EXPLORING THE WORLD’S BEST WHITE WINE REGION

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Mosel is the oldest and arguably the best known of 13 wine regions in Germany. It takes its name from the picturesque Mosel River that flows through it (French: Moselle).  Prior to the 2007 vintage, the region was listed on labels as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer; the name was eventually shortened to be more “consumer-friendly.” Mosel is Germany‘s third largest wine region in terms of production.  The region stretches the length of the twisting Mosel River and along its two tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer.  The Mosel Valley is well known for its steep, terraced hillsides abutting the river banks. In fact, the steepest recorded vineyard in the world, the Mosel’s Calmont vineyard belonging to the village of Bremm,  The Mosel Wine Region is where magic happens because of it’s soil, topography,  and climate it produces in my opinion The World’s Greatest White Wine.  “RIESLING”

Recently, I visited a few of the region’s outstanding wineries to find out how these world class Rieslings are made. Cheers

 

Weingut S.A. Prum20160402_211729

The Prum family story dates back to 1156 when they owned vineyards throughout the mid-Mosel, including parcels in the towns of Bernkastel, Graach, Wehlen and Zeltingen. Current owner Raimund Prum, aka “The Red Prum,” took over the reigns in 1971, following the unforeseen passing of his young father. From an early age Raimund’s sole focus was to become a great winemaker. He left home to start studying wine at the University.  At the age of 20 he received an urgent message that his father was extremely ill. Sadly, Raimund lost his father within the year.

As Raimund assumed the helm of the family, caring for his mother and two sisters, he never gave up his childhood dream of becoming a great winemaker and producer of world-class Riesling.  His dream and resolve to manage his family’s winery propelled him to convince a banker to take a chance on a young 21 year-old with a plan and a dream to make great wine.

Today, the estate owns 40 hectares of vineyards and holds contracts on an additional 60 hectares within the Mosel.  Prum produces 15 different Rieslings— all world-class wines full of freshness, acidity and minerality with fruit bursting out of the glass.

During my tasting at S.A. Prum I tried 30 wines from various vintages and every Riesling was of the highest quality.  Raimond Prum is truly a winemaker of unmeasured talent in the Mosel.

S.A. Prum’s best-selling wine in the USA is Essence.  Available at P.F. Chang’s, this wine is a refreshing, easy-drinking Riesling. #Goodjuice

S.A. Prum Blue is an off-dry Riesling with stone fruit, ripe acidity and a bee’s wax finish.  This is a beautiful, reasonably priced, dry Riesling.  Cheers

S.A. Prum Wehlemer Sonnenhur 2008. Notes of pineapple and apricot. This wine has character, complexity and a long, salty, elegant finish. Cheers, #Goodjuice

S.A. Prum Bernkasteler Lay 2010.  Pure apricot on the palate.  Lovely and salty with balance throughout the finish. WOW #Goodjuice

 

 

Weingut St. Urbans–Hof20160330_205731

This winery was founded in 1947 by Nicolaus Weis who held a strong conviction that the fragile unity of viticulture and nature must be recognized and respected.

In 1997 Nicolaus’ grandson Nik(olaus) joined the winery to work alongside his father Hermann who had overseen operations since the 1960s.  Today St. Urbans-Hof is the second largest family-owned winery in the Mosel.  I first met Nik in Fort Lauderdale over lunch.  After tasting his wines, I knew I must visit Mosel to examine the soil that gave birth to such world-class wines. I had the pleasure of visiting the Weis family estate in Leiwen to taste their amazing Rieslings.  Sitting alongside several of Germany’s future sommeliers, all enjoyed an array of traditional German cuisine as we sampled some 21+ wines of the Kabinett, Spatlese, and Auslese style Rieslings. The estate wines range not only in style, but also in price – there is something for everyone’s financial and literal palate.  I sensed many unique qualities in these wines, a true reflection of the region’s distinct and special terroir.

The St. Urbans-Hof wines are bursting with ripe acidity and minerality, making them a perfect choice for pairing with German, Thai, or other spicy cuisine.

St. Urbans-Hof 2014 Urban ($15). This is Nik Wies’ best-selling wine in the USA.  A fun easy-to-drink wine for a hot summer day. Nice acidity and good fruit.

St. Urbans-Hof Goldtropfchen Piesport Spatlese Riesling 2004.   Made from grapes 80+ years old. Boasts honeysuckle fruit and a great creamy mid-palate to the finish.  # Goodjuice

St. Urbans-Hof Goldtropfchen Spatlese 1999.  WOW – fresh, lemon rind, honey, green apple, and pear.  The long finish was pure lemon drop. Cheers #Goodjuice

 

Weigunt Clemens Busch20160401_114834

The Clemens Busch winery is one of the top producers of Dry Organic Riesling in Germany. The estate is located in the village of Pünderich (near Bernkastel) far down stream in the Mosel wine-growing region. The family lives in a restored 1663 timber-framed house that sits directly on the banks of the Mosel River. A vaulted cellar constructed in the 1970s lies further uphill to avoid potential flooding. Rita and Clemens Busch have overseen the day-to-day business operations since 1986. They have a total of 11 hectares under vines in the Pünderich locations of Marienburg and Nonnengarten.  The Busch’s maintain a strong commitment to ecological and organic wine making.

Special attention is paid at the Busch winery to the cultivation of resistant grapevines. This is achieved above all through the use of natural fertilizers, clay minerals and plant extracts. The grapes are only squeezed lightly or left whole before pressing at very low pressure. The best batches are then fermented in stainless steel, the others in wood.

To emphasize the specific differences that exist within the Marienburg vineyard, the corresponding wines still bear the names of the old plots. These include in particular the Fahrlay and Fahrlay-Terrassen, Falkenlay and Raffes, as well as Rothenpfad and Felsterrasse. Accordingly, the blue slate of the Fahrlay plot produces a Riesling with a particularly intensive mineral flavour and slightly salty notes in the finish, whereas the grey slate of the Falkenlay plot produces particularly creamy, fruit-driven Rieslings.

Grey slate dominates in the original Pündericher Marienburg location and this is where the grapes for »Großes Gewächs Marienburg GG« are harvested among others. This is an outstanding Riesling with a particularly fine yellow peach, mango aroma. The harmoniously integrated acidity gives the wine an invigorating freshness with a powerful finish, very good structure and backbone.

Finally, I would like to thank the following wineries for their hospitality and #goodjuice:

 

Weinget-Schloss Liser.  Germany’s Winemaker of the Year and owner Thomas Haag doesn’t believe in using oak to enhance his wines.  Rather, Haag believes Riesling is such a noble grape that it should be allowed to stand on it’s own. Haag wines are fresh with lively acidity and good minerality, leading to a long finish.

 

Selbach-Oster.  Our host was Barbara Selback, part of the wife and husband team that runs this winery.  They have owned the winery since 1989, Production 130,000 bottles and they make 35 different wines from eight different sites within the Mosel. This was the first time I’ve tasted a 2015 Weissbungunder-Pinot Blanc. I found it to be a nice, easy drinking wine.  The 2013 Selbach-Oster Zwitinger Sonnenhur Riesling Auslese yielded notes of apricot, honey and yellow stone fruit leading to a fresh creamy finish.

 

Schloss Johnnishberg located in the Rheingaue is the oldest Riesling winery in the world. It first came into existence in 1720.  Schloss Johnnishberg has 40 hectares and makes nine different wines. Interestingly, they also make their own oak barrels. I tasted several of their fabulous Rieslings, ranging from from sweet to dry. The wines were well-made and balanced with elegant fruit (white peach), good acidity and a long mineral finish. #goodjuice.

Anne Parent

Anne Parent

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Anne Parent

 

Anne Parent

Anne Parent

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On a warm Thursday evening in Pompano Beach Florida 8 wine enthusiast sat down to enjoy a lovely French dinner of Coq Au Vin and Roasted Pork, but the food was not going to be the star of this dinner we had on display 9 bottles of Anne Parent Pommard wines from 2010 and 2013. The wines were provided by Andrew Lampasone from www.winewatch.com

Domaine Parent, www.domaine-parent-bourgogne.com, owned by sisters Anne and Catherine, is located in Pommard. Anne, fluent in English, travels the world promoting Domaine Parent wines and advocating for women winemakers. Anne and Catherine represent the twelfth generation of family winemaking in Burgundy. The family has been producing wine since 1635, and after 11 generations of male wine makers, the Parent sisters are in control of the Domaine and have been since1998. Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson while serving as ambassador to France was a huge fan of their wines and a personal friend to Etienne Parent.

Anne and Catherine divide the responsibility of running the winery; Anne handles the wine making and Catherine handles the business of running the Domaine. Domaine Parent makes wine according to Burgundian classifications: Bourgogne, Village, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru. Anne’s personal philosophy on wine making is “There are no bad vintages, there are only bad winemakers”, she made this statement in reference to the extremely challenging 2012 vintage. Anne is also a big believer in organic and biodynamic farming and is moving her Domaine in that direction. Anne has had a passion for wine making from a very young age, but growing up with brothers, a father will choose males in the family to carry on the wine making tradition. In general women are left to explore other avenues to fulfill their passions. Anne went to university to study law then later returned to study wine making.

Once her brother left to start his own Domaine, Anne and her Catherine took control of Domaine Parent. Anne believes it is clearly more challenging for women coming up in the wine industry by having to prove themselves three times more than there male winemaker counterparts to obtain the respect they desire. An overall view of the wines from Pommard will find that they tend to be more masculine as well as elegant in style, this is also true of Anne’s wines.

The common theme I found with Anne Parent’s wines are Clarity, sharp Acidity with harmony and complexity. They are a joy to drink.

2010 Pommard – Expressive nose of juicy red raspberries, black pepper, baking spices and leaves. The wine is medium bodied with integrated and persistent soft tannin. Solid acidity and a moderate finish brought this wine together nicely. Between the slight earthy note and structure, this is a beautiful expression of Pommard.

2010 Beaune Epinottes 1er Cru – Nuance, finesse and pretty. This wine exudes the delicate and complex nature of Beaune. Fresh red cheries, raspberries, dried roses, and some black olives. Medium body with bright acidty and medium minus tannin. This is a wine of great finesse with a lengthy finish. While this is a lighter body wine, it should age well due to it’s acid backbone and harmonious balance.

2010 Pommard Chanlins 1er Cru – This wine needs time, it’s somewhat closed at the moment but hits all the right notes. The nose is complex; Cherry cola, black cherries, raspberries, white pepper and orange marmalade. Palate is fleshy, medium chalky tannin, solid acid backbone and long finish. The wine is terrific, needs time in the glass or years in the bottle to show its full potential.

2013 Pommard Chanlins 1er Cru – expressive and complex nose. Fresh raspberries, baking spices, cocoa nibs, fresh herbs. This wine is medium body, medium drying tannins and elevated acid. Terrific texture and persistent long Finish. This is gorgeous wine. It’s vibrant, fresh, concentrated and structured.

2010 Champoniers 1er Cru – Fruit and complexity! Raspberry, cherry, baking spices, nutmeg and a host of nuance. Medium body with moderate amount of gripping tanning and a firm acid backbone. Combined with the long finish this is a wine that will age gracefully well over 10 years.

2013 Champoniers 1er Cru – Bright and uplifting aroma of raspberries, wild strawberry, fresh roses and a spices. The palate is well balanced with upfront chalky tannins, firm acid and a long finish. This is a wine with gorgeous freshness and will age very well. Outstanding!

2010 Argillieres 1er Cru – Strong intensity on nose with very ripe red fruit; raspberries, black cherries, plums along with savory mushrooms and herbs. This wine has pronounced ripe tannins, medium acid, a long finish and very well balanced. The flavors are consistent with the nose. This wine should develop nicely over the next decade.

2013 Argillieres 1er Cru – Alluring and intense nose; Fresh red cherries, wild strawberry, assortment of spices (cinnamon, white pepper), fresh herbs and brown sugar. The wine has a delicate but firm texture; forward tannins, bright acidity and a long finish. The  This wine exemplifies finesse, I look forward to enjoying this for many years. Outstanding!

2013 Corton Les Renards Grand Cru – Intense wine with remarkable concentration. Blackberry, plum, cured meat, mushroom and herbs fill the glass. The wine is medium bodied. Chalky tannins give the wine density, for a wine this tightly wound, it has a velvety texture and a long, lingering finish. Even though oak is obvious, it’s well integrated and will become harmonious with age. An excellent bottle that demands patience to reach its full potential.

Thaddeus Buggs <minoritywinereport@gmail.com , Also contributing Matt Perrella.

ST URBANS-HOF WINERY

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I had the pleasure of having a great lunch in Fort Lauderdale Florida with Nik Weis the third generation of ST Urbans-Hof Winery in Germany. The Winery was founded in 1947 by Nik’s grandfather Nicholas Weis, who had a strong conviction that the fragile unity of  viticulture and nature must be recognized and respected.

I taste it through the families portfolios of the great noble grape Riesling. They range in price and styles from being very affordable to world-class wine. You could tell that there was a very special quality about these wines where they reflected truly from the soil in which they came from.

These wines are bursting with ripe acidity, minerality which makes pairing with seafood, Thai food, and other spicy dishes a  perfect choice.

Theminoritywinereport.com

Is Champagne Back?

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Sales of luxury bubbles have bounced back, and since we’re heading into prime fizz season, I grabbed the chance last week to sample more than 125 Champagnes and top sparkling wines from countries such as Spain and Portugal.

Drinking expensive fizz has always been linked with a positive economic outlook (though personally I think it’s also an essential perk-up if you’re coping with a downturn). That’s why Champagne plunged in late 2008, and prosecco swooped in as the cheapie alternative. Oceans of the sparkling Italian white are still flowing, but in 2014, U.S. drinkers also swallowed 19.2 million bottles of Champagne, up 1.3 million from the year before, according to trade association Comité Champagne.

Renewed interest in expensive prestige cuvées and vintage bottles is driving Champagne growth, but add to that the new diversity of styles, thanks to the rise of grower Champagnes.
Renewed interest in expensive prestige cuvées and vintage bottles is driving Champagne growth, but add to that the new diversity of styles, thanks to the rise of grower Champagnes.
Photographer: Jack Andersen/Getty Images

That’s important, because over the past few years other sparkling wines have made significant inroads, especially in the U.K. Even though the country downed 32.7 million bottles’ worth of Champagne in 2014, up more than 6 percent from a year earlier, the value of sales from all other sparkling wines increased 52 percent in the first half of 2015.

Renewed interest in expensive prestige cuvées and vintage bottles is driving Champagne growth, but add to that the new diversity of styles, thanks to the rise of grower Champagnes. These bubblies—made by small family producers, who used to sell grapes to big brands like Moët but now bottle their own—are on a roll. In 1997 there were 33 brands in the U.S.; now the number is up to 282, and just about every fine restaurant has at least one, if not several, on its list.

The diversity of grower Champagnes was prominently on display at last week’s tasting. Many growers have been innovators in the Champagne region, bringing in new ideas and points of view—like organic grape growing—and challenging traditions. They’re not just sticking to blends of mostly pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, which are grown in many vineyards across the region.

Hip young growers are finding virtues in previously ignored subregions like the Aube.
Hip young growers are finding virtues in previously ignored subregions like the Aube.
Photographer: James Hardy/PhotoAlto/Getty Images

Instead, growers such as L. Aubry Fils are playing with forgotten, fragile varieties like arbanne—once used, but abandoned because they ripened inconsistently in Champagne’s chilly climate. Now, because of global warming, harvests arrive earlier than in the past; climate change has been beneficial for these grapes, which need more warmth and a longer growing season. (You could say climate change has rescued them.)

Others, like David Pehu of Pehu-Simonet, follow a Burgundian philosophy and are bent on creating single-vineyard Champagnes. Yet more hip young growers are experimenting with making Champagne with fewer bubbles, so it tastes more like a still wine, as well as finding virtues in previously ignored subregions like the Aube.

The trendy grower movement has kept interest in Champagne high, especially among influential sommeliers. That’s fortunate, because there are now serious competitors that cost a lot less. For example, I was highly impressed with vintage-dated bubblies from Spanish winery Raventós i Blanc. They used to be labeled cava, but the Raventós family created its own geographic designation, Conca del Riu Anoia, to distinguish its wines from the indifferent, often gassy cavas from cooperatives.

 

My biggest takeaway, though, was the wide range of quality among grower Champagnes, especially in wines from the difficult 2011 vintage.

Below are my top Champagnes from the tasting. You can try some of these during New York’s La Fête du Champagne, which starts on Oct. 26. Wine shops and restaurants will be offering deals, but the heart of this annual event, now in its second year, is the grand tasting of nearly 120 Champagnes on Nov. 7 ($350), with a gala dinner that evening ($1,000) at which collectors share their best bottles.

From left: Nonvintage Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Les Crayères Vieilles Vignes; Pehu-Simonet Blanc de Noirs Brut; nonvintage René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée; nonvintage Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve Brut; 2008 Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Oenophile Non-Dosé Extra Brut
From left: Nonvintage Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Les Crayères Vieilles Vignes; Pehu-Simonet Blanc de Noirs Brut; nonvintage René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée; nonvintage Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve Brut; 2008 Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Oenophile Non-Dosé Extra Brut
Source: (from left) Famiglia Gastaldello; Cellartracker.com; Skurnik Wines (2); Armit Wines

2010 Marc Hebrart Special Club Brut ($75)

Special club bottlings, which carry an exclusive label, are growers’ prestige cuvées. The vivid, complex flavors of this pinot noir–chardonnay blend are fresh and delicate.

Nonvintage Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Les Crayères Vieilles Vignes ($130)

Powerful, concentrated, and intense, this 100 percent pinot noir wine comes from a single vineyard of 70-year-old vines. It’s one to age, and to drink with a grand dinner.

2010 Champagne Doyard Clos de L’Abbaye Blanc de Blancs ($95)

This single-vineyard all-chardonnay Champagne is harmonious, with bright flavors of citrus and chalk. It’s less fizzy than most, emulating a style of Champagne from the past.

2009 L. Aubry Fils Sablé Le Nombre d’Or Blanc des Blancs Brut ($70)

Bright and racy, this blend of all the white varieties grown in Champagne includes chardonnay, but also obscure meslier, fromenteau, and arbanne grapes, which add citrusy, apple-y notes to its aromas.

Pehu-Simonet Blanc de Noirs Brut ($75)

Savory and sumptuous, with cherry and cassis flavors, this all-pinot noir fizz is an example of the new one-grape, one-vineyard, one-vintage trend. It comes from a single parcel called Les Perthois.

Nonvintage René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée ($60)

The love affair with all-pink wines continues. This rosy-colored one, made from 100 percent pinot noir, has the savor and lusciousness of strawberries and hibiscus flowers.

2008 Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Oenophile Non-Dosé Extra Brut ($70)

The lemony, chalky aromas of this zingy all-chardonnay Champagne just leap out of the glass. The taste is as dry as crushed oyster shells. Non-dosé, which means no sugar or reserve wine is added to balance the wine’s acidity, is part of a trend toward drier fizz.

Nonvintage Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve Brut ($55)

All-chardonnay, it’s crisp, fresh, sleek, and filled with pure notes of slate and lime that make it perfect as an aperitif. It’s a fave of many New York somms; you can try it by the glass at the NoMad, but at $35 per, you might as well buy a bottle and drink it at home.

2007 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée ($125)

Sometimes described as “the poor man’s Krug,” this concentrated wine from old vines is almost smoky, with layers of flavors—minerals, salt, cloves, lemon, verbena—as well as hints of oak. Grand and rich, it’s fantastic with food.

New York’s La Fête du Champagne starts on Oct. 26.
New York’s La Fête du Champagne starts on Oct. 26.
Source: La Fête du Champagne
Bloomberg Business, Article by Ellin McCoy