Thursday, August 5, 2010

Best of Riesling Awards 2010

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winners Heinrich and Heinz Baison, Weingut Baison, Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Best of Riesling Awards 2010

Every other year, the Best of Riesling competition takes place in Germany, organized by the Ministry of Wine of the Land Rheinland Pfalz. Note that the Land Rheinland Pfalz has a Ministry of Wine!

Picture: Best of Riesling

In 2010, more than 150 experts from a dozen countries gathered in the Pfalz to assess over 1,900 wines. German wines dominated the 6th Best of Riesling submissions, but wine producers from Austria also submitted a sizable number of wines. Other Old World countries participating in the contest included France and for the first time Slovenia. New World countries submitted 37 wines.

Here are the winners in various categories.

Kategorie 1: Trockene deutsche Rieslinge – Category 1: Dry German Rieslings

Up to 4 grams per liter residual sugar.

Platz 1 2009 Michelbacher Apostelgarten, Spätlese
Weingut Heilmann, Alzenau, Franken

Platz 2 2009 Erbach Hohenrain, Alte Reben
Weingut Jakob Jung, Eltville-Erbach, Rheingau

Platz 3 2009 Hochheimer Hölle, Spätlese
Weingut Heinrich Baison, Hochheim, Rheingau

Hoffest at Weingut Heinrich Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau, 3rd Place in Category 1

I had the pleasure to attend a few days ago a Hoffest – a winery party - at Weingut Baison, 3rd place in category 1. They poured their award winning wine.

Weingut Baison is one of the upcoming smaller winemakers in Hochheim. The predominat grape variety on Baison’s 6 hectares of land is the Riesling, accounting for 8/10 of the total, followed by Pinot Noir, accounting for 1/10. The Baisons are experimenting with the Regent, a new red grape variety.

The Baison Estate is a winemaker, where you can buy you white Literwein for daily consumption for Euro 4.20 per liter, either dry or off-dry. The red Literwein costs a bit more, Euro 5.50, and is a Spaetburgunder.

At the Hoffest, I liked very much the 2008 Hochheimer Stein Gewürztraminer Spätlese, trocken for Euro 8.00 per bottle. All Spaetlese wines are in this price range, including the 2009 Baison Junior, vinified by the Baison junior Heinrich (same name as his Grandgrandfather, who founded the Winery).

Picture: Hoffest at Weingut Baison in Hochheim

I finished the evening with Hochheimer Hölle Spätburgunder Spätlese ,dry, velvety, round, for Euro 12. The red wines are all at least one year aged in a barrique barrel. We had started the evening with a Baison brut Riesling Sekt, aged four years on the yeast, for Euro 8.70, a steal.

Kategorie 2: Halbtrockene deutsche Rieslinge – Category 2: Semi-dry German Rieslings

Up to 12 grams per liter residual sugar.

Platz 1 2009 Sausenheimer Honigsack, Kabinett
Weingut Schenk-Siebert, Grünstadt-Sausenheim, Pfalz

Platz 2 2009 Erbach Steinmorgen, Spätlese
Weingut Jakob Jung, Eltville-Erbach, Rheingau

Platz 3 2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Kabinett
Weingut Dr. Corvers-Kauter, Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau
Kategorie 3: Fruchtig-süße deutsche Rieslinge – Category 3: Sweet German Rieslings

From 12 to 90 grams per liter residual sugar.

Platz 1 2009 Zeller Nußberg, Spätlese
Weingut Stephan Fischer, Zell, Mosel

Platz 2 2009 Schloss Fürstenberg, Spätlese
Weingut Florian Weingart, Spay, Mittelrhein

Platz 3 2009 Erdener Treppchen, Spätlese
Weingut Hermann-Josef Schwaab, Erden, Mosel
Kategorie 4: Edelsüße deutsche Rieslinge - Category 4: Noble-sweet German Rieslings

With more than 90 grams residual sugar per liter.

Platz 1 2009 Laumersheimer Kirschgarten, Trockenbeerenauslese, Großes Gewächs
Weingut Philipp Kuhn, Laumersheim, Pfalz

Platz 2 2009 Würzburger Stein, Beerenauslese
Weingut Juliusspital, Würzburg, Franken

Platz 3 2007 Weisenheimer Hahnen, Trockenbeerenauslese
Weingut Langenwalter, Weisenheim am Sand, Pfalz

Dry and Sweet Spaetlese Wines in Germany

For an uninformed Riesling drinker, it is probably surprising that the Spaetlese wines dominated all categories, from dry to sweet, except the noble-sweet wines. Spaetlese translated literally means late harvest wines. Many consumers associate therefore with Spaetlese a sweet wine. This is not correct. Spaetlese wines can be sweet, even sugar-sweet, but can also be bone dry.

Here is why: During fermentation, the sugar in the grape turns into alcohol and CO2; the level of the sugar in the must goes down while the level of the alcohol goes up. Once a certain level of alcohol is attained, around 13 to 15 percent, the fermentation process stops naturally and the unfermented sugar remains in the wine.

For 95 percent of the grapes harvested in Germany, without additional effort of the wine maker, no unfermented sugar remains in the wine and the finished wine will be dry. Except for the noble-sweet wines, grapes harvested in Germany do not have enough sugar to produce a wine that is sweet, if you just leave it to mother nature. Grape sugar only remains for the group of noble-sweet wines, i.e. Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. However, in reality, there are plenty of sweet wines in Germany, at all levels. How does that happen?

There are two methods used by German winemakers to generate residual sugar in such wine:

First, stopping the fermentation; this is typically done through a skillful manipulation of the fermentation process with sulfur and temperature control. The winemaker needs to follow closely the fermentation process and must make sure that it comes to a stop at the desired level of sugar.

Second, the other technique is to let the wine first fully ferment and then add to the dry and fully fermented wine sterilized grape juice (called in German "Suessreserve"). Here, the winemaker lets the wine fully ferment to produce a dry wine and then experiments with different amounts of Suessreserve to achieve the desired level of sweetness in the final product. Both methods are used and perfectly legal.

Kategorie 5: Bester europäischer Riesling – Category 5: Best European Riesling

2009 Wormeldange Koeppchen „Les Terrasses“
Domaine Alice Hartmann, Wormeldange, Luxemburg

Luxembourg is a very small wine producer (1100 hectares) in the center of Europe. They produce fine, bone-dry Mosel wines. The industry is dominated by wine-cooperatives, which account for about 2/3 of the wine production. Domaine Alice Hartmann is one of the few independent winemakers.

Kategorie 6: Bester Riesling aus der Neuen Welt – Category 6: Best New World Riesling

2008 Cayuga Lake
Cayuga Ridge Estate, Ovid, New York

Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery is a family owned and operated winery located within the picturesque Finger Lakes region. This is a wonderful area with excellent wines. The Dr. Konstantin Frank Estate and the Herrmann Wiemer Estate are the area’s leaders, when it comes to Riesling. But also others make excellent Riesling wines. Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery clearly does.

Picture: New York State with Finger Lakes Region

Two Special Awards for Best Riesling Collection

Weingut Wilker Pleisweiler-Oberhofen, Pfalz
2009 Riesling trocken
2009 Riesling Kabinett trocken
2009 Riesling Spätlese trocken

Weingut Kees-Kieren, Graach, Mosel
2009 Graacher Domprobst, Steillage Spätlese trocken
2009 Graacher Himmelreich, Spätlese
2007 Graacher Himmelreich, Trockenbeerenauslese

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions - I have Counted Five

How does a Sweet German Riesling Become Sweet?

A Wine Feast in the Rheingau, Germany: The 2010 Grand Wine Convention

A Combination of Extraordinary Wine and Art: Peter Winter's Georg Mueller Stiftung in the Rheingau

The Avantgarde Wine World of Dr. Martin Tesch

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

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

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

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

1 comment:

  1. Cayuga Ridge EstateAugust 9, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    "Thank you Christian! And thanks also for your blog post - we enjoyed reading it! "