines ranging from simple cherry fruit gluggers to more substantial reds destined for aging.

1. Zweigelt Golser Altenberg 2007 Weingut Birgit und Helmuth Renner, Gols
2. Zweigelt Schwarz Rot 2007 Schwarz Wein, Andau
3. Zweigelt Tanzer Reserve 2007 Weingut Sonnhof Jurtschitsch, Langenlois

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Gerhard Biber, from Rotweissrot in Munich

Schiller Wine – Related Postings:

Wine merchant in Munich: Rotweissrot

German Wine makers in the World: A. Schlumberger, Austria

Wine ratings: Austria's best red wines - 2010

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the plane: Wines on Air France from Washington DC to Paris in Business in December 2009

Air France serves 4 very good wines on the flight from Washington DC to Paris, one Champagne and 3 still wines. All 4 wines are French - Air France shows no interest in exploring American wines, although the flight originates in the US.

Unfortunately, the flight leaves Washington at 10:00 pm in the evening and one doesn't have the time to fully appreciate the wines because service is fast so people can get some sleep, and ...the wines are served in plastic cups.

NV Champagne Brut, Duval-Leroy

Duval-Leroy is a family business, established in 1859 through the merger of two Champagne growers. The company is still based in its village of origin, Vertus, which is with five hundred hectares of vines now the second largest wine-growing district in the Champagne region, after Les Riceys.

Since 1991, Duval-Leroy has been headed by Carol Duval-Leroy, after the sudden loss of her husband that same year. Reminding me a bit of Veuve Clicquot, Carol Duval-Leroy has focused on the modernisation of the production processes and the expansion of exports.

Tasting notes: A blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, light yellow in the glass, fine bubbles, delicate texture on the palate, with mineral tones, very satisfying finish—nice wine ...
...but served in a plastic cup by Air France, as were all the wines.

2007 Vire Clesse, Bourgogne Blanc, Jaffelin

The Maison Jaffelin is owned by the Boisset family in the Bourgogne. Jean-Claude Boisset, the head, is very much concerned with “green” wine making, including of reducing its carbon footprint. The company is trying out a range of different packaging options. It is for this approach that Jean-Charles Boisset has been named “Innovator of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine a few years ago.

The Boisset family business, based at Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy, is among France’s five leading wine groups and owns some prestigious estates including Bouchard Aîné & fils, Jaffelin, Ropiteau Frères, Mommessin, J. Moreau & Fils as well as De Loach in California.

The Jaffelin family has been producing Bourgogne for over 100 years. In the heart of the Mâcon wine growing region, the two villages Viré and Clessé form a unique "terroir" on slopes facing South-East.

Tasting notes: An Appelation Vire Clesse, made from Chardonnay grapes grown on lime and clay, a brilliant light gold in color, complex nose of white blossom and fresh butter, with hints of green apple, a full-flavored wine with a lovely acidity and a pleasant finish.

Cote de Beaune-Villages, 2007, Joseph Drouhin

The Maison Joseph Drouhin was founded in 1880. The estate owns vineyards in Chablis, Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, as well as in the Williamette Valley in Oregon. Drouhin is a wine producer and one of the major negociants in the Bourgogne that produces wines made from purchased grapes grown in different parts of Burgundy. Today both Maison Joseph Drouhin and Domaine Drouhin Oregon are owned and operated by the great grandchildren of Joseph Drouhin.

A Chardonnay from the Appellation Cote de Beaune Villages. This Appellation covers the city of Beaune and 16 villages in the Cote de Beaune.

Tasting notes: entry-level red Burgundy from a well recognized negociant of Bourgogne wines, light ruby-red, nice legs in the glass, overwhelming attack of strawberries and other red fruits on the nose, on the palate you have a light, elegant, delectable fruit with great style and refinement, combined with wet leaves, rather than the power of a full body, lovely, but not too long lasting finish.

2005, Medoc, Chateau Haut Condissas

Joël Robuchon, the most Michelin starred Chef of the world (18 stars) entered into a special deal with Jean Guyon earlier this years by selecting the Chateau Tour Seran as his signature wine for all his restaurants. This Cru Bourgeois is the little brother of the Chateaux Rollan de By and Haut Condissas, the latter being served on business class flights of Air France.

At the head of 76 hectares today, Jean Guyon produces 500 000 bottles a year under five labels. Chateau Haut-Condissas in the Medoc was purchased by Jean Guyon in 1998. He also owns Chateaux Tour Seran, La Clare, Rollan de By and La Fleur de By.

Tasting notes: Primarily Merlot, blended with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; very dark red in the glass, remarkable intensity on the nose, a full-bodied wine with soft tannins and notes of spicy wood on the palate, combined with notes of ripe blackberries and raspberries, long lasting finish of an intense wine.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings - In the Plane - In the Train

In the plane: Wines In Air France from Washington DC to Paris, France in December 2009

Germanwings from Belgrade to Cologne

Lufthansa Business Washington DC to Frankfurt am Main

Eurostar from Paris to London

Lufthansa Business Frankfurt am Main to Washington DC

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wine Country South Africa: Grape varieties

Picture: Copyright Wines of South Africa

This article is part of a series of articles on South Africa. It was

Written (in German) by Dirk Wuertz, Germany and
Translated by Christian G.E. Schiller, US and Germany

Dirk Wuertz is a higly regarded wine maker and an active wine blogger in Germany. I had his wine in the US in Manhattan’s trendy wine bar The Ten Bells and wrote about it here.

Before moving on to individual grape varieties next week in a video, here is some general information on grape varieties in South Africa, as a preparation. The source of the information is, as always, WOSA (Wines of South Africa) .

Cabernet Sauvignon

This classic grape variety is grown in virtually all areas in the Cape region, particularly in Paarl and Stellenbosch. In recent years, Cabernet Sauvignon has become the most widely planted red grape variety, currently accounting for 25 percent of the red wines.


This grape seems to like the climate of the Cape very much and produces very intense full-bodied wines. In recent years, Shiraz has been planted in particular in the warmer growing areas; it has a great future in South Africa.


In 1925 crossed a South African researcher at the University of Stellenbosch the Pinot Noir with the Hermitage (Cinsaut): That was the birth of Pinotage. This full-bodied wine tastes spicy and has a good aging potential. Pinotage now accounts for more than 20 percent of South Africa’s red wine.

Pinot Noir

Although this grape variety is only rarely grown in South Africa, it can be found in the cooler growing regions Walker Bay and Elgin, and it produces exceptionally good wines there.


This grape has traditionally been used for cuvees with Cabernet Sauvignon. However winemakers have started to produce 100% Merlot wines. This fruity, full-bodied grape can be found in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Worcester, as well as along the west coast.

Other red varieties

Cinsaut is often planted and used mainly for cuvees.. Ruby Cabernet is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon with Carignan. Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre, Malbec and Petit Verdot were introduced only recently and used for Cuveés only.


In recent years, many new Chardonnay vineyards have moved into the production phase. Whether fermented in barrels (barrique) or in steel tanks - the Chardonnay from the Cape region is always elegant in style, combined with refreshing fruit flavors on the palate.


The worldwide interest in this grape variety is increasing. In South Africa it fully shows its potential. The Viognier grape produces delicate and yet complex wines with aromas of peaches, apricots, honey and spices.


Two hundred years ago, Semillon was the dominant grape variety in the Cape region, but today it is rather the exception. Because it goes well with food, Semillion is becoming popular again for dinner, to benefit from its full-bodied flavor.

Sauvignon Blanc

South African Sauvignon Blancs enjoy an increasing popularity, due to their quality and complexity. The vineyards are concentrated in the cooler altitudes of Constantia, Paarl, Stellenbosch and the newer areas such as Darling on the West Coast. The wines are fruity, with an elegant finish, but also showing spiciness and minerality.

Chenin Blanc (Steen)

Although on a downward trend, the South African wine makers are pushing the Chenin Blanc grape, trying to improve the quality and diversifying into different styles. Chenin Blanc is a perfect companion for dinner.

Other white varieties

Cape Riesling (Crouchen Blanc), Colombard, Gewurztraminer, Muscat of Alexandria (Hanepoot) Muscadel, Nouvelle, Pinot Gris and Riesling.

The article appeared in German on December 9, 2009

Dirk Würtz
55239 Gau-Odernheim
E-Mail: kontakt@dirk-wuertz.de
Telefon: 06733 - 94 86 01

Schiller Wine - Previous Articles on Wine Country South Africa:

Facts and Figures


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wine Ratings; Jancis Robinson's uninspiring choice of sparklers for the holiday season

In a series of articles in the FT, Jancis Robinson presents a selection of good buys for the entertaining season, deliberately concentrated on those wines that are drinking well now, as she writes. There are 4 articles, published in the FT as well as on Jancis Robinson’s web site.

White wine on November 29, 2009

Red wine on December 5, 2009

Champagne and sparkling wines on 12 Dec, 2009

Strong and sweet wines on 19 Dec, 2009

These 4 articles provide one with a financial sector and English perspective of what is hot in the market now --- financial sector perspective, because the article is written for the readers of the FT and English perspective, because Jancis Robinson is based in London, she provides prices in British Pounds and the names of English retailers where you can find the wine. The Exchange rate is roughly BP 1 = Euro 1.10 = US$ 1.60.

Champagne and Sparkling wines on December 12, 2009

There is not much to comment on. I invite you to review her recommendations, but would also like to point you to three other articles.

First, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Becher from the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about grower Champagnes in last weekend's edition. They account only for a very small part of the market, as the Champagne market it dominated by the large Champagne estates such as Taittinger, Bollinger, Krug, to name a few, but they are worth trying out. Interestingly, the producers of grower Champagnes tend to make also still wine, which is almost impossible to find in the US, but there is plenty of such wine in the Champagne region.

Second,Dave McIntyre from the Washington Post reviewed grower Champagnes in last Wednesday's issue and will review other out of the envelope sparklers in next Wednesday's issue.

Third, Germany is a nation of drinkers of sparklers. Every fourth bottle of sparkler in the world is consumed in Germany. The German sparkling wines are called Sekts. This year, a small Sekt Estate won the prestigious "Discovery of the Year" award of the Eichelmann 2010 wine guide: Raumland in Florsheim-Dalsheim in Rheinhessen. Volker and Rose Raumland have made impressive Sekts for a number of years now. The Raumland Sekts are like Champagnes, without copying them, says Eichelmann. I reviewed the Raumland estate in a separate Blog posting here.

Schiller Wine --- Related Posting

Wine ratings: Top 100 of the Wine Spectator 2009 include Wittmann and Loosen Rieslings

Wine ratings: London's Times Top 100 Winter Wines 2009 - November, 27, 2009

German Wine Basics: Sekt

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wines served at the 2009 Nobel Prize Banquet in Stockholm

Picture: The Guardian

Here is a look at this year's winners of the Nobel prizes and their work, and what wine they drank at the Banquet on December 10 in Stockholm.

- Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine: Americans Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak for discovering how chromosomes protect themselves as cells divide, work that has inspired experimental cancer therapies and may offer insights into aging.

- Nobel Prize in physics: Americans Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith. Kao was honored for discovering how to transmit light signals long distance through hair-thin glass fibers. Boyle and Smith received the prize for opening the door to digital cameras by inventing a sensor that turns light into electrical signals.

- Nobel Prize in chemistry: Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz and Israel's Ada Yonath - the first woman to receive it since 1964 - for creating detailed blueprints of ribosomes, the protein-making machinery within cells. Their research is being used to develop new antibiotics.

- Nobel Prize in literature: Germany's Herta Mueller, a Romanian-born writer honored for work depicting life under the Iron Curtain.

- Nobel Peace Prize: President Barack Obama for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

- The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences: Americans Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson for their work in economic governance. Ostrom was the first woman to win this prize since it was founded in 1968.

At the Banquet on December 10, 2009 in Stockholm for the recipients,excluding the recipient of the Noble Peace Prize, three wines, two from France and one from Austria, were served. The ceremony for the Peace Prize traditionally takes place in Oslo.


A sparkler from a very popular Champagne House. Jacquart buys the fruit from over 600 growers across all the main regions of Champagne, especially the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. Thus, their vineyards are spread over 130 different villages of which 22 are rated as Premier Crus and 10 as Grand Crus. The Jacquart cuvées are made in Reims. More than 30 million bottles are kept 20 metres underground in the three-tiered cellars.


Château La Dominique is a top domain from the right bank in Bordeaux, adjoining the outstanding Chateau Cheval Blanc. It was promoted to Grand Cru Classé in the first classification in 1956. 80% of the vines are Merlot, as is typical for right bank Bordeaux wines. Clay and siliceous-gravel ground dominate.


A noble-sweet Saemling wine at the Beerenauslese level from the Austrian Hans Tschida. The family-owned Weingut Angerhof-Tschida is based in Illmitz in the Neusiedler See area. On an area of 14 hectares Hans Tschida grows noble-sweet white wines with a range of grapes, including Welschriesling, Chardonnay, Sämling (the Noble Prize wine), Muskat Ottonel, Traminer and Weißburgunder, and red wines with the Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. Weingut Angerhof-Tschida specializes in noble sweet wines, with typically the whole harvest accounted for by Beerenauslese, Eiswein, Schilfwein and Trockenbeerenauslese. Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese are sweet because of the noble rot that converts the grapes into raisins, Eiswein is sweet because of the frost that concentrates the grape juice and Schilfwein is made out of non-botrytized grapes that go through a process of sun-drying. Read more about the fascinating noble-sweet Tschida wines here.

Schiller Wine - Related Posting

Wine event: The Wines at the 2009 Nobel Peace Price Banquet in Honor of President Obama.

In the glass: Volker Raumland Sekt Estate - The Discovery of the Year – Eichelmann 2010

Picture: NV Raumland Riesling Brut

Everyone (in the wine business) in Germany is talking about Volker Raumland and his Sekts. He got one of the four prestigious awards of the Eichelmann 2010: “Discovery of the year”. And what is so special this year is that the wine award went to a producer of sparkling wine, which is called Sekt in Germany.

Germany is one of the largest sparkling wine markets in the world, which is not well know around the world. Germans drink lot of sparkling wines, although in general less quality-conscious than the French. One out of four bottles of sparkling wine is consumed in Germany, roughly 500 million bottles. Sekt is made in all German wine regions, both in the méthode traditionnelle and charmat method. There are three groups of Sekt makers: (i) large and (ii) smaller Sekt houses, who only make Sekt and (iii) winemakers, who make predominantly wine, but complement their wine selection by a few Sekts. The Sekts produced by large Sekt estates tend to be in the demy-sweet and sweet range, while the Sekts of smaller estates and the wine makers are mostly in the brut and extra brut range.

There is a dozen or so large Sekt houses. Most of these large Sekt houses were established in the 1800s. At that time, there was only one method known to produce Sekt, the méthode traditionnelle. But in contrast to the champagne houses, the large Sekt houses have all moved to the charmat method as main method of the second fermentation after World War II. Like the champagne houses, Sekt houses do not own vineyards, but purchase the base wine from winemakers.

The smaller Sekt houses, like the large Sekt houses, do not own vineyards, but also buy the base wine from winemakers. They also tend to have a long history and often links to the champagne region, beautiful facilities and old cellars for the second fermentation and storage. The big difference is that they typically have not gone the route of tank fermentation but continue to ferment in the méthode traditionnelle.

Increasingly, there is a number of top quality winemakers, who, in addition, to their still wines, have started to include Sekts in their portfolio. These Sekts are typically vintage Sekts, from a specified vineyard, made of specific grapes, often Riesling, in the méthode champenoise and with little or not dosage (brut or extra but). While the first fermentation typically takes place at the winery, the second fermentation is often not in the cellar of the winemaker but in the cellar of a Sekt house that bottle-ferments for other wineries.

Raumland belongs to the third group but is kind of unique in Germany. Raumland makes a bit of still wine but is clearly focusing on his world class Sekts. The Raumland Sekts are like Champagnes, without copying them, feels the Eichelmann 2010.

Raumland grows his fruit in three different vineyards:

(1) Dalsheim, Rheinhessen with 4.1 ha which is also home base for the estate. These vineyards are planted to Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay;

(2) Hohen-Sülzen, Rheinhessen with 1.5 ha planted 100% to Pinot Noir and

(3) Bockenheim, Pfalz with 4.0 ha located 5km to the south of Dalsheim which is also Volker’s hometown. Riesling from these vineyards is used for Sekt whereas miscellaneous red wine varieties are vinified as still wine.

We had the

NV, Raumland Brut, Riesling, Euro 12

Tasting notes: Very light yellow in the glass, with ribbons of small bubbles and a light mousse, elegant tasty nose with pear and green apple overtones, with a noble and earthy austerity on the palate, lasting finish, 12% alcohol, 89 Schiller Wine Points.

Here is a description of how Volker Raumland makes his Sekts.

(1) Very careful and painstaking hand selection. The grapes are placed in small 15 kg boxes to assure that none of the fruit is scarred or damaged. Grapes are picked at 75 to 80 Oechlse, the optimum must weight for sparkling wine.

(2) Whole cluster pressing to preserve fruit aromas, no maceration, no mashing and no pumping of the juice.

(3) The “Champagne press program” with a duration of four hours, involves careful segmentation of the juice. The separation involves the first run (5%), the middle run or “heart” (50%) and the last run or taille (10%). To control phenolics the press is stopped after the last run. These figures coincide with champagne where 67% of the juice is used. First run and last run juices are used for the basic Sekts such as Cuvée Marie - Luise and Cuvée Katharina (named after the Raumland’s daughters) as are lower quality portions of the middle run. The better part of the middle run is used for the Prestige varietal Cuvées and the very best for the Grand Cuvee Triumvirat.

(4) The exception to the above is using the Saignée process by bleeding off prefermentation juice to make the Rose Prestige Cuvee (10% Pinot Noir) gathering juice for the Rose Prestige Cuvee (100% Pinot Noir).

(5) The time laps between harvest and the start of fermentation is a maximum of three days. Because of the earlier harvest for champagne grapes, fermentation starts already in September and often goes past November. The Pinot varietals and Chardonnay also go through a malolactic fermentation which lasts anywhere from two to six weeks depending on the PH of the wine ( high PH- fast malolactic, low PH- slow malolactic).

(6) After completion of the fermentation the wine is left on the fine yeast for maximum benefit. The wines are filtered and cold stabilized before Tirage. Tirage involves adding .24 gm/l of sugar and cultured Champagne yeast (sourced from Epernay in Champagne) and capping the bottles with a crown cork. This then starts yet another fermentation capturing CO2 which develops a pressure of six bars in the bottle. They are stored horizontally for maximum yeast contact for a minimum of 12 months to 12 years, depending on the quality of the Sekt.

(7) Four weeks before the Sekt is finished the bottles are hand riddled. After disgorgement a 1.0% dosage of a high quality wine is added to the prestige cuvees and 1/2% dosage to the Tête de Cuvee Triumvirat. The best quality dosage goes to the highest quality Sekt.

(8) The Sekts are stored in a four stories deep cellar to achieve optimum ripeness and “pin point” mousse. The Sekts are continuously monitored and tasted to assure optimum quality. All Sekts, including older vintages are freshly disgorged before they leave the estate.

Raumland Sekts are imported by Rudi Wiest into the US.

Schiller Wine – Related Postings

Wine Event: Wines Served at President Obama's State Dinner in Honor of Prime Minister Singh of India

German Wine Basics: Sekt

German Wine Makers in the World: Eduard Werle - Owner of the Veuve Cliquot Champagne House

German Wine Basics: Sekt

Wine ratings: German Wine - Eichelmann 2010

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wine event: The Wines at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Banquet in Honour of President Obama in Oslo

Picture: Reuters

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Banquet in honor of President Obama was held at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 2009.

The following wines were served.

NV Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée no 733, France

Jacquesson is a well respected Champagne House founded in 1798. It is among the oldest ones. Napoleon is said to have favored the Jacquesson sparklers. Jacquesson is now run by brothers Jean-Hervé and Laurent Chiquet, with a third partner, Michael Mackenzie, based in London. The Jacquesson vineyards are in the Grand Cru villages of Aÿ, Avize and Oiry and in the Premier Cru villages of Hautvillers, Dizy and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. These sites account for the majority of the fruit used by the house, but about 15% is sourced from other growers.

Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Émile 2004 – Trimbach, France

A dry white wine from the Alsace region. The Trimbach family has a wine-making history stretching back almost 400 years. One of the great winemakers in the Alcase region, with an emphasis on Riesling and Gewurztraminer. The Cuvée Frédéric Emile (from Grands Crus Osterberg and Geisberg)is probably their best known wine.

Pouilly-Fumé 2008 – André Dezat et fis, France

Another French wine, from the Loire region. The Pouilly-Fumé is dry white wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. It is characterized by smoky flavors and minerality. This is an unspectacular wine, but highly appreciated in the US, which is probably the reason, why it was served.

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Robert Mondavi, US

An American classic from the Estate of Robert Mondavi - one of the great personalities of the American wine revolution.

Vidal Icewine 2003 – Inniskillin Wines, Canada

An icewine from the top wine maker of Canadian icewine, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Inniskillin has played an important pioneering role in the modern Canadian wine industry. Vidal Blanc is an inter-specific hybrid variety of white wine grape, which manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates while maintaining good acid levels.

Schiller Wine - Related Posting

Wine Event: The Wines served at President's Obama State Dinner of the Indian Prime Minister

Wine Event: Wines served at the 2009 Nobel Prize Banquet in Stockholm

Wine Ratings: Austria’s Best Red Wines - 2010

The wine guide, in German, Austria’s Best Red Wines 2010 (Oesterreichs Beste Rotweine 2010) was released on December 3, 2009. The wine guide is published by the two wine journalists Helmut O. Knall and Walter Tucek.

Like Germany, Austria has an international reputation for its white wines, but there has been a revolution going on in terms of red wines in recent years. In both countries, red wine now accounts for about 1/3 of the wine production.

Earlier this years, for the first time, a red wine from Austria has earned 95 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Moric, Blaufränkisch, Neckenmarkter Alte Reben, 2006 scooped the high ranking.

This success of the Burgenland red echoed a bit the triumph of the Pinot Noir of Weingut Meyer-Näkel Dernauer Pfarrwingert Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs 2005, from the Ahr region in Germany that won the 2008 the International Pinot Noir Trophy (Over £10) of the Decanter World Wine Awards.

There are four key Austrian red varieties, although others are grown, including some ‘international’ grapes.

Zwiegelt: The most abundant red grape; makes good wines ranging from simple cherry fruit gluggers to more substantial reds destined for ageing.

Blaufränkisch: Common in Burgenland this makes spicy, sturdy, berry fruited reds which can have some tannic structure. Probably Austria’s best red grape.

Blauer Portugieser: This red grape makes soft, approachable, juicy wines mainly for early consumption. The most widely planted red grape but not for top quality wines.
St Laurent: Makes soft, slight herby, expressive reds; it’s a bit like Pinot Noir.

Picture: Wine makers Glazter (left) and Markowitsch

Knall/Tucek rate wines on a scale of 1 to 5 glasses. 34 wines were awarded 5 glasses.

4 of the 5 glasses wines come from the Carnuntum. The Carnuntum region covers an area south east of Vienna and south of the Danube. The stony lime and loess soils of the Leithagebirge, the Arbesthaler Hügelland and the Hainburger Bergen, together with the Pannonian micro climate and the proximity to the Danube offer ideal natural conditions. Europe's oldest vine can be found in this region. I have bought Glatzer and Markowitsch wines at the RotWeissRot in Munich, one of the leading, if not the best retailer of Austrian wines in Germany.

The 34 wines that were awarded 5 glasses are listed here. They can be considered as word class wines. Interestingly, Moric, who got 95 Parker points, is not on the list.

1. Schwarz Rot 2008 Weingut Johann Schwarz Neusiedlersee
2. St. Laurent Rosenberg 2007 Brigitte und Gerhard Pittnauer Neusiedlersee
3. Blaufränkisch Spitzerberg Reserve 2007 Dietrich - Weinbau am Spitzerberg Carnuntum
4. Spitzerberg 2007 Weingut & Gasthaus Günther Glock Carnuntum
5. Judith 2007 Weingut Beck Neusiedlersee
6. Paradigma 2007 Weingut Claus Preisinger Neusiedlersee
7. Pannobile 2007 Weingut Claus Preisinger Neusiedlersee
8. Pinot Noir 2007 Weingut Claus Preisinger Neusiedlersee
9. Pandur 2007 Weingut Familie Strehn Österreich - Mittelburgenland
10. Zweigelt Dornenvogel 2007 Weingut Glatzer Carnuntum
11. Eruption Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Weingut Krispel Südost-Steiermark
12. Blaufränkisch Reserve 2007 Weingut Krutzler Süd-Burgenland
13. Gigama 2007 Weingut Leth Wagram
14. Rosenberg 2007 Weingut Markowitsch Carnuntum
15. Pinot Noir 2007 Weingut Neumeister Südost-Steiermark
16. Admiral 2007 Weingut Pöckl Neusiedlersee
17. Kreideberg 2007 Weingut Wagentristl Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
18. Merlot Von den Schlossterrassen 2007 Weingut Winkler-Hermaden Südost-Steiermark
19. Altenberg Reserve 2006 Brigitte und Gerhard Pittnauer Neusiedlersee
20. Blaufränkisch Altenberg 2006 Weingut Beck Neusiedlersee
21. Merlot 2006 Weingut Braunstein Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
22. Cupido 2006 Weingut J. Heinrich Mittelburgenland
23. Eisner 2006 Weingut Kloster am Spitz Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
24. Pannobile 2006 Weingut Leitner Neusiedlersee
25. Hill 1 2006 Weingut Leo Hillinger Neusiedlersee
26. Eruption Rot 2006 Weingut Ploder-Rosenberg Südost-Steiermark
27. Kreos 2006 Weingut Tesch Mittelburgenland
28. Dürrau 2006 Weingut Weninger Mittelburgenland
29. Antares 2006 Weingut Zahel Wien
30. Danubis Grand Select 2005 Weingut Wieninger Wien
31. Zweigelt Hallebühl 2004 Weingut Umathum Neusiedlersee
32. Pinot Noir Grand Select 2004 Weingut Wieninger Wien
33. Langenloiser Dechant Blauburgunder 2003 Weingut Willi Bründlmayer Kamptal
34. Vincent Cabernet Franc 2002 Weingut Willi Bründlmayer Kamptal

Tucek & Knall: Österreichs beste Rotweine aus 2009, im Österreichischen Wirtschaftsverlag, 164 Seiten, durchgehend farbig, 9,90 Euro, Alpha Buchhandel alpha@austrodata.at

Schiller Wine – Related Postings:

Wine merchant in Munich: Rotweissrot
German Wine makers in the World: A. Schlumberger, Austria

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Gerhard Biber, Rotweissrot in Munich