New York Riesling Diary: Day 3 – YOU ARE ALL INVITED! The Hitherto Untold Story of the United States of Riesling

Don’t get me wrong! Posting this startling image is not a sign that I’m abandoning my pacifist beliefs, much less that I’ve gone over to the Dark Side and now support the NRA (aka the guns and ammo industry). Pictured above is Janie Heuck Brooks of Brooks Wine in Oregon, a heroine of the recently formed United States of Riesling, on the day construction of the new Brooks winery began (April 1st this year). And yes, she actually fired off that AK47 which used to belong to the winery’s founder, her brother Jimi Brooks who suddenly passed away back in 2004. Knowing nothing about either the wine industry or winemaking she immediately took over the running of the then 2,500 case per annum winery on Jimi’s death in 2004 aged just 35. Since then she has expanded production, which is dominated by Pinot Noir and Riesling, to 12,000 cases with the help of winemaker Chris Williams. The remarkable things is that this wasn’t achieved by softening or dumbing down the “against the grain” wine styles Jimi had doggedly pursued since the winery’s foundation back in 1998.  You can meet Janie, along with three other leading American and four leading German Riesling producers at the launch of my book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story (aka #BWWOE) between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday, June 21st at Terroir Murray Hill (439 Third Avenue between 30th and 31st Streets). YOU ARE ALL INVITED! For more information scroll down on this page.

Janie and Chris’s achievements were amply proven at the Brooks wine dinner yesterday evening at the Auden Bistro in Manhattan’s Ritz Carlton Hotel, sort of the ‘Phenomenal Femmes’ series. Although I loved the Brooks Pinot Noirs (the 2011 ‘Janus’ was at once dry and silky with a slightly sappy freshness, the 2008 ‘Red Letter’ powerful and tannic, but also subtle), the elegant, just off-dry 2012 Oak Ridge Vineyard Gewürztraminer and the 2011 ‘Amycas’ blended dry white (still really youthful for “regular stuff”), the twin high points for me were the two Rieslings. The dry 2010 ‘Ara’ Riesling is a very striking and daring wine that will either excite you with its electric brilliance and understated power or sending you running for the cover of soft and “safe” Industrial Pinot Grigio (which is also produced in Oregon). Even at this age it is still just beginning to unfurl its apple and white peach aromas like a long banner fluttering in the wind. The 2012 ‘Sweet P’ Riesling is a beauty that doesn’t seem challenging, instead brimming with all manner of white fruit and floral aromas, but behind the transparent veil of grape sweetness is a core as firm and razor-sharp as a samurai sword. Together these dramatically contrasting great wines say everything about how in recent years Riesling has put down deep roots in Oregon and in America and quality has improved in leaps and bounds by winemakers taking learning from Riesling’s homeland in Germany, Austria and Alsace/France.

Janie and Chris are far from being the only examples of winemakers lacking family heritage in Germanic Europe who have no difficulty being inspired by it’s wine culture. I know that might sound a bit strange, but that has to do with a profound cultural divide between America and Germany that opened up several times beginning almost exactly one hundred years ago. That divide has now been finally closed and we are fast approaching the point where it is normal for America winemakers to be inspired by German-speaking wine culture. This, and the comparable developments in other fields, are a great gain for America since they greatly enrich the range of cultural possibilities, just as they did a century and more ago (just think of eating hotdogs and drinking beer outdoors, which is of Germanic origin).Next to that one of the other important threads running through my book is the truly global nature of the contemporary Riesling phenomenon. As a colleague recently put it, “Cabernet producers tend to hate each other, only seeing each other as competitors and enemies and avoid communicating with they if can possibly avoid it. Riesling and Pinot Noir producers tend to regard each other as colleagues, and therefore want to exchange information and experiences with them.” That is making Riesling strong and weakening Cabernet.

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 2 – YOU ARE ALL INVITED! New York is the Place, this is the Time for #BWWOE!

Yesterday at the David Bowler tasting of wines from Germany, Austria and Alsace yesterday afternoon I clocked this mighty vessel, which is possibly – to quote a wine magazine that will remain nameless – “the ultimate bottle of Riesling”. Fritz’s Riesling is produced by Fritz Haselbach of the Gunderloch estate in Nackenheim/Rheinhessen, and as you can see it is also available in 20 liter kegs which look like small submersibles. We won’t be cracking any of these at the launch of my book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story (aka #BWWOE), but there will be more than enough great Riesling to refresh and stimulate stimulate the minds and bodies of those who make it to Terroir Murray Hill (439 Third Avenue, between 30th and 31st Streets) between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday (if you are trade, then you can some one hour later. By sure not to miss the crowning of the first official Riesling Queen of New York at 3pm! There are no tickets and there is no admission price, but we are asking you for donations to the HIV/AIDS foundation HOPE in Cape Town, which I have supported for almost 20 years.

The Terroir Murray Hill event is a great chance to taste a slew of the best Rieslings from Germany and the USA, but the atmosphere will (of course!) be celebratory. For those of you seeking in-depth knowledge and Riesling enlightenment the tasting between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday, June 22nd at Hotel Delmano, 82 Berry Street in Williamsburg/Brooklyn (just a couple of blocks from Bedford Avenue subway on the L line) is a MUST. Steffen Christmann of the Christmann estate in the Pfalz, who is also the national president of the VDP, and Philipp Wittmann of the Wittmann estate in Rheinhessen, of which region he is the regional president of the VDP, are two of the leading producers of the new single-vineyard ‘Grosses Gewächs’ (GG) wines. They will not only be explaining exactly how this new high-end category of dry Riesling functions, but also showing their GG wines and those from the Rebholz estate in the Pfalz. The climax of this tasting will be the Idig GG from Christmann, the Morstein GG from Wittmann and the Kastanienbusch GG from Rebholz from the 2007 vintage. This is a UNIQUE chance to experience the finest GGs at optimum maturity (though they will surely keep another decade or more); 21st century German Riesling “Grand Crus”! There is no charge for this tasting either. However, you must show Alex Allan (alexthealan@gmail.com) that you are a member of the trade or otherwise have a good reason to attend. Please HURRY before all the maximum 17 seats are taken!

By the way, although the name and packaging may be a gimmicky ‘Fritz’s Riesling’ is a very pleasant medium-dry Riesling which has some real character from the Roter Hang or red slopes of Nackenheim and Nierstein in Rheinhessen. There are very few wines on Planet Riesling which actually taste gimmicky, which is quite a contrast to all the Bullshit Chardonnay, Industrial Pinot Grigio and Industrial Sauvignon Blanc sloshing around global markets, (although I must add that, of course, some lovely wines are also crafted from those so often bastardized grapes).

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New York Riesling Diary: Day 1 – YOU ARE ALL INVITED! New York is the Place, this is the Time for #BWWOE!

YOU ARE ALL INVITED to the official launch of my new book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story just published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. New York is the place, this is the time! To be precise the Cool Location – pictured above – is Terroir Murray Hill, 439 Third Avenue (between 30th and 31st streets) is the place and 2pm thru 4pm on Saturday, June 21st is the perfect time (unless you are trade or press, in which case you can come one hour earlier). There you will be able to see and purchase the book, meet and taste the wines from eight of the world’s leading Riesling producers.

Steffen Christmann from the Christmann estate in the Pfalz, Oliver Haag of the Fritz Haag estate and Ernst Loosen from the Dr. Loosen estate both in the Mosel and Philipp Wittmann from the Wittmann estate in Rheinhessen will be representing Germany, largest producing nation on Planet Riesling. Janie Heuck Brooks of Brooks in Oregon,  Sean O’Keefe from Chateau Grand Traverse in Michigan, Bob Bertheau of Eroica/Chateau Set. Michelle in Washington State, Oskar Bynke and Fred Merwarth of Hermann J. Wiemer in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York will be present from the second largest producing nation on Planet Riesling, the United States of America.

At ??pm I will be crowning the first official Riesling Queen of New York. Who will it be? And the Ghana vs Germany game will be on a screen from 3pm if you don’t want to miss the World Cup. There are no tickets, so all you need to do is come along. We are not asking an admission fee, but we are collecting donations for the HOPE foundation (HIV & AIDS prevention, care of victims and their orphans) in Cape Town/South Africa. $10 is not very much to give, and $50 really makes a difference.  To find the other events in our program just scroll down this page to the announcement of New York Riesling Week.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL!

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London Riesling Diary: Day 1 – T Minus One and Counting! #BWWOE is Published Tomorrow!

Yes, it’s just one day until the publication of BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story (aka #BWWOE) tomorrow by Stewart, Tabori & Chang in New York Wine City (NYWC) and I have to admit it feels strange announcing this from a Starbucks just off Regent Street in London’s West End! However, tomorrow I climb on the back of a Big Silver Bird and let its wings take me across the Big Pond to NYWC in time for a celebratory dinner there. Riesling Global research for #BWWOE began on February 1st, 2012, and the entire process was seriously inspiring from that day thru to the on-going campaign to achieve world domination – I quip, of course, in the spirit of the book’s title – with the team at Abrams Books, of which Stewart, Tabori & Chang is an imprint. During this time my life has changed more dramatically than even regular readers can imagine. That story will slowly make its way into these electronic pages, but the vital elements of the backstory can all be found within the 208 pages of #BWWOE. The book’s basic principal is that you can’t say everything about a subject this vast in that compact space, but all the things you really need to know about Riesling are in there.

So, dear citizens of Planet Riesling, I am asking you to actually read my new book. That may seem like an absurdly banal thing to say, but I’m sure a bunch of people in the NYWC scene and the comparable communities around the Planet Riesling are going to buy the book and put it on their bookshelf without reading it. That will be a terribly mistake, for they will thereby miss the very things which make #BWWOE not only different, but also revolutionary, outrageous, funny and – I hope – inspiring for you. My goal is nothing less than to promote an enormous expansion of the democratic and joyful Riesling Spirit.

That will also be communicated in a more concrete form by the events during the New York Riesling Week which begins on the afternoon of Saturday, June 21st, the first Day of the Summer of Riesling 2014. JOIN US at Terroir Murray Hill from 2pm thru 4pm on that day for a spectacular afternoon celebrating Riesling and what it can do for body and soul. BY THE WAY several of the other events are marked down as “by invitation only”. Please feel free to write to the email addresses given and ask to be invited. I can’t promise that we can fit you in, but I’d say your chances were really good.

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Vienna Riesling Diary: Day 1 – Sometimes You Get Lucky and the Great God of Wine Smiles on You! (Part 3)

People who’ve never done it are always drastically underestimating how much mental concentration professional wine tasting demands and what a toll it takes on the human body when it’s undertaken for a longer period of time. This is my 5th day in a row of virtually dawn to dusk wine tasting here in Austria, but only the first full day of the VieVinum wine fair in Vienna. I quickly lost count of how many dry Rieslings and dry Grüner Veltliner, plus a smattering of other wines that I tasted there, and although there were a lot of very good wines and some great ones two I wondered if I was simply too exhausted to be really bowled over by something. Then it happened at the stand of Pichler-Krutzler, the small winery in Dürnstein/Wachau run by Elizabeth Pichler (daughter of F.X. Pichler) and Erich Krutzler (originally from the Krutzler winery in Südburgenland). All the dry Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners I tasted there were very impressed, but the dry 2013 In der Wand Riesling was the most exciting wine I tasted all day, breathtakingly brilliant,  and perfectly balanced. I know it might just be me, but I found the interplay of the racy acidity, sleek body and pristine white peach fruit in this wine seriously erotic. Congratulations to the couple pictured above for making my day!

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Vienna Riesling Diary: Day 1 – Quo Vadis Austrian Dry Riesling (Part 2)

We wine journalists, somms and other wine professionals all pretend we can make sense of wine, but in the end it is like a silhouette on the wall who’s shape we can recognize and we try to describe, but actually we’re always struggling to half-way make sense of. The pictured silhouette on the wall belongs to one of the world’s best producers of dry Riesling, Martin Nigl of Senftenberg/Kremstal. It is just as distinctive as his wines are, and no less mysterious, which is finally what makes them so special. 2013 is no exception, in fact right through the range they are amongst the most vivid and exciting wines of the vintage. Hats off to Martin Nigl!

Here at the VieVinum wine fair in the Hofburg I am wading deep into the dry Rieslings and dry Grüner Veltliners from the Wachau and I have to say that compared with the astonishingly even high standard of the wines from the same grapes I tasted this week in the Kamptal, Kremstal and Traisental, they are a mixed bag, sometimes even a crapshoot. Some wines are too tart, others have been deacidified too far (something nobody is talking about!), then there are others with too much alcohol and/or tannin. When those tannins kick in, then  I ask myself what the hell is going on.

There were some really stunning wines, and the 2013 Riesling Smaragd Singerriedel from Franz Hirtzberg in Spitz/Wachau was one of them, although in my book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story I seriously questioned the balance of (to my mind) overblown 2011 vintage of the same wine. However, Hirtzberger’s 2013 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Honivogl was once again too creamy and honeyed for my palate. Why did over-ripeness and/or botrytis playing such a serious role in shaping wine? Wouldn’t more freshness and elegance make it more exciting? Certainly, I couldn’t manage more than a single glass.

The radical wine soy Erich Machherndl in Wösendorf/Wachau make those questions much more pressing. Erich did not deacidify any of his wines and and they have a darily racy character, but, surprisingly are not austere. The 2013 Riesling Smaragd ‘Alte Reben’ has a unique bouquet I struggled to describe – Finnish cloudberry? –  and tastes like a lightning strike on your palate. As Erich said to me, “the last years all the winemakers complained about their wines having too little acidity. Then when they got it in 2013 many of them deacidified. I don’t understand it!” So there are alternatives and sometimes they’re really exciting.

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Vienna Riesling Diary: Day 1 – Quo Vadis Austrian Dry Riesling? (Part 1)

Of course, any hit list like my Austrian Riesling Top Ten published here yesterday, just in time for the opening of the VieVinum wine fair, can only be personal. Who is left out inevitably throws up as many questions as who was included. There were a bunch of excellent Austrian Riesling producers like Fred Loimer of the eponymous estate in  Langenlois/Kamptal, pictured above, and Ilse Maier of the Geyerhof estate in Oberfucha/Kremstal and Markus Huber of the Huber estate in Reichersdorf/Traisental, both pictured below, who on the basis of the last couple of vintages could just as well have been included. Their current wines have the combination of distinctiveness of character and great balance with highest quality that qualify a producer for such accolades, but their track records at this exalted level strike me as being a few years shorter than those of the producers who made it on to my list.

Ilse Maier’s wines only got better since I began following them systematically about a decade ago. The high altitude location of her vineyards gives them a marvelous coolness and freshness, even at high levels of ripeness. The uncompromising way in which they ignore the conventions of Austrian dry Riesling to just be themselves is daring. Fred Loimer’s daring lies in the way he uses tannin extracted from the grapes prior to fermentation to give his wines a power that has nothing to do with alcohol. They have an enormous amount of herbal  and mineral character, in fact that might be too much for some wine drinkers, but I’d rather have daring than conformism any day! Markus Huber’s dry Rieslings are as bright as supernova, and if you’ve got an open mind about the tiny Traisental region, are as difficult to miss as a supernova in the heavens. Of course, some people have hierarchies of winegrowing regions in their heads, and for them this one is likely definitely-not-the-Wachau. Anyone with an open mind ought to recognize that the wines of these three producers are seriously exciting stuff!

Very many other Austrian producers have made at least some wines in recent years that shared that combination, but didn’t make the list on the basis of inconsistency. Some monster dry Rieslings were made by a handful of Austria’s most famous producers during the last years and their lack of balance (sometimes freshness and delicacy too) cost their makers an accolade. Blaming these overblown wines on climate change sounds good until you compare them with the beautifully balanced wines from the producers on my list. Then there are a few other producers with great top wines but seriously disappointing, sometimes green and rough-tasting, regular wines. Of course, that’s another kind of inconsistency that prevented their inclusion on my list. Balance strikes me as way more fundamental to a great wine – be it a Riesling or from any other grape – than the greatest possible ripeness and concentration. On those twin altars valuable things like balance, liveliness and subtlety have sometimes been sacrificed in order to make the biggest possible impression. That, of course, is not a specifically Austrian problem.

Thankfully the 2013 vintage Austrian dry Rieslings (and Grooners) don’t seem to suffer from that problem. The wines are generally medium-bodied with a vitality of aroma that is refreshing for body and mind.  I’m look forward to tasting a lot more of these wines here in Vienna today and, as always, will strive to be completely open-minded when I do so. I promise to report on them before I leave town for London on Sunday afternoon.

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Vienna Riesling Diary: Day 0 – My Austrian Riesling Top Ten

I just arrived in Vienna after 3 intense and taxing, but also inspiring days tasting Riesling and Grüner Veltliner (plus a few specialities) in Lower Austria. I just had time to check into my hotel and run over to Weibels Wirtshaus in the Kumpfgasse/1. District to present my book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story for the first time ever. For this event I put together a list of my Austrian Riesling Top Ten and I reproduce this below for those who couldn’t attend. I would point out that this is not a hit list of the best 2013 vintage wines, rather reflects the last five vintages I was able to taste and the winegrowers are listed in alphabetical order. Pictured above is Willi Bründlmayer of Langenlois/Kamptal. Don’t worry he didn’t win the crazy cat trophy he’s holding with a Riesling, it was for his ‘L + T’ Grooner. I hope that this list provokes serious discussion, just as my book is already beginning to do here in Vienna.

Bründlmayer (Langenlois/Kamptal)

Johann Donabaum (Spitz/Wachau)

Hirsch * (Kammern/Kamptal)

Neumayer (Inzersdorf ob der Traisen/Traisental)

Nigl * (Senftenberg/Kremstal)

Nikolaihof * (Mautern/Wachau)

Rudi Pichler * (Wösendorf/Wachau)

Franz Proidl (Senftenberg/Kremstal)

Stadt Krems (Krems-Stein/Kremstal)

Wieninger * (Vienna/Wien)

* Included in the „Riesling Global Top 100“ in

BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story

Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang in NYC on June 17th, 2014

 

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Berlin Riesling Diary: Day 12 – Dear NSA, Dear GCHQ (Part 8 – As Time Goes By)

Here, much delayed by technical problems with the back end of my blog which prevented me from putting it up as planned on Friday, June 6th is the next installment of this series with no direct connection to Riesling or even wine in general. I make no apologies for that, because this is a matter with such far reaching implications that it connects with almost everything else on our planet.

This story may get lost in the crowd of other stories appearing on this, the first anniversary of the publication of the first Snowden revelations, but that prospect doesn’t deter me from reporting on some of the most important consequences of the fact that since 9/11 both of you have been trying to gain access to all electronic communications, and often succeeded in obtaining all the data of a particular type in a specific territory (e.g. tapping all the cellphone calls in the Bahamas for a period).

One of those consequences is particularly obvious to me, because I’m British, also a frequent visitor to the US and a long-term resident of Germany. My travel between those places frequently confronts me with a very different situation to that I was just in.  This keeps reminding me how both in Britain and the US some people are critical of what we now know you did, but the so-called silent majorities in both countries accept it, because they feel it is making them more secure. In contrast, in Germany there is almost unanimous condemnation right across the social and political spectrum, although this is often tinged with resignation and a feeling of helplessness. Did you guys get that yet?

For me, the current and decisive phase of what most Germans call the “NSA Affäre” began with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to US President Barrack Obama in Washington DC at the end of April and beginning May. The New York Times (NYT) story of May 1st, ‘U.S. and Germany Fail to Reach a Deal on Spying’ explained how talks between the two governments had totally failed, because, as one nameless American official was quoted, “What the Germans want, and wanted, is that we would never do anything against their laws on their territory.” By inference, what the US Government wanted from the Germans was that they turn a blind eye to NSA and other American secret service activities in Germany even when these contravene German law. At the TV press conference with Merkel, Obama smiled and said that the US is one of Germany’s best friends and the NSA is not snooping on normal Germans, therefore they have nothing to worry about. The fact that no kind of agreement had been reached between the two governments gave those words a hollow ring for Germans, and only increased their sense of disillusionment with Obama. Effectively the British position is the same and Cameron’s smile is no different to that of the American President. Suddenly, the Germans feel as if they have no friends left, at least none they could rely upon if they suddenly really needed help.

However, there are also implications of all this for America and Britain. Did anyone in the British or American media point out that if the German Government turned a blind eye to illegal NSA and GCHQ activities on their territory, then it would have compromised both the principals of equality before the law and the separation of executive and judiciary; vital elements of the German Basic Law? I certainly didn’t see anything like that in print or on my computer screen. What makes this shocking to me is that those principals, along with others such as free speech and the privacy of the citizen’s home, derive from the US Constitution and from the British democratic system with its “unwritten” constitution.  The American and the British governments are expecting the German government to compromise on are the core values of their Basic Law which have roots that go back to America’s founding fathers and their equivalents in late 17th and 18th century Britain. This is perverse and says something about how respect for those principals has been eroded by the British and American governments in recent years.

Shortly after her return to Germany Angela Merkel gave an interview to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). There she was quoted as saying“…I have repeatedly made clear to the American President that when it comes to the data collection by the NSA we expect that on German soil German law will be obeyed. The ends cannot justify the means.” Perhaps because she realized early on that America would not be willing to sign a no-spy agreement with Germany, that’s been Merkel’s bottom line for quite some time. Because of that, she’s has been repeatedly attacked by German politicians of all parties (though less loudly by those of her own party, the CDU) and taken a lot of flack from the German media for being too friendly to the US Government.

It strikes me that her position was indeed friendly to America. “Germany cannot wish for a better partner than the United States,” she said in that FAZ interview last month. It was simply the latest statement of her long-standing belief in America as a force for good in the world that was shaped by her youth in totalitarian East Germany and the events following the fall of the Berlin Wall a quarter of a century ago. That’s why she bent over (almost) backwards to accommodate President Obama, but neither he nor anyone else in the US Government seems to have realized that fact, otherwise they wouldn’t have treated her as they did when she last came to DC. Seen from Germany, it looked just short of a public humiliation. Once again, the British position seems to mirror the US one, although Cameron hasn’t made such a show out of it.

Sadly, the situation is much worse than all this suggests, and that’s something you can only appreciate if you have spent some time in Germany, Britain and America recently, as I did. The mantra of the US Government is that the NSA’s job is to protect national security, and for most Americans that means avoiding another 9/11. American politicians officials have repeatedly played on this fear according to Richard Nixon’s principal that, “people react to fear, not love”. The problem is that the NSA’s hovering up of data is not only about protecting American lives. As the NYT times story of May 20th, ‘Fine Line Seen in U.S. Spying on Companies’, pointed out, “…the government does not deny it routinely spies to advance American economic advantage, which is part of it’s broad definition of how it protects American national security.” Clearly, in recent years the definition national security has become elastic and been expanded from the defense of Americans lives to include propping up the US economy. In this case too the position of the US Government seem to be that the ends justify the means.

Bit by bit the Snowden revelations have made clear to the Germans and anyone else not gripped by paranoid fear of terrorists, how the US Government has expanded the meaning of many key terms such as “national security” far beyond their traditional definitions. This, no less than finding out that the NSA routinely spies on Germany’s political leaders and can read their email if it chooses to, has shaken the Germany. For the great majority of them it therefore seems only right that the Chief Federal Prosecutor Harald Range has finally opened a criminal investigation into the hacking of Angela Merkel’s cellphone as the NYT reported in the May 5th story, ‘Germany begins Inquiry of U.S. in Surveillance Case’. It notes that, “German politicians have come under strong public pressure,” and of course that’s true, but it isn’t the real reason for this new development. The actual one is that a felony has been committed and the Chief Federal Prosecutor has a constitutional duty to investigate all felonies committed in Germany.

America and Britain have both failed to realize that the Germans would abide by their constitution, rather than adopt the elastic approach to constitutional principals which the US and Britain have. They failed to appreciate the deep and lasting effect of Germany’s history – the Nazis de facto abolition of civil rights, then their many crimes of which the Shoa (Holocaust) was only the largest – on their entire world view. The German constitution is the foundation of their categorical rejection of all that, and their commitment to principals on which American and British democracy was built. It is impossible for them to compromise on that and they won’t do so, even for a best friend. Consequently, Germany and America/Britain are moving ever further apart, and for all the wrong reasons. As someone with stakes of various kinds in all of three countries, and who can clearly see how much of their culture are common, I find that deeply worrying and depressing. Don’t worry though, my next posting will have a more cheerful tone!

By the way, I am not going to rescind the offer I made to the NSA and GCHQ in Part 1 of this story that you can both read, watch and listen to all my electronic communications and that I will not prosecute you for this. That invitation still stands. Hi guys! Welcome to the Back End of my life! Please don’t ignore the Front End, most importantly my new book BEST WHITE WINE ON EARTH – The Riesling Story which will be published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang in New York in just 8 days.

PS The US flag pictured above is an exhibit in the National Museum of the Native American in Washington DC. It is the work of Native American artist Jenny Anne Taylor and is called ‘Nations’. It incorporates the names of 456 Native American Nations, and thereby documents an America almost invisible to most white Americans, although it’s history extends much further back than the Pilgrims of Plymouth/MA or the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

 

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Berlin Riesling Diary: Day 4 – Wine of the Month June 2014

2013 Villány Rosé from Hummel for Euro 7,50

Of course, everybody is now drinking rosé, because the sky is often blue and the sun is often shining (an interesting color combo there). I admit I sometimes do the same, although never obsessively or compulsively as I do with certain other wines. There are several different types of rosé, each of which has its place, but it is really only the bone dry ones drunk with food that ever leave a lasting impression on me. Often they’re rather full-bodied (I’ve nothing against Bandol rosé as long as it still has a certain freshness alongside all that power), and that does limit the quantity I can get down, or even want to get down. This month’s wine of the month is a bone dry rosé with a rather low alcoholic content that makes it a great food wine, but light enough that given enough time (and an adequate supply for the number of people at the table) I could drain the bottle with ease. I know, this is one of those hypothetical arguments that food and wine writers frequently on the basis of little experience, or in this case none. What I mean is that the wine makes me feel that way when I drink it, and this is inspiring. I hereby make the dangerous (for my journalistic credentials) claim that the combination of inspiration and full disclosure is more better than narrow-minded correctness and correct posture without pleasure!

Regular readers have bumped into wines from the Berlin lawyer and Hungarian winegrower Horst Hummel here before. Sure his proximity to me when I’m here in Berlin means that I taste his wines more often than would otherwise be the case. However, I certainly  wouldn’t taste them so often if they weren’t so strikingly individual  with the reds rarely showing perceptible oak, and always tasting elegant but decisively dry tannins, and moderate alcoholic contents. This is Hummel’s best rosé to date and every bit as good as his reds. It’s got just 11.5% alcohol along with a healthy acidity and tannin content, which makes it seriously refreshing and seriously full of character. There’s a touch of bitterness and a very salty mineral aftertaste that seriously accentuate those qualities. In short, this is not a rosé for the those looking for a teddy bears’ pick nick in a glass, nor for those who want Barbie to give them a suggestive smile. This is a grown-up wine for grown-up wine drinkers, and having made it to 54 just a few days I feel obliged to point out that aspect. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

2013 Villány Rosé from Host Hummel is Euro 7,50 from:

Horst Hummel – Villány Berlin

Buchholzer Strasse 9

D 10437 Berlin

Tel: (49) / 0  30 445 3444

Email: hh@weingut-hummel.com

Internet: www.weingut-hummel.com

 

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