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Lars Carlberg

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Re: German Riesling for February Wine Focus?

by Lars Carlberg » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:46 am

And let's not forget that the French ruled over much of the Rhineland, including the Mosel region, at the beginning of the 19th century. This was an important period, especially the Napoleonic Code. Under French rule, they also secularized the vineyards, as in Burgundy. Only after the Thirty Years' War, 1648, at the Peace of Westphalia, did Alsace and Lorraine become a part of France. Of course, Germany didn't exist as a nation state. France also had a long-running rivalry with the Habsburg.
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Re: German Riesling for February Wine Focus?

by Tim York » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:25 am

Lars Carlberg wrote:And let's not forget that the French ruled over much of the Rhineland, including the Mosel region, at the beginning of the 19th century. This was an important period, especially the Napoleonic Code. Under French rule, they also secularized the vineyards, as in Burgundy. Only after the Thirty Years' War, 1648, at the Peace of Westphalia, did Alsace and Lorraine become a part of France. Of course, Germany didn't exist as a nation state. France also had a long-running rivalry with the Habsburg.


Thanks, Lars, for that reminder. Indeed I have seen a festung at Traben-Trarbach which was first extended and then finally destroyed by the French in the 18th century. The whole of this wine-growing Rhineland region is mixed up in the ebb and flow of political and cultural relations between the French and the German speaking peoples.

My rather specious argument for including Alsatian Riesling in this thread, namely that it was briefly part of Germany during my lifetime, also applies to Austria which was incorporated into the Reich from 1938 to 1945. There is still some argument whether this incorporation was forced, like in Alsace, or willing, though few Austrians are nowadays willing to countenance the latter. (This reminds me of the remark from Billy Wilder - "The Austrians have completed the feat of turning Beethoven into an Austrian, and Hitler into a German." :shock: )

To return to less controversial matters, my real reason for wanting to include Alsace Riesling was that I had a bottle of a potentially good one waiting in the fridge. I have now drink it and will post a TN shortly.
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Re: German Riesling for February Wine Focus?

by Lars Carlberg » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:44 am

Tim, I've never been to the ruins of Mont Royal, near Traben-Trarbach. But it was a massive hilltop fortress built by the French in the late 17th century.
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Re: German Riesling for February Wine Focus?

by Tim York » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:41 am

Alsace Riesling Gueberschwihr – 2004 – Domaine Zind Humbrecht – Indice 1 – Alc.13.5% - (c.€25 for current vintages). (Gueberswihr is a village name not a Grand Cru or a lieu-dit, though the price is higher than some producers’ GCs).
Colour was a quite deep yellow.
The nose was fragrant showing aromas of white flowers with spice hints.
On the off-dry palate, body was full/medium with attractive still quite primary flowery white fruit sprinkled with spice and a slightly sweet undertow leading to a burnished note of demerara sugar on the quite long finish. I would have appreciated more lively acidity and the presence of more mineral flavours. Nevertheless, the overall effect was of a certain splendour and opulence which called for a rich sauce with the sea bass rather than the rather simple preparation which we were having; as often with Riesling and Chenin, the wine showed its most complex best with the Tourangeau goat cheeses which followed. I guess that there is still improvement potential here but very good right now; 16/20.

I’ll see if I can find a “trocken” from the Pfalz later in the month, which is the nearest important German Riesling region to Alsace.

RANT on sweetwards drift of "dry". ZH have labelled this “Indice 1” which in their terminology means “bone dry”. Anyone expecting that would have had a bad surprise; I guess that the wine approached 9g/l RS, the upper limit of the German definition of “trocken”, which in my book is scarcely dry. Next time Olivier Humbrecht comes to a tasting here, I will try to remember to tackle him about it; he has a prodigious memory for the sugar and acid levels of his wines.
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Re: German Riesling for February Wine Focus?

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:20 am

TIm - based on your demerera sugar and spice comments, I wonder whether there is some botrytis that has evolved to that burnished note. It would also convey a greater sense of sweetness, or at least that's what botrytis often does to my palate. A 13.5% alcohol wine should be pretty darned dry. 2004 was not a blockbuster ripeness vintage.
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Re: German Riesling for February Wine Focus?

by Tim York » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:50 am

David M. Bueker wrote:TIm - based on your demerera sugar and spice comments, I wonder whether there is some botrytis that has evolved to that burnished note. It would also convey a greater sense of sweetness, or at least that's what botrytis often does to my palate. A 13.5% alcohol wine should be pretty darned dry. 2004 was not a blockbuster ripeness vintage.


David, from my limited recall of 2004 vintage conditions as well as from Indice 1, I was certainly expecting more lively fruit and acidity. Maybe you are correct about a touch of botrytis though I haven't read that it was a feature of the vintage. I find that high alcohol also can often give an impression of sweetness but not, I think, those burnished notes.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:13 pm

Tim,

Since ZH tends to harvest so late, I would bet that they get more botrytis than the general vintage assessments would indicate.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Joy Lindholm » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:28 pm

Salil wrote:February for German Riesling, March for Austrian wine? :twisted:


I second that idea!
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bill Hooper » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:34 pm

We opened a bottle of 2012 Wittmann Riesling Trocken today after work. It is the first bottled 2012 Riesling I have tasted (and the only 2012 bottled so far by Wittmann, who did so to protect 'placements' in Scandanavian monopole markets I'm told.)

Anyway, nice stuff for the price which is south of 10€. It includes a portion of Morstein vorlese. I loved the flavor intensity and 2012 acidity.

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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:50 pm

Bill,

Thanks for the note on the Wittmann. I cannot find many Wittmann wines these days since they left the Terry Theise portfolio.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:52 pm

See, nice and simple to describe......Wittmann Riesling Trocken. :wink:
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bill Hooper » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:20 pm

David,
Wittmann is still exported by Wildman and sons, so he should theoretically be available to markets where Egon Müller is represented. To elaborate: very clean, no botrytis, white peach, slightly floral, somewhat salty in mineral and vibrant. Almost sluggable after a day of pruning. 12,5% alc.

Bob,
Believe it or not, it is pretty much assumed that Riesling for sale in the Rheinhessen or the Pfalz is dry. It doesn’t get any easier.

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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Clint Hall » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:32 pm

Bill, do you men Reisling IN or FROM the Rhenhessen/Pfalz? Or both?
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bill Hooper » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:05 am

Clint Hall wrote:Bill, do you men Reisling IN or FROM the Rhenhessen/Pfalz? Or both?


Hi Clint,

I guess I mean both. Someone might call me out and say that there is still a lot of sweet wine made in these regions (together they make about half of the total quantity of wine in Germany), but those sweet wines don't come from top producers (the ones that are interesting to export markets) and often aren't even Riesling. Much more often it is the cheap jug wine that is sweet.

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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:14 am

Bill, do you have a list of reliable weinguts from these two areas?
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:48 am

Bill Hooper wrote:
Clint Hall wrote:Bill, do you men Reisling IN or FROM the Rhenhessen/Pfalz? Or both?


Hi Clint,

I guess I mean both. Someone might call me out and say that there is still a lot of sweet wine made in these regions (together they make about half of the total quantity of wine in Germany), but those sweet wines don't come from top producers (the ones that are interesting to export markets) and often aren't even Riesling. Much more often it is the cheap jug wine that is sweet.

Cheers,
Bill


The winemaker at Karl Schaefer, Jan Gross, said to me the other day that their sweet Rieslings (with really cool retro labels) have sold quite well in Germany last year. They have moderate RS too. Of course, the estate has always been a specialist for dry Pfalz Rieslings, but he says that they'll have more sweet wines from the 2012 vintage.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bill Hooper » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:25 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Bill, do you have a list of reliable weinguts from these two areas?


Bob, if we were going to limit the conversation exclusively to RIESLING, then I don’t think that you’d get much argument that the following are the top Weingüter in these two regions -but it often comes down to stylistic preferences. Like anywhere else, there is 'Safe' winemaking and adventurous winemaking.

In alphabetical order:

Pfalz
Acham-Magin
Bassermann-Jordan
Bürklin-Wolf
Christmann
Knipser
Koehler-Ruprecht
Kuhn, Philipp
Meßmer
Minges, Theo
Mosbacher
Müller-Catoir
Rebholz
Schaefer, Karl
von Buhl
von Winning
Wehrheim

Rheinhessen
Battenfeld-Spanier/ Kühling-Gillot
Gunderloch
Gutzler
Keller
Louis Guntrum
St. Anthony/Heyl zu Herrensheim
Strub
Villa Sachsen
Wagner-Stempel
Wittmann

There are of course, dozens of others -especially if you add Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Silvaner to the mix.

Cheers,
Bill
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by David M. Bueker » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:39 am

Bill Hooper wrote:
Clint Hall wrote:Bill, do you men Reisling IN or FROM the Rhenhessen/Pfalz? Or both?


Hi Clint,

I guess I mean both. Someone might call me out and say that there is still a lot of sweet wine made in these regions (together they make about half of the total quantity of wine in Germany), but those sweet wines don't come from top producers (the ones that are interesting to export markets) and often aren't even Riesling. Much more often it is the cheap jug wine that is sweet.

Cheers,
Bill


And as a general rule what Bill says in the portion I underlined above is true for the Rheinhessen and Pfals. That being said, near the top of his list is Gunderloch that still sends quite a lot of sweet wine to export. There's also Minges, who while a maker of some lovely, underappreciated dry wines, also makes lovely, underappreciated sweet wines that come to the USA and other export markets. Strub from the Rheinhessen list is in no way a dry wine specialist. In fact totally the opposite in terms of what is exported (though I did have a lovely 2011 Niersteiner Pettenthal Spatlese a few weeks ago that was in a feinherb mold though not labeled that way). Pfeffingen (Pfalz) is another producer where I have had lovely sweet as well as dry wines - and their Scheurebe is very nice! Messmer, Catoir and others still make sweet wines. Do they make more dry than sweet - sure they do, but that doesn't mean they have consigned sweet wine to the dustbin of history - at least not yet.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Bill Hooper » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:42 am

Lars Carlberg wrote:
Bill Hooper wrote:
Clint Hall wrote:Bill, do you men Reisling IN or FROM the Rhenhessen/Pfalz? Or both?


Hi Clint,

I guess I mean both. Someone might call me out and say that there is still a lot of sweet wine made in these regions (together they make about half of the total quantity of wine in Germany), but those sweet wines don't come from top producers (the ones that are interesting to export markets) and often aren't even Riesling. Much more often it is the cheap jug wine that is sweet.

Cheers,
Bill


The winemaker at Karl Schaefer, Jan Gross, said to me the other day that their sweet Rieslings (with really cool retro labels) have sold quite well in Germany last year. They have moderate RS too. Of course, the estate has always been a specialist for dry Pfalz Rieslings, but he says that they'll have more sweet wines from the 2012 vintage.


Hi Lars,

He told me the same at the VDP tasting last year where I got to taste one with RS (yes, cool label). It surprised me, but it wasn't bad. But like you say, the estate stands firmly behind its image as a producer of dry Riesling. Time will tell if that route (more sweet wines) will prove successful or not. One or two might work, but I don't see more than that having much of a market.

Cheers,
Bill
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by David M. Bueker » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:42 am

2008 von Hovel Riesling Kabinett Scharzhofberger
Bought from lastbottle.com for $15, and it's a total steal. Vibrannt lime and cassis leaf elements just dominate this very youthful wine. It's only moderately sweet in palate impression because of the vibrant, balanced acidity. Some minerally depths show up with air, but this is still in a bit of a baby stage, and some age will bring it out more. Really delicious, and I could have easily drank the whole bottle at one sitting (if I had not gotten a cat in my lap - can't disturb the kitty).
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:03 am

Bill Hooper wrote:
Lars Carlberg wrote:
The winemaker at Karl Schaefer, Jan Gross, said to me the other day that their sweet Rieslings (with really cool retro labels) have sold quite well in Germany last year. They have moderate RS too. Of course, the estate has always been a specialist for dry Pfalz Rieslings, but he says that they'll have more sweet wines from the 2012 vintage.


Hi Lars,

He told me the same at the VDP tasting last year where I got to taste one with RS (yes, cool label). It surprised me, but it wasn't bad. But like you say, the estate stands firmly behind its image as a producer of dry Riesling. Time will tell if that route (more sweet wines) will prove successful or not. One or two might work, but I don't see more than that having much of a market.

Cheers,
Bill


I agree, Bill.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by David Lole » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:52 pm

Willi Schaefer 2007 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #12. Rendering a ridiculously good light bright straw green colour, this wine's gorgeous aromatics of crunchy green apple fruit, lime, orchard stonefruit with profoundly good tropical fruit top notes filling the olfactories. So easy to swallow with more of a kabinett lightness in weight, racy acidity and a wealth of tightly knit but refreshing fruit flavours aka the nose. Finished long, crisp and clean. 93 points. 8% A/V. This wine went ever-so-well with my hors d'ouvres of smoked salmon, egg, sour cream, caper and cracked pepper on a wafer thin biscuit.

My first try of a W. Schaefer wine and what a revelation it was. If all of his portfolio was as good as this, I would buy on a regular basis. Very impressive, particularly with the sublime weight of this wine and the fact it was not just "another syruppy" auslese look-alike.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by Salil » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:22 pm

David Lole wrote:My first try of a W. Schaefer wine and what a revelation it was. If all of his portfolio was as good as this, I would buy on a regular basis.

I'd say his portfolio's usually better. I was not thrilled by his 2007s, and found them a little on the soft side and lacking the cut and raciness his wines normally show. They're very good wines, but my usual expectation for Schaefer is nothing short of jawdropping. More often than not, the wines reach those expectations at EVERY pradikat level.

A few nice German Rieslings in the last couple of days...

2009 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5
I didn't have a chance to try this on release, though I was blown away by how good the AP #10 Spätlese was (which was still firing on all cylinders when I checked into another bottle a few months ago). This seems like a step up in terms of ripeness; it's more intense and the fruit does feel richer, but at the same time there's a tremendous acid backbone here that keeps it very precise and focused. Each sip starts out with incredibly pure fruit up front and seems to turn more savoury and stony on the back end, with a finish that just keeps resonating. Amazing wine.

1995 Carl Schmitt-Wagner Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Auslese
Last of my bottles, but this wine is drinking so well right now that I have no regrets about opening it. This is old style Auslese with moderate sweetness and a lightness that makes it a wonderful partner with food, rather than being packed with fruit and sweetness. In fact, this comes across almost halbtrocken and has a lightness that I've struggled to find in a lot of modern Kabinett. Savoury, smoky and stony notes around a core of mature orchard fruits tinged with burnished notes, and so seamless. I wish more Auslese were like this.

2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese
Another excellent bottle. Powerful; ripe white fruit, florality and minerality all coming together in a package that's got plenty of sweetness but also tremendous acidity keeping it perfectly balanced. It's incredibly primary now, but wonderful to drink though I expect this will age beautifully.

2001 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese
Nothing new to add to my earlier praise for this wine. It remains a stunning wine, one of the most compelling and consistently thrilling Rieslings I've ever had with an amazing depth and purity of fruit, minerality, gentle honeyed and floral notes and now showing just some signs of developing creamy and more savoury notes. The balance is impeccable, and the length is beyond words - each sip just resonates for minutes.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:51 pm

I will beg to differ with Salil on 2007 Willi Schaefer wines - I drank up all of my 2007s in short order as they were impossible to resist on release. It is very rare that I do something like that.
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