Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer of Riesling 2012 and 31 Days of German Riesling 2012 in the United States

Pictures: White House in Washington DC; Christian G.E. Schiller with Chef/Owner Robert Wiedmaier (see: "Tablas Creek Wines from Paso Robles and Belgian Food at Brasserie Beck with Tablas Greek GM Jason Haas and Chef Robert Wiedmaier in Washington DC, USA"), whose Brabo Restaurant takes part in the Summer of Riesling 2012; and Georg Rumpf, Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe region (see: "Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany"), who already came over to the US for the Summer of Riesling, inter alia, for a winemaker dinner at Terroir in the East Village

Back in Washington DC in the US, I found myself in the middle of Paul Grieco’s Summer of Riesling 2012 and, more specifically, German Wines in the USA’s 31 Days of German Riesling.


Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall, Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.

Dry and Sweet Riesling

Many wine drinkers, in particular outside of Europe, when they see a Riesling in the shelves, have the association of a sweet-style wine. This is however misguided. Rieslings as a rule are dry wines. Of course, there are the famous sugar sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein and Schilfwein wines from Austria and Germany, the Sélection de Grains Nobles from France, the icewines from Canada and other Rieslings, made from botrytized, dried or frozen grapes. The grapes that go into these wines have such a high sugar content that there is nothing you can do to make dry wines out of these grapes. They inevitably produce nobly sweet wines. But apart from these exceptions, which account for only a tiny share of total production, Riesling grapes in Germany, Austria, Alsace, the US and Australia have normal sugar content at the time of fermentation and tend to produce dry wines, when fully fermented.

However, modern cellar methods allow winemakers in Germany (and elsewhere) to produce wines with a bit of residual sugar with these grapes. There are principally two methods applied in Germany – but neither in Austria nor Alsace - for making these sweet-style Rieslings. First, you do not let the fermentation run its course and stop it; as a result, you get a deliciously sweet and low alcohol wine. Second, you let the wine fully ferment to a normal alcohol level and then add Suessreserve (sterilized juice) to achieve the desired degree of sweetness. These sweet-style wines have lost popularity in Germany, although there appears to be a comeback, but in any case remain very popular outside of Germany, for example in the US.

Summer of Riesling

Hundreds of the finest restaurants in the US are celebrating the Summer of Riesling from June 20 to September 21, 2012.

The Summer of Riesling concept was created in 2008 when Manhattan restaurateur and Riesling fanatic Paul Grieco (Hearth Restaurant, Terroir E.Vil, Terroir, Tribeca and Terroir Murray Hill) decided that during the summer the ONLY white wine that Terroir customers could get was Riesling.

 Pictures: Terroir in the East Village - see: "New York Manhattan Wine Bars -- Bar Boulud, The Ten Bells, Terroir and Clo"

The following years the Summer of Riesling expanded in various ways, initially by enlisting other Manhattan wine bars as part of the celebration and adding a concert where the only alcoholic beverage available was Riesling—no beer, no spirits.

In 2011 Paul took the Summer of Riesling national, with support from the International Riesling Foundation (IRF), an organization specifically created to promote Rieslings from around the world. This year, the over 500 participating restaurants and wine bars include some of the country’s most famous: Spago Beverly Hills, Restaurant Gary Danko and Slanted Door in San Francisco, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Websters Wine Bar in Chicago, B & G Oysters in Boston, Wild Ginger in Seattle, and, in New York, Bar Boulud, Craft, and Daniel—along with Terroir, of course. The restaurants agreed to feature at least three Rieslings by the glass throughout the entire summer, along with their bottle selections, but many offered even more.

Paul Grieco officially kicked off the 2012 Summer of Riesling campaign with an IRF booth at the ProWein trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany in early March, applying more than 2,000 tattoos to people of all ages, who then became walking advertisements for Riesling.

31 Days of German Riesling

As part of the Summer of Riesling, during the month of July, participating restaurants are serving at least two German Rieslings and retailers offer at least one in-store tasting. To add to the celebration, the German Wine Queen will visit New York from July 23-27. During her visit, the German Wine Queen will attend wine tastings at New York retailers and host the Summer of Riesling Concert and Boast Cruise on July 24 in New York Harbor.

31 Days of German Riesling in the Washington DC Area

Participating restaurants and retailers in the Washington DC area are:

Washington DC

Ardour | The St. Regis Washington, DC
Bourbon Steak | Four Seasons Hotel
Charlie Palmer Steak DC
CityZen | Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Hank's Oyster Bar
Mayfair + Pine
MacArthur Beverages

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Ernst Loosen at MacArthur Beverages - see: "The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA"

OYA Restaurant
Plume | Jefferson Hotel
Proof Restaurant
Smith Commons DC
Veritas Wine Bar


Brabo Restaurant Alexandria
Crystal City Wine Shop Arlington
Foxfire Grill Alexandria
Evening Star Cafe | Planet Wine Shop Alexandria
The Vineyard McLean
Twisted Vines Arlington
UNWINED Wine + Gourmet Alexandria


Freddy's Lobster + Clam Bethesda
Grapeseed Bistro + Wine Bar Bethesda

schiller-wine: Related Postings

1st International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Winemakers in the World: Hermann J. Wiemer

Dr. Frank Wines from Finger Lakes Featured at State Luncheon for Chancellor Merkel in Washington, D.C., USA

Aging Potential of Riesling – A Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium in Germany Led by Jancis Robinson

Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Wrap-Up: 4 Extraordinary Riesling Tastings at the 1. International Riesling Symposium at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany

Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

Annual White Wine Presentation of the VDP Wine Makers from the Nahe, Ahr and Rheinhessen Regions in Mainz, Germany

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany

New York Manhattan Wine Bars -- Bar Boulud, The Ten Bells, Terroir and Clo.

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

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