Wines of Germany: Riesling & Co. World Tour 2009

Wines of Germany: Riesling & Co. World Tour 2009
As mentioned in my visiting the Mosel post, a few weeks back I was lucky enough to be invited to a “trade” only event sponsored by Wines of Germany previewing the 2008 Riesling vintage. The event featured 21 German wine exhibitors showcasing their offerings. With a hundred plus wines on offer I made my decision to focus early on. With that there were five highlights I wanted to share:

Wines of Germany: Weingut St. Urbans-Hof

  • Tasting Weingut St. Urbans-Hof – If there is one winery where I was going to taste everything they had to offer it was Weingut St. Urbans-Hof . And taste I did. One thing I learned while at this event, though I intuitively had an idea, was the low alcohol percentage of Rieslings. The offerings here were between 7.5-9.5%. You may want to refresh your memory on Riesling classifications and check out the 2008 vintage report before getting to some quick notes tasting notes on their offerings:
    • 2008 Riesling QbA ($13) – sweet on the nose, not as much on the palate. Lemon flavors with a nice mineral component coming through. A typical light and refreshing example from the Mosel.
    • 2008 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett ($16) – more floral notes and higher in acidity. You are going to want food for this one.
    • 2008 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett ($19) – Much more depth here. Sweeter and more full bodied on the palate this one shows some nice fruit.
    • 2008 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese ($25) – surprisingly not much on the nose. Lemony tart with a great mineral background and abundant floral notes, my favorite of the bunch.
    • 2008 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese ($30) – Described this one as funky on the nose. The palate doesn’t match. Sweet, savory and juicy with a hint of bubbles.Wines of Germany: Silvaner
    • 2007 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese ($45) – Faint on the nose but rich and full on the palate. Overpowering with taste of honey, nuts and candied golden green apples. Guessing this one would last forever and a day.
  • Learning about Silvaner – My first encounter with this grape which is sometimes referred to as the “King Riesling’s Queen”. Silvaner is celebrating its 350th anniversary in Germany this year and was being showcased at the event. These wines traditionally come in a Bocksbeutel , a rounded, flattend brown or green bottle, and were minerally, lemony and high in acid. Glad I was able to experience them but I am not going out to hunt down a bottle anytime soon.

Wines of Germany and Weingut Rappenhof

  • Comparing an ’07 and a ’98 Auselese from Weingut Rappenhof – This winery offered a nice array of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Spätburgunder (see more below) but the opportunity to sample these two Auselese offerings with roughly a decade in between them easily overshadowed the rest. Not often you get to do these comparisons. Here are my notes:
    • 2007 Niersteiner Pettenthal – Full bodied and peachy. Certainly sweet, comes off as syrupy which overpowers some juicy apple flavors that struggle to breakthrough on the palate.
    • 1998 Niersteiner Pettenthal – The age is immediate apparent on the nose with nutty aromas. What was once perhaps syrupy now delivers a carmel flavor on the palate that is accompanied by honey, nuts and apples. Layers of complexity and this one could easily age another decade or three.

Wines of Germany and Dr. ZenZen

  • German value wines and Pinot Noir – In talking with Seb from Megawine while sampling some offerings from Dr. ZenZen and Peter Brum he mentioned that most of the wines retailed in the $7-$10 value range. Of course my curiosity was piqued, doubly so given that a Pinot Noir was included in the tasting. This lead me to wonder if Germany, like Chile, may be somewhere to start looking for a deal on some nice Pinots. My tasting here was inconclusive.

Wines of Germany and Spätburgunder vs. Pinot Noir

  • Spätburgunder vs. Pinot Noir: Did you know that Spätburgunder is Pinot Noir? I learned this on my recent tasting trip in Germany. In talking with Claus Burmeister, the CEO and winemaker of Weingueter Heitlinger and Burg Ravensburg, I asked why he had labeled his as Pinot Noir while others chose Spätburgunder. His take was two-fold: 1) Pinot Noir is the universal term and no one outside of Germany has heard of Spätburgunder so 2) if you are making your wines in an international style for an international market you should label it as Pinot. If you are making a wine for the domestic market in the traditional style it makes sense to use Spätburgunder. I thought this was an interesting dilemma that he framed quite succinctly. By the way, I was very impressed by all the wines Claus had on offer, none sweet, all dry and crisp with lemon, lime and mineral notes backed up with varying levels of acidity. To top it off these wines all retail for less than 10€. I know he was seeking an importer, I’m hoping he found one!

As you can tell I learned a lot. This was a great event. Thanks to my friends at RF Binder for the invite. I look forward to attending more of these in the future. On a closing note, just in case anyone thinks that life as an owner of a small winery is living a dream (like me!) you should see the travel schedule these folks had for this event alone. 14 stops, 9 countries and 3 continents. Ouch! Hope they have enough energy to get back to San Francisco next year…

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5 thoughts on “Wines of Germany: Riesling & Co. World Tour 2009

  1. These wonderful German wine narratives remind me of a rare, but deliriously transcendent wine experience I once shared with a Riesling Kabinett from Mosel by the German winemaker Donhoff .

  2. Funny you mention Spätburgunder, we had a chilled one last weekend with fried chicken and it was fantastic. We had a 2004 from Georg Breuer. Neither one of us had drank one of these before but bought another bottle after drinking and definitely recommend chilling a touch. A perfect summer red!

  3. @Scott Chilled… It worked when I was in Greece but have had very mixed success at home. Glad it worked for you. Pondering trying it on a Gamay I recently picked up…

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