Thursday, September 21, 2017

Best German Pinot Noir/ Spätburgunder - Vinositas (Joachim A. J. Kaiser and Torsten Kogge), Germany

Picture: Tasting with Joachim A. J. Kaiser  and Torsten Kogge in Karlsruhe (Photo: Vinositas)

Red Wine Revolution in Germany

There is a red wine revolution going on in Germany and the world increasingly takes note of it. Of course, given its location, the red wines of Germany tend to be not like the fruity red wines we know from warmer countries, but lean and more elegant, with a lot of finesse. 30 years ago, the share of red wine in total German wine output was not more than 10 percent; in the international wine scene, people would not talk about German red wine. But this is changing. Germany now produces red wines that can compete with the best of the world; the share of red wines in terms of production has increased to about 35 percent now in Germany and increasingly the international market takes note of what is happening in Germany.

Karlsruhe Spätburgunder Tasting Series

Still, knowledge about German Pinot Noir outside of Germany is limited. Against this background, I find the list that Joachim A:J. Kaiser published recently very helpful. Joachim A.J. Kaiser's list grew out of a series of tastings that took place in Karlsruhe in 2016. Annette Schiller and I were lucky to be part of one of the tastings, with winemakers Johannes Jülg, Weingut Jülg, and Jürgen Krebs, Weingut Krebs.

Joachim A. J. Kaiser and Torsten Kogge provided a detailed account of the tastings on Vinositas.

Joachim A. J. Kaiser  and Torsten Kogge: We, that’s a group of wine journalists, vintners and educated wine enthusiasts, decided to have a more recent overview of German Pinot Noirs. Some Pinot Noirs in our tastings were selected because they were enthusiastically perceived in the German wine world, but mainly because they scored high in our personal as well as in our friends previous tastings. In the end 40 Pinot Noirs, 33 German ones, 4 from Burgundy, 2 from Switzerland and 1 from Oregon were arranged in four tastings, November and December 2016.

Top 20

Picture: Top 20 Spätburgunder (Photo: Vinositas)

Joachim A. J. Kaiser  and Torsten Kogge: People might claim that some producers of top German Pinot Noirs are missing, like Friedrich Becker (Pfalz) or Jean Stodden (Ahr), and our selection of German Pinot Noirs is erratic. That’s neither here nor there, our aim was not to have all high-end or a completely regional representative sample of German Pinot Noirs. But we definitely had a broad overview with many renowned wineries and lots of not so well-known ones. Add a dozen more wineries, it won’t change the general picture.

Joachim A. J. Kaiser  and Torsten Kogge: It’s no surprise that among our top 20s several internationally renowned producers can be found, Fürst, Heger, Huber, Kesseler, Knipser and Kreuzberg. Baltes, Bischöfliche Weingüter, Jülg, Koegler, Kuhn, Minges and Steinmetz might sound familiar to wine professionals. But who has ever heard of Bertram, Petri, solveigs or Lingenfelder? Meanwhile there are so many German vintners throughout all wine growing regions producing good to outstanding Pinot Noirs, it’s a real miracle:

Joachim A. J. Kaiser  and Torsten Kogge: No doubt, many Pinot Noirs from young vintners we did not have in our tastings would not have had any problem to compete with our selection. For example, Sven Enderle & Florian Moll’s Buntsandstein and Muschelkalk Pinot Noirs, or Dirk Würtz’s Balthasar Ress Caviar Pinot Noir are exceptional, highly individual wines. Another example is Oliver Gabel’s Honigsack Spätburgunder, which is not as freaky as others. Aromas are more on the classic Pinot Noir side, but also excellent quality wise.

Picture: Top 3 Spätburgunder (Photo: Vinositas)

Jancis Robinson on the Rise of German Pinot Noir (Financial Times)

A couple of days ago, Jancis Robinson released an article in the Financial Times on the rise of Pinot Noir in Germany. For the full article, go here. Below you find the first few chapters of Jancis' article:

Which countries grow the most Pinot Noir, the red burgundy grape? Not surprisingly, France wins gold in this particular championship, its total vastly boosted by the amount of Pinot Noir grown in Champagne. And thanks to the 2004 film Sideways, American demand for the grape has soared so much that the US takes silver.

But the bronze medal for growing Pinot Noir nowadays goes to Germany. Just one German region, Baden in the south-west, grows about as much Pinot Noir as the world’s fourth most important Pinot grower, New Zealand.

Partly thanks to warmer summers, and partly because of German consumers’ increasing partiality for red wine, Germany’s total area of Pinot Noir vines almost doubled in the 20 years to 2006. This total, encompassing a great mix of different clones and varied soils, has since remained fairly stable at about a third of all German vineyards.

Such is German enthusiasm for their Spätburgunder, as Pinot Noir is known there, that we don’t see huge quantities on export markets, but I seize every opportunity I can to taste it, because it seems to me that the average quality has risen enormously over the past five to 10 years. And, while Spätburgunders from renowned producers are rarely cheap, burgundy prices are now almost ludicrously high, so alternatives to red burgundy have become increasingly attractive.

Schiller-wine - Related Postings

Wine Tasting at Weingut Bernhard Huber – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Visit: Winzerhof Thörle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Chat Sauvage – Bourgogne in the Middle of the Rheingau: Meeting Chat Sauvage’s Winemaker and General Manager Michael Staedter, Germany

Tasting and Tour with the Pinot Noir Legend Paul Fürst, Weingut Rudolf Fürst in Bürgstadt, Franken – Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Germany's Best Pinot Noir Wines - BerlinSpätburgunderCup 2013/2015

The New Germany: Red, Sparkling and Dry - Tasting at the American Wine Society 2016 National Conference in Los Angeles, USA, led by Annette Schiller

The New Germany – Red, Dry, Sparkling: German Wine Society Tasting, led by Annette Schiller, at Restaurant Old Europe in Washington DC

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting with Rainer Schnaitmann at Weingut Rainer Schnaitmann in Fellbach, Württemberg – Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany

Tasting at Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz in Siebeldingen, Pfalz – Germany-South by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut August Kesseler in Assmanshausen, with Winemaker Simon Batarseh – Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Tasting at Weingut H.J. Kreuzberg in Dernau, Ahr, with Ludwig Kreuzberg and Frank Josten – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour, Lunch and Tasting at Weingut Fürst Hohenlohe Oehringen in Oehringen–Verrenberg, Württemberg – Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Cellar Tour, Tasting and Dinner with Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder, Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder in Schozach, Württemberg - Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: From Lyon to Reims - Wine, Food, Culture and History

Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wine and Opera in Dresden: Mozart at Semper Opera and the Best Wines of Sachsen at Wine Bar Weinzentrale in Dresden-Neustadt, with Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Pictures: Wine and Opera in Dresden - Mozart at Semper Opera and the Best Wines of Sachsen at Winebar Weinzentrale in Dresden-Neustadt, with Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka

During the 2017 Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours, we stayed 2 nights in Dresden in Sachsen. On the first night, we went to the world renowned Semper Opera and saw ”The Abduction from the Seraglio” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, followed by drinks with a light dinner in a cosy little place next to the Frauenkirche. On the second night, we drove to Dresden-Neustadt and spent the evening at one of the leading wine bars in Dresden, Weinzentrale in Dresden-Neustadt. Jens Pietzonka was our host.

Semper Oper Dresden: ”The Abduction from the Seraglio” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

We took a stroll from our hotel to the Semperopera through the historic part of Dresden. We soaked in the magnificent architecture and views along the “Brühl Terraces” on the banks of the Elbe river.

Pictures: An Opera Evening in Dresden

Sachsen Wine Tasting and Small Bites at Wine Bar Weinzentrale in Dresden-Neustadt

Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka introduced us to the wines of Saxony.

Jens Pietzonka is one of Germany's top sommeliers. Jens Pietzonka’s career path took him to a number of famous Michelin star restaurants in Germany. He was “Sommelier of the Year” in 2014 (Falstaff Magazine).

Pictures: An Evening with the Wines of Saxony at Weinzentrale in Dresden

The Wines of Sachsen (Saxony)

Sachsen, located in the former GDR, is the easternmost German wine region and extends some 35 miles north and south of Dresden along the Elbe River. Most of the region’s vines are planted on terraces along the River Elbe, and being at such a gradient, a lot of the work is done by hand. For 8 centuries, vintners here have mostly planted Müller-Thurgau and Riesling, earning a well-deserved reputation for excellent dry whites.

Picture: Germany's Wine Regions

Meissen porcelain, known locally as “white gold,” is one of the things Sachsen is best known for, being the first place in Europe to make china in the early 18th century.

Pictures: Meissen

Annette Schiller: This region tickles all your senses with its unique voluptuous baroque architecture, a rich history, its wealth of art, and love of all the good things in life.

What it is not so well-known for is its wine. Bordering Poland and the Czech Republic, Sachsen is one of Germany’s small wine regions (360 hectares) and disappeared from the wine map during the communist period.

During the communist times from 1945 until reunification in 1989, wine production was nationalized, and winemaking took place in huge VEB (volkseigener Betrieb / company owned by the people) wineries. The output, the bottle count was imposed on the VEB by the State, and therefore quality could not play a major role. After the iron curtain came down, family wineries were founded, and the winemakers pursued quality with a vengeance.

Pictures: In the Vineyards of Sachsen - Radebeul and Pillnitz

The three main grape varieties are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling and Weissburgunder but many others are grown in smaller quantities, including Grauer Burgunder, Spätburgunder, Roter Traminer, Kerner, Dornfelder, Goldriesling, Scheurebe and a rarity, Dunkelfelder. The wines are mostly dry (trocken). Most of the wine produced in Sachsen is consumed in the region.

See: Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany

Jens Pietzonka's Selection

Jens selected 6 wines from 5 top producers for us. Three of them - Schuh, Kretschko and Bönsch - are small, young, up-and-coming producers. Te other two producers - Drei Herren and Martin Schwarz - are also relatively new, but a bit better known outside of Sachsen. We visited Weingut Drei Herren on the 2016 Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours and Weingut Martin Schwarz 2017 Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours.

Picture: Jens Pietzonka's Selection

2016 Weingut Schuh, Traminer, Sachsen
2016 Weingut Schuh, Grauburgunder, Sachsen

Weingut Schuh is owned and run by Mathias Schuh and his sister Katharina since 2016. Dresdner Straße 314, 01640 Coswig OT Sörnewitz

Pictures: 2016 Weingut Schuh, Traminer, Sachsen

2015 Weingut A.R. Kretschko. Müller Thurgau, Sachsen

After studying between 2001 and 2005 at Geisenheime University and working between 2005 and 2012 at Weingut Schloss Wackerbarth, Andreas Kretschko decided to create his own winery in Radeberg. 1 hectare.

Pictures: 2015 Weingut A.R. Kretschko. Müller Thurgau, Sachsen

2015 Weingut Stefan Bönsch, Riesling, Sachsen

Only 6000 bottles. Stefan Bönsch produces wine under his own name since 2013.

Pictures: 2015 Weingut Stefan Bönsch, Riesling, Sachsen

2015 Weingut Drei Herren, Riesling, Sachsen

Picture: 2015 Weingut Drei Herren, Riesling, Sachsen

Weingut Drei Herren

Weingut Drei Herren was officially inaugurated in 2005. In 2002 art historian Prof. Dr. Rainer Beck purchased the estate and step by step he built up the wine estate. He always had a passion for wine; after all he can trace back his roots on his father’s side to a family with viticulture tradition.

Picture: Rainer Beck, Antje Wiedemann and Claus Höhne

There were three founding partners – hence the name: Drei Herren (Three Gentlemen). The second one was Claus Höhne, a winemaker from Radebeul who is still the vineyard manager and winemaker and a third gentleman who dropped out. In 2005 Antje Wiedemann, the saxon wine queen and later German wine princess, joined the team and the team decided to keep the name of the estate although now the ownership consists of two men and one women. Some justification came with her last name: it ends with “mann”, which means “gentleman”.

Picture: Restaurant Manager/ Sommelier Dirk Brauerand Chef A. Kühne 

Since the beginning great care was given to the quality of the wines and every year the portfolio gets high remarks in the German wine critic circles.

See:
Lunch with Wine Pairing at Weingut Drei Herren in Radebeul, Sachsen, with Restaurant Manager/ Sommelier Dirk Brauer - Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Pictures: At Weingut Drei Herren

2015 Weingut Martin Schwarz, Chardonnay, Sachsen

Pictures: 2015 Weingut Martin Schwarz, Chardonnay, Sachsen

Weingut Martin Schwarz


Martin Schwarz belongs to the group of young, ambitious, up-and coming winemakers in Sachsen. Back in the days when sipping a 1975 Château Margaux on a park bench while skipping Latin classes at school he got hooked to the world of wine, and decided to make wine his profession. He interned at the VDP winery Dr. Heger in Baden to get some practical experiences under his belt. In 1996 he graduated from the famous Geisenheim Oenological University in the Rheingau. A prominent winery in Sachsen was looking for a cellar master and Martin took on that challenge. For 16 years he worked as winemaker at the VDP winery Schloss Proschwitz before he started out on his own in 2013. Today he owns 5 acres in one the best vineyards sites on the steep slopes of the Elbe river. His wines show a very individual character and convince with their complexity and finesse.

See:
Chardonnay: Germany versus Chablis - Salon Tasting at Schiller's Home, USA
Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Pictures: Visit of Weingut Martin Schwarz in 2017

Postings: Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Wine Tasting Lunch at Weingut Frölich-Hake in Naumburg-Rossbach, Saale-Unstrut, Germany, with Sandra Hake – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Weingut Pawis in the Saale Unstrut Region: Tour and Wine Tasting with Marcus Pawis – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Tasting at Weingut Uwe Lützkendorf, with Uwe Lützkendorf, in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in the Saale Unstrut Region, Germany

Wine and Music: "Martin Luther Lunch" at the Historic Vincenz Richter Restaurant, Weingut Vincenz Richter, in Meissen with Senior Boss Gottfried Herrlich and the Music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Visit of Weingut Klaus Zimmerling: The Wines of Klaus Zimmerling and the Art of his Wife Malgorzata Chodakoska - Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Wine and Opera in Dresden: Mozart at Semper Opera and the Best Wines of Sachsen at Wine Bar Weinzentrale in Dresden-Neustadt, with Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka

Visit: Weingut Martin Schwarz in Meissen

Visit, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe in Zadel, Sachsen, with Georg Prinz zur Lippe

Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Zur Schwane in Volkach, Franken with Winemaker Christian Kallisch

Vinyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Horst Sauer in Eschendorf, Franken, with Horst Sauer

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Fürstlich Castell'sches Domänenamt, with General Manager/ Winemaker Björn Probst

Michelin-star Level Winepairing Dinner at Winzerhof Stahl, Franken, Prepared by Winemaker/ Chef Christian Stahl

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Juliusspital in Würzburg,Franken

Schiller’s Favorites: 2 Legendary Wine Taverns in Würzburg – Juliusspital and Bürgerspital

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Würzburg

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour, Lunch and Tasting at Weingut Fürst Hohenlohe Öhringen in Öhringen–Verrenberg,Württemberg with Winemaker Joachim Brand

Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder in Schozach, Württemberg, with Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Wchstetter in Pfaffenhofen, Württemberg, with Rainer Wachtstetter

Lunch at Restaurant Schloss Monrepos Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Chef Ben Benasr (1 Sar Michelin)

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Herzog von Württemberg at Schloss Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Andrea Ritz, Wine Queen of Württemberg