Category Archives: STUART PIGOTT RIESLING GLOBAL

Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 6 – Riesling Reload

Because the Spirit of Riesling is ever renewing itself

At Egon Müller-Scharzhof

Please excuse me. I would have written earlier, but the last weeks my feet barely seemed to touch the ground. My first long and intense tasting trip to the Mosel (and its tributaries the Saar and Ruwer) in several years was the main reason for this. Above you see me pictured at Egon Müller-Scharzhof where the 2015 vintage is spectacular and the 2016 great for the Estate Riesling and Kabinett quality wines. On a very high level this reflects the overall picture of these two vintages, but for the detail you will have to wait a couple of weeks for my forthcoming report on this subject with almost 700 tasting notes on JamesSuckling.com. Suffice to say here that I think the Mosel hasn’t looked stronger in the 35 years I’ve been following it.

I will be away for the next few days around my birthday when I return to Eppstein for the International Riesling Symposium at Kloster Eberbach in the Rheingau on May 29th and 30th. I hope to see you there too, because attending this event will not only give you the opportunity to meet dozens of the world’s best Riesling winemakers, but also to taste some of the finest young and mature, dry and sweet Rieslings in the world. For more information see:

www.international-riesling-symposium.com

Above and beyond this a reorientation of this blog is in the planning. Given the way my own life and the way the world are developing there is no alternative, but to adopt a more personal approach and state the truth the way I see it. In retrospect, I feel that during the last couple of years I sometimes worried too much about being artistic. There’s no time for that kind of stuff any longer. Please be patient as a number of pieces must fall into place before I can implement this plan. Until then may the Riesling Force be with you!

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 7 – Farewell Roy Metzdorf!

Roy Metzdorf

Farewells always ripped me up, but sickness not inner struggles is the only reason that this photographic record of the farewell for Roy Metzdorf (pictured above) of the Weinstein wine bar in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin took two weeks to post. Thanks to Andreas Baldauf for these photographs that so beautifully capture the mixed emotions of that evening. My selection reflects what I saw, and no doubt others would make a different selection with good reason. How could I write anything that could add to what these images say? No idea, so I’ve decided to present them without captions or commentary of any kind. If you are pictured here, but don’t want to appear in this way, then let me know and I will replace the relevant photograph(s). Roy would not want to be idealized here or anywhere else, nor would he want us to be sad (though I’m sure he would entirely understand our grief). I hope the following succeed in reflecting this spirit and something of Roy’s practical and inspirational generosity. Last words: NAMU AMIDA BUTSU

Weinstein, March 29th 2017

Weinstein, March 29th 2017
_g8b1203-2Weinstein,March 29th 2017Weinstein, March 29th 2017Weinstein. March 29th 2017

Weinstein, March 29th 2017

Weinstein, March 29th 2017_g8b1266-2Weinstein, March 29th 2017

Weinstein. March 29th 2017

Namu Amida ButsuWeinstein, March 29th 2017Riesling Global

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 3 – Dear Roy, Everyone is Invited to the Bottle Party in Your Memory in Weinstein/Berlin on Wednesday Evening, and We Hope You Will Join Us in Spirit

Portrait of Roy Metzdorf by Andreas Baldauf

Dear Roy,

Sorry it’s been so long since I was last in touch and now it’s too late for you to read this in the normal way, because on March 4th you died of heart failure. I therefore don’t expect that you know I was in New York City on March 8th when I received an email our good friend Max Krull telling me the sad news. Like many of your other friends I was plunged into a pit of grief, but a few days later I pulled myself out of it, because I knew you wanted me to do that. I feel very glad that we had a couple of great evenings together in Berlin in February, because neither you nor anybody else guessed what was coming. Of course, I regret not having been able to say goodbye, but the way you lived your life without the slightest hesitation and the minimum of compromise made it clear to me that one day it would suddenly all be over. I just didn’t expect it to happen anything like that soon.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 28th I’m taking the train from Eppstein close to Frankfurt back to Berlin for your funeral the following day, Wednesday, March 29th. That will be a rather private and somber event, but from 6pm that evening there’s a bottle party in Weinstein, the wine bar that you ran from the fall of 1993 until your death to celebrate your life. (For those who have forgotten where it is, the address is Lychener Strasse 33, 10437 Berlin and the nearest subway is Eberswalder Strasse on the U2 line). I’m writing this not only to invite anyone and everyone reading this to attend, but also to ask if you can join us in your remarkable spirit, which lives on. I know that because I can sense a small piece of it in me. Everyone needs to bring at least one bottle of wine, if possible something  special, i.e. last bottle of a favorite wine or simply a rare and/or expensive bottle according to your principal of GSKR, Geld spielt keine Rolle, or who cares about the price!

Of course, I still feel your loss. There will be no more wonderful evenings in Weinstein, which you ran with a flair that almost nobody else in the German wine and gastronomic scene could. There will be no more amazing conversations with you from which I learned how, in spite of all the differences in temperament, background, language, upbringing, education and sexual preferences between us, we had so much in common. There will be no more mind-expanding adventures with you in wine regions near and far during which your curiosity helped open my eyes to things that went far beyond the details of winegrowing and winemaking. And from now on I will only be able to see the look in your eye that said, “all walls can and will fall!” in photos like the one above.  It was taken in Weinstein on April 19th last year by Andreas Baldauf and more photographs from that evening can be seen at:

Stuart Pigott im Weinstein Berlin

Enough of the sad stuff though, and on to the positive things which I know you want me to concentrate upon. I’ve been a storyteller since my teens, and all those years of storytelling taught me that every story has a backstory. Now that you’re gone the part of your life I was able to share has become an essential part of the backstory of the rest of my life. I’m only just beginning to discover what that really means, but I feel sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. Exzellent serviert! or excellently served was another of your principals, and although your life was tragically cut short until that moment you excellently served yourself to all of us.

Thank you for the unforgettable service of wine, food, inspiration and love!

RIP, much love and all the best,

Stuart

 

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

 

 

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New York Diary: Day 6 – RIP Roy Metzdorf of the Weinstein Wine Bar in Berlin

Roy Metzdorf

I have to tell you about a friend of mine who just died that was one of the most wonderful people I ever knew. Nobody I’ve encountered was more generous, open and supportive than Roy Metzdorf. From the fall of 1993 until his sudden death yesterday he ran the Weinstein wine bar in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, Germany where I took the above photograph on February 20th, 2013. Roy did so much for me there’s no way I can list even the most important things in a couple of paragraphs, never mind explain what that all really means. Roy was a total original and, in no particular order, a remarkable Berliner, East German, Riesling guy, explorer of the big wide world of wine and food, and a thinker who continually stunned me with his penetrating observations. I’m glad that I was able to give some things back to Roy, for example, by introducing him to America beginning in Califronia in 2003. After his first couple of weeks there he only half-jokingly declared that he would become an illegal Mexican immigrant in order to say! I would need to tell a lot more stories like this for those of you who didn’t know Roy to grasp what he was really like. It’s only a metaphor and probably a very bad one, but it feels as if the most beautiful vase in the world has just been smashed. RIP Roy! NAMU AMIDA BUTSU

Riesling Global

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Berlin Wine Diary: Day 4 – In Wine There is Freedom

Freedom!

What the hell has wine got to do with the current trend to nationalism and authoritarianism of myriad kinds that’s sweeping the West and some parts of the East too? This isn’t a rhetorical question I’m posing to introduce some of my recent thoughts about wine, it’s also a question that was asked of me in response to my two last blog postings (scroll down to read them). Of course, the implication of that question is that politics has nothing to do with wine and I have been poking my nose into matters that don’t concern me, at least matters that have no place on this blog.

To my mind that’s ridiculous, because my political stance is one of opposition not to any political party or any particular politician, but to political actions that threaten or erode constitutional freedoms. However, after the question was repeated several times it got me thinking about all of this more seriously and it wasn’t long before it struck me that the pleasure of wine contrasts dramatically with the New Politics in DC, London, Moscow, Ankara, etc. Let me explain.

What all forms of nationalism, authoritarianism and fanaticism have in common is the conviction that there’s a rigid set of unquestionable truths – the core of the particular dogma – and these are above and beyond discussion or debate. Devotees of those dogmas often demonize those who dare to discuss and debate their core beliefs as heretics, because they dare to doubt. In the European dictatorships of the 20th century al these features were all very clear, and although the contemporary versions of them are all (so far) less extreme, they may be every bit as dangerous due to their insidious nature.

Some of you may already be familiar with the name of the prime weapon used by the “true believers”: the thought-terminating cliché. This term was developed by the psychologist Robert Jay Lifton (who’s complete works are highly recommended) in his 1956 study of totalitarianism in Maoist China, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. Examples of thought-terminating clich#es are, “I’m in charge, that’s why!” is no less a thought-terminating cliché than, “it’s God’s will!” or “everything is relative!” I chose those three because the devotees of contrasting forms of nationalism, authoritarianism and fanaticism use them.

Nothing could be further from my experience of wine than all this, because the taste of even the cheapest and least-pretentious wine is open to endless discussion and debate. The very nature of wine is that the contents of one bottle taste different to different people and there is never any question that someone might be right and all the others wrong even if sometimes claims are made that this is the case. Our differing preferences lie behind our contrasting reactions to the same wine, and they are rooted in our personal experiences, memories and habits and preferences.

This is related very closely to the fact that each of us finds a particular smell either appealing or not, and more loosely related to the way each of us finds a joke funny or not, another person sexually attractive or not, and we either wake up in a good mood or we don’t. There’s no point in discussing any of these things either, because no amount of discussion afterwards can change the way we reacted (thank you Immanual Kant for pointing that out). Apart from the freedom to draw breath this is the most basic kind of freedom and no form autocracy has been able to change any of this.

Just the other day my girlfriend and I had radically contrasting reactions to a handful of 2015 dry German Rieslings from a new producer, Materne & Schmitt in Winningen/Terrassenmosel. They are daring products are far-removed from the fruity and fresh norms most wines conform to, and that kind of wine inevitably polarizes opinion. Put simply, either you dig their kind of funk (technical term reduction) or you don’t!

On paper, I’ve got more professional experience of wine than my girlfriend does, but that is not the point, because personal preference and pleasure are not dependent upon professional experience. I was not right and she was not wrong. We simply reacted differently to the same wine and we both understand that when it comes to personal pleasure in wine there’s never any right or wrong. In wine there is freedom!

I always find it very sad when colleagues or regular folks want to learn from me which wines are right and which are wrong, rather than wanting me to help them intensify and expand their pleasure in wine. It means that person wants some kind of certainty where none is to be had. The only certainties when it comes to wine are the analytical parameters (alcohol content, degree of oxidation, etc.), but they can’t tell you if you will like a wine or not. You have to find that out practically.

It is the hunger for certainty and absolutes and the yearning for a radical break from the continually shifting nature of experience that stoke the fires of nationalism, authoritarianism and fanaticism of all kinds. Give me wine any day. It is the opposite of them!

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

 

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Bordeaux Wine Diary: Day 1 – The Fast Approaching Danger and My Big Decision Part 1

Peace

Although it feels strange to be posting this from Bordeaux this is perhaps not so inappropriate, since Marine Le Pen of the Front National is a candidate in the French Presidential election later this year. I should point out that I’m here to taste the 2014 vintage in bottle for JamesSuckling.com. Watch out for these reports!

For the first time in the 10 year history of this blog I feel forced to take a clear and unambiguous political position, and I must do so urgently because the situation is developing so fast. One reason for this is the rapidly approaching Inauguration of the new President of the United States, and the other is the decision I’ve just taken to submit an application for German citizenship. This was promoted not only by the Brexit decision, but also also due to subsequent developments in my homeland, the UK. Although I didn’t comment on this directly at the time, the fact that as a long-term ex-pat I was barred from participating in the UK Brexit vote was a major infringement of my civil rights.

I’ve been criticized a number of times for taking political positions on this blog although its main subject is wine, and I always answered these accusations in the same way: by pointing out that I never supported a particular political party in any posting nor am I/was I ever a member of a political party. My only political commitment is my membership of the Peace Pledge, an organization that has campaigned for and end to all war and its replacement with non-violent conflict resolution. The pursuit of peace is not specific to the members of any political party, social group or nationality, but is above them all.

The difference between then and now is that previously when I published political comments I was defending particular civil rights, most notably freedom of speech, and/or the free press, and/or the right to privacy in one’s own home that are theoretically guaranteed by the constitutions of many the Western nations. This time I’m writing in defense of all civil rights, because they are now threatened as we seem headed approach a terrible climax to the events that began unfolding during 2016.

The problem is not really the program of any political party, although some of them contain proposals that strike me as highly dangerous, rather a new style of politician, or perhaps I should call them the new-old type of leader. A dangerous beast we thought we’d finally vanquished during the 20th century – the totally unscrupulous and narcissistic demagogue – has recently returned. There are different grades (soft, medium and hard) of every types of political leader, and the worst of the new-old style leaders seem to have a paranoid streak, a psychopathic lack of empathy for anyone beyond their immediate circle, and an obsession with revenge reminiscent of the most evil demagogues of the 20th century. Every intelligent person should know that each of them murdered many millions of people, along with oppressing a very much larger number of millions.

Spooky

Of course, one of the new type of political I’m thinking of is Donald Trump, the President Elect of the United States. I sometimes called him Trump Elect, because clearly he doesn’t just want to be President. The way that he repeatedly insists all the normal rules don’t apply to him makes it clear how he wants is to become a leader unencumbered by the constitutional checks and balances that the Founding fathers so carefully built into the constitution to prevent the rise of autocratic leaders. However, he’s simply the most obvious of the new-old style leaders. Almost every Western country and some other countries too have these kind of autocrats or have would-be autocrats impatiently waiting to grab power for themselves at the first opportunity. Worse still, these leaders are supporting and enabling each other in many ways. Although some of them seem laughable oafs at times, others clearly have great intelligence and nerves of steel. Vladimir Putin of Russia clearly falls into this category.

In spite of the many obvious differences amongst them it is what they all share that forces me to write. They are all ruthless manipulators of the media who don’t give a damn about independent reporting, or even pour scorn upon it, and none of them really care one jot for the civil rights of ordinary citizens. They have introduced political spin of a new-old kind, one that doesn’t just twist the truth, rather replaces it at will with a fully-formed pseudo-truth (that will be revised as they deem necessary). This works because of the retrurn of old-fashioned nationalism and the demonization of entire groups of millions of people (as if any such group could ever be homogenous!) that comes with it. All of this shocks and dismays me; makes me fear where it will all end.

I’ve made a decision for Germany, because it will remain part of the EU as long as the EU continues to exist, but also because Germany has been much less effected by these developments than most other Western nations. It feels like some kind of safe haven, and although this may later turn out to be illusion, I am following that feeling for now. Whatever happens around the world during 2017 and beyond, my commitment to civil rights for the whole population of each of the Western countries remains unwavering. Regardless of the many compromises made in these matters, those rights remain the foundations of free and open societies and of a Western world largely without war.

Those things are the basis for reading. Also, without them the kind of writing that has filled this blog for a decade, regardless of whether the subject was wine or freedom of the press, wouldn’t be possible. So, they are also the basis of writing.

Riesling Global

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 12 – Who is My Riesling Heroine of 2016? Read on and Find Out!

Who is my Riesling Heroine of 2016?

Who is my Riesling Heroine of 2016? Who is hiding behind those hands?

Read on and find out!

The title of Riesling Heroine / Hero that I award each year, no less than my choices of the best dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet and sweet Riesling of the year (scroll down to the the previous blog posting to see these), is all about daring and innovation. These are the most exciting new wines and the most exciting wine producer of the year. Sometimes the award winners were wonderful surprises for me, but often I saw them coming and followed their rise to the point where it became necessary and inevitable that they should be singled out for special praise.

Eva Fricke is my Riesling Heroine of 2016!

Eva Fricke of the eponymous winery in Eltville/Rheingau is my Riesling Heroine of 2016!

Exactly a decade ago she began commercial wine production from just a quarter of a hectare of Riesling vines in the then unknown Krone site of Lorch. Although she was not alone in committing to the steep vineyards of Lorch at the northern tip of the Rheingau at this time, it was her name that become synonymous with the Krone, Schlossberg and Seligmacher sites (the last of these in neighboring Lorchhausen). The reason this happened is also the reason that she must receive this award this year: the originality, brilliance and purity of aroma and flavors of her Rieslings. They are amongst the finest in the Rheingau region, and that’s saying something when you think that it is the most famous wine region of Germany and the most renowned Riesling wine region in the world.

I first heard of Eva Fricke back in 2003 when she worked for J.B.Becker in Walluf/Rheingau. Hajo Becker sang the praises of a 26 year old women from the Bremen area of Northern Germany, that is from a non-wine background, who had studied at the nearby Geisenheim wine university. However, I didn’t meet her until shortly after she had moved to Josef Leitz in Rüdesheim/Rheingau in 2004. There she was the winemaker responsible for a string of excellent vintages that built the international reputation of this winery. During that period this estate grew substantially both in vineyard area and bottled production.

It was while working there that she made the 2007 dry Riesling from the Krone site that turned me and a bunch of other people in the German wine scene onto her wines. It had aromas of lemon balm, white peach flint and wild herbs and somehow packed a stunning concentration of flavor into a breathtakingly sleek silhouette. It tasted like nothing else in the region. Getting from there to where she is today was a steep and stony path, littered with practical and personal challenges. Eva Fricke finally left Josef Leitz and went fully solo in 2011. Since 2015 she has made her wines at a brand new facility on the edge of Eltville, having previously worked in a historic cellar in Kiedrich. These kind of abrupt changes are rather typical for a successful German wine start-up though.

One of Eva Fricke's organically cultivated vineyards in Lorch

2015 – pictured above are some of those Riesling grapes – is Eva’s most consistent vintage to date, and every Riesling wine shines like a diamond. Although she has a reputation of being pricey, the 2015 Lorcher Riesling trocken is a stunning wine for just Euro 15.50 direct from the winery (via the email address below). If you want the stars of the vintage from Eva Fricke, then you will have to pay Euro 27 to 36 for the Schlossberg, Seligmacher and Krone single vineyard wines. They are on a par with the best Riesling GGs in the region, and 2015 is a great vintage for the Rheingau.

Congratulations Eva Fricke!

Weingut Eva Fricke,

Elisabethenstraße 6

D 65343 Eltville

Tel.: (49)/0 6123 703 658

Email: info@evafricke.com

Internet: www.evafricke.com

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

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Berlin Wine Diary: Day 8 – My Best Rieslings of 2016

Andrew Hedley

Dr. Andrew Hedley

As each year this is the season when I pick my Riesling wines of the year in each of the four categories of the IRF Riesling Taste Profile: dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet and sweet. This year the best sweet Riesling is so amazing that it must come first. It is amazing value for money costing just 1% of what a Riesling TBA from Egon Müller-Scharzhof, the world’s most expensive (and possibly also most delicious) white wine would cost, so this isn’t a wine only for billionaires. Once again Riesling’s democratic and inclusive spirit triumphs!

Best Sweet Riesling: 2015 Riesling TBA “F” from Framingham Wines in Marlborough/New Zealand

Dr. Andrew Hedley, the winemaker of Framingham since 2001, really is the Dr. Riesling of New Zealand and this may be the most amazing of the many great sweet Rieslings he has made. There’s not a hint of the dried fruit aromas that usually dominate wines of this kind, instead it smells of fresh grapefruit, pear, acacia honey, jasmine and white tea (and normally I don’t write that kind of string of adjectives!) The freshness of this wine must be tasted to be believed, and the brilliant acidity masks much of the 25% natural grape sweetness that it contains making the wine uplifting. How can a wine this concentrated taste this light and refreshing? Theoretically that acidity should taste at least slightly rasping at this young age, however, the doesn’t-want-to-ever-end finish is positively silky. What more can I say? The wine is $49.99 for 37.5cl from www.klwines.com and if that’s too expensive, then the 2015 Riesling Auslese “F” from Framingham is also breathtaking and costs just $29,99 for 37.5cl.

August Deimel

August Deimel

Best Medium-Sweet Riesling: 2015 Vignoles from Keuka Spring Vineyards in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York/USA

For a couple of years August Deimel was the rising star winemaker of the FLX with worst ration of media attention to wine quality, but all that changed this year so I have to refer you to my e-book for Kindle Rock Stars of Wine America #3: FLXtra (see below) published before all that happened in order to stake some kind of shaky claim to having “discovered” August. The new wines from Keuka Spring that have made the most noise are his Gewürztraminers, closely followed by his unoaked Cabernet Franc red, then the Rieslings. For once I’m breaking my own rules in an utterly unacceptable manner and giving this award to a non-Riesling, because August’s 2015 Vignoles has a stunning pineapple nose and on the palate the kind of acidity-driven racy power that I usually associate with great Riesling Spätlese wines from Germany. Savor the erotic tension of this medium-sweet white, then swallow and count how outrageously long the finish of this beauty is! Just $14.99 from www.keukaspringwinery.com.

Chris Williams

Chris Williams

Best Medium-Dry Riesling: 2015 Brooks Estate Riesling from Brooks Wine in the Eola-Amity Hills in Oregon/USA

Chris Williams has been the winemaker of Brooks Wines since the sudden death of founder Jimi Brooks back in 2004. Although the main focus of the winery remains bone dry wines in the style that Jimi pioneered, in recent years he has successfully developed a range of additional wines that are less uncompromisingly dry. The 2015 Brooks Estate Riesling is not only the best of those, but also the most exciting Riesling I ever tasted from Oregon. The nose of white peach, fresh quince and herbs leaps out at you, but it is also dangerously subtle (beware all ye who enter, because it could suck you right in!) The concentration and hardcore minerality of this wine means that you barely notice the few grams of unfermented grape sweetness that are hiding in there somewhere. It’s a huge mouthful although it weighs in at a very conventional 12.5%, and the finish is rolling thunder! This wild beast from the volcanic Jory soil of the winery’s Estate Vineyard is only just beginning to stretch its wings and will soar for the next decade or more. $24 from www.brookswine.com.

Kelby Russell

Kelby Russell

Best Dry Riesling: 2015 The Knoll from Kelby Russell of Red Newt Cellars in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York/USA

No doubt I will be criticized for picking yet another wine from Kelby Russell as my Dry Riesling of 2016, but The Knoll is the most deliciously radical Riesling innovation in the FLX and the 2015 is the best vintage to date (2013 was the first). Beware the grapefruit and smoke that emanate from this glass! In spite of the gigantic energy of this wine that makes it seem to vibrate on your tongue, it is super-delicate and diamond-bright; another Riesling paradox! This won’t be released for about a year so you I’m afraid that you’ll have to be patient. However, the 2013 is drinking beautifully now and you can find it out there, for example for $35 at www.vintryfinewines.com in NYWC. For more about Kelby Russell and the new wines of the FLX see my Rock Stars of Wine America #3. Here’s the link to the Kindle Store. To read it all you need to do is to download the free Kindle app before ordering. ENJOY!

https://www.amazon.com/ROCK-STARS-WINE-AMERICA-FLXtra-ebook/dp/B01FBI0STS?ie=UTF8&keywords=stuart%20pigott&qid=1462714774&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

120114_riesling_global_RZ [1600x1200]

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 7 – Caroline & Sylvain Reinvent Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen/Nahe

img_1738I sometimes tell people that, “I’m a living fossil with the emphasis on living.” What this means is that I’ve been doing this job in more or less this way for around 30 years. This year in May was the 30th anniversary of my first visit to Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen/Nahe, and my second visit followed 30 years and a few days ago. During those days Armin Diel not only introduced me to the wines of Schlossgut Diel, but also to the first German wines matured in small new oak barrique casks that I ever tasted and to the wines of the Nahe in general. (Although it was clear that Barriqueweine were no less a fashion back then than Naturweine, i.e. Natural Wines are now, it was equally obvious that something lasting would develop out of them and enrich the wine culture of Germany.

Since the fall of 2006 Schlossgut Diel has undergone a subtle, but far-reaching transformation under the current winemaker Armin and Monika Diel’s daughter Caroline (left in the photo), and during the last years she has been supported in this by her French husband Sylvain Taurisson Diel (right in the photo). Sylvain previously held a senior position at Valrhona, and is the only example I know of someone sidestepping from chocolate to wine. He didn’t drink his first glass of wine until the summer of 2009, but this has given him a fresh view of the world of wine that is very different from that of living wine fossils like myself. That has been complimentary to Caroline’s approach, which was decisively been influenced by her experiences of French wines and the French high-end wine industry (amongst other places she did a stage at DRC in Burgundy). The wines she is making now show how well she learned those lessons. For some reason this is a story that hasn’t been well told so far, perhaps because of the long shadow of Armin Diel, and that’s the reason I have to tell it here.

Of course, any wine story is only really interesting if the wines it is associated with taste good, and I tasted more than 30 wines when I visited Schlossgut Diel in order to get a clear idea of what is being produced there today. Most of the Rieslings along with the Pinot Blancs and Pinot Gris (all dry) were 2015s and they were almost all of excellent quality. However, the more important thing is the distinctive new Schlossgut Diel style – powerful and intensely mineral, but never heavy or loud – and the spot-on balance of almost all the wines. The dry Rieslings are never too tart, phenolic or too alcoholic, and when they get some bottle age, as the superb 2014 Goldloch GG had, they acquire a serious elegance and a complex spicy-mineral finish. The Pinot Blancs and “Cuvée Victor” (now mostly Pinot Blanc) are amongst the best examples of this grape from a cool climate that I know, and I was also very taken with combination of charm and character that the Nahesteiner Pinot Gris possesses.

The highlight of the tasting though were the stunning 2015 sweet Rieslings. This has long been a strength of Schlossgut Diel as the dramatic and still impressive 1990s and 1993s show. However, just as Caroline has given the dry wines an elegance they often missed before, so she has given the sweet Rieslings a precise balance that makes them much more charming as young wines than they used to be. My gut tells me that these wines will also age even better too. Here I recommend two relatively new additions to the range as an ideal introduction to these wines. They are the light and still very fresh 2014 Riesling Kabinett (a so-called Gutswein without a vineyard designation) and the more luscious 2015 Dorsheim Riesling Auslese (a cuvée from the estate’s three top sites) that is also available in half bottles. Here is all the succulence that makes these categories so appealing, but combined with floral and herbal notes, the acidity and minerals making the finish light up.

And I will shortly be writing something about the sparkling Sekt in the the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung so will only say now that this is one of the top Sekt producers, with a style closer to the Krug and Bollinger champagnes than any German sparkling wines. And although still rather closed the 2014 Pinot Noir “Cuvée Caroline” is by far the most elegant and sophisticated red wine I ever tasted from the Nahe.

Please note: I know that some of you would like a lot more detail, but that is what I am now doing on JamesSuckling.com since September 1st this year, and it would be a terrible mistake to duplicate. The process of adjusting to this change continues.

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

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New York Wine Diary: Day 3 – Martin Tesch, Master of Light

Martin Tesch

Light is not exactly the coolest word in the wine scene and it hasn’t been so for a long time. Many years ago it was rudely pushed aside by “concentrated”, “powerful”, “gobs of fruit”, “mineraly”, “authentic” and, finally the most holy of them all, “natural”. However, light has a long-term German champion in Martin Tesch of Langenlonsheim/Nahe, pictured above. Since the 2001 vintage he has been systematically promoting the idea that dry Riesling should not only actually taste dry, but that it should also be a wine with a certain lightness. I know it sounds like contradiction in terms, but Martin Tesch is radical and uncompromising in all that he does, however, he is not an extremist.

What do I mean by this? Martin Tesch has found that the range of 11.5% – 12.5% alcoholic content fits ideally with the bracing natural acidity and bone dryness of his Rieslings. He doesn’t want to push it any lower than that though, because in his view this would mean sacrificing balance. Martin Tesch has no interest in getting into a numbers game, much less in being holier than thou. Instead, by sticking to this range and this type of balance he has been able to perfect one of the great food wines of the world. It has also enabled him to become one of the most consistent producers of dry whites in the world, regardless of grape variety and region. Since the 2007 vintage every wine I tasted from him was excellent, and every time I encountered one of those wines a few years after release it was every bit as delicious mature as it had been when released. The contrast to some other well known producers of dry Riesling is striking, but even more so if you take some well known producers of Chardonnay. Martin Tesch’s wines have no problems at all with premox (i.e. premature oxidation) of the kind that are widespread with white burgundies.

Tesch 2015 Rieslings

There is, however, one area in which Martin Tesch wants to push the numbers lower and that is the weight of the bottles he uses. It is a little-known fact that by far the largest part of the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine is the glass bottle itself. This is why almost a decade ago the Champagne industry developed a new bottle that is 65 grams lighter than the 900 gram bottle they were previously using. It’s use became standard from the wines of the 2010 vintage and non-vintage blends based on this vintage. With the 2015 vintage Martin Tesch has switched to a 370 gram bottle, down from the 420 gram bottle he used for the previous vintages. (Please note, bottle weights for sparkling wines are higher than for still wines because of the 6 atmospheres pressure in the bottle). The 12% drop in bottle weight at Weingut Tesch may not seem that significant, but compare those 370 grams with the 700 grams weight of the bottle used for Germany’s new high-end dry GGs (Großes Gewächs) wines and it is 47% lower. That is a lot of carbon emissions saved. VDP please take note. And don’t forget, there are even heavier and more fancy bottles out there!

Of course, the wine in the bottle is the most crucial thing for the drinker and 2015 is, by a modest margin (over 2012), the best vintage Martin Tesch has made to date. The wines are not only impressively fresh and vigorous, they are also delightfully delicate and subtle, and, of course, wonderfully light. If you are able to buy direct from their maker they cost from Euro 9 for “Unplugged” up to just Euro 14,90 for the St. Remigiusberg. These are very friendly prices for wines that are this well made and have this much individuality.

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

 

 

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