Tag Archives: Travel

Wandering through Germany: Part 1 – Pfalz

Earlier this year I went on a trip to visit some of the German wine regions. I was in Germany for a work trip supporting our European sales team and decided to do a speedy tour through as many regions as I could during 3 personal days I took at the end of my trip. It was an amazing experience which I was fortunate enough to share with my friend and (at the time) fellow MW student, Martin Reyes.

We visited the Rhine, Pfalz, and my personal favorite, the Mosel.

I was extremely impressed with the quality present in the Rhine and Pfalz. Clearly we don’t get the good stuff in the US! In Pfalz we visited two wineries, Weingut Knipser and Geoge Mosbacher, both of whom changed my idea of wines outside of the Mosel which admittedly I have had a very, very small sample set up until this visit.

Weingut Knipser

 At Weingut Knipser we were hosted by Volker Knipser who was enlightening, not just for the wines but also for his eloquent statements which I felt driven to write down.

On Brands: “We are not a region for brands. Our name is our brand. You can be sure if you have a Knipser you have a good wine.”

On Reputation: “You can only work on your name. That is all you have!” – I could not agree more!

On Terrior: “ Wine is a mosaic. The site is a part of the picture but also important is what you plant, how you train, and what grows. The cellar, not so much but the producer is important.”

Their 2011 Blauer Spatburgunder was amazingly elegant and aromatic made from native yeasts. “If you are looking for body, look to other varieties” – Volker Knipser on Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir). I was starting to think this guy is a genius!

The 2009 GG (Große Gewächse meaning “Great growth” or the German equivalent of Grand Cru) Mandelpfad Spatburgunder was amazing! Super aromatic with lovely soft supple tannins and fresh acid.

At Gerog Mosbacher we were treated to a lovely tour and tasting of some amazing Rieslings. Of course a super friendly winery dog accompanied us on all of our wanderings here.

Georg Mosbacher Pfalz sm

Here the current proprietors, Jürgen Düringer and Sabine Mosbacher-Düringer were our hosts. They were incredibly enlightening on the German wine classification system which was still completely greek to me until this point and the VDP’s (Verband Deutscher Prädikats or the German Quality Winegrowers Association) role in German wines. If you are a wine person, particuarly a Riesling person then it would probably seem that the VDP own most of the acreage in Germany however according to Sabine only 4% of the wineries in Germany belong to the VDP. They are invited to join by consensus of current group members. We tried several Rieslings grown on three different soils; Sandstone, Soils from near the forest, and Calcarious soils. The Sandstone had a decidely mineral flavor with lemon-lime hints, orange blossom, pear and apricot. The near forest soils had very sweet fruit, light minerality, apricot and grapefruit. The Calcarious soils were zesty and more linear in focus with sweet hay and very ripe apricot flavors.

2012 Deidsheimer Mäushöhle Riesling Trocken (Sandstone)

2012 Forester Musenhang Riesling Trocken (Near the Forest)

2012 Wachenheimer Gerümpel Riesling (Calcarious)

We also had a fantastic discussion regarding the aroma of petrol in Riesling. Jürgen weighed in on this and stated that his opinion was that Petrol showing up within the first 2 years is definitively a fault in the winemaking process that comes from high pressure in the press and a high level of phenolics in the juice. However if it shows up after the wine is 10 years old it is the normal Petrol aroma of an aged Riesling. He also stated that atypical aging disorders come from sunburn, drought years or green phenolics from un-ripe years.

It was truly fascinating stuff!

Their top two wines were the following

2012 Pechstein GG (Basalt soil) – Stone and Chalk

A Very mineral driven, rich palate with linear acid which is almost Mosel in style. Lime zest and flinty characters on the nose and palate.

2012 Ungeheurer GG – Zesty and Fruity

Ripe apricot, melon and cantaloupe with light minerality and ripe, rich fruit on the palate with a concentrated long finish.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 – Rhine!

Georg Mosbacher cellar Pfalz

My MW Scholarship Trip to France!!! Part 1

  WAAAAYYYY Back in November I went on one of the most exciting trips of my life to France based on the generosity of AXA Millesimes.  I promised then that I would blog about it and now after several months I am going to fulfill that promise!  The next few weeks will be short excerpts recalling this fantastic opportunity complete with tasting notes and way too much geeky wine information.  Here is the first of many…

 It took 31 hours of travel time for me from my house to the back door of Chateau Pichon-Longueville.  The time consisted of Flights from SFO to Philadelphia,PA then to Munich, Germany.  After that a quick flight to Toulouse there was a bus trip from Toulouse airport to the train station down town then a two hour train trip to Bordeaux.  Once I had arrived at the Bordeaux train station it was another hour by taxi before I arrived at the Chateau.  The taxi driver spoke little English and I apparently speak better French when exhausted so we had a pleasant chat about the area and when he learned I was here for wine he was happy to tell me that he and his family had worked in the vineyards their whole life.  I asked what he was doing driving a taxi then and he replied it allowed more time for fishing. By the time we arrived at the Chateau I was exhausted beyond measure and it was 11pm in Bordeaux.  As grueling as the travel was it was fantastic to get rid of any semblance of jet lag.  I was greeted by the housekeeper who was kind enough to leave out a small endive salad, a slice of ham, and several slices of baguette for dinner.  She also left a bottle of wine.  Since it was already opened I felt it would be rude not to sample it however I thought that one entire bottle for a single tired guest was a bit optimistic on her part and a bit of a waste for the bottle.  The room in the Chateau was like a fairy tale complete with the small meal laid out in a turret just off the room.  It was the most relaxing shade of moss green with a fireplace, chandelier, and numerous antiques to match the period in which the Chateau was built.  The bathroom was a periwinkle blue with claw foot tub complete with a large draping shower curtain.  It truly was the bed room that you dream about as a little girl.  After a quick shower I fell into a deep restorative sleep.

            As I was the only one who had arrived that night, I had the Chateau to myself the next morning.  While there were people working there they insisted that I eat breakfast in the formal dining room by myself.  I’m not one to enjoy dining alone so I ate a quick traditionally French breakfast of a croissant, baguette slices, and yougert then went for a walk around the grounds.   The back gardens of the Chateau were partially forested with a small pond which I could easily imagine must have been once used for small boats carrying ladies with parasols.  I crossed over this pond by way of a small stone bridge to the back of the gardens.  They were manicured just enough to make you believe you were in some fantastic forest but not so much that you realized you were in a formal gardens.  The gardens were separated from the vineyards by a small split rail fence which I followed to find a route to the vineyards.  I wandered through the vineyards for a while marveling at the small vines, some no more than a foot off the ground and so tightly spaced that it was difficult to walk down the rows.  Turning back to the Chateau it seemed that Pichon-Longueville was a green island in the midst of a sea of brown dormant vines.  On the eastern facing edge of the gardens there was a large Sycamore tree which I took advantage of to sit beneath, soak up the sun, and marvel at my good fortune.  The breeze was soft and light, the sun warm, and the vineyards were spread out around the Chateau in undulating waves.  There was a church steeple in the distance and the cross of Pichon-Loungueville closer to my right.  It was a very relaxing moment.  Soon though it was time to return to the Chateau to meet my fellow scholarship winners and begin the formal trip. 

            We gathered in the Study of the Chateau, surrounded by books, dark wood, and stuffed songbirds in glass boxes.  There were four other students on the trip; Anne Krebiehl (Freelance Wine Writer), Ray O’Connor (Commercial Manager for the International Wine Challenge), Patrick Schmitt (Editor at the Drinks Business), and Nigel Sneyd (Winemaker for E&J Gallo).  It was an eclectic and fascinating group and we all were able to meld our diverse backgrounds for an educational and exciting experience.

Wine Bloggers Conference 2011; A Winemaker’s Perspective…

Last Friday I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference 2011.  This was one of those events that really brought out why the wine industry is so amazing! So many people in one room that were all excited to learn about and discuss topics pertaining to wine.  Unfortunately I was only able to attend the Friday sessions but they were really amazing.  I always enjoy hearing Jancis Robinson speak as she’s played such a HUGE role in my own wine education through her books and website.  Her call for bloggers to see themselves as wine writers was thought provoking and reaffirmed my commitment to be a winemaker who blogs, not solely a blogger! 

 

The marketing to Millennials session was fun and informal with lots of good information.  As a Millennial myself, I wholeheartedly agreed with some of the generalizations but others I think can be applied to any generation.  I do agree that Millennials are more likely to use the internet and social media to find out what their friends are drinking and what might be new and interesting.  However, I don’t agree that only Millennials have a highly tuned BS radar.  I think that as a society we have become so over run with advertisements on TV, radio, in print, and now on the web that we have become desensitized to it.  I largely ignore and actively avoid advertisements in most traditional media and the internet and from a producer standpoint I understand how frustrating it must be for marketers to know that.  One point that was raised is that Millennials care about companies that care about them.  This is another thought that can probably transcend generations.  Most people care about other people or companies that care about them.  That’s why the bar in “Cheers” was so popular.  We all want to give our business to someone who “knows our names” or in other words…cares about us and our needs. 

 

For the speed blogging session I had the unique opportunity to blog from the winery prospective rather than the blogger’s prospective.  As the second breakout sessions were starting my husband, Brian, our Emma Pearl PR representative, Jenna, and I were checking bottles of wine for the tasting and making sure they were at the best possible temperature to be served.  The 09 Emma Pearl is best served between 48-55 degrees F where the floral aromas can really explode.  Served too cold and that element is severely diminished, too warm and well it’s just too warm on as hot and humid a day as last Friday was in Virginia.  The speed tasting was exciting and a bit of an adrenaline rush as we had 5 minutes to explain the wine, who I was, and answer any questions that anyone may have had.  I was a bit nervous at first because our table was completely empty up until the last few minutes before the tasting started.  After that it was a bit like being on a horse jumping out of the starting gate.  By the 4th or 5th table I was starting to forget what points I had covered with which table and probably ended up repeating my self more than one time but no one seemed to mind. The truly enjoying part of it for me was visiting 12 tables of between 3 and 8 bloggers, all of which seemed to genuinely like the wine.  It was a truly gratifying day as a winemaker. 

 

Finally the dinner at Monticello was amazing.  Just being at the home of the Father of American viticulture was very inspiring and it was very educational to taste more of Virginia’s wines.  This was one part of the trip that I was really looking forward to because, being from the East Coast, I really want to see the eastern wine regions come into their own.  Overall, I think Virginia still has a long way to go.  I tasted quite a few wines with elementary winemaking mistakes and others where I couldn’t tell if it was the winemaking to blame or the vineyard.  There was one bright spot in the Virginia wine tasting for me and it was an Italian gentleman named Gabriele Rausse.  We sampled two wines from him; Vin Gris de Pinot Noir and a Nebbiolo.  The Vin Gris (Zesty and Fruity) was a very pale salmon leaning towards orange with delicate aromas of red plum, wet stone, grapefruit, and violets.  It was balanced and crisp with a moderately complex finish.  However it was the Nebbiolo (Spicy and Smoky) that really got me excited.  This was the best new world Nebbiolo that I have tasted thus far and it was exciting that it was fromVirginia.  It had pale color and the traditional flavors of licorice and rose petals that you would find in a Piedmont Nebbiolo however with lower acid and softer tannins with a finish with hints of dark roasted coffee.  I asked about his cap management techniques (how he extracted the color and tannins) knowing that Nebbiolo can represent challenges in the winery to balance the tannin extraction with flavor and color.  He responded that he punches down the skins and tastes every day.  “It’s all tasting!” was his answer. The soft tannins and balanced body were quite nice and with a limited production of 136 cases I imagine that he has no trouble selling it each year. 

 

On a West coast note I’ve been running around vineyards this week and Veraison has started on the Central Coast Pinot Noir.  We’re about 4 weeks out down there and looking like a little more than 6 weeks on theNorthCoast.  Harvest is well on its way!