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The 2011 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society

March 25, 2013 2 comments

Lou and I ended our week by attending the 2011 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society, DC Chapter. Long-time member David Wendler organized the tasting which was tutored by Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages. It was hosted by Marilyn at the National Harbor Club Room.  For this tasting Phil and David picked 10 different wines from the 2011 vintage which were arranged in five flights of two. All of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages. There were three bottles of each wine and Dave made sure to open the bottles ahead of time so that they could breathe. As a special treat James Wright of Wine Monger provided three bottles of Gut Hermannsberg Grosses Gewächs to start off the tasting. This year’s vintage tasting was quite large with some 46 or 47 people in attendance. I saw familiar faces from the 2010 Vintage Tasting along with those of Annette and Christian Schiller (www.schiller-wine.blogspot.com), Jace, and Chris Bublitz.  Be sure to check out my post on The 2010 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society.

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Phil has been tutoring the annual Vintage Tasting since the 2008 vintage.  He feels that 2011 is a generally riper vintage with a little lower acidity.  Of the last four vintages he finds it most similar to 2009.  Going further back in time 1983 or 1971 may be mentioned but 1971 produced many more Trockenbeerenauslese.  Please find Phil’s comments at the beginning of each flight after which appear my tasting notes.

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Flight #1 – Gut Hermannsberg

James Wright provided a bottle each of these three wines when he read about the 2011 Vintage Tasting. Having just met James and tasted the Estate Riesling and Schlossböckelheimer Riesling I imagined we were in for a treat.  For background information on the estate please read my post  A Vineyard Born of a Copper Mine.  Given that there were four dozen of us, David only poured small amounts for those who were interested and asked for these to be shared amongst two people. We started with the Bastei GG and Kupfergrube GG. The Bastei GG is produced from a 1.2 hectares site on volcanic soils at the foot of the Rotenfel mountain face. Bathed in sunlight this rock face stores a large amount of heat which continues to warm the vineyard through the evening. The Kupfergrube GG is sourced from the old terraced copper mine site. This was the youngest and most backward of the three. Its volcanic foundation and slate soils show through on the nose. Lastly the Hermannsberg GG is from a monopole providing gorgeous acidity. Despite the tiny pours the differences of these three vineyard sites clearly shown through. They deserve to be revisited. For more information please check out James’ das Terzett post on Wine Monger.  Phil found these three wines to be very young and in retrospect they should have been decanted.  But this was not too surprising as the pair he tasted previously were drinking very well after four days.  These wines might have originally been labeled as Auselse Trocken for they come from very ripe fruit which was fermented dry, hence the higher alcohol levels.  These dry wines are extremely popular in Germany so much so that Christian Schiller says you may typically find at most one sweet wine on a Berlin restaurant wine list.

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2011 Gut Hermannsberg, Traiser Bastei Grosses Gewächs, Nahe
Imported by Wine Monger. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose was captivating with more ripe floral aromas and sweet spices. In the mouth there was focused weight before the flavors became creamier in texture. There was some ripeness to the fruit, integrated acidity, and a mouth which follows the nose. Really quite nice.

2011 Gut Hermannsberg, Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube Grosses Gewächs, Nahe
Imported by Wine Monger. Alcohol 13.5%. There was an initial musky complex nose with stone note then it tightened up with air. The aromas are evocated of the indigenous fermentation. In the mouth there was brighter, tighter fruit, perhaps tighter as it progressed, tart acidity, and apple like flavors in the finish. Clearly in need of age.

2011 Gut Hermannsberg, Niederhauser Hermannsberg Grosses Gewächs, Nahe
Imported by Wine Monger. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose was floral with a subtle perfume and sweet spice. There was white fruit in the mouth with focused acidity before the flavors expanded in the mouth. There was vibrant acidity on the tongue and a slate like finish.

Flight #2 – Scheurebe

It has been some time since Sheurebe has been featured at a Vintage Tasting. Phil is a big fan of this grape which is a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner.  He finds they age interesting because it does not change much.  The Gysler was quite tasty, surely the most unusual whereas the Kruger-Rumpf showed more Riesling-like flavors.

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2011 Gysler, Scheurebe Halbtrocken, Rheinhessen – $15 (1 Liter)
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 11.5%. The nose was aromatic with herbs then became somewhat tight. The flavors were vibrant on the tongue then sweet sage and fruit came out. The flavors of fresh herbs continued as the wine took on some glycerine. Unique!

2011 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spätlese, Nahe
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 8.5%. This had a brighter nose which played it close. There was lively fruit in the mouth with ripe spices and a little vibrancy on the tongue. There were more sweet spices and herbs in the finish which had drier flavors and stone-like notes.

Flight #3 – The Most Expensive Wine Tonight is a Kabinett

The Dönnhoff was made is a fruitier style which made it the most accessible of the two.  It was quite attractive.  The Egon Müller, Scharzhofberger is from very steep vineyards with a cool climate.  It is a wine to take your time with, this bottle had been opened some six to seven hours ahead of time and had barely budged.  So perhaps it is best to stick it in the cellar.  To Phil this is what a classic Kabinett should taste like.

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2011 Dönnhoff, Riesling Estate Qba, Nahe – $19
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. The nose bore riper fruit which was more forward. In the mouth the riper fruit was up front with plenty of vibrant acidity to match. It was a little racy, drier towards the finish, and notes of dry stones.

2011 Egon Müller, Scharzhofberger Kabinett, Mosel – $55
Alcohol 10%. The nose was tight with a little petrol. The mouth followed the nose but remained very tight, structured, and young. There was white fruit followed by a little ripe berries in the finish. The aftertaste brought citrus and dried stones. This has a long, fine life ahead.

Flight #4 – Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich

This was an interesting pair of wines to taste because people often assume a Spätlese will taste more sweeter than a Kabinett.  But this is not the case.  The fruit is certainly riper but what Phil found is that the Spätlese had more texture and richness without tasting much sweeter.  These are more cerebral wines which do an excellent job of reflecting the vineyard.  On being asked what to drink these with, someone in the audience responded, “Friends!”

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2011 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel – $25
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. There was a light nose of white fruit and something else. In the mouth the flavors had a particular delicacy which went with cinnamon spice and some vibrant acidity. The fruit was pure and clean. The lifted finish was followed by sweet spices in the aftertaste.

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2011 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel – $35
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. This bore a darker nose. There was more weight in the mouth to the white fruit. Again weight, a little watering acidity in the end, and overall more intensity. It became a bit tart in the aftertaste.

Flight #5 –  Schäfer Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck

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Another interesting pair of wines to taste from a producer who has grown in prominence over the last decade. The Gold Capsule was produced from a selected lot chosen based on the must. The fruit is sourced from a particular area of the vineyard with deeper more particulate soils.  This is not done with every vintage but as this lot was tasting significantly different it was bottled separately.  Phil found this wine riper and richer than the Willi Schaeffer pair and for him, the Nahe provides the best of both worlds.  I must admit I really like the Gold Capsule.

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2011 Schäfer Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling Spätlese, Nahe – $32
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. The nose mixed aromas of grass, herbs, and white fruit. There was good, weighty fruit in the mouth which were dense and vibrant on the tongue. It took on white fruit and citrus flavors which became drier towards the finish. It was softer at first then enlivened by citric acidity in the aftertaste.

2011 Schäfer Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling Spätlese, Gold Capsule, Nahe – $44
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. This nose was a little yeasty from the fermentation. The flavors were more intense at first with dried herbs, dried fruit, and an earthy nose which mixed with sweet Mandarin oranges. It showed more acidity in the finish followed by a long aftertaste of sweet spices. This flavors had good persistence which will surely help this wine age for some time.

Flight #6 – Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr

For Phil the best wines to age are Auslese and above.  While you may age a Kabinett or Spätlese they lose the energy which  makes them so attractive in youth.  These may be a little more opulent that Willi Schaefer but they are well made, can be a little austere, and age very well.

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2011 Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel – $37
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. The tight nose bore some fermentation aromas. In the mouth there were good, weighty ripe fruit and sweet spice flavors. The wine was a little chewy with vibrant acidity and midpalate weight. The flavors stood up in this balanced wine which is structured for age.

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2011 Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel – $55
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. The nose was of light fruit and ripe white floral aromas. There was a riper, vibrant burst of fruit at first. The flavors softened up a bit but there was balanced with a little citric acidity. The aftertaste brought tropical and floral notes.

David and Phil

David and Phil

The Enchanting Glycerine of a Carl Schmitt-Wagner Wine

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

When I tasted my first glass of the 2007 Carl Schmitt-Wagner, Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, Riesling Kabinett I relaxed as the lively fruit touched my tongue then became engaged by the glycerine mouthfeel of the wine.  I am particularly fond of the texture and mouthfeel of a wine so I emailed Carl Schmitt-Wagner to find out more about this wine.  He explained that 2007 was a perfect Riesling year where they experienced a little botrytis.  The botrytis uses a naturally produce glycerine to puncture a hole in the berry to get to the water.  This process is what contributes to the mouthfeel of this wine.  He also recommended the 1976, 1999, and 2006 vintages for their botrytis.  Carl Schmitt-Wagner believes that wine is beneficial to health and acts as a prophylactic against diseases.  I found this wine to exhibit the uncanny combination of low alcohol, lively acidity, balanced sugar, and ample flavor.  Prophylactic or not I recommend you try a bottle for it is bound to make you smile, which is beneficial in and of itself.

The Maximiner Herrenberg Vineyard, Image from Carl Schmitt-Wagner

The Maximiner Herrenberg Vineyard, Image from Carl Schmitt-Wagner

The first vineyards at the estate were cultivated by the Romans.  In 800 AD the monks of the Benedictine Convent of St Maximin in Trier discovered the abandoned vineyards and planted Riesling.  The vineyards were eventually secularized and made available for purchase by Napoleon Bonaparte.  It was then in 1804 that the Schmitt-Wagner family purchased the vineyards.  There are two vineyards totalling 9 acres located across the Mosel River from the village of Longuich.  The Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg vineyard and above that the Longuicher Herrenberg vineyard.   In 1897 the family replanted the vineyards with ungrafted Riesling vines.  Today the winery still employs old fashioned methods of producing wine.  They employ a century old wooden winepress with controlled fermentation in thick oak barrels.  Only indigenous yeasts are used.  Filtration is minimized so you can actually taste the extracts.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 WeingutCarl Schmitt-Wagner, Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel – $22
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from vines planted in 1897 on soils of blue Devonian slate.  They were fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 8.5%.  The color is a light, rich golden-yellow.  The light to medium nose is of maturing aromas and stone.  In the mouth the wine starts with lively flavors which are sweet, ripe, and round with then take on an enchanting glycerine nature followed up by a sweet floral finish.  There is a lifted aftertaste with drier flavors, a hint of tannin, tropical fruit, and a grippy nature.  Drinking well right now but will last.  *** Now-2025.

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Good Young German Wines

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

To counter-balance my Chardonnay tasting notes here are a pair of Riesling notes.  The Donnhoff is a solid and focused wine which will benefit from a few years of age.  The Weingut Gunther-Steinmetz is young and while in need of age as well, has good personality in the mouth with its citrus and mineral flavors.  If I had to pick one then I would grab the Gunther-Steinmetz and promptly place it in my cellar.  It will achieve greater heights.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Weingut Gunther-Steinmetz, Braunebeger Juffer, Riesling Kabinett, Feinherb, Mosel – $19
Imported by Mosel Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Riesling fermented with indigenous yeasts.  It was not de-acidified. Alcohol 9.5%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light to medium strength nose revealed ripe fruit and petrol.  In the mouth the fruit was nervey at the start with bracing acidity and texture on the tongue.  There was weight to the grapefruit flavors, lots of texture, and with air, tart fruit.  The flavors became drier in the aftertaste as minerals and tangy citric notes came out.  Needs a few years to open up.  *** 2015-2025.

2011 Donnhoff, Riesling, Trocken , Nahe- $19
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 12%.  The interesting nose revealed white fruit which was a touch floral along with a delicate, yeasty aroma.  In the mouth the flavors were up-front and lively on the tongue from some sparkle.  There was a clarity of flavor and acidity on the front of the tongue. It took on leaner, stone flavors in the finish along with focused ripeness.  Young.  **(*) 2014-2022.

Fran Kysela Visits MacArthur Beverages

Fran Kysela

This past Saturday Fran Kysela was at MacArthur Beverages pouring a selection of his wines.  Fran Kysela is the owner of Kysela Pere et Fils which is an importer and wholesaler of wine, beer, sake, and spirits.  I tasted the wines out of little plastic Dixie cups so forgive my compressed notes.  There were good values in the lower price range including the Weingut Bastgen and the easy drinking Rubus which shows, as Fran described, spicy Lodi fruit.  Don’t forget the Bodegas Valsacro as well. Considering my small tasting cup I was amazed by the aromatic nose of the Domaine du Colombier.  I got the impression it is tightening up a bit so make sure you stick a few bottles in the cellar.  You should also include a few bottles of the Domaine Grand Veneur, Lirac.  For my impressions from his last visit please read this post.  All of the wines tasted are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Domaine Grand Veneur, Blanc de Viognier, Cotes du Rhone – $18
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  this wine is 100% Viognier.  The nose reveals light to medium aromas of ripe, yellow fruit.  In the mouth the flavors are clean and focused with some ripe flavors at first.  There is a strength in delivery as the flavors pick up some minerals and a bit of spice.

2011 Weingut Basten, Kestener Paulinshofberg, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel – $15
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  There is a lighter nose followed by riper, sweeter fruit in the mouth.  The flavors start with energy on the tongue than soften and broaden in the mouth.  There is a little gritty flavor and integrated acidity.

2009 Rubus, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi – $13
This wine is a blend of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petit Sirah which was aged for nine months in French and American oak.  The color was garnet.  The flavors are of black cherry with a racy vein, balanced with some focus, plenty of acidity, and wraps up with a spicy note.  Drink over the next several years.

2005 Bodegas Valsacro, Cosecha, Rioja – $15
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Tempranillo, 40% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo aged in French and American oak.  The color is a medium-dark black cherry with garnet.  There were riper, dark cherry flavors with black fruit and minerals in the finish.  This still seems youthful.

2009 Cave de Tain, Les Haut du Fief, Crozes-Hermitage – $20
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Syrah.  The nose is darker with a big of roast earth.  In the mouth there are black fruits and roast with a dense personality.  There are powdery, drying tannins which leave a raspy tongue along with a minerally, racy bit.

2010 Domaine du Colombier, Cuvee Gaby, Crozes Hermitage – $30
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from older plots.  The aromatic nose is inviting with fresh and floral aromas.  In the mouth there was red fruit, a racy aspect, plenty of structure which shows tannins in the mouthfeel.  The flavors were a little spicy.  While beautiful to smell this really needs several years in the cellar.

2010 Domaine Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $22
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  There was richer, ripe red fruit that was focused and framed by plenty of structure.  The flavors are a bit tart, a little spicy, and show some minerals and graphite in the finish.  I would cellar this for several years before drinking.

Fran Kysela and the author