Thursday, May 27, 2010

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ernst Loosen in New York

The Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 came to San Francisco and New York City

The Riesling & Co World Tour with its mostly German Riesling producers was back in the US in May. In San Francisco, the event took place at the Westin St. Francis on May 11th and featured 28 tables of German wines, representing over 40 German producers. Notable attendees included Jon Bonne of San Francisco Chronicle, Claude Kolm of Fine Wine Review, sommeliers Noah Drano and Tony Cha from Michael Mina and sommeliers Ian Conroy, Bob Moore and John Vuong from Gary Danko.

In New York City, the event took place at the TriBeCa Rooftop on May 13th. The trade and media portion of the tasting attracted over 280 attendees, including Howard Goldberg of The New York Times, Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator, Joe Czerwinski of Wine Enthusiast, Josh Green of Wine & Spirits, Lindsay Ronga of Cork'd, David Rosengarten of Saveur and myself. Top trade attendees included Paul Grieco and Matt Stinton of Hearth & Terroir, Bob Paulinski, MW of Winn-Dixie Stores, Aldo Sohm of Le Bernardin, Peter Sichel of BVG Management, and consultant Fred Dexheimer, MS. Following the trade and media tasting, the doors opened for over 190 consumers that were anxious to sample and learn more about the numerous German Rieslings at the

Pictures: View of the Event and of TriBeCa from the Rooftop

Wine Producer Germany

With about 102,000 hectares (252,000 acres or 1,020 square kilometers) of vineyard, which is around one tenth of the vineyard surface in Spain, France or Italy, wine production in Germany is usually around 9 million hectoliters annually, or to 1.2 billion bottles, which places Germany as the 8th largest wine-producing country in the world. White wine accounts for almost two thirds of the total production.

The German wine industry consists of many small wine producers, totaling about 70.000. If you exclude the about 40.000 operators of less than 0.5 hectare who should probably be classified as hobby winemakers, you are down to 30.000 wine makers. Then, it gets a bit complicated. Many smaller winemakers do not pursue wine making as a full-time occupation, but rather as a supplement to other agriculture or to hospitality. It is not uncommon that a small family-owned tavern or restaurant has its own wine. If we move up to a minimum of 5 hectares, we get down to about 6.000 wineries, accounting for about 60 percent of Germany's total vineyard surface, and it is in this category that the full-time winemakers are primarily found. However, truly large wineries, in terms of their own vineyard holdings, are rare in Germany. Hardly any German wineries reach the size of New World wine making companies. Most wineries present at the show were in the 10 to 20 hectar range, or 7000 to 14000 cases.

There are 13 German wine regions: Five large regions - Rheinhessen 26000 hectares, Pfalz 23000 hectares, Baden 16000 hectares, Wuerttemberg 12000 hectares, Mosel 10000 hectares. Three medium-size regions - Franken 6000 hectares, Nahe 4000 hectares, Rheingau 3000 hectares. Five small regions - Saale Unstrut 700 hectares, Sachsen 500 hectares, Hessische Bergstrasse 500 hectares, Mittelrhein 500 hectares, Ahr 300 hectares.

Picture: Germany's Wine Regions

Classification of German Wines

Germany’s wine classification system is very complicated. Basically, the sugar content of the fruit at the point of harvest is at its heart. The riper the fruit,the higher the sugar content in the grapes, the higher the classification of the wine. The content of the fruit at the point of harvest, however, has nothing to do with the sweetness of the finished wine. With the exception of the noble sweet wines, at all quality levels, German wine can be bone-dry or sweet.

The Germans measure the sugar content of the grapes with the Oechsle scale. Based on the Oechsle degrees, German wine is classified into nine quality groups, ranging from Tafelwein with the minimum Oechsle degree of 44 to Trockenebeerenauslese with a minimum Oechsle degree of 150. The minimum Oechsle degrees differ somewhat between Germany’s wine regions and between red and white wine. The numbers indicated below are those for the white wines from the Mosel valley.

Tafelwein (Table wine) - the lowest German quality class; has to have at least 44 degrees of Oechsle in the vineyard.

Landwein (Country wine) - 47 degrees of Oechsle at the minimum.

Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA wine) means a quality wine from one of the thirteen specified German wine regions; close to half of German wine is QbA wine - 50 degrees Ochsle.

Kabinett - 67 degrees Oechsle.

Spaetlese means late harvest but this are simple wines made from grapes with a higher level of Oechsle - 76 degrees, not necessarily wine made with grapes harvested late in the season.

Auslese - 83 degrees of Oechsle.

Beerenauslese - 110 degrees of Oechsle.

Eiswein - icewine, the same minimu level of 110 degrees of Oechsle.

Trockenbeerenauslese - 150 degrees of Oechsle.

Same basics, which are often not well understood, but which are fundamental to the issue: The fermentation of grape must is a complex process in which sugars are transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the action of yeasts. During fermentation, the sugar content of the must declines and potentially disappears completely, while the alcohol content increases. This process stops automatically when the alcohol level in the wine has reached around 13 to 15 percent of the volume. Typically, wines are then bone dry, because all the sugar is gone; this is certainly true for Germany, being a rather northern wine producer.

Three issues arise. First, in reality you have sweet German wines at all quality levels. How do winemakers do this? There are two methods used by German winemakers to generate residual sugar in such wine: (1) Stopping the fermentation at the desired level of sweetness and (2) letting the wine first fully ferment and then adding to the dry and fully fermented wine sterilized grape juice (called in German "Suessreserve"). In the first case, you get a wine that is sweet and low in alcohol. In the second case, you get a wine that is sweet and has a normal alcohol content.

Second, the noble sweet wines. They are a different story. The fruit has such a high sugar level at harvest that there is nothing you can do preventing the wine to remain sweet. These noble-sweet wines are produced either from botrytised grapes or grapes that were harvested during frost. In both cases, the sugar content of the grape is exceptionally high at the time of the harvest and mother nature is unable to ferment all the sugar. Thus, natural sugar remains in the wine and makes the wine sweet. These are the famous sweet dessert wines in Germany: Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein.

Third, chaptalization is legal and normal, but only for wines in the Tafelwein, Landwein and QbA categories, which accounts for about 60% of German wine. From Kabinett wines upwards, chaptalization is not allowed. It is obvious that chaptalization is not a means of increasing the sweetness of the wine but of the alcohol content, as in neighboring France.


Of all the grapes of Germany, the premier grape variety is the Riesling — a variety that can do well even in stony soil and can subsist on a minimum of moisture. It is a very dependable bearer of high quality grapes which have a high acidity level that gives the wine a racy freshness and contributes to its long life. To reach its full potential, Riesling needs extra days of sun; ripening is very late, usually not until the latter half of October. Riesling produces elegant wines of rich character with an incomparable fragrance and taste, often reminiscent of peaches, or when young, apples.

Germany alone is home to more than 60% of the world’s Riesling vineyards. But German wine is not only Riesling. There are many other interesting grapes.

Participants in New York

There were 46 tables. At many tables, the winemaker himself or herself, or the owner were present and poured the wines. At other tables, the wines were poured by the importer, representing the Weingut. In a number of cases, the winemakers were indicating in the catalogue that they were seeking an importer. I have indicated these winemakers in the listing below.

Picture: Participants of the Riesling and Co Wine Tour 2010 in New York

Weingut Becker-Steinhauer, Mosel, 6000 cases,, Karsten Becker presented 6 classic Mosel wines, ranging from QbA to Auslese, seeking importer.

Weingut Kerpen, Mosel, 5000 cases,, Martin Kerpen is a reliable 2 Gault Millau Grapes producer from Bernkastel-Wehlen, present 2 excellent Kabinett wines.

Weingut Meulenhof, Mosel, 6500 cases,, 2 late harvest wines.

Weingut Carl Loewen, Mosel, 8500 cases,, a 2 Gault Millau grapes producer from Leiwen, presented 2 wines, including an interesting premium dry Riesling with the name "1896" Alte Reben Riesling.

Click Wine Group, Mosel, 46000 cases,, presented 1 wine - 2008 Moselland Riesling Clean Slate.

Weingut Dr. Loosen, Mosel, 10000 cases,, Owner Ernst Loosen, Germany’s Riesling Ambassador, who does not need an introduction, poured the wines himself, including a 2006 Beerenauslese, he also produces wines in Oregon and Washington State, including the famous Eroica, in a joint venture with Chateau St. Michelle.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Ernst Loosen

Weingut Robert Weil, Rheingau, 42000 cases,, the leading producer from the Rheingau region with 3 wines.

Weingut Markus Molitor, Mosel, 20000 cases,, one of this year’s Falstaff winemakers of the year with 6 wines, including a Pinot Noir.

MO-RHE-NA GmbH, Rheingau and Mosel,, presented the wines of Hans Lang, Ulrich Langguth and Losen-Bockstanz.

Weingut Paulinshof, Mosel,, Christa Juengling from the 3 Gault Millau Ggrapes Paulinshof Estate poured a selection of mostly semi-dry Mosel wines, seeking importer.

Picture: Christa Juengling

Weingut Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Mosel, 10000 cases,, selection of 6 traditional Mosel wines from top vineyards in Bernkastel and Wehlen.

Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Mosel, 10500 cases,, selection of traditional Mosel wines from a 3 Gault Millau grapes producer, including a 2008 Riesling Classic and a Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnuhr Auslese.

Schaefer-Reichart Selections, Mosel,, California-based importer and retailer, representing 7 wineries from the Middle-Mosel.

Weingut von Schleinitz, Mosel, 6000 cases,, presented 6 wines, including 2 Pinot Noir wines.

Weingut Oekonomierat A. Schmitt, Mosel, 9000 cases,, presented 6 wines, including a Sekt brut, a Riesling Classic and dry Riesling Hochgewaechs.

Weingut St. Urbans-Hof, Mosel, 20000 cases,, this top Mosel wine producer presented 6 wines, a classic Mosel collection from QbA to a Piesporter Goldtroepfchen Auslese.

Weingut Mathern, Nahe, 7500 cases,, owner and winemaker Gloria Mathern presented 6 wines with a clear focus on dry wines, seeking importer.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Gloria Mathern

Guenter Schlink , Nahe, 50000 cases, presented 12 wines, including a 2007 Dornfelder/Regent blend.

WINECONSALE, Germany-based WINECONSALE represents a number of top German winemakers world-wide, owner Joachim Binz poured the wines of Tesch, Dreissigacker, Groebe and Jacob Duijn, star winemaker Martin Tesch was present with 3 wines, including the famous “unplugged”.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Martin Tesch

Weingut Antony, Rheinhessen,, Christian Antony poured 6 wines, catchy winebottle design, most wines were dry, he also poured a 1999 Schreurebe Beerenauslese, seeking importer.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller and Christian Antony

Maison des Arcades, Rheinhessen,, a German winemaker with a French name, unusual bottle design, all wines are “green”, i.e. biodynamic or organic, seeking importer.

Weingut Magdalenenhof Bluemel, Rheinhessen, Sebastian Bluemel poured 6 rather unusual German wines, including a 2007 Regent “unfiltered” and a 2009 ChiSecco, seeking importer.

Weinhaus Jean Buscher, Rheinhessen,, Jean Raphael Buscher poured a selection of 6 wines, of which only one was a Riesling, others included Dornfelder, (red) Schwarzriesling and Muskateller, seeking importer.

Weingut Dr. Andreas Schreiber, Rheinhessen, 10000 cases,, Dr. Andreas Schreiber's portfolio had a strong "Co." focus, with an interesting Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon "Prestige" cuvee and a Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to 2 Rieslings, including a dry Spaetlese.

Weingut Fritz Windisch, Rheinessen, Windisch is known for his affordable noble-sweet wines, the selection included a Silvaner Eiswein and Siegerrebe Trockenbeerenauslese.

Winesellers, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Nahe, Mosel, and, Derek Vinnicombe and Valerie Lynch brought the wines of 9 winemakers to New York and several of the wine producers were present at the table, each winery presented 2 wines, they were mostly Rieslings in the Kabinett and Spaetlese range. The Weingueter were:
Weingut Dr. Heyden,
Weingut G.A. Schneider
Weingut Schaefer
Weingut Fitz-Ritter
Weingtu Paul Anheuser
Weingtu Karp-Schreiber
Weingut Dr. Fischer
Weingut Bollig-Lehnert
Weingut Dr. Thanisch

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Derek Vinnicombe and Karin Fischer

Braun-Nierstein, Rheinhessen, 10000 cases,, a selection of 6 wines, of which 4 were dry, all Riesling, except for one Rheinriesling, the focus of the Braun wines is on dry wines and noble sweet wines.

Weingut Heitlinger and Weingut Burg Ravensberg, Baden, 40000 cases,, an all dry selection of 6 wines, including a Erste Lage 2008 Riesling, Heitlinger uses catchy English terms like “Shiny River” for the label, seeking importer.

Weingut Adam Mueller, Baden,, Matthias and Nathalie Mueller poured a selection of dry or semi-dry wines focusing on red and white Pinots, seeking importer.

Christian G.E.Schiller with Nathalie Mueller

Weingut Lingenfelder, Pfalz, 10000 cases,, the wines of Rainer Karl Lingenfelder are well known and well regarded in the American market.

Christian G.E.Schiller with Rainer Karl Lingenfelder

Weingut Lucashof, Pfalz, 12500 cases,, Christine Lucas poured a selection of 5 wines, on the sweet side, including a sensational 2007 Rieslaner Beerenauslese from Forst.

Weingut von Winning, Pfalz, 21000 cases,, 3 good lower-end wines.

Weingut Deutzerhof, Ahr, 5800 cases,, one of Germany's leading red wine producers, Dorothee and Johann Hehle poured a selection of 3 red wines from the Ahr region, the Ahr region produces mostly red wines, seeking importer.

Metropolis Wine Merchants,, a selection of 3 wines from 3 smaller wine producer, all dry or semi-dry.

Weingut Friedrich Altenkirch, Rheingau, 8300 cases,, the unconventional German winemaker Ms. Tomoko Kuriyama from Japan makes these wines in Lorch, Katja Apelt, a "WineWorker" from Frankfurt am Main, presented a selection of 6 wines, all dry or semi-dry, all Riesling, including a semi-dry Auslese, seeking importer.

Picture: The table of Weingut Friedrich Altenkirch with Katja Apelt

Wein-Tainment, Rheingau,, the interesting selection of Franz Georg Eger included 3 classic Rheingau Riesling wines from the Winkeler Hasensprung vineyard and 3 unordodox wines under the label “Moog de Medici”; one of the “Moog de Medici’ was a dry Spaetlese, seeking importer.

Schloss Jahnnisberg, Rheingau, 20000 cases,, from the estate, where the Spaetlese was invented, 6 classic Rheingau Riesling wines on the sweet side, including an Esiwein.

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rheingau, 31000 cases,, one of the top German wine producers with a traditional Rheingau Riesling portfolio from a dry QbA wine to a sweet Spaetlese, the former one is the hugely popular 1-2-Dry wine.

Weingut Prinz von Hessen, Rheingau,, a selection of 5 classic Rheingau Riesling wines with a bone-dry Erstes Gewaechs premium wine and a sweet Auslese.

Weingut Balthasar Ress, Rheingau, 30000 cases,, a selection of 3 wines ranging from a dry Riesling to a sweet Spaetlese.

Weingut Wittmann,, 3 wines, all dry from one of the stars of German winemaking, a Wittmann wine was on the 2009 Top 100 Wine Spectator list.

Weingueter Graf von Schoenborn, Rheingau and Franken, 40000 cases,, 6 wines, all Riesling, except a typical Franken Silvaner Kabinett, a wonderful dry wine.

Sekthaus Solter, Rheingau, 6000 cases,, an all Sekt producer from Ruedesheim with 3 brut Sekts, Helmut Solter is seeking an importer.

Domchechant Werner’sches Weingut, Rheingau, 9000 cases,, Catharina Mauritz, the daughter of owner Dr. Michel, presented an excellent selection of 6 wines from Hochheim, ranging from a Riesling Classic to a bone-dry Erstes Gewaechs wine and a sweet Auslese write something about Hochheim.

Picture: Annette Schiller with Dr. Michel at the 30th Anniversary of the Hochheimer Weinfreunde, 2009

Karin Mueller Weinexport,, a new wine exporter from Nackenheim in Rheinhessen with a very interesting portfolio of mostly dry wines, Georg Mueller poured wines from Thoerle, A. Ziegler, Huff, Lubentiushof, Alexander Laible, Heyl zu Herrnsheim, seeking importer.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Georg Mueller

Palm Bay International,, an importer with a diverse portfolio including S.A Pruem from the Mosel, the brand “Blue Fish” and Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau.

Wines of Germany had the most popular tables at the Riesling event - the table was called: 1990's - a Decade of Great Rieslings and it featured 18 wines, half of them in the Auslese category and one 1993 Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from Weingut Buscher in Rheinhessen.

Picture: 1990's - a Decade of Great Rieslings

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Best of German Dry White Wines and Winemakers - The Falstaff 2010 Ranking

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wines - The 2009 Vintage

Germany's 15 Top Winemakers - the Feinschmecker 2010 Wine Guide

German Wine Basics: Schillerwein - A German Speciality

Wine Ratings: Riesling Cup 2009 - Germany's Top Dry Rieslings

German Wine Basics: Erstes Gewaechs, Grosses Gewaechs, Erste Lage

Germany's Best Red Wines: The 2009 VINUM AWARDS

Wine Ratings: Top 100 of the Wine Spectator 2009 includes Wittmann and Loosen

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

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

Tasting Notes: German Wines imported into the US by Valckenberg

The 13 Top Dry German Rieslings - Feinschmecker Cup 2009 (Vintage 2008)

Wine Caravan from Germany Visiting the East Coast, US: Dr. Fischer, Fitz Ritter, Bolling-Lehnert, Schneider, Dr. Thanisch


  1. Guten Tag Christian,
    What a report... I shall need to find time to read all the details! Thanks for supporting Riesling & friends. We intend to be in DC September 16th, so CU perhaps once again soon.

  2. Dr. Loosen WineryMay 28, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Thanks, Christian. I tweeted your post as well. Fans... this post offers a great mini-lesson on German wines. Well worth reading!

  3. Nice work, Christian! I was impressed by your attention to detail and the wealth of information you provide! Keep spreading the word!

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  5. Great post Christian.I love your blog information thanks for sharing.
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