Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Austria’s Best Wines and Winemakers - Falstaff WeinGuide 2010

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Fritz Wieninger, Weingut Wieninger, Vienna

The Falstaff WeinGuide Oesterreich (Austria) was released in October 2010 by Falstaff editor-in-chief Peter Moser. This posting provides an overview of the best winemakers and the best white and red wines of Austria, in the judgment of Falstaff. For rating winemakers, Falstaff uses a 1 to 5 stars scale and for rating wines the 1 to 100 points scale.

Pictures: Falstaff WeinGuide Austria 2010

Wine Producer Austria

Austria has about 50.000 hectares of vineyard, equivalent to about half of Germany’s total vineyard area and one fifth of France’s vineyard area. In terms of world output, Austria’s vineyard area accounts for 0.7 % of the total. Almost all of it in the east of the country. “In the west we ski, in the east we make wine”, says Willi Klinger, head of Austrian Marketing Board. About 70 % of the production is white wine and 30% red wine. About 75 percent of Austria’s production is consumed in Austria and 25 percent is exported.

Picture: The Wine Regions of Austria

Austrian wine culture is ancient; people have been producing wine in Austria for 4000 years. But everything changed in 1985, when Austria was rocked by the “antifreeze wine scandal”. Some vintners were caught illicitly sweetening their products with glycol. As a result, the market for Austrian wine, especially the semi-sweet styles then in favor, evaporated overnight. Yet the scandal initiated a revolution that has propelled Austrian wines on to the world stage. It led to a broad rethink, with an emphasis on higher-quality production and innovation that soon became noticed. Young winemakers, drawn by the new emphasis on quality over quantity, brought cutting-edge techniques and farsightedness to vineyards and cellars, revolutionizing both.

Austria’s Top Wine Makers

When visiting Austria, you will find a huge number of top wine makers, and that not only in the top wine regions, but throughout Austria. Here is the current crème de la crème, according to the Fallstaff 2010 WeinGuide.

Weingut Bründlmayer, Langenlois, Kramptal

Weingut Gesellmann, Deutschkreutz, Burgenland

Weingut Gernot und Heike Heinrich, Gols, Burgenland

Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Spitz an d. Donau, Wachau

Weingut Knoll, Unterloiben, Wachau

Weingut Kollwentz, Großhöflein, Neusiedlersee, Burgenland

Weinlaubenhof Kracher, Illmitz, Neusiedlersee, Burgenland

Weingut F.X. Pichler, Oberloiben, Wachau

Weingut Poeckle, Moenchhof, Burgenland

Weingut Prager, Weissenkirchen, Wachau

Weingut Tement, Berghausen, Südsteiermark

Interestingly, in terms of regional distribution, 5 of the 11 top winemakers come from the tiny Wachau and Kramptal regions in the north, 5 from the Burgenland and 1 from the Steiermark in the south. Weingut Prager from Weissenkirchen in the Wachau, Weingut Pöckl from Mönchhof in the Burgenland and Weingut Albert Gesellmann in Burgenland are newcomers.

Die besten Weißweine- The Best White Wines

Here are the best white wines.

Riesling Smaragd Unendlich Dürnsteiner Kellerberg 2009, Weingut F. X. Pichler, Oberloiben

Riesling Smaragd Achleithen 2009, Weingut Rudi Pichler, Wösendorf

Sauvignon Blanc Ratscher Nussberg Große STK Lage 2008, Weingut Gross, Ratsch
Riesling Smaragd Klaus 2009, Weingut Prager, Weißenkirchen

Sauvignon Blanc Privat 2007, Weingut Sattlerhof, Gamlitz

Rotgipfler Pur 2008, Weingut Alphart, Traiskirchen
Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Honivogl 2009, Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Spitz/Donau
Riesling Smaragd Klaus 2009, Weingut Jamek, Joching
Sauvignon Blanc Zieregg Große STK Lage 2008, Weingut Tement, Berghausen
Chardonnay Grand Select 2007, Weingut Wieninger, Wien

Riesling Smaragd Steinertal 2009, Weingut Alzinger, Unterloiben
Riesling DAC Reserve Zöbinger Heiligenstein 2009, Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg, Gobelsburg

Die besten leichteren Weißweine – The Best Lighter White Wines

Riesling Smaragd Steinriegl 2009, Weingut Rudi Pichler, Wösendorf

Riesling Mordthal 2009, Weinbau Karl Fritsch, Oberstockstall

Riesling Federspiel 2009, Weingut Alzinger, Unterloiben
Riesling Federspiel Steinterrassen 2009, Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Spitz/Donau
Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Achleiten 2009, Weingut Holzapfel, Weißenkirchen
Grüner Veltliner DAC Obere Steigen 2009, Weingut Markus Huber, Reichersdorf
Riesling Federspiel Klaus 2009, Weingut Jamek, Joching
Riesling Federspiel Terrassen 2009, Weingut Lehensteiner, Weißenkirchen
Grüner Veltliner DAC Gebling 2009, Weingut Sepp Moser, Rohrendorf
Grüner Veltliner Fass 4 2009, Weingut Bernhard Ott, Feuersbrunn
Grüner Veltliner Bergweingarten 2009, Weingut Sommer, Donnerskirchen

Die besten Rotweine – The Best Red Wines

Here are the best red wines.

Salzberg 2007 ME/BF/ZW, Weingut Gernot und Heike Heinrich, Gols

»G« 2006 BF/SL, Weingut Gesellmann, Deutschkreutz
M1 2007 ZW/ME, Weingut Gerhard Markowitsch, Göttlesbrunn
Admiral 2008 ZW/CS/ME, Weingut Pöckl, Mönchhof
Blaufränkisch Buehl 2007, Weingut Claus Preisinger, Gols

St. Laurent Haidegrund 2007, Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg, Gobelsburg
Jungenberg 2007 ME/CF, Weingut Schloss Halbturn, Halbturn
Comondor 2007 ME/ZW/BF, Weingut Anita und Hans Nittnaus, Gols
Steingarten 2007 SL/PN, Weingut Johanneshof Reinisch, Tattendorf
Zweigelt Hallebühl 2006, Weingut Umathum, Frauenkirchen

XUR 2008, Weingut Werner Achs, Gols
Blaufränkisch Jungenberg 2008, Weingut Markus Altenburger, Jois
Blaufränkisch Altenberg, Weingut Judith Beck, Gols
Blaufränkisch Point 2007, Weingut Kollwentz, Großhöflein
Blaufränkisch »Lang« Grande Reserve 2007, Rotweine Lang, Neckenmarkt
Pinot Noir Tribute 2007, Weingut Wieninger, Wien

Die Besten Süssweine – The Best Noble Sweet Wines

Here are the best noble sweet wines

Scheurebe TBA No. 9 Zwischen den Seen 2007, Weinlaubenhof Kracher, Illmitz

Sämling TBA 2007, Angerhof – Hans Tschida, Illmitz
Sämling 88 TBA 2007, Weingut Willi Opitz, Illmitz

Riesling Rosengarten Eiswein 2008, Winzerhof Dockner, Höbenbach
Sämling 88 TBA 2008, Weingut Haider, Illmitz
Ruster Ausbruch Furmint Turner 2007, Weingut Schröck, Rust

Chardonnay TBA 2007, Weingut Kollwentz, Großhöflein

Rotgipfler Beerenauslese 2007, Weingut Alphart, Traiskirchen
Riesling Beerenauslese Heiligenstein 2008, Weingut Bründlmayer, Langenlois
Sämling 88 TBA 2008, Weingut Heiss, Illmitz
Riesling TBA 2008, Weingut Markus Huber, Reichersdorf
Riesling Klaus TBA 2009, Weingut Jamek, Joching
Schilfwein Tradition 2007, Weingut Nekowitsch, Illmitz
Grüner Veltliner TBA 2008, Wein-Gut Nigl, Senftenberg
Spätrot-Rotgipfler TBA 2008 ZF/RG, Weingut Josef Piriwe, Traiskirchen
Welschriesling TBA 2006, Weingut Velich, Apetlon

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Schiller’s List of Restaurants in Antananarivo that Serve Malagasy Wine - Madagascar

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Rakotoson Herintsoa Dany, Directeur, at Tsiky Restaurant

Generally, one can eat exceptionally well in Antananarivo, at very, very reasonable prices. When it comes to wine, you definitely find a very good selection of mainly French and South African wines in virtually all restaurants. Regrettably, many of these restaurants do not serve Malagasy wine, although Madagascar produces its own wine. Of course, the Malagasy wines are no grand cru wines, but wines which I think can compete with the vin de maison you would get in a typical Bistro in France.

However, there are exceptions – restaurants in Antanananariov, where you can eat well and enjoy Malagasy wine. Following a short summary of food and wine in Madagascar, you will find my 11 recommendations.

Food and Wine in Madagascar

The food in Madagascar is mainly French-Malagasy. French food ranges from basic Bistro food to high-end Restaurant food. If you like French food, you are just right in Madagascar. You can eat in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, just as well as in Paris, but at considerably lower prices.

The traditional Malagasy food is rice 3 times a day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a bit of meat or fish, and Analamao (bok choy-type greens). The Malagasy eat this with a spoon and a fork - no knife.

Turning to wine, Madagascar produces wine. This is not well known outside the country. The vineyards are in the Betsileo area in the highlands and total about 800 hectares. This compares with 100.000 hectares in Germany or South Africa. I always try to drink Malagasy wine. The wine tends to be of good quality, but does not reach a level that it could be marketed internationally.

For imported wines, practically nothing was available in the 1980s, when I first set foot on the red island. That changed in the following years and French wine became readily available in supermarkets and restaurants. The most recent development is the influx of South African wine, which began perhaps a decade ago.

Picture: Antanananarivo

I lived in Antananarivo from 1989 to 1992 and have visited Antananarivo since then on average every other year. My last visit was in 2010. Since the days of my first visit, the restaurant scene in Antananarivo has changed dramatically. As the country has opened up to the rest of the world and has become more flexible vis a vis foreign capital and know-how, a sizable number of new restaurants has emerged in Antananario. At the same time, many of the old-style restaurants are still around.

Christian G.E.Schiller’s Private List of Restaurants in Antananarivo That Serve Malagasy Wine

All these restaurants also appear on my comprehensive list of Antananarivo’s restaurants, which I released on November 3, 2010 on Schiller Wine. I rated the Antananarivo restaurants from 1 to 5 stars. Generally, you have to go below the 4 and 5 stars level in order to be served Malagasy wine with your French and/or Malagasy food.

Café de la Gare ***

One of the new-wave additions to the Tana restaurant scene, in the renovated Railways Station Building. Piano music very evening. A very lively place, where you always can meet interesting people. Very fast internet free of charge.

The food is good French brasserie food, with a limited choice for lunch and a more elaborate choice for dinner. I like the Tartare de Beuf for Ariary 13.000. Most main courses are around Ariary 15.000.

The wine list contains about 40 bottles, including a Blanc, a Rouge and a Rose NV Clos Malaza for Ariary 28.000. Just one Malagasy wine, but in a nice setting.

Train Station, 22 611 12

Chalet des Roses ***

A typical Italian trattoria and pizzeria, with pizza, pasta and other Italian dishes on the menu, all in the Ariary 7.000 to 12.000 range. You have a choice of 20 pizza toppings. I had a disappointing Filet de Zebu au Poivre Vert avec Frites for Ariary 13.000.

In addition to a dozen or so French wines, the Chalet des Roses carries a list of red, white, gray and rose wines from 4 Malagasy producers: Lovasoa, Ambalavao, Clos Malaza and Grand Cru d’Antsirabe. All in the 12.000 to 14.000 range. This is clearly one of the best Malagasy wine lists in town; and for that reason, it deserves 3 stars.

Antsahavola, 22 642 33

Glacier (Hotel Glacier) **

Exists since 1933 and has been very popular with the French expatriate community since then. Now owned by a Chinese, a large complex with a café, which turns into a bar with live music during the weekend, a brasserie and a restaurant as well as a casino. Glacier is always packed with ladies of the night waiting for clients. From the balcony restaurant in the first floor, you have a very nice view of the Avenue de l’ Independence.

The restaurant has recently been renovated and offers good quality French restaurant food, an impressive menu with Malagasy dishes and a long list with Chinese dishes as well as pizza and pasta. It includes such standards as Carpaccio de Zebu, Entrecote and Filet de Zebu with 7 different sauces (au pauvres verts is the best), Steak Tartare and Lapin a la Moutarde. I had Cuisse de Nymphe a la Provencale (a bit dry), Crevettes a la Creole and Ananas Flambee, all for Ariary 30.000.

One of best place in Antananarivo for Malagasy wine. Their wine list includes a relatively large share of Malagasy wines: Lavasoa, Lazan ‘IBetsileo, Clos Malaza and Cote de Fianar.

Avenue de l’Independence, 22 202 60

La Brasserie (Hotel de France) **

A delightful brasserie in the Hôtel de France, serving good, traditional brasserie food. I like very much the Salade Niçoise there and the Steak frites. Nothing fancy, just good. Good wine list, dominated by French wine, but La Brasserie also has a Malagasy wine (just one) on the list.

Avenue de l’Independence, 22 213 04

La Rotonde (Hotel Gregoire) ***

Undoubtedly, the best place to eat fish in Tana. An institution, which has a bit of a problem to survive in light of the many new-wave restaurants. Paul Gregoire founded the bar Poker d’as in 1942, when Madagascar was still a French colony. Over time the place was enlarged with the addition of a hotel and 2 restaurants. It is now managed by the 3. generation of the Gregoire family.

I like the Ocean en Plateau for two people for Ariary 70.000 – Camaron, Crabe, Langouste, Crevettes, Calmares, Poisson fume, Huitres. They also serve fresh oysters from Mahajanga and Fort Dauphin.

The wine list includes French standards, but also 2 Malagasy wines – the Grand Cru d’Antsirabe and the Clos Malaza, both for Ariary 17.000 and as vins rouge, blanc, gris. The Grand Cru d”Antsirabe is currently the best Malagasy wine on the market.

Besarety, 22 222 66.

Le Petit Verdot ***

The favorite of many French expatriates in Antananarivo, because of the very typical French bistro ambiance, the good food, the outstanding selection of French wines and the good price/quality ratio.

Typical French Bistro food with courses in the Ariary 9000 to 14.000 range. They also have a formule du midi for Ariary 9.000: Steak frites, dessert du jour, ballon de vin.

An exceptionally long wine list with about 100 wines by the bottle. Many of the wines are from the Bordeaux, ranging from simple AC wines up to the 2004 Brane-Cantenac for 220.000 and other wines in this category. But the rest of France is also well represented, including the South West. 14 wines are served “en pot” – mainly from South Africa and France. 8 Malagasy wines by the bottle – Lazan I Betsilio and Cru de Malaza (white, red, grey, rose) – for Ariary 20.000 complete the impressive list. Overall, the wines seem to be very reasonably priced. Most wines are around Ariary 50.000.

Ambohijatova, 22 392 34

Le Relais Normand **

One of Antananarivo’s old-timers. Was over years one of my favorite places, but has been clearly crowded out by the new-wave restaurants. The new owner, a Chinese, has added a Chinese accent to the otherwise large brasserie menu.

Decent wine list, including the Clos Malaza as Rouge, Blanc, Gris for Ariary 17.000.

Tsaralalana, 22 207 88

Palissandre ****

A new, classy, elegant hotel with a lot of Malagasy soul and tradition, overlooking the center of the city. One has a wonderful view from the terasse of the hotel. An oasis of peace, above the buzzing traffic of the Avenue d’Independence. A bit off the beaten track.

Excellent and great presentation. Filet de Zebu costs 20.000, as do most main courses. Traditional French cuisine and a number of Malagasy dishes. The Menu is in French and English.

A good selection of French wines and a few South African Wines – 28 in total, including the Clos Malaza as gris, rouge, rose et blanc, for Ariary 32.000.

Faravohitra, 22 605 60

Sakamanga ***

I have seen the hotel growing from a small, intimate place to quite a large complex. The owner has acquired over the years various houses and has created a labyrinth and extremely charming patchwork hotel that doubles as a museum. In the evening, the restaurant is unusually smoky, reflecting the unconventional clientele; the Serge Gainsbourghs of the Malagasy tourists like to hang out there.

Very good and reasonably priced food. I like the Brochette de Zebu for Ariary 10.000 and the Camerons Grilless du Canal de Mozambique for Ariary 37.000, the most expensive dish.

In addition to good French and South African wines, the wine list carries a Malagasy wine, a Grand Cru d’Antsirabe, the best wine Madagascar currently makes.

Ampasamadinika, 22 358 09

Tsiky **

A restaurant that you find in no guide. Few tourists or expatriates go there. I am one of the few. French and Malagasy food at budget prices in an environment that has in my view some class. Excellent wine list for Malagasy wines.

It has a two pages menu with one page Malagasy food and one page classical French bistro food. As for the former, I can recommend the Romazava for Ariary 7000. Most Malagasy dishes are in this price range. Last time, I had gambas grilles for Ariary 10.000 and my wife a pave de Zebu a la Sauce Roquefort, also for Ariary 10.000. We finished with Banane flambee for Ariary 3.500.

The wine list is straightforward. No imported wine. Only local wine – Coteaux d’ Ambalavao and Cote de Fianar, red, white, gray and rose, in 0.75 and 0.375 bottles. The Coteaux d’Ambalavao is Ariary 11.000 in the 0.75 liter bottle and the Cote de Fianar Ariary 7.000. Both are produced by the Chinese Chan Fui et Fils.

My long-time Antananarivo favorite.

Analakely, 22 283 87

Villa Vanille ***

A classy establishment outside the centre in an old colonial villa, with a strong Malagasy component. There is nightly music performed by Malagasy bands and it has the best Malagasy wine list in town.

The cooking is somewhat eclectic, though as you'd expect from the name, the region's most famous and flavorsome orchid features heavily. Amazingly, a full page with different pizzas and a full page with couscous variations are accompanying a traditional French restaurant menu with such delicacies as Camerons a la Vanille (Ariary 50.000) and Langouste rouge grille (Ariary 50.000).

Importantly, is the only top restaurant in Antanarivo which features a good selction of Malagasy wine. Villa vanilla currently offers the Clos Malaza, the Lazan ‘I Betsilio and the Grand Cru de Antsirabe as Rouge, Blanc and Gris, by the glass and by the bottle (for Ariary 22.000 the former two and Ariary 27.000 the latter). In addition, you can choose among a decent collection of French, Argentine and South African wines in the Ariary 40.000 to 90.000 range.

Antanimena, 22 205 15

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Restaurant and Hotel AKOA – An Oasis of Tranquility in the Buzzing Third World City Antananarivo in Madagascar

Wining and Dining in Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar – Christian G.E. Schiller’s Private List of Restaurants in Antananarivo

The Wines of Madagascar - Good and Interesting Table Wines

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lusciously Sweet Rieslings - Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

Picture: Caro Maurer, Journalist, Leading the Tasting, with Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil

The 1st International Riesling Symposium

Eight very interesting lectures, four outstanding wine tastings - one in the morning and one in the afternoon of each day - and a walking wine dinner provided for two fascinating and highly entertaining days around Riesling at the 1st International Riesling Symposium that took place a couple of weeks ago at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany. The symposium was attended by about 150 people, including such luminaries as Jancis Robinson from the UK, Willi Bruendlmayer from Austria, Helmut Doennhoff from the Nahe, Ernst Loosen from the Mosel and Colette Faller from Domaine Weinbach in Alsace, and many others. I have provided my impressions about the symposium here.

This posting focuses on one (of the four) major tastings, in which we tasted 21 lusciously sweet Rieslings from Germany, France and Canada. I have reported about the tasting of aged Rieslings here.


Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Nevertheless, Australia was a bit underrepresented at the 1st International Riesling Symposium. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.

Lusciously Sweet Rieslings

We tasted lusciously sweet Rieslings. What are lusciously sweet Rieslings? I know what nobly sweet Rieslings are, but the definition of lusciously sweet is broader than that of nobly sweet, as the selected wines show. The tasting comprised a range of sweet wines, from German Spaetlese and Auslese wines to a French Selection de Grains Nobles wine and German Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein wines as well as a Canadian icewine. Incidentally, the German title was Edelsuesse Rieslinge (= nobly sweet Rieslings) which was a faulty translation.

Picture: 21 Glasses with Lusciously Sweet Rieslings

The factors behind the sweetness in the wines we tasted varied widely:

(1) Some wines benefited from botrytis cineria (noble rot), a fungal infection, which removes the water in the grapes, increases the sugar content and adds a unique flavor to the grape.

(2) The icewines were made from grapes harvested during the frost late in the year, which removes the water in the grapes (but does not produce the botrytis taste). In both cases, the sugar content of the grape is exceptionally high at the time of the harvest and mother nature is unable to ferment all the sugar. Thus, natural sugar remains in the wine and makes the wine sweet.

(3) Some wines possibly benefited from Suessreserve (sweet reserve), sterilized grape juice, which under German law is allowed to be added to the fermented wine, within certain limits.

(4) Finally, some wines were possibly stopped, thus you do not let the fermentation run its course, but stop it before all the sugar is fermented. As a result, you get more sweetness and less alcohol in the finished wine. The sweet and low alcohol Mosel wines have made this approach famous in the whole word.

Picture: Jancis Robinson at the Tasting

Wine Tasting: Lusciously Sweet Rieslings

The wine tasting was led by Caro Maurer (CM), a well-known German Wine Journalist. We tasted 21 wines, from Germany, Alsace and Canada. I was able to pick up some of the comments of Caro and those winemakers who commented on their wines.

2007 Hattenheimer Heiligenberg, Riesling Spaetlese, Weingut Georg Mueller Stiftung

CM: Winemaker Alf Ewald said that this is a perfect Spaetlese, 15% botrytised grapes, at 65 grams remaining sugar (RS), the sugar level is not that high, right at the point of opening up, developing petrol notes, a very typical sweet Riesling Spaetlese.

2007 Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen, Riesling Spaetlese, Weingut Balthasar Ress

CM: One of the more innovative wineries in the Rheingau, does unorthodox things, planted vines on the isle of Sylt in the North Sea, a wine from a famous vineyard, complex and fine, still very innocent, fresh nose, some herbal tones, fine balance of sugar and acidity, 75 grams RS.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Christian Ress, Weingut Balthasar Ress in Berlin

2009 Winkeler Hasensprung, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Fritz Allendorf

CM: 100% botrytis infected grapes, Hasensprung is a site with lots of morning fog, conducive for the development of botrytis.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ulrich Allendorf, Weingut Fritz Allendorf, in Berlin.

2009 Erbacher Michelmark, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Baron Knyphausen

CM: 1/3 of the wines of Weingut Baron Knyphausen are noble-sweet wines, a winery that sticks to traditions, now in the 7th generation, lemon on the nose, some ginger notes, developing in the right direction of finding a balance between sugar and acid, impressive length.

2007 Ruedesheimer Berg Rottland, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Dr. Heinrich Naegler

CM: another very traditional wine producer, 6th generation, still a bit shy on the nose, very stringent fruit on the palate, very classical style, wine shows very ripe fruit, botrytis nicely integrated.

2003 Hochheimer Kirchenstueck, Riesling Auslese, Domdechant Werner’sches Weingut

CM: Weingut with a long history, known for classical style Rieslings, beautiful finesse, great complexity, wine shows very ripe fruit, very smooth, 90 grams RS.

Werner Michel from Domdechant Werner'sches Weingut: The sugar level was on purpose kept on the low side for an Auslese wine.

Picture: Dr. Werner Michel, Weingut Domdechant Werner, at the Tasting.

2003 Hochheimer Kirchenstueck, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Kuenstler

CM: very well integrated acidity, still restrained nose, nuts, stone fruit on the nose, very good structure, sexy wine with good roundness.

2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, Weingut Joh. Jos. Pruem

CM: a typical J.J.Pruem wine, filigran nose, very light, a dancing wine, perfect harmony already, very tender, a model for Mosel wine, really impressive, the length of the golden capsula indicates the share of botrytised grapes in the wine.

2007 Lorcher Schlossberg, Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, Weingut August Kesseler

CM: a very pure, true Auslese, no botrytis, was a perfect year, just left the grapes on the vine, one can taste the minerality, keeps a pureness which is impressive, very filigran.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with August Kesseler, Weingut August Kesseler, in Berlin.

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, Selection de Grains Nobles, Domaine Weinbach

CM: beautiful wine, stands for itself, a different style, stands out, honey on the nose, one can smell the sweetness, in the mouth the acid sinks in, impressive wine.

Colette Faller from Domaine Weinbach: Un vin de meditation, can be drunk by itself and should be drunk by itself, great minerality.

Picture: Colette Faller, Domaine Weinbach, at the Tasting.

2006 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Fritz Haag

CM: very lazy wine, subtle, fruity Riesling, 2006 was not an easy year, right at the limit to Trockenbeerenauslese, very punchy fruit, shows power, has a great length, can be kept for many more years.

2001 Hattenheimer Schuetzenhaus, Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Hans Lang

CM: vineyard is not far away from here, quite different style, more evolved, honey, apple, spices on the nose, very good integration of sugar, acid and botrytis, woven together into a great structure, concentration is enormous, very dense wine.

2001 Deidesheimer Kieselberg, Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan

CM: a wine from the Pfalz, Weingut has long tradition of making noble-sweet wines, show typically lots of exotic notes, site has botrytis every other year, really exotic, with honey, pineapple and ginger notes, full-bodied wine, do not think it is a sweet wine because of the high acidity.

1994 Jesuitengarten Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

CM: By far the darkest color of all wines, there is some botrytis, but not much, very exotic on the nose, ripe apples, cloves, cinemon, aging gives new aspects to the wine.

2005 Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg, Riesling Beerenauslese, Schloss Schoenborn

CM: 175 Oechsle, very classical style, honey, spices, nuts on the nose, acidity is still very racy, should be put away for 10 years before drinking it again.

2003 Wallufer Walkenberg, Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Toni Jost

CM: Further developed than the previous wine, very open already, apple skin notes, tropical fruits, mango, papaya, impressive density, good structure.

2003 Johannisberger Hoelle, Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Johannishof

CM: quite different style, very young, very fresh on the nose, citrus, peach, fresh lime fruit, very vivid acid, looking for more time to be woven together, 100% botrytised grapes, but you cannot taste it.

Hellmut O. Knall: Super.

1998 Ockfener Boekstein, Riesling Eiswein, Weingut St. Urbans-Hof

CM: A Saar wine, beautiful exotic fruit, strong floral component, with some passion fruit, apricots in the mouth, vivid acidity, a very young wine, acidity is astonishing, good structure.

Picture: Nik Weis, Weingut Sankt Urbanshof, at the Tasting.

2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Riesling Icewine, Cave Spring Cellars

CM: The winery is owned by a family that came ages ago from Italy to Canada, it is getting really cold there, ideal conditions for icewine, more the apple style, intensive spices, very powerful wine, good concentration, sustainable length.

Picture: Thomas Pennachetti, Cave Spring Cellars, at the Tasting.

2008 Oberhaeuser Bruecke, Riesling Eiswein, Weingut Hermann Doennhoff

CM: harvested on December 30, very typical icewine, Oberhaeuser Bruecke has a special micro-climate which is very conducive for making icewine, bright fruit, very young and innocent wine, peach, long finish.

2009 Ruedesheimer Drachenstein, Riesling Eiswein, Weingut Josef Leitz

CM: Such a young, fresh wine with banana and citrus notes, we are killing a baby, needs 15 years at least, shows minerality and finesse, an overwhelming wine, fruity and fresh.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

Pictures: Johannes Leitz, Winemaker of the Year 2011, and Christian G.E.Schiller with his head Cellarmaster Eva Fricke

I was in Germany, when the 2011 Gault Millau WeinGuide Germany came out and when Johannes Leitz, owner of Weingut Josef Leitz in the Rheingau and export champion, was awarded the prestigious Winemaker of the Year Prize. Immediately, I called the winery, but was told that Joseph Leitz had just left for a trip to the US. However, his head winemaker, Eva Fricke was around and I went over there - to Ruedesheim - with two friends.

Ruedesheim in the Rheingau

It is remarkable: For its entire length of nearly 560 miles, the Rhine flows north with one exception – a 28-mile stretch where the river changes its course. Here, it flows to the west, thereby enabling both the river and the vineyards facing it to bask in the warmth of the sun all day long. This is the Rheingau, one of the medium-size German wine regions.

Ruedesheim lies at the western corner, when the Rhine turns to the north again. In fact, it sits at the beginning of the famous Rhine Gorge and is thereby part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Coming from Frankfurt (in the east), we had to pass through the whole Rheingau region, which, however, took us just half an hour.

Weingut Josef Leitz

Weingut Josef Leitz dates back to 1744 and - like so many wineries in Germany - has passed from one generation to the next for virtually 4 centuries. Johannes Leitz, the current owner and winemaker, took charge of the estate in 1985, when he was in his early 20s. At that time, Weingut Josef Leitz had 3 hectares of vines and was virtually unknown among German wine connoisseurs. When you visit his winery today, you can see where Johannes Leitz comes from. The winery looks more like a regular house than the winery of the Winemaker of the Year.

Picture: Weingut Joseph Leitz in Ruedesheim

Early on, Johannes Leitz connected with Washington DC based importer Therry Theise, with a view of expanding production by pushing exports. Today, Johannes Leitz has successfully grown to 40 hectares of vineyard area and 90% of the production is sold in the export markets, notably the US. You have probably seen a bottle of his famed 1-2-Dry or his well known Dragonstone. “It’s a fantasy name,” Eva Fricke says “Johannes is trying to make the wine user-friendly to the millennial generation who grew up on Harry Potter novels.”

In terms of winemaking philosophy, Eva Fricke explains that fermentation of the Rieslings takes place in traditional large oak barrels (Stueckfass) as well as in stainless steel tanks. Some of the winery practices also reflect those in Burgundy, such as prolonged contact with the lees. Weingut Josef Leitz is planted almost exclusively with Riesling.

The Weingut Josef Leitz vineyards include all famous Ruesdesheimer Berg (which means mountain) vineyards - Berg Schloßberg, Berg Roseneck and Berg Rotland. They are among the Riesling’s most remarkable homes in Germany, on an imposing mountainside above Ruedesheim facing the south. Also well known is the Drachenstein vineyard, reputedly named for the fossilized dinosaur prints found nearby, dominated by slate although there is quartzite in the Drachenstein. Other vineyards are Bischofsberg, the recently reclaimed Berg Kaisersteinfels, Kirchenpfad, Klosterlay and Magdalenenkreuz.

Picture: Ruedesheim and its Famous Vineyards

The vineyard slopes can be rather steep, up to almost 60 degrees, at Berg Roseneck and Berg Schlossberg. On its wine list, Weingut Josef Leitz distinguishes between wines from Hanglagen (Slopes) and Steillagen (Steep Slopes).

Johannes Leitz Winemaker of the Year

The Gault Millau Weinguide Germany 2011 has picked Johannes Leitz for Winemaker of the Year. In accepting the prize, Johannes Leitz pointed out that he would like to share the honor with his home town Rüdesheim as well as his close collaborators - Eva Fricke, Cellar Master and Director of Operations, whom I met, and his manager Toni Climenti. “In the beginning not even people in Ruedesheim knew him. Now, his Riesling wines are regarded as examples of outstanding Rheingau Rieslings not only in his home town, but also in London and New” says the editor of the 2011 WeinGuide Gault Millau Deutschland, the American-born Joel Payne.

“9 out of 10 bottles of my production are exported”, said Johannes Leitz, when he received the award and “the market is really booming, despite the financial crisis.” He sells his Riesling wines mainly in the U.S., but increasingly also to Scandinavia and Great Britain. Far East is now also a market for his winery, he said. In Germany, Weingut Leitz is very strong in the Berlin market, as Berlin officials like to serve a German wine from somebody, who is well known around the world. Johannes Leitz spends many months of the year traveling the world. Among his customers are reportedly also very prominent Americans, such as Yahoo founder Jerry Yang and actor Kevin Costner.

When I visited his winery, he was on the road, but I had the pleasure to talk with head winemaker Eva Fricke. Eva, by the way, started her own winery on the side a couple of years ago and has 0.8 hectares of land, all in Lorch. At the same time as Johannis was awarded the Winemaker of the Year prize, Eva won her first grape in the 2011 Weinguide Gault Millau Deutschland.

The Leitz Wine Portfolio

At Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim, the wine portfolio was presented to us in 4 groups.

First, the entry-level wines from Hanglagen (Slopes). These are all in the Euro 10 range and include the 2009 1-2-Dry, a wine that is hugely popular in the US. It was introduced by Johannis Leitz in 2007, when he purchased vineyards in neighboring Geisenheim. In order not to confuse consumers, he did not want to introduce a Geisenheim wine and instead had the idea of selling the wine under the catchy 1-2-Dry label. At the tasting with Eva Fricke, she poured a number of other wines in the Euro 9 to 12 ex-winery price range.

But the Dragonstone, also well known, was not on her list. The international brand Dragonstone was introduced by Johannes Leitz in 2002 and has become hugely popular since then. Dragonstone is the translation of Drachenstein, the name of the vineyard in Rüdesheim from where the grapes for this astounding QbA Riesling come from. The Dragonstone tends to be a wine with a medium length, a low level of alcohol and a spicy finish. Eva Fricke said: “For a large-production wine this receives the same care in the vineyards and cellar that every Leitz wine receives”.

Second, the famous terroir wines from Steillagen (Steep Slopes). These are exclusively wines from the Ruesdesheimer Berg vineyards, either fermented fully in dry style or with a slight fruity residual sweetness. They are all in the Euro 20 plus price category ex-winery, with the fully fermented, dry wines a bit more expensive than the Spaetlese wines with some fruity residual sweetness. It is because of these wines that Johannes Leitz earned the prize Best Winemaker of the Year. Both the dry and slightly sweet wines are among the top wines in Germany.

Third, the wine portfolio also includes 3 noble-sweet wines, 1 Auslese and 2 Eisweine. Finally, as many winemakers in Germany do, Johannes Leitz also offers a Winzersekt, a Rose Sparkler Brut, at a reasonable price.

Weingut Josef Leitz Website

Weingut Josef Leitz has a nice web site, with lots of information on it. I in particular like the panorama picture of the Ruedesheimer Berg (see above) and the degree of steepness of the various Leitz vineyards. However, the website is in German only. But Terry Theise has 4 great pages on Johannes Leitz and his wines in his German wine catalog.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

1.International Riesling Symposium

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

Wine Caravan from Germany Visiting the East Coast, US: Dr. Fischer, Fitz Ritter, Bolling-Lehnert, Schneider, Dr. Thanisch

Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

The 100 Best German Winemakers 2010 – Handelsblatt online and Vinum

Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011

Aging Potential of Riesling – A Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium in Germany Led by Jancis Robinson

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chef Martin Weiler Suggests Amazing Food to Go With Gruener Veltliner

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ewald Gruber jun. and Chef Martin Weiler

Ewald Gruber from Weingut Ewald Gruber invited me and other Wine Bloggers to his Restaurant and Wine Store “Weinquartier” in Retz for lunch with a view of showcasing how well Gruener Veltliner goes with a variety of international food. The lunch was delicious, prepared by Martin Weiler, Chef/Owner of Gasthaus Weiler in Laa an der Thaya.

Chef Martin Weiler from Gasthaus Weiler

Ewald Gruber had brought in Martin Weiler for the event. He is well known for both his regional cuisine as well as for the experimenting going on in the kitchen. I can only say that the 4-course lunch Chef Weiler prepared for us to go with Gruener Veltliner was quite an experience.

Gasthaus Martin Weiler
2136 Laa/Thaya, Staatsbahnstr. 60
Tel: 02522/2379


Austria’s vineyard area is divided into 4 main regions, of which Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria) is the most northern. Within Lower Austria, the Weinviertel is by far the largest district. Situated to the south of the Thaya river, between the Manhartsberg mountain to the west and the Marchauen to the east, the Weinviertel extends southwards right to the gates of Vienna. The fertile region with its rolling hills is one of Central Europe’s oldest agricultural site. The region derives its name from viticulture: Weinviertel means winedistrict.

Gruener Veltliner

The Grüner Veltliner is the characteristic wine of the region. It covers 50 % of the vineyards in the Weinviertel and makes up around one third of the vineyards of Austria. It is a highly versatile variety but is rarely grown in any other wine regions, and as such remains Austria's real point of difference. Cool nights are important for Grüner Veltliner in order to achieve perfect acidity and aromatic expression. The grapes ripen fairly late, and therefore benefit from the warm summer and autumn days that Austria's continental climate offers. Grüner Veltliner is known for its spicy, smoky character with a distinctive white pepper and tobacco bouquet. Fruit character can range from citrusy to rich, peachy flavors, and there is always an excellent dose of balancing acidity.

Weinviertel DAC

Austria’s main wine classification system is based, like the German one, on the amount of sugar in the grapes at harvest, and includes categories like Qualitaetswein, Kabinett and Spaetlese. Recently, there have been efforts to supplement this ripeness-based with a terroir-based classification system. Accordingly, in the Weinviertel, the Weinviertel Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) was introduced. The new system tries to group wines typical for their region together; DAC wines always have a clear taste profile.

In the Weinviertel, a DAC wine is always a Grüner Veltliner, easily recognizable by its lighter yellow to darker greenish-yellow color and its fine peppery, spicy-fruity taste. It has to be dry, with a maximum residual sugar of 6g/l. It must not display woody or botrytis-like notes and its alcoholic strength should be at least 12 % by vol. The basic control for the Weinviertel DAC is identical to that of any quality wine, because the Weinviertel DAC too has to fulfils all the criteria of a Qualitaetswein. Weinviertel DAC bottles can be recognized by their uniform cap bearing a stylized map of the Weinviertel region.

With the 2009 vintage, the DAC Reserve category has been added to the Weinviertel DAC system. As with the Weinviertel DAC wine, the Weinviertel DAC Reserve wine must demonstrate a clear, region-typical taste profile – it must be a peppery Grüner Veltliner from the Weinviertel. But it also must have other distinguishing features: a dense structure; a long finish and a robust style. Subtle Botrytis and wood tones are acceptable in the DAC Reserve. The alcohol content must be at least 13 %.

The Lunch

Here is what we ate and drank - a Spanisch, a French, an Austrian and an Asian course. The Austrian course was Wiener Schnitzel …delicious!

Picture: The Wines


Gebackenes Ei, mit Serranoschinken Oliventapenade & Paprika-Bohnensalat, Ciabatta & Kürbiskernciabatta

Baked egg with Serrano ham, olive pesto, pepper and bean salad

2009er Greener DIEM, Weingut Gerald und Andrea Diem


Dorade Royal Filet mit Safran, Lauch & Erdäpfelpüree

Roasted fillet of gilthead with saffron, leek & mashed potatoes

2009er Weinviertel DAC, Weingut Hagn
2009er Weinviertel DAC Fuchsenberg, Weingut Hebenstreit


Wiener Schnitzel vom Kalb mit Erdäpfel-Vogerlsalat & Preiselbeeren

Viennes Schnitzel of veal with potatoe-lettuce salad & cranberries

2009er Grüner Veltliner Tenn, Weingut Taubenschuss
2008er Radikal,Weingut Zillinger


Ente “aus dem Wok” mit Kürbis, Paprika & Eiernudeln

Asian duck with pumkin, pepper % egg noodles

2008er Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben Weingut Weinrieder
2008er Grüner Veltliner “8000″ Weingut Setzer

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Wining, Dining and Relaxing with the Chocolate/Coffee Pinotage at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate in Wellington, South Africa

Pictures: Francois Rhode, David Sonnenberg and Christian G.E.Schiller at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate

I went to the Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate near the sleepy town of Wellington because I had heard of their famous Chocolate/Coffee Pinotage wine. What I found in Wellington was a working wine farm in the shadow of the majestic Hawekwa Mountains with a panoramic view of Du Toit's Kloof and Bains' Kloof and the excellent wines of Diemersfontein. And I found much more: A Country Estate with a restaurant – Seasons – that offers fine cuisine, very comfortable accommodation, a modern conference centre and a beautiful garden with a pool. The Diemersfontein Estate is a good base for exploring the rest of the Wellington wine route, with horse riding and mountain hiking nearby. In addition, Diemersfontein offers exclusive residential living.

Diemersfontein has two winemakers, Francois Roode and Brett Rightford. The former gave me a very interesting tour of the winery and introduced me to the Diemersfontein wines. I also had a chance to talk with David Sonnenberg, the owner.

The Diemersfontein Country Estate

The present owner, David Sonnenberg came here 10 years ago, after having spent 20 years in London as a psychologist. Diemersfontein has belonged to the Sonnenberg family since the early 1940s, when David's grandfather, Max, bought the 183 hectare farm. Max had moved to the Capelands at the end of the 1800s, from Kaiserlsautern in Germany.

Pictures: The 'Groot Huis'

Central to the Estate is the third-generation family manor house, known as the 'Groot Huis', overlooking magnificent gardens, which are reminiscent of an era when gracious living and tranquility were the order of the day. Designed by Cecilia Sonnenberg, the gardens offer an abundance of roses and azaleas and a secluded swimming pool and is a much sought after venue for weddings, important celebrations and a peaceful getaway destination for conferences. We stayed at the manor house. It was lovely. You feel like transferred to the 1940s, when the estate was bought.

Pictures: The Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate

The Diemersfontein Wine Estate

Now in the 10th year of winemaking, Diemersfontein is clearly one of the cellars in Wellington that are making waves in the wine industry. Diemersfontein grows about 70% of the grapes on the estate; the remainder of the grapes comes from other Wellington vineyards.

The first vineyards were planted by David's father in the 1970s, and in 2000 David built his own cellar and started producing award-winning estate wines. Vineyard plantings include Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and also the "lesser known" varietals Viognier, Barbera, Roobernet and Mouvedre. Diemersfontein's maiden vintage (2001) won the Paul Sauer Trophy for their Coffee and Chocolate Pinotage at the SA Young Wine Show and from that first vintage, awards have continued to be received by the Estate for many of their wines.

The Coffee and Chocolate Pinotage

The Coffee and Chocolate Pinotage is a rich, powerful wine with strong and intense coffee and chocolate notes on the nose and the palate. It is a very unusual wine. David Sonnenberg says: “Our coffee and chocolate Pinotage is like Marmite, either you love it or you hate it.” It came out for the first time with the 2001vintage and immediately caught the attention of the market. It was created by Diemersfontain’s first winemaker, Bertus Fourie. He broke new grounds in terms of the oaking regime.

Pinotage is the signature grape of South Africa. In 1925, a South African researcher at the University of Stellenbosch crossed the Pinot Noir with the Hermitage (Cinsaut): This was the birth of Pinotage. It now accounts for more than 20 percent of South Africa’s red wine. It is made in a broad range of styles, from easy-drinking quaffing wine and rosé to barrel-aged wine intended for cellaring. It is also used for port-style wine and red sparkling wine. The majority of the world's plantings of Pinotage is found in South Africa, where it makes up just 6.7% of the vineyard area but is considered a symbol of the country's distinctive winemaking traditions.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Francois Rhode

Francois Rhode says: “About 70% of the grapes for the wine are now sourced from other vintners, because of the skyrocketing demand. Initially, 2000 case of this wine were produced; today the production has reached 50.000 cases. The wine is put in tanks to mature on oak staves for 5 to 6 months.” The style of the wine has changed over time a bit. “The new vintages tend to be fruitier and less coffee intense, more elegant” Francois says. Francois is the custodian of the Coffee/Chocolate Pinotage. He was born and grew up in Namibia. After studying in South Africa, he joined Diemersfontein in 2003.

The Wine Portfolio

The Diemersfontein wine portfolio comprises wines from three ranges: Thokozani (meaning ‘Celebration’) Diemersfontein, and the top range, Carpe Diem. Diemersfontein now produces 500.000 bottles annually. It has 60 hectares under vine and wants to go up to 80 hectares over the next couple of hyears . 20% of the production is exported, with Germany and the Netherlands the most important markets. The US is just starting.

In 2007, Diemersfontein assisted in establishing Thokozani as a black empowerment project to aid the access of education, training and experience to those previously without. Thokozani is partially owned by the employees (30%). The current wine portfolio of Thokozani comprises 3 cuvees ( a Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay/Viognier, a Pinotage/Shiraz/Mourvedre and a Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier) for Rand 39 to Rand 69. In addition, a sparkler is produced for Rand 99.

The Diemersfontein is the premium range, with the distinctive black and cream label. It was launched in 2001 with 4 varietal wines - a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz, a Merlot and a Pinotage. The 2003 vintage saw the launch of 2 blends. All Diemersfontein wines sell at around 70 Rand ex-winery.

The flagship range is known as Carpe Diem. “The Carpe Diem wines benefit from rigorous vineyard selection methods in the vineyard and longer maceration periods in the cellar. The wine is produced from mostly free-run juice. It is matured in new French and American oak barrels for a minimum period of 15 months” says Francois Rhode. They are in the Rand 89 to 110 range.

“ I feel like the parents of two teenage daughters – one is a classically trained violinist who dresses modestly and pulls the crowds in the exclusive concert halls; the other, a mini-skirted and occasionally provocative pop star who wows the younger generation but has fans of all ages” says David Sonnenberg, when commenting on the more classic Carpe Diem Pinotage and the Chocolate/Coffee Pinotage.

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