Category Archives: STUART PIGOTT RIESLING GLOBAL

New York Riesling Diary: Day 12 – The Last Summer of Riesling Ends, but Riesling’s Sparkle Lives On & A Last Word on the New York Wine Riot

All good things must come to an end…

Yesterday evening was almost the end of the 7th Summer of Riesling festival in America. The self-proclaimed Riesling Overlord Paul Grieco did not pose in front of a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished”, in fact there was no photo opportunity at all and I had to furtively snap the picture of him below with Irene Vagianos (left) of Wines of Germany USA. The central points of themodest celebration at Terroir Murray Hill, were the first NYWC screening of my WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) and a magnum of the 35oth anniversary bottling of 2011 Berncasteler Doctor Spätlese from the Dr. Thanisch (VDP). The audience included several Finger Lakes winemakers, German wine importer Andrew Rich from Boston, MA and Mani de Osu of the Neodandi fashion label, now based in NYC.

On the one hand there was the sense of an era ending. When I began work on my book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) on February 1st 2012 the idea of the Summer of Riesling ending two and half years later seemed so absurd that I never even considered it. However, during the summer of 2012 I got to see a variety of problems with this project as it broadened its appeal and started to get watered down by half-hearted participants who just wanted to ride a wave. There were also “musical differences” between members of the “band” running it. On the other hand, yesterday evening there was also a strong sense that the cards are being reshuffled, and something new is already taking shape that will pick up where the Summer of Riesling leaves off. The Riesling Invasion in Portland, OR and the City of Riesling in Traverse City, MI both of which I was lucky to be part of showed how events tailored made to locations are the way forward.

I have been requested to provide the text of the 60 second Riesling Slam which I delivered at the beginning of each of my 12 Riesling Crash Courses during the New York Wine Riot. Here it is as:

It’s RiEsling not RIesling, the correct pronunciation of German-Born grape variety that gives the BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH!!! Riesling is unique amongst all wines, white or red, in being everything from featherlight to ton heavy, from bone-dry to honey-sweet, and every conceivable combination of those things. Every good Riesling tastes of where it grew, the season which ripened the grapes and the people who made it. Seductive aromas and dazzling freshness are what give this enormous diversity of wines a family resemblance. Riesling Fan Numero Uno, Paul Grieco, says that DRINKING RIESLING MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON. I say MAYBE. But if you drink Riesling then some of it’s sparkle will surely rub off on you. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!!!

Racing against the clock here in my sun room here on West 16th Street I certainly can say all that in 60 seconds. However, I never managed it at the New York Wine Riot. Thanks to everyone who endured my attempts to do so!

For the final blast of the final Summer of Riesling in America head to any Terroir wine bar tonight, Monday, September 22nd where all by the glass Rieslings are $8 per glass during happy hour and $10 per glass for the rest of the evening. See the following link for the final thoughts of the Riesling Overlord:

http://restauranthearth.com/terrior/SoR_Final_Page_9.22.14.pdf

 

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 11: Riesling Fans of New York unite at Wine Riot! / See you Tonight art the New York Premier of WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie

My strong belief in the power of the new generation of Riesling fans was enormously strengthened by those I met at the New York Wine Riot yesterday and the day before. I don’t know the names of any of these people, but I do know that even if they didn’t all yet love Riesling when they walked into the New York Wine Riot they certainly all do now!

Sometimes people called me the “Pope of Riesling”, the “Emperor of Riesling” and similar stuff, but all I’m really doing is being a catalyst that brings these people together in a peaceful and, hopefully, exciting way. Maybe, sometimes, I give them some nugget of information that helps to stimulate their interest and curiosity. If so then that’s great.

In fact, this time they all did me a great service, because they forced me to fill the space that was provided and gave me the energy to do so. I used to laugh when people talked about “Rock Star Wine Guys”, but now I’m beginning to see that it’s literally possible. Why did I make this discovery at Wine Riot? Because the average age of those who took part was just under 30!

What the Wine Riot convinced me of is that it may “only” be wine and “only” Riesling at that, but if you do it right you can crank up the volume and turn that into a rock culture phenomenon, and those rock culture things all grow the largest size in America! You can be sure that I intend to part of this thing whatever it gets called.

That all seems to me to be some kind of omen of things to come, although what they might be I certainly can’t tell you know. Tonight at 10pm at Terroir Murray Hill (439 Third Avenue, between 30th and 31st Streets) when my WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie receives its NYWC premier. Below is a picture of the amazing daredevil Riesling Road Trip driver Devin (left) and my cameraman Marcarthur Baralla setting up one of the shots for the movie’s final scene. Hope to see you there.

PS If anyone decides they don’t like appearing on my blog just let me know which image you’d like to remove and I will do so.

 

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 10 – WINE RIOT, I wanna a Riot, WINE RIOT, a Riesling Riot of my own!

This T-shirt said almost everything about the New York WINE RIOT, the third and final session commences at 7pm this evening. Anyone who attends has the chance to experience one or more of the four Riesling Crash Courses I will give then, just as I have during the first session yesterday evening and the second session this afternoon. But, as I say this image doesn’t say everything, for which reason I need to show you the following series of revealing images.

The picture above gives you some kind of general idea of the scenery, but you need to get in close as in the following picture of the Loosen Bros. USA team (thank you Ian on the left and Kirk on the right, also for the wines for my German-themed Crash Courses) to really get how unhinged the Wine Riot really is.

It is great to see local produce, that means wines from New York State wineries so well represented. There was a slew of good Finger Lakes (FLX) wines, most prominently the Rieslings and it was buzzing around those stands, as you can see from the picture of John Iszard of Fulkerson winery below.

Sometimes wine industry people here in the city and elsewhere in US go on to me about how women play to  small a role in the wine scene, well my observation at the New York Wine Riot was that both behind and in front of the stands there were at least as many women as many. As an example I present the image below of the two FLX Katies (Katie Roller of Wagner on the left and Katie Roisen of Hosmer on the right).

I would love to write more and more perceptively, but I must grab something to eat and head back for the final session. As I bellow into the mike before each of my Riesling Crash Courses, “NEW YORK WINE CITY THE RIESLING CLOCK IS TICKING!” Also for me!

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 10 – WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) & New York WINE RIOT

Honestly, when I wrote yesterday’s posting I didn’t sit down to write a lecture on very cool climate viticulture, or to brag about having planted a small, but daring vineyard in an edgy location, but I guess I ended up doing exactly those things. Sorry! What I should have done was concentrate upon my appearance this evening and tomorrow afternoon & evening at the NEW YORK WINE RIOT (at the 69th Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Ave) and the screening of my film WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) at Terroir Murray Hill in New York Wine City (NYWC)  at 10pm on Sunday. Admission is free as long as you drink Riesling. As you can see from the picture above, during the two years I was working on this 50 minute mockumentary – a documentary style movie in which fact and fiction are blurred in order to make reality clearer and more entertaining – I got used to watching my back. I’m not sure I can or should stop doing that either.

I would never have been able to make this movie without the help of my producer, editor and cutter Klaus Lüttmer of Dolce Vista film production in Berlin. I also have to acknowledge the vital assistance of Marcarthur Baralla of Defendschee Productions in Brooklyn who shot all the interviews with winemakers and somms and the concluding scene of the movie. Then there are the important people in NYWC like Aldo Sohm of Le Bernardin (pictured with me above at his wonderful new Aldo Sohm Wine Bar) and Paul Grieco of Hearth and the Terroir wine bars and Chris Miller of Harlan Estate in Napa (then of Spago Beverley Hills) who all threw themselves at my project with great energy and enthusiasm, just as I will throw myself at the Wine Riot from 7pm this evening!

There I will be conducting a program of four Riesling Crash Courses per session. The timings are as follows:

Riesling Boot Camp (Aromas) on Friday @ 8pm, and on Saturday @ 2pm & 8pm

Riesling Boot Camp (Acidity) on Friday @ 8:30pm, and on Saturday @ 2:30pm & 8:30pm

Riesling Deep End (America) on Friday @ 9pm, and on Saturday @ 3pm & 9pm

Riesling Deep End (Germany) on Friday @ 9:30pm and on Saturday @ 3:30pm & 9:30pm

To book tickets for the New York WINE RIOT go to:

https://secondglass.com/event-categories/event/NYC-2014-fall/features/

 

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 9 – What do You do if You are a Riesling Against the Stream WINE RIOT?

Come and find out at the NYC WINE RIOT this weekend!

Having come out about being a WINE RIOT I’ve been asked what someone who’s like that actually does. In my case all of this is colored by Riesling, which my new book (published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang) declares to be the BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH. In America nobody has questioned that title, instead either they cheer me on, launch, smile or give me an ironic wink. However, back in my country of birth England this title is treated with scorn and derision. It has even been suggested to me by someone in the British wine industry that, “you can’t do that!” Of course, the fact is that I just did and I’m not retracting it. However, let’s get back to that question.

Of course, one of the things that you do if you a Riesling Against the Stream Wine Riot is go to the NYC WINE RIOT this Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon and evening and hold a series of a dozen 20 minute Riesling Crash Courses. Against the advice of  friends and colleagues I will begin each Crash Course with a 60 second Riesling Slam into which I will try to pack all the Riesling essentials into that single minute. This will require some practice, for which there is too little time, and probably puts me under too much pressure, so I won’t be telling my therapist about this until I’ve done it and its too late.

To book tickets for the New York WINE RIOT go to:

https://secondglass.com/event-categories/event/NYC-2014-fall/features/

The other thing which a Riesling Against the Stream Wine Riot does is to plant a vineyard just outside Berlin/Germany on the SW side at roughly 52° 30′ North. Back in 2012 the Klosterhof Töplitz wine estate with just under 5 acres of vines on a hillside site just outside Töplitz/Brandenburg came under the direction of the multi-talented Ludolf Artymowytsch. Together with Ludolf I developed plans to plant  a total of just shy of one thousand vines in two corners of the vineyard where the existing planting was struggling for inexplicable reasons. Finally on May, 3rd 2013 a group of friends and I got those vines in the soil and from the above picture you can see how they’ve flourished. Something like 600 of them should bear a small crop next year, which would give us enough wine to fill one (used) barrique, and enable us to begin production of the Wine with the Secret Name.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: Stuart has planted Riesling. However, I didn’t do that, because I’ve yet to see any evidence that Riesling can be persuaded to ripen with any regularity around 52° 30′ North, and a human Wine Riot couldn’t do something as dumb as planting his favorite grape somewhere that it wouldn’t stand a chance of succeeding. That would be Riesling Fetishism rather than Riesling Love. So I studied the existing local plantings, experimental and commercial and drew up a short list of candidate grape varieties, then whittled that down to just one variety which seems almost ideally adapted to the growing conditions in the Very Cool Climate northeast of Germany.

As you can see from this photograph taken on September 7th this year, that is roughly three weeks prior to the harvest, Grauburgunder (aka Pinot Gris) ripens very well in the climate of the Berlin-Brandenburg area. For those interested in the numbers they had 10% potential alcohol, so ought to come in at 12% – 13%. The 2012 and 2013 dry Grauburgunders from Klosterhof Töplitz are good wines with delicate apple blossom and melon aromas and enough ripe flavors to balance the relatively high acidity for this grape. These were both average vintages and 2014 looks much more promising, also because during the last two years Ludolf and vineyard manager Andreas Schultze have enormously improved the vitality of this organic property. If you think the idea of growing red wine in such a cool location (the summers are actually rather warm, but spring often comes late to this part of Germany) then take a look at these St. Laurent grapes also photographed on September 7th. Here too they had at least weeks of further ripening ahead of them, but were already close to 11% potential alcohol. I’d say that this makes 13% – 13.5% a realistic possibility.

As with the Grauburgunder that means full technical ripeness (sometimes called physiological ripeness, a misleadingly simplistic term), although I don’t think it means that wines like the high end Pinot Gris from Alsace/France or the top St. Laurent from Burgenland/Austria are possible in the Berlin-Brandenburg area. The wines from 52° 30′ N are always going to be lighter in body and structure (I’m talking particularly about tannins) than those of the same grape varieties from warmer climates in more southerly locations where the intensity of solar radiation is higher. Climate change hasn’t abolished those differences any more than it has removed vintage variation.

So which grape variety did I choose? Well, the soils of Brandenburg are primarily sandy and Töplitz is no exception to that rule, in fact the south-facing hillside on which “my” vines are planted is literally a sand dune. This means that drought stress is almost certain in summer at some point. The young vines were lucky in both 2013 and 2014 that these periods were short, but in the future there will also be vintages with longer periods of drought stress. At the Geisenheim wine school which I attended as a guest student in 2008-9 I learnt that while drought stress can be positive for red wines (since it forces the vines to producer more tannins, thereby giving the wine more structure) it can be very negative for white wine grapes. I then searched for an early-ripening red wine grape that grows and ripens well in the Berlin-Brandenburg area.

Dr. Manfred Lindicke of the Wachtelberg site and winery in Werder/Brandenburg proved to me that VB 91-26-19, or Pinotin, pictured above, is such a variety. I had already come across it during my time at the Geisenheim wine school where I learnt that it is a so-called “PiWi”, which means pilzwiederstandsfähige Rebsorte, or fungal resistant grape variety (it is very resistant to powdery mildew and botrytis, and also has good resistance to downy mildew).  As the experienced amongst you will immediately note from the photograph, although the name says that this is a cross between Pinot Noir and another grape it doesn’t look much like Pinot Noir. The wine doesn’t taste much like Pinot Noir, largely because of the berries thick skins, nor do I want it to do so either. The whole point is to make a red wine with very distinctive aromas and flavors, almost none of that coming from the oak barrel(s) it matures in; a wine that will excite a Riesling against the Stream Wine Riot like me!

Now I have to go and practice that 60 second Riesling Slam for tomorrow night and Saturday! See you at the NYC WINE RIOT!

 

 

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 7 – Not only will I be at the NYC Wine Riot, I AM A WINE RIOT!

One of my favorite slogans of the German artist Joseph Beuys, and he was a man of slogans (and in this case perhaps anti-slogans), was “show your wound”. In this spirit, I point out that not only will I be at the NYC Wine Riot on this coming Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evenings, but I AM A WINE RIOT. Please accept the above photo (by Bettina Keller in Berlin/Germany) as the first piece of evidence to this effect, then come along to the NYC Wine Riot for conclusive proof at one or more of my Riesling Crash Courses. There are four each session, in the following order: Riesling Boot Camp (Aromas), Riesling Boot Camp (Acidity), Riesling Deep End (America), Riesling Deep End (Germany). At any time you will also be able to purchase a signed bargain price ($20) copy of my book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story, which gives you all the essentials you need to understand the wines of my favorite grape, wine in general, life, New York City, the universe and (almost) everything else. You will also know what I am wearing at that time and on that day – people are already asking me what I’ll wear!

My approach has always been to try and do two things simultaneously that may seem to be hopelessly incompatible: to understand the Riesling in my glass as well as I possibly can from a science-based perspective; to see the same Riesling in the largest and most open possible context, which is as what one literally and metaphorically sober wine scientist recently described to me as, “a really amazing show!” I know a bunch of people in New York Wine City (NYWC) and beyond who do one or other of those things, but I can count the number of people who can do both simultaneously – with Riesling or any other wine – on the fingers of one hand. Of course, I’m also some kind of critic and this is another entire way of looking at wine. The picture below (by Sorin Dragoi of Munich/Germany) captures this aspect of my work best and makes at least three balls that I have to try and keep in the air at once.

Yes, if you are open to Riesling, then it can be a life-changing force that causes a lot of creative chaos and even positively influences you after you sober up. I sometimes feel so inspired when under the influence of Riesling that I started frantically scribbling notes, but more important is how it helps loosen up my mind in all manner of other situations and states when there’s no more ethanol in my bloodstream. Then all kinds of amazing things can happen, unexpected connections are made and I have no doubt that Riesling is a force for good. Come to see me at the New York Wine Riot and until then May The Force by With You!

To book tickets for the New York WINE RIOT go to:

https://secondglass.com/event-categories/event/NYC-2014-fall/features/

 

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 3 – Only One Week until the Big Weekend of New York WINE RIOT Weekend plus the New York Premier of my movie WATCH YOUR BACK

There’s now just one week until the Big Weekend of New York WINE RIOT on Friday, September 19th (evening only) and Saturday, September 20th (afternoon and evening), followed by the New York Wine City (NYWC) premier of my film WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) on the evening of Sunday, September 21st. At the Wine Riot I will be staging a series of Riesling Crash Courses that attempt to say everything essential about the wines of my favorite grape in just 20 minutes. No doubt that is a recipe for Pigott Burnout, but that’s the price I’m paying for my 20 minutes of exposure. Once you have a ticket for the Wine Riot theres on extra admission charge to my Riesling Crash Course, and all the seriously weird and wonderful things which it will may lead to.

GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: Deep, if brief, immersion in Riesling has been known to result in a state of euphoria which can lead to pregnancy. Do not attempt to drive an automobile or operate machinery while in this exalted state. Wine Riot and Stuart Pigott cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of sexual or other acts performed while under the influence of Riesling. You have been warned!

To book tickets for the New York WINE RIOT go to:

https://secondglass.com/event-categories/event/NYC-2014-fall/features/

I always wanted to make a movie and started work on one back in my early twenties, but I hit too many rocks in the road and it was never completed. This time things went no more smoothly, but I was more determined and more flexible about solving the problems. I also had some extremely talented people assisting me, like Paul Grieco of Hearth Restaurant and the Terroir wine bars in New York, pictured above starring in the movie, and my producer, editor and cutter in Berlin Klaus Lüttmer.

For a variety of reasons I don’t want to discuss in detail here – ask me about it at the NYWC premier and I’ll be happy to tell you – it isn’t possible to charge for admission when WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) is screened this time. Because we aren’t charging anyone for a seat at Terroir Murray Hill, at 439 Third Avenue on the evening on Sunday, September 21st this may well result in the place being packed to overflowing, so we suggest you try to get there 9pm or earlier to grab a good seat for the 10pm screening (the movie’s length is currently 50 minutes and a few seconds).

A lot of people have been asking me what the movie’s about. The simple answer is that the title explains all the essentials, except perhaps the point that this is NOT just a series of pretty pictures of Riesling vineyards and grapes of action wine-movie sequences of the crush and wine splashing about in the cellar. WATCH YOUR BACK is what Hollywood calls mockumentary, that is a documentary with a twist. It was great fun giving the twin subjects of Stuart Pigott and Riesling a very large and dangerous twist. It was much more demanding trying to gather all the pictures that I needed to turn this rather simple idea into a movie. Much of that work was done on the road during the coast to coast RIESLING ROAD TRIPs 1 & 2 organized by Wines of Germany USA last July and this May. There’s a lot of America in my movie and I think that helps make it so colorful, but you’ll have to come along to find out what you think of it. You see, it may be going to some film festivals soon, but it certainly isn’t going to land on YouTube any time soon.

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 2 – Germany’s Riesling GGs Want to be Carved in Stone, but 2013s are a Crapshoot

It’s quite a strange, almost a spooky, feeling to look back from bustling New York Wine City at all the intense of the 2013 Riesling “Große Gewächse” (GGs) during my recent stay in Germany. You see, this category of high-end dry single-vineyard wines (mostly the whites are Riesling, but there’s a significant number of Weißburgunder/Pinot Blanc and Grauburgunder/Pinot Gris too) which exists in its present form since the VDP winemakers association chose that name for the 2002 vintage, which means that it’s new. However, I have the strong impression that many of the members not only seek increased international recognition and higher prices for their GG wines, they also want to carve them in stone, that is give them the same kind of aura of timelessness holiness as the Grand Crus of Burgundy have. The problem is that the Riesling GGs of the 2013 vintage are a crapshoot.

Straight away, I have to point out what I mean by that C-word. You see the problem with many of the 2013 GGs is not that they are lacking in mineral character – the thing which is supposed to make them stand head and shoulders above other wines – rather what they’re often lacking is the kind of harmony that means you want to drink them, or better still be swept off your feet by them. The former of those things is too seldom present; the latter really rare. And I promise you this lack was not difficult to spot, and isn’t the result of me misanthropically looking for something to criticize.

Already at the official press and somm only ‘GG Premiere’ in Wiesbaden on August 25th and 26th (just days before the wines hit the marketplace on September 1st) it stuck out like dog balls, at least for anyone who can think about wine as a beverage and doest need to turn it into a religion. More than a hundred tasters sat in serried ranks – an army of international judges! – at one of the best organized professional tastings I’ve ever been to. Our collective task seemed to be to test the wines for authenticity, that is terroir (today by far the most important word in the German wine vocabulary), then put a rubber stamp on those wines that gave us that spiritual experience. The problem was that often anything which could have made the wines appealing, charming or elegant (all traditional qualities for German wines!) had been sacrificed on the altar of puristic minerality. The follow-up presentation of the 2013 white GGs and the 2012 red GGs in Berlin, September 8th in the Gemäldegalerie (see the photo below) only confirmed this impression.

Here is the most important paragraph from my German language report on the Wiesbaden tasting from this blog (see WEINHIER for the full German language text), translated sentence by sentence:

Lass mich es ganz klar sagen: Wein kann Spaß machen und Freude bereiten. Wein kann die Tür öffnen zu den beste Sachen des Lebens wie lebhafte Gespräche und Inspiration, oder einfach zusammen lachen, lieben, weinen und noch sehr viel mehr.

Let me say it clearly: Wine can give pleasure and delight. It can open the door to the best things in life, like animated conversation and inspiration, or just help us laugh, love, cry and much else besides.

Die deutsche Literatur, Kunst und Film hat das häufig als Hauptthema oder Nebenthema und ist damit nicht alleine auf der Welt. Leider hat ein Teil der deutsche Weinszene das aber über Bord geworfen und ein noch größere Teil hat es halb über Bord rutschen lassen.

German literature, art and film often has this as its main theme or as a secondary subject, and it is far from being alone in that. However,  a certain part of the German wine scene has thrown that overboard, and a much great part of the wine scene has let all of this slip half overboard.

Für sie reicht nicht mehr ein gute Geschmack der viele kritische Konsumenten erfreut, sondern die heilige Authentizität scheint das immer zu trumpfen und notfalls – wie mit dem Jahrgang 2013 – muss auch ein schlechte Geschmack dafür im Kauf genommen werden um es sicher zu stellen.

For them it’s not enough that wine has a good taste that pleases many critical consumers, rather Holy Authenticity always trumps it, and if necessary – as is the case with the 2013 vintage – it’s necessary to put up with a nasty taste in order to guarantee that purity.

Für manche 2013 GGs muss man richtig leiden, weil der Neue Deutsche Wein hardcore ist.

For some 2013 Riesling GGs you really have to suffer, because the New German Wine is hardcore.

This situation requires more detailed  comment than I can give here without this story extending to a length that would bore many of you. I will therefore return to it during the next days, but one thing needs to be explained here. Why does all this strike me so clearly? Well, I think it’s the result of my time at high school in London during the 1970s, when my parents and most of my teachers  continually browbeat me to try harder. I did so again and again, establishing a pattern that influences the way I work to this day. Sometimes this compulsive striving makes me get in my own way horribly, and I wonder if something similar isn’t happening to many of Germany’s winegrowers. They strike me as being too desperate to achieve the status that their colleagues other countries, most notably France, have (and sometimes take for granted in a horribly arrogant manner). I strongly recommend them to think regularly and often about how delicious Riesling can be, and to strive for that in their wines. Should this fail, therapy may help them as it did me

 

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Berlin Riesling Diary: Day 3 – WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) in Berlin!

Yes, last night my movie WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Movie (Part 1) had its first showing in Berlin, the city where it was edited, cut and produced by Klaus Lüttmer. This picture shows me during shooting at cameraman Marcarthur Baralla’s apartment in Brooklyn/New York. The movie was well received by the packed house at Cooks Connection, although they all took it very seriously compared with the crowd in Traverse City/Michigan at the world premier. Some also struggled to understand the American accents. For their benefit I switch to German. Jetzt geht es weiter auf DEUTSCH…

Meinen Film WATCH YOUR BACK – The Riesling Story (Part 1), der von Klaus Lüttmer in Berlin produziert und geschnitten wurde, hat es endlich in die Bundessaufstadt geschafft. Gestern Abend fand bei Cooks Connection in Charlottenburg die europäische Premiere statt. Aufgrund des Platzmangels konnten nur eingeladene Gäste teilnehmen. Das deutsche Publikum hat den Film überraschend ernst genommen. In Amerika wird er als Komödie verstanden. Das ist aber nicht die letzte Chance ihn zu sehen und zu verstehen.

Am Freitag, den 5. September, 20 Uhr, wird jeder, der bereit ist, für einen sehr vielseitigen Weinabend 30 Euro zu bezahlen, den Film sehen können: Ort: Goldhahn & Sampson, Dunckerstraße 9, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. Dummerweise ist diese Veranstaltung, auch auf Grund der Beteiligung von von aufstrebenden Weingütern wie  von Racknitz (Odernheim/Nahe), Katharina Wechsler (Westhofen/Rheinhessen) und Weiser-Künstler (Traben-Trarbach/Mosel), schon ausverkauft. Falls Sie dennoch kommen möchten, empfehle ich Ihnen, sich möglichst schnell auf die Warteliste bei www.goldhahnundsampson.de eintragen zu lassen. Es tut mir leid, dass mir diese Situation so spät bewusst wurde. Vielleicht sehen wir uns dennoch?

Ab sofort kommt unter der Rubrik WEINHIER das erste richtige deutschsprachige Posting auf diesem Blog seit sehr langer Zeit. Es geht um die 2013er “Großen Gewächse” der VDP-Weingüter, die am Montag offiziell in den Verkauf kommen.

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London Riesling Diary: Day 2 – A German Spätburgunder by Any Other Name is a Pinot Noir (or even a Pinot Nero)

Hopefully, a blog responds to events and has an ethos, but is not a rigid editorial program that requires slots to be filled come what may. I think it should be like bamboo bending with the wind, rather than an unyielding grid. This is my explanation for the fact that this, the 600th posting since my blog went onlinel on September 1st 2007 (most of you only know it in its present format which it acquired on April 17th 2012), is about Spätburgunder, not Riesling. That’s the German name for Pinot Noir, also known by the alias of Pinot Nero, which still appears on the labels of most wines of this variety produced in Germany. Pictured above are the two reasons for this subject demanding my attention today: on the left Nigel Greening the owner and guiding spirit of Felton Road winery in Central Otago, one of New Zealand’s top producers of Pinot Noir and Riesling (see BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH pages 101 & 196), and on the right Anne Krebiehl, a German wine journalist who has been in London for the last 14 years. They’re standing in a corner of Anne’s kitchen and the sparkling wine in their glasses is the delicious – floral, delicately creamy and elegant – English 2009 Neytimber.

Earlier this year Nigel got very excited when I suggested I could organize a tasting of the top Spätburgunder from the little-known Breisgau sub-region of Baden from the excellent 2007 vintage later this year in London. When I told Anne about this she suggested that we could do the tasting at her dinner table. That conversation took place in Vienna during the VieVinum trade fair, to be precise at the big party on the Saturday night of the VieVinum. Just before 11pm I crawled away from that party as Paul Grieco and Matt Stinton of Hearth Restaurant and the Terroir wine bars in New York burst into the entrance in high spirits. They couldn’t begin to understand how exhausted I felt after four fascinating, but very  intense days of wine tasting. Out on the sidewalk I drew a deep breath, then gingerly pulled out my cellphone to see if I’d missed any messages and discovered that Bernhard Huber of the eponymous winery in Malterdingen, Breisgau had just died of cancer. Suddenly the “tasting” gained a new importance, becoming also a homage to one of Germany’s leading winemakers of the last quarter century.

In spite of that several people who were anxious to attend couldn’t do so because that’s what happens in London in August (more on this subject at a later date, because it’s of great personal importance to me). So, in the end there was only Anne, Nigel, Sebastian Thomas of Howard Ripley Wines and I. Sebastian brought a handful of other German Spätburgunders including the top 2012s from Weingut Keller in Flörhseim-Dalsheim, Rheinhessen with him which made the evening an unsystematic, but rather serious review of how far German Spätburgunder red wine has come in recent years.

The first thing which has to be said is that in spite of the fact that all of the winemakers who’s Spätburgunder we tasted are inspired by Burgundy, none of their wines tasted like Burgundy, rather they were self-confidently themselves in spite of all the differences between them in aroma, flavor, style, etc. Even the 2007s from the recently founded micro-wineries of Holub and Zallwander were very distinctive wines, the former rather mature and soft with an intense savory character, the latter much more oaky and tannic, still a bit gritty. Nigel told us that there was an Inuit (i.e. Eskimo) word that means, “I quite like you, but I wouldn’t like to go seal hunting with you”, and that was how. In felt about these two wines. These were “serious” wines, but today both these producers are making much better wines than they were back in 2007. The difference between how Shelter Winery (yes, that’s the name of a German producer) made their 2007 and the way they make their current wines is much smaller, and I think the concentration and dry elegance of their 2007 Pinot Noir (yes, that’s how this German wine is labelled) very much reflects how their new wines will age. It is still a young wine with many years ahead of it, which pleased Sebastian Thomas, because Howard Ripley is the UK importer!

By this point Anne’s excellent food – a leg of lamb that momentarily made me wish I lived in England instead of Germany, and super-ripe figs from her garden – was beginning to distract us. A great effort of concentration was necessary to do justice to the wines the wines that followed. The trio of Bernhard Huber’s 2007 Spätburgunder “Großes Gewächs” (GG) were all stunning wines. The rich and silky GG from the Sommerhalde site got the most comments, but the sleeker and drier GG from the Binenberg meant more to me, perhaps because it reminded me of my first visit to the Hubers back in 1993 when they were still making the wines in the cellar and garage under their home. Already it was clear that they were in the leading pack, but not how they would pull ahead of the field after their acquisition of new vineyards like the Schlossberg. The 2007 Schlossberg GG was my favorite wine of the entire evening, because of its great fragrance, super-fine dry tannins and herbal-mineral a character. Not having a bottle of Huber’s most expensive Spätburgunder, the Wildenstein, from 2007 in my Berlin cellar, I’d brought a bottle of the 2005 which I had in New York. It was very different in balance to the other Huber wines, richer in body, but with a hint of green freshness. That prompted Anne to open a couple more 2005 German Spätburgunders, of which the Mergelberg GG from Knipser in the Pfalz was an impressive wine with an intense smoky note, a fleshy body and slightly sappy finish.

The 2012 Spätburgunders from Keller are extreme wines, particularly in their present extremely youthful state, and I expect both rave reviews (possibly some critics will even slather at the mouth) and some really damning words. Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir/Pinot Nero hardly gets any sleeker, cooler and fresher than this. I’m sure they’re going to develop very well if anyone has the patience to put the Bürgel and Frauenberg GGs in a cool dark hole in the ground (i.e. a wine cellar) for several years, then live clean enough to still be around when they come back up into the daylight. I loved the floral aromas of the Frauenberg, but I’ll have to check the price on this. Expensive it may be to make high-end Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir/Pinot Nero or red burgundy which doesn’t usually declare on the label that it’s made from this grape. However, wherever wines of this grape come from three figure prices come about because very generous profit margins are being taken, that is unless you factor the price the land would fetch today into the equation. However, as far as I can see that can be used to justify any and all wine prices, since land prices follow wine prices.

And in spite of the tube (i.e. subway/metro) strike I made it back to my mother’s house on the other side of London. On the trains and planes of recent days I’ve been reading Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, upon which the movie ‘Bladerunner’ was loosely based. The dystopia (the opposite of a utopia) it describes makes me feel that London in August 2014 is actually a tacky science fiction movie that remains unfinished, because the budget ran out. The opposite applies to German Spätburgunder, a work-in-progress that is anything but tacky, and to Anne’s hospitality.

 

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