Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Weekend at Ernie's (Loosen that is)

Germany again - what can be better?

First week of May, 2007 – our visit encompassed about 5 days. We visited the Franken, Pfalz and middle-Mosel wine regions of Germany. Our host was Ernst Loosen, owner and winemaker of Weingut Dr. Loosen, and Loosen Bros. USA representatives, Kirk Willie and Brian Harlan. Additionally there were seven members of the group with some others joining and dropping during the week. Of the members of the group, one was a Master Sommelier working with Southern Wine & Spirits out of Colorado, another was a winemaker from Portland Oregon working on a joint venture with Ernie, and the rest were distributor reps from various companies in the U.S. and Canada. We were joined by a group of four from Las Vegas for the Saturday night Grand Dinner and Tasting: one of the members of this group was a Master Sommelier working with Southern W&S in Las Vegas. The mix of education and experience of this group proved a great benefit and certainly added to the over-all enjoyment of the group; much was learned and discussed by all.

Ernst Loosen, or Ernie as he is generally known, has been overseeing Dr. Loosen for nearly 20 years since taking over from his father for the 1988 harvest. Ernie has many great stories, which were shared over the course of the weekend. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious. He is also well trained with the terroir, winemaking and personalities of not only his region, the central Mosel, but most of the regions of Germany, as well as many winegrowing regions around the globe. His promotional travels are almost non-stop and take him to far off places weekly. The week following our visit he was off to Ireland and Sweden then back to the Mosel for another weekend group from England.

A bit about the 2007 season (thus far)
Across the growing regions of Germany the weather has been beautiful – typically in the mid-seventies during the days and going down to about forty-five to fifty degrees at night. There has been a dry-period since late February/early March where no rain has fallen. During our visit, there was one night of “country rain”, but it was starting to rain the morning we were leaving and this was supposed to continue for three days. This rain is much needed as the ground is quite dry and the vines are starting to bud-out – 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule. The chance of frost is still a concern until 15 May, though. Global Warming has certainly had an impact on this region – the past 7 years have seen a steady increase in temperatures and a steady decrease in the amount of specialty wines like Eiswein – none the past two years. One grower told of having to simply drop the grapes in March as the weather was never ideal for making Eiswein. Stylistically many of the wines are plush and full of fruit with slightly diminished acidity levels (2005s were showing this).

2006 Vintage
With the information given both verbally and through my tastings, it is apparent that 2006 is an excellent vintage – perhaps rivaling 2001. The wines through the three regions we visited are showing many similar characteristics: great fruit depth and racy acidity that were well in balance in just about all the wines tasted. The fruit quality of all of these wines was equal to what I tasted in the 2005s, but the acids were sharper and added much more complexity and length to these wines than I have experienced in the 2005s. 2006 will be a vintage to collect as the wines will age wonderfully (see notes below).

The Tour:
Day One: Silvaner Fest

Today we traveled to Wurzburg in the Franken district to visit with two of the region’s top wine producers and be immersed in the delicacies of Silvaner. This is a new direction for Ernst Loosen and his U.S. partners at Loosen Bros. USA. Their interest in this region is a combination of personal desire and preference for this grape (Silvaner), as well as a desire to expand their portfolio to include some of the great wines of Germany.

Silvaner is a grape

Weingut Horst-Sauer
Our first stop took us to the out-of-the-way village of Escherndorf, where we were treated to a selection of Weingut Horst-Sauer Silvaner paired with traditional foods of the region.
Some Key points about Weingut Horst-Sauer include:
Farming from 50+ year old vineyards located on the Escherndorfer Lump, which is composed primarily of blue limestone, which adds a distinct mineral tone (warm stone) throughout the wines
Horst-Sauer owns a total of 14.5 hectares (in 74 different parcels) and farms from an additional 15 hectares under contract
Ultra-modern, gravity fed winery
Many, many small tanks to handle the vast array of small blocks of wines
Total estate production is about 10,000 cases
The wines reflect Horst – he is lean and precise and so are his wines.
He was named IWC White Winemaker of the Year in 2004, and has garnered many other awards.

We were hosted by Horst Sauer, who spoke no English, and his daughter, who did all the translating. They gave a brief tour of the winery and the vineyard. The winery is located in the small village of Escherndorf, which is situated along the Main River. The Lump vineyard is a long south/southeast facing slope composed of blue limestone which when rubbed together gives off a distinct flint, sulphur aroma, which we termed “warm stone” and is definitely passed along into the wines. The wines of Weingut Horst-Sauer are very well known in Germany and are in big demand; they sell out everything, every year. The focus of the estate is definitely the local specialty – Silvaner.

Wine Tasting
2006, Weingut Horst-Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Kabinett trocken
12% alc in a burgundy style bottle
Mild aromas, but good intensity and loads of wet stone aromas
On the palate the wine is quite persistent with loads of minerality, medium acidity and lovely flinty flavors
Fresh flavors through the finish with some flowery aromas
The finish is well balanced
This wine is destined for the U.S. market (about 200 cases) and will retail for about $28. (Horst is almost doing this as a favor to Ernie as he generally has no problem selling his wines. He does recognize the importance of developing new markets. I am not convinced my market is ready for this wine at this price, but there was a lot of interest from the Western contingent.)

2006, Weingut Horst-Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner Spätlese trocken
13.5% in a traditional bocksbeutel
Aromatics include wet stone, minerals, white pepper and fresh air
Smooth weight on the palate with pronounced pear flavors
Fuller than the Kabinett
Quite big throughout the finish, almost velvety
Good length
Harvested eight days later than the Eiswein
5-8% botrytis affected grapes

Note: Botrytis can have a negative affect on Silvaner if there is too much or if too old – must use careful selection – more so than Riesling

2005, Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner trocken Grosses Gewächs
From the best vineyards of the southern slope (45 year average on the vines)
Slightly more golden in color
Buttery almost on the nose with minerality carrying through
All Spätlese and above ripeness
Very flowery and delicate on the palate – quite elegant
Clean pear and spring flowers with juicy acidity and greatintensity through the lengthy finish
Almost a chalky quality on the finish

2005, Weingut Horst-Sauer “Sehnsucht” Silvaner trocken
Sehnsucht means “yearning for” or “desire”
30% in 3 year old barrels – rest in SS
Small amount of ML
Touch of wood on the nose
Rich palate style, almost creamy
Slightly pear flavors with more of a fat or even flabby style
Very soft

1997, Weingut Horst-Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner Spätlese trocken
13% with 5% botrytis and about 1-1 acidity (5.5-6.5)
Pale gold in color
Big creamy nose, subtle wet-stone flavors
Fleshy on the palate with great intensity
Medium length but very fresh
Does not show its age at all

2006, Weingut Horst-Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner Auslese
7.5% with 138 oechsle!
Very pale aromatics – cinnamon and pear
20% botrytis – harvested mid-November
Big flavors on the palate
Rich and fleshy palate feel that carrys through the finish
Light fruit flavors
Good balance with acid and sugar
Medium long finish with some hints of crème brulee
Quite good
Comes from various vineyards close to the Main River on the lower slopes, which get a fog affect

2005, Weingut Horst-Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner TBA
6.5% - 10.5 acid, 195 oechsle
Golden in color
Aromatically shows a good amount of botrytis – honey and biscuit – but very deep flavors
Balanced on the palate – not cloying at all – even delicate for such a big wine
Big style – the nose is really intense
Medium-length of the finish

Silvaner vines are quite strong, which allows for a long hangtime and therefore a great ability for selection as the grapes ripen – Riesling tends to be more delicate.

2004, Weingut Horst-Sauer Escherndorfer Lump Eiswein
· 8%
· Harvested 22nd December at -12 C
· Bright brassy gold – 50% botrytis
· Small amount of botrytis on the nose with a bit of honey and flowers
· Great acidity – balance of sugar and acid is wonderful
· Delicate pear flavors of the earlier wines comes through especially on the finish, which is quite long
· Fleshy honey flavors dominate all the way through.

Weingut am Stein Ludwig Knoll
After our visit to Horst-Sauer, we traveled to Wurzburg and stopped at Weingut am Stein Ludwig Knoll. This winery is operated by Ludwid Knoll, who took over the facility in 1984 from his father. The winery was established in 1890, by Luwig’s great grandfather, who was a cooper. Ludwig told us that at this time the coopers were the primary wine makers as they were the ones in need of so many barrels.

The winery was moved to its present location on the Wurzberger Stein in 1980.

After a brief tour of the winery and a taste of a couple of their wines, we went for a vineyard tour. We traveled south along the Main River about 15km to the Stetten vineyard, which is also a primary source for Ludwig Knoll. We walked the vineyards as Luwig described the differences from site to site, the soil types, viticultural practices, etc. At one point we were led through a small patch of woods along a path that came out onto a clearing high above the river. We enjoyed a bit of a nosh here with cheese, bread, apples and some Ludwid Knoll Silvaner “K” and “VINZ” (see below). After a bit more walk through the vineyards we headed back to the main winery for dinner.

Dinner and Tasting at Luwig Knoll

The winery is located at the base of the Wurzburger Stein vineyard and overlooks the city of Wurzburg. The Wurzburg Stein is one of Germany’s oldest Grand Cru vineyards, having vines established here more than 1300 years ago. Wurzburg enjoys a continental climate and is one of Germany’s warmest and coldest cities.

The winery itself is ultra-modern, has a restaurant and wine bar that filled-up the night we were there (Thursday), has a salesroom that is designed to reflect the natural resources of the winery (limestone and vines) and a “Kitchen House”, which is a small building that has an open kitchen on one side and a large dining table on the other. This is where Luwig Knoll and his wife, Sandra, entertain guests with special dinners prepared right in front of them. Guests are encouraged to join in the preparation of the meals.

A number of our group joined their young chef in preparing the meal, and this turned out to be one of the most memorable dining experiences for many of us.

The Wines of Weingut am Stein Ludwid Knoll

2005, Silvaner Brut
God bubble, quite delicate and fresh in style
Pears and quince
Very tasty

2006, Ludwig Knoll Silvaner “K”
Cuvee from all the vineyards
Light and easy style perfect for sipping and nosh
Good with asparagus
More flavors of pear and quince

2006, Ludwig Knoll Stettener Stein Silvaner Alte Redde “VINZ”
Named after Ludwig’s son
Completely dry
From very old vines
Tasted this just three days after filtration
Exceptional flavors – fresh clean and totally intense flavors
Still has a bit of yeastiness

Tasted with Dinner

1999, Ludwig Knoll Silvaner Wurzburger Stein Spätlese trocken
Slightly golden and honey in color
Honey aromatics with orange peel
Soft and easy on the palate with decent persistency – flowery flavors
Good aperitif wine
Medium length

2006, Ludwig Knoll Grauburgunder Stettener Stein trocken
Pale but rich aromas with some oily quality

2003, Ludwig Knoll Spätburgunder “Montanto”
Mid-October harvest
Pretty impressive color
Deep and intense nose loaded with spice and alcohol and herbs
Very Pinot noir aromatics and earthy accents and dry leaves
Soft on the palate with pervasive fruit
Longish finish with fleshy fruit of cherries, more spice
A wine that makes you think because it is not what you are expecting from this area.

2006, Ludwig Knoll Riesling Franken “K”
Didn’t get to write any notes – I was sautéing white asparagus – it did taste good though

2006, Ludwig Knoll Scheurebe “VINZ”
13.5% - barrel sample
½ and ½ stainless steel and oak
Some spice and fleshy aromas
Weird aromatics
Good but…?

2005, Ludwig Knoll Wurzburger Stein Silvaner Auslese
Pale gold color
Subtle aromatics with a touch of honey and botrytis, minerals and rosemary
Balanced palate with a richness, but not sweet-cloying in its approach
Great balance on the finish
Quite good

2004, Ludwig Knoll Stettener Stein Riesling BA
Intense aromatics with lemon cake and botrytis and an intense wet-stone minerality
Really rich and vibrant on the palate
Very rich, almost candy like flavors - peaches
Balanced and intense
Quite exceptional style – loads to discover – delicious

Silvaner Seminar In Short

My overall impressions of Silvaner (after a one day intensive seminar at two of the best producers) is that it can produce a lovely wine – even profound in some cases, but tends to leave me wanting something else many times.

The predominant flavors in many of the Silvaner are of pear and quince, flavors that are not so bad, really. Perhaps I just need to become a bit more familiar with the grape. In many of the wines there is also a bracing acidity, which is something that I enjoy. These wines are clean and fresh and quite focused, especially Horst-Sauer’s. These wines work very well with the local cuisine, something the Franken are quite pleased to show off. The sausages of the area (usually wrapped in pastry) are a particular favorite to pair with the wines.
I was finding myself looking for something more with these wines, though, and that is where Riesling comes in. It has the edge, the extra flavor and depth that Silvaner just does not seem to posses.

Ernie and Kirk are very excited about these wines, and I think that they will be a success in some markets. This is an effort that can easily become the new darling of the “Som” crowd and take off like Gruner Veltliner has over the past few years. We’ll see, though.

Day Two – PFALZ and Villa Wolf

Today we traveled to the Pfalz region south of the Rhine. (Going shotgun in Ernie’s Porsche Cheyenne was not so bad. Just as long as you don’t mind him driving along at 150K/hour while talking on the phone and playing with the GPS. One of our guests refused to ride with him after her first trip.)

We first stopped for lunch in Deidesheim and ate at the Deidesheim hof, a grand hotel and restaurant where the local specialty (saurmagen) was prepared for us. Uuummm, pig’s stomach stuffed with pork, potatoes and spices and then boiled. It was sliced thin and served with a salad. It was ok enough, a bit like a bland salami.

Our goal, though, was Villa Wolf and the J.L. Wolf Estate, a winery that Ernie purchased about 10 years ago. The winery is actually on a 25 year lease from the J. L. Wolf Estate, which is owned by a rather wealthy businessman. Ernie had visited this area when he was younger and saw this property, but never dreamed he would actually be a part of it. Years later he got a call to come to the Pfalz and see a winery to possibly invest in. It turned out to be J. L. Wolf and he could not pass the opportunity. The winery itself is located along one side of the quadrangle that used to make up the stables (the other side has been converted in condo’s).

We walked the property and Ernie pointed out the differences in the soil types. He uses a map from 1828, that breaks down the quality level of the vineyards based on their value, which is based on their taxes. This map seems to be fairly accurate, but is not totally reliable as many owners would mark down their prices in order to pay less taxes. The map combined with historic precedence and soil analysis is the best way to judge the vineyards.

J. Wolf estate wines come from vineyards in the villages of Deidesheim (Leinhöhle), Forst (Pechstein, Ungeheuer and Jesuitengarten), which are all considered First Growth, and from Second Growth vineyards in Wachenheim (Goldbächel, Gerümpel and the wholly owned Belz). Typically only one wine will be made from each of these vineyards with occasional noble-sweet wines. No Pradikat is found on the labels (required for the back, though) as the fashion is for the producer and vineyard name to be the determining quality assurance (following in the Burgundy model). Absence of any vineyard name indicates a Village wine.

Ernie also makes a more value oriented range of wines under the Villa Wolf label. These wines are made from wines from the estate as well as contracted vineyards.

One of the biggest problems for Ernst has been the conflict in attitudes of people from the Pfalz accepting a Mosellaner as a top property owner in their region. There is a silent agreement among the top producers of the region not to steal employees from one another, and as such there are few good winemakers available. It took Ernie a number of years to get a solid winemaking team together and only by a split at another winery was he able to get Gunter Meyer (who has been the winemaker for three vintages), one of the best in the whole region. He still has competitors trying to buy his fruit out from under him and undermine him in many ways, but he is able to overcome a lot of this through the help of Gunter.

The Wines
2005 was the first commercial vintage for many of these wines. Many of the Villa Wolf wines were just bottled within the past few days.

Germany, by the way, is the #2 Pinot Noir producer in the world behind France (so says Ernie).

2006 was a very good vintage with a hot July, cool August, average September and wet October. Harvest began on September 29 and finished on October 6th, it began to rain just after this. 2006 tends to have higher acids than 2005.

2006, Villa Wolf Pinot Noir QbA
Second commercial vintage – will be bottled in July
Produces 10,000L or about 1,000 cases
Cranberry color
30% in three year old wood
Spices and fresh fruits
Overall soft feel
Quite nice
Comes from 7 year old vines in the Goldbächel vineyard and contracted fruit.

2006, Villa Wolf Silvaner QbA
Fresh, somewhat spicy aromas with pears, pine and a tangy feel
A bit of chalk and dried lemon rind on the finish

2006, Villa Wolf Pinot Gris QbA
Big up-front fruit with good concentration
Soft approach with medium acidity levels
A bit of tartness on the finish, which is quite pleasant.
Perhaps a bit reductive? This will pass.

2006, Villa Wolf Riesling QbA
Medium dry – not yet bottled
Flowery and fresh aromatics with decent concentration
Some spice notes
Soft finish with a bit of pears on the finish

2006, Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rose QbA
Uses 2 hours maceration – good concentration of fruit flavors in the nose
Pale salmon color
Light nose of strawberries
Quite soft on the palate, quite charming – actually a bit addictive
Dry finish

2006, Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer QbA
Pale nose of fruit
Some freshness and bright accents on the nose
Weird on the palate
Some chalky minerality but still a bit weird
A bit of botrytis

2006, J.L. Wolf Wachenheim Riesling Kabinett
Ernie said this was a vineyard called the Kuningberg (1er Cru), but it Is not mentioned in the literature(?).
Here is the focus I have been waiting two days for!
Fully aromatic – sweet apples - juicy
Creamy with a touch of yeast on the nose
Great weight on the palate
Falls a bit, but good finish

2004, J.L. Wolf Wachenheimer Belz Riesling Spatlese
200 cases / year
Very fresh aromatics – loads of minerals and salt, cool wet stone
Good weight on the palate, not racy acidity
Soft fruit style through the finish (limes)
Falls off a bit through the finish

2005, J.L. Wolf Wachenheimer Belz Riesling Spatlese
Slightly closed, but good concentration of aromas – subtle chalk with some lime or pine scents
Balanced weight on the palate – good style
Has some peach flavors, but more chalk as well on the finish
Quite good…wax?

2006, J.L. Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling Spatlese
Just bottled yesterday – still has a touch of yeastiness
Melon, earth and spice on the nose, as well
Very soft on the palate, almost creamy in texture, but juicy with fresh acidity
Very well balanced
Should develop into a great wine – great concentrated style

2004, Forster Pechstein Riesling Spatlese
Soft creamy texture with loads of minerality – fatter aromas like sweet apples
Fat and juicy and fleshy on the palate
Really easy to drink – acidity is in check and not overpowering
Good tang – very long as well
Load sof flavors opening from the wine as it warms up

2005, Forster Pechstein Riesling Spatlese
Big nose, not as opulent as the 2006
More minerals and warm stone aromatics
Softer on the palate – acidity is well in check with a touch of sweetness
Good attack on the long finish
Minerals, apples last a long time on the back palate

2006, Forster Pechstein Riesling Spatlese
Big nose – touch of yeast and loads of fruit which is really concentrated – real wet stone flavors, here
Very concentrated on the palate with more loads of fruit (apples)
Fleshy, creamy through the finish

The Pfalz
The Pfalz (at least the part that we were in) is located just a few miles from the French boarder. The landscape is dominated by the Haarst Mountains, which are an extension of the Vosges Mountains in Alsace. The vineyards are almost completely flat – nothing like the tremendous slopes of the Mosel, or even Franken. The Gran Cru vineyards of Forst, Deidesheim and Wachenheim are essentially flat or gently sloping like much of the area. The Haarst Mountains act as a bit of a rain shield for the region, and no rain was the story here, as well. It did start to rain just slightly as we were leaving the region, but I do not believe it amounted to much.

La Moselle
Back in the Porsche and a two hour cruise to the Mosel. Along the way we here some great stories from Ernie, he explains the changing scenery, cross the Nahe and we see the hills of the Reingau – Ernie has just a few words about those fools trying to imitate the Mosel wineries.

When you get to Mosel region you don’t really just come upon the river as much as you drop out of the sky in a tight corkscrew and basically land on it. The road drops from 1500 feet to water level down a twisting narrow series of switch-back curves through the woods with the final ¼ mile through a tunnel that spits you out at the southern end of the village of Bernkastel right on the banks of the river.

We drove through the town and up to Ernie’s house (5 minutes). The Weingut Dr. Loosen house is situated at the base and in the middle of the Bernkastel Lay vineyard (Lay is an older term for blue slate, which you can’t miss – it is everywhere here).

This house is one of the number of houses that Ernie and his wife Eva own. I was told that they generally use this house for the weekends and when entertaining guests in the wine region as well as during harvest season, but that they have a regular house elsewhere during the week. This house is basically where Ernie grew up and where the winery was located for many years – a series of floods forced them to relocate the winery to a warehouse site higher up in elevation. This location became too small for the growing winery, anyway.

There are two dining rooms at this house. The first is located upstairs next to the kitchen and seats at most about 14 people. For larger parties there is a dining room in the cellar. We ate twice upstairs and once downstairs.

Our first night in the Mosel was quiet and we came to Ernie’s house after checking into our hotel, the Weinhaus Pfeiffer, in Graach (10 minute walk up the road). Ernie’s mother had made us traditional meal with soup to start followed by a mashed veg (carrots and potatoes) with roast beef. Ernie treated us to his favorite game of Old World/ New World wit the wine selections. We had…

1962, Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese
Alive and fresh
Quite delicate and light – just unbelievable for 45 years old
Truffles and forest floor, touch of lemon-cake and dried flowers
Just an amazing finish

1979, Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenur Riesling Spatlese
Shows much, much younger than a ‘79
Loads of primary fruits
Young acidity, very fresh and just smokin’ delicious

2005, J.L. Wolf Grauburgunder Alte Redde
Rich and delicious
Quite good

1982, Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
Amazing acidity – bracing and intense
Great fresh fruits – tangy and juicy

Day Three – Wine “School”

After a hearty breakfast of cold meat and a semi-cooked egg, we headed to the riverboat in Bernkastel for a ride on the Mosel. Ernie had prepared for us a cruise along the river with a tasting of the 2006 Kabinett wines from the vineyards we would be passing on the trip. I had done a similar trip 5 years earlier with Johannes Selbach – I was looking forward to this very much.

As the ship left its “port” and headed down river we had to move quickly in order to taste the wines in front of the proper vineyards. Dr. Loosen owns and farms vineyards in Bernkastel Lay, Graacher Himmelreich, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, which are basically the first three vineyards you pass. Then the boat goes through the locks and up past Urzig (Wurzgarten) and stops at Erden (Treppchen and Pralat).

What is interesting about seeing the vineyards from this angle is that you get a great view o fthem from a vantage point that cannot be seen from land. They rise very high up with slopes topping out at about 75°. Seeing the vineyards from this angle also gives you a really good view of how the reorganization of the vineyards if taking place.

Depending on the village and the vineyard each vineyard is being reorganized by the growers so that they are easier to manage. Over the years the Napoleonic laws, which dictate an equal share of property to each heir, has created a system of vineyard holdings that is similar to Burgundy. Here there are many owners with, in some cases, just a handful of vine scattered throughout the zone making is nearly impossible to harvest cost effectively.

The owners have gotten together and developed a system where all the vineyards are rated (1-6), each grower voluntarily give up their parcels and in return gets the same amount of vineyards returned to them, but as a solid block. During this process access roads have been built to make vineyard management easier (see the pictures).

Miscellaneous notes:
Red Slate: anise, mineral, delicate and pronounced

Red Volcanic: spicy, earthy, lower acidity than from slate

Blue Slate = pronounced acidity, great fruit, minerality

Erden = red slate
Rightside of Urzig and Pralat = red volcanic
Leftside of Urzig = red slate
Zeltin to Bernkastel = blue slate

All of the Grand Cru vineyards in the middle-Mosel are planted on their own root-stock; many vines are approaching 100 years.

In the Pfalz, one man can work 10 ha (with machine).
In the Mosel, one man can work 1 ha (mainly by hand).

In the middle-Mosel, 20 years ago there were about 13,000 ha planted.
Today, there are about 8,000 ha.
This is a direct result of the cost of labor and lack of personnel to do the work.

If a vineyard is left unworked or planted for 10 years, then the owner will loose the planting rights. Many older vineyard owners are simply abandoning their plots.

Wines Tasted on the river cruise (2006 Kabinetts)

2006, Dr Loosen Bernkastel Lay Riesling Kabinett (2+)
This is the lower elevation vineyard in which the Loosen house is located in. It runs north along the river from Bernkastel towards Graach. Slate soils, close to the river. Racy and razor sharp with great fruit. A very clean and drinkable style Medium sweet feel.

2006, Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett (2)
The beautiful (and very tall) wall behind Graach. Racy but more delicate than the Lay. Restrained acidity, lighter sweetness. Clean and Fresh.

2006, Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (2+)
Really intense aromatics. Weightiest wine of the bunch. Rich style with a classy mouthfeel – big style of wine with great balance – acidity and sugar are in harmony. From the part of the vineyard known as Laychen (sp?) or “Little Slate”.

2006, Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett (2+)
Light and easy, not much spice but very delicate acidity with sweet weight. Good power in the core and through the finish. Very well balanced. (This was my favorite)

Later in the day after a hike through the vineyards (Treppchen, over Pralat and through Wurzgarten) and a trip to Bernkastel for Curry-Wurst, we went back to the Weingut for a tasting of the 2006 Spatlese and above wines.

This is what we tasted:

2006, Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (1+)

Day Six: Old towns and old wines

Today was an easy day. We set out for Trier and of course had to drive the winding river road (the scenic route) from Graach to Trier. The road crosses back and forth along the river and passes many well know vineyards and villages.

In Trier we shopped a bit, walked the city and saw a number of the sites: Roman ruins, Karl Marx’s house. Each of us was a bit tired from the previous evening, which ended around 1am. The walk through the city was great and quite relaxing.

Later we headed back to Graach, rested a bit and then headed to Ernie and Eva’s for the final dinner. Our host prepared a simple pasta dish with a thick and tasty Bolognese sauce laced with a bit of hot peppers – quite tasty. We also continued with the Old World/New World game.

The first couple of wines were not hidden as they were really part of the Loosen portfolio and were an extension of the “work” tasting over the weekend.

2006, Dr. Loosen Pinot Blanc
Ernie told us that he did not really set out to produce Pinot Blanc, but that while trying to purchase additional acreage in the Treppchen vineyard he was faced with a choice of buying two vineyards, one planted to Pinot Blanc and one to Riesling, or not being able to buy either vineyard. He chose to buy them and ended up making some wine from the vineyard. The result was successful and has been quite popular – they sell out every year. It is also one of Eva’s favorites. They now have planted over some other vineyards to Pinot Blanc. These other vineyards were being let go as they were not deemed high enough quality to plant to Riesling (too much soil and not enough slate). They work for Pinot Blanc, though, because the wine was great. Racy and rich at the same time. Americans need to get a handle on what exactly Pinot Blanc is and how good it really can be.

2005, J.L. Wolf Grauburgunder
This showed a bit less impressive after the Pinot Blanc. The Pinot Blanc was racy and mineral driven and showed a lot of heritage of the Treppchen vineyard. The Grauburgunder, though, was fatter and showed some “cheese” notes in the nose. It was OK, but I was going back for Pinot Blanc!

We then went on to the dinner table where the games began…Our first wine was quite impressive, showing a lot of Pinot Noir qualities (cinnamon was an easy marker). It turned out to be…

1976, Domaine Leroy Volnay
This wine was totally impressive.

*Note: when playing Old World/New World at Ernie Loosen’s – add 10 years to your vintage estimate.

Next wine was a bit harder to place and was a bit more difficult to place…

1990, Domaine Phillippe Charlopin-Parizot Morey St-Denis

Then the game continued and Ernie showed a bit more interest in the next wine, lots of questions, trying to get a positive feel about the wine. It showed a lot of New World qualities – obviously Pinot Noir – lots of cinnamon again. I added up the fact that we had already tasted a few Loosen/Wolf wines this evening and that we had not tasted the Wolf Pinot Noir, yet. As we went through the questions I decided on going with a German Pinot Noir – probably from Pfalz.
2004, Villa Wolf Spätburgunder Alte Redde
This was wonderful, really showed like an Oregon Pinot Noir. This would be a great addition to the portfolio. Ernie buys four new barrels a year (a total of eight barrels of this wine are made each year), so there is 50% new oak and 50% one year old. Big wine.

Next came…
1982, Canon La Gaffliere St-Emilion
Showed good life, solid fruit, but a bit of a hard edge with a lot of grip, still. Good though.

The final wine was a bit of a stumper. It had wonderful, sweet, rich fruit on the mid-palate, an absence of any tannins (probably quite old), and the guesses were all over the place. The M.S. actually said, “I give up”. My feeling was that this had to be quite old, it was a ’59.

1959, A. Ligeret Nuits St Georges Clos de Grandes Vignes
A negociant wine from a time when the negociants dominated the business. This vineyard was a village rated vineyard in 1959, but has been elevated to 1er Cru status, since. The wine was in exceptional condition with wonderful depth and elegance. This was Ernie’s last bottle of this wine, but he was quite pleased with how it showed.

All in all, this was quite a way to finish a weekend of fun and learning. The tasting opportunity that Ernst Loosen offered to those of us on this trip was almost unbelievable – certainly a rare occurrence for many of us. Taking into account the constant learning/teaching that went on throughout as well as the enthusiasm for wine that simply flows from Ernst it is hard to come away from an experience like this and not enjoy and want to learn more.

still working on this - more to come later this week...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:43 AM

    Hello Dear unknown,

    I read your comments on your trip to Franconia with great pleasure - you write nicely and one can really live your experiences.

    Just one thing maybe on Silvaner: it's main aromatics flavours are quince and peaches. Pear is unfortunately a buy product of over-ripe modern winemaking techniques applied both by Horst Sauer and Ludwig Knoll.

    Should there be any available in your part of the world, try a low-level (QbA) Juliusspital or Hans Wirsching. And avoid 2006 ... which is generally out of balance (too much heat).


    Also unknown :-)