Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taking a break from too tannic wines

Now this is a bridge to somewhere

A perky blond walks into my cubicle. “Do you have a moment? There’s someone you might like to meet.”

I duck into a large, grey meeting room, darkened for a slide presentation. I cannot make out the presenter. I really have many other things to do back in my cubicle. A pile of Supertuscans to taste. Some important Barberas bucking for my attention. A gaggle of Gaglioppos lumbering in the corner. Oak+acid+alcohol=lots of pressure. Really. But I am a team player, I go along. This better be good, I tell myself.

The presenter turns out to be Ernst Loosen, one of a small handful of German wine ambassadors. He looks a little like Ozzy Osborne, with a shock of hair, a well-nourished paunch, and a rock star ease about him. Here is a man who immediately present himself as one who is comfortable in Dallas, Singapore or Bernkastel. A true citizen of the world and ultimately an emissary of Bacchus.

“Welcome to the Rocky Horror Riesling Show.” Who begins a seminar with a line like that? Ernst, who admits his love for Pinot Noir ( he casually throws out to us that he has 7,000 bottles of Grand Cru Burgundy in his cellar, loves Rousseau, and it sounds like he has an annual buying budget of $30-50,000). Note to self: Visit Ernst (and his cellar) in Germany.

He starts us out with his Pfalz Pinot Noir from the Wolf Estate (tasting notes follow post if anyone really cares).

“So how was the 2007 vintage?” someone in the room asks. 2007 – Excellent vintage (not hot), long hang time, early bud break. In 2007 160 days of hang time (Ernie says the average in the US is 100) without over ripeness.

Who knew Germany was the 3rd largest grower of Pinot Noir in the world?


Ernst talks about food and wine pairings – something he is very passionate about. When an Italian recognizes passion in one of his German colleagues, let me tell you, that is some passion.

He loves certain Asian pairings, noting his joy with the counterpoint between the acidity and fruit of a Riesling and the saltiness of soy, the pleasure of pairing with pork on the pleasingly plump side.

In his home town Bernkastel where the Loosen estate is based, Ernst says the best restaurant is Indian and the wines work so well with the spicy curry, especially old Rieslings (as they dry out a little). Looks like on the wine trail in Italy might need to try a little on the wine trail in Germany for un’ po divertimento.

My takeaway from all of it concentrates down to this (and this is very good news for Riesling):

Sweet balances out:
► Salty
► Bitter
► Sour
► Spicy (as long as the alcohol is lower, not hot)

“If there’s anybody happy about global warming, it’s the Mosel.” – Ernst Loosen

He thinks like a Burgundian, in fact thinks Pinot Noir and Riesling are similar in a philosophical way, compares the sensation of old Burgundies with old Rieslings. Different flavors but similar emotions.

“At the end of the day, I drink what I like, and great wine always works” – Ernst Loosen

He speaks of a recent celebration at a Wehlener Sonnenuhr celebration (Peter Liem was there and blogged about it) with the Prüm brothers where they drank vintages of ’37,’47,’47,’53’,’59,’66,’69 and went for the ’71 – Jos. Prüm said, “Ernst, the ’71, that’s far too young.”

A great story teller, a passion for great wines, and a history of family and engagement in protecting the patrimony of some of the great cru’s of Germany. Right now as well, working to prevent a bridge from being built right upon these historical hills. Check out this site, get involved. Dr. Loosen's blog also has an update here.

Let’s see, Dallas to Frankfurt on Lufthansa? Do I have a moment? Anytime, Dr. Loosen, anytime.

My (lame) TN's – Hey they’re just really for me, if you want knocked out tasting notes read Karen MacNeil. Karen is a great teacher- she taught me that I dont know how to write a decent tasting note. So I leave that tattered kingdom in her care.

The Wolf Estate wines

1) 2007 Wolf Pinot Noir -Peppery cherry, soft flavors, reminds me of the Alto Adige PN’s in Italy.
2) 2007Wolf Pinot Gris – Acidic, lovely
3) 2008 Wolf Pinot Gris – Riper than the 2007, soft, lovely.
4) 2008 Wolf Gewurztraminer – Dry restrained, great fruit, nice quaff.
5) 2007 Wolf Gewurztraminer – Bright acidity, spicier than the 2008, richer, riper, luscious

6) 2008 J.L. Wolf “Pechstein” Riesling Spatlese – Considered a first-growth vineyard in the Pfalz, Pechstein is a grand cru from the village of Forst (Forster Jesuitgarten is famous) Most vineyard driven wine in the area.
Beautiful glorious nose – floral – gorgeous; Rich Unctuous goose bumps 200-300 cases made

Mosel wines – Dr. Loosen

7) 2009 “Dr L” Riesling -Bright fruity good spice

8) 2008 “Dr L” Riesling - Acid fruit, great balance wonderful sipper
Dr L wines are sourced from the slopes

9) 2008 Estate “Blue Slate” Riesling Kabinett 7.5%
Great acidity, wine just rolls across the ridges of the palate, smooth but with power. Quite a nice interplay, like a polyphonic Bach piece.

10) 2008 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett
Mouthfilling explosion – richness – apricot – rich rich (red slate) exotic – voluptuous – naughty
Wow! Ernst says a perfect match is gravlox with mustard sauce

11) 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese
Slightly salty, citric, apricot- Rush of fruit – like a fired apricot pie-Creamy – mellow

12) 2006 Dr. Loosen Estate “BA” – Massive harvest 40,000 bottles (1975=5,000 bottles, most years maybe 500-1000 bottles, maybe) - Rich flavors, not cloying, nice mellow finish.


Arbiter Bibendi said...

Welcome to one of the favorite regions of us geeky somms! Loosen's wines rock (literally)! Germany has all of the prerequisites of uber-geek wines (complexity, transparency, mind-numbing nomenclature) yet is totally delicious too. Ernie is correct in that the sweetness balanced with acid make it perfect for spicy Asian (or Tex-Mex) foods. The challenge is dispelling decades of falsehoods held closely by the misinformed public. The truth is it has a lot less sugar than a Coke or sweet tea that people guzzle with food all the time.

If you want more contagious Teutonic enthusiasm read one of Terry Thiese's catalog/manifestos.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks AB -

I am a fan of Thiese and read his catalogs for years and love many of his wine too.

Did you know in a 12 oz coke there are 51 grams of sugar? that's 2 a 12 oz can. ouch!

Jeff Siegel said...

Yes, meeting Dr. Loosen must have been quite a thrill. That's someone who knows what he is doing.

Thomas said...

"2007 Wolf Pinot Noir -Peppery cherry, soft flavors, reminds me of the Alto Adige PN’s in Italy."

It certainly does.

Pinot Noir belongs in northern locales.

1WineDude said...

The Dr. is IN, apparently!

Alfonso Cevola said...

Ha! Good one!

Do Bianchi said...

dude, spark up that grill and lets cook up some Super Tuscan burgers as per @jamessuckling

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