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  • January 9, 2015
  • The Third Annual Rieslingfeier

  • by John Ritchie

rieslingfeier3The third annual Rieslingfeier, the biggest celebration of German wine and winemakers in the United States, will be held this month in New York City once again. As in past years, the celebration is multi-faceted and will include various events and host 11 of Germany’s top producers: Johannes Weber of Hofgut Falkenstein, Eva Fricke, Gernot Kollmann of Immich-Batterieberg, Christian Vogt of the Karthäuserhof, Klaus Peter and Julia Keller, Johannes Leitz, Egon Müller IV, Johannes and Barbara Selbach of Selbach-Oster, Roman Niewodniczanski of Van Volxem, Andreas Hütwohl of von Winning, and Hanno Zilliken.

The centerpiece is the Gala Dinner, to be held at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, Saturday, January 31, at 7pm. Like in previous years, tickets sold out immediately upon becoming available, but we are still taking names for a waiting list in the event of cancellations. We are seeking to expand the educational component of Rieslingfeier this year and have increased the number of seminars to four. Each visiting producer will participate in a seminar at The Modern, which will be moderated by either David Schildknecht or John Gilman, two of this country’s most authoritative voices on German wine. A full seminar schedule is below and more information and tickets can be found at www.rieslingfeier.com. While some have sold out, we are again taking names for the waiting list.

As in previous years, the annual “Riesling Crawl” will once again take place at seven of New York City’s finest wine retailers. This event is free and open to the public, and a complete schedule can be found here. All attending producers will be taking part and pouring current releases at such shops as Crush Wines and Spirits, Astor Wines and Spirits, and Moore Brothers Wine Company. Our host here on this website, Lars Carlberg, will be joining Johannes Weber of Hofgut Falkenstein for a tasting at Chambers Street Wines, which should certainly not be missed.

Finally, for any wine professionals who may be reading, we are inviting retailers and restaurants from around the globe to participate in the run-up to Rieslingfeier by showing their support for German wine. Those in the restaurant business, please pour a German wine by the glass—let us know what you are doing by using Instagram and Twitter, cc'ing @rieslingfeier and #rieslingfeier. Retailers, please put up a case stack, a store display, or a special offer for a top German wine, and let us know what you’re up to using either Instagram or Twitter. Just as importantly, email info@rieslingfeier.com and tell us about your German wine program. We will use this as the basis for our database of the most serious German wine programs in the world, a one-of-a-kind endeavor that will be hosted at www.rieslingfeier.com and what we expect will become an essential guide for any traveling wine lover. Please send us the contact details of your shop or restaurant, and we’ll be sure to include you in our database.

Seminar: What is a Kabinett?
Kathäuserhof – Egon Müller – Selbach-Oster
Moderated by John Gilman and Stephen Bitterolf
Friday, January 30, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Seminar: Saar Diversity
Hofgut Falkenstein – Van Volxem – Zilliken
Moderated by David Schildknecht
Friday, January 30, 2015, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Seminar: Terroir, Riesling and the Rhein
Eva Fricke – Keller – Leitz
Moderated by David Schildknecht
Saturday, January 31, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Seminar: Riesling Reborn
Immich-Batterieberg – Van Volxem – von Winning
Moderated by David Schildknecht
Saturday, January 31, 2015, 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

For more information and/or tickets, visit www.rieslingfeier.com or email info@rieslingfeier.com. ♦

  • Thanks for your write-up and shout-out, John. It’s an impressive group of growers for the third annual Rieslingfeier. The previous two “celebrations of German Riesling” had top producers as well.

    In a perfect world, you would also have J.J. Prüm, Schloss Lieser, Maximin Grünhaus, Stein, Willi Schaefer, Weiser-Künstler, A.J. Adam, Emrich-Schönleber, and Dönnhoff, among many others. But then it gets too big. Besides, several of these producers were already participants at the first two events.

    I’m glad to see that David Schildknecht will be moderating several of the seminars, too. As for the seminar moderated by John Gilman and Stephen Bitterolf on “What is a Kabinett?,” see my two-part piece titled “Unlocking the Kabinett” for more details.

    It should be noted that the Fraktur typeface, which Stephen picked for Rieslingfeier and vom Boden (the latter an import company of fine German wines), is sometimes wrongly associated with Nazism, even though the Nazis rejected this font as “Schwabacher Jewish letters,” preferring instead the Latin and more legible Antiqua font.

  • Andrew Bair says:

    I’d really love to attend the Gala Dinner, but unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to stay overnight in NY that weekend. Nonetheless, I’m hoping to at least make a day trip out there for the Crawl – if so, I look forward to seeing you, Lars!

    • Johannes Weber and I will actually be in Boston from Jan. 22 to 26. We’re staying in Somerville at Dan Melia’s place. I’m still waiting on Ideal Wine to give us our itinerary before I write my friends and subscribers in the greater Boston area.

  • Robert Dentice says:

    Can’t wait for the most exciting U.S. wine event of the year! Thanks to Stephen and John for the incredible amount of passion fueled hard work that it takes to pull this off and of course to all of the winemakers who are making the trek.

  • At the end of last month, I was invited to attend the third annual Rieslingfeier. Thanks to Stephen Bitterolf and John Ritchie for organizing this wonderful event. The charity auction raised $8,400 for City Harvest.

    What are some of your favorite German Rieslings over the past few months?

  • Robert Dentice says:

    The 3rd Annual Rieslingfeier was nothing short of outstanding. Stephen Bitterolf did an amazing job!

    Top-Ten Highlights Below:

    1.) Dinner with Lars and Johannes Weber at Roberta’s, it was nice to witness Johannes realizing he is a ROCKSTAR at one of NYCs best restaurants and it is always a treat to spend time with Lars

    2.) Kabinett Seminar – Deeply thought prevoking and renewed my resolve to drink and purchase more Kabinett, especially in cooler vintages where old school Kabinetts can be made

    3.) Sitting next to Egon Müller IV at the Keller-Müller collector dinner and drinking the 2003 Egon Müller Auction TBA, also discussing Japanese and Indian food with Herr Müller

    4.) Sitting with Egon Müller IV at the main dinner at Reynard and pouring him 64, 66 and 69 Egon Müller Auslese from my cellar and having him say the 64 was the best bottle he had ever had

    5.) Winning the 1st Auction Lot which included the first Falkenstein sweet wine (1999 Falkenstein Euchariusberg Auslese) made by Johannes’ father (1 of 2 in existence) – this is an unbelievably special family that exemplifies everything that is great about wine and I am honored to own this bottle (and many, many more Falkenstein wines) and happy to give to a good charity

    6.) Drinking an oustanding bottle of 2012 Keller Scheurube Trocken that Klaus-Peter brought as a gift for me

    7.) 2012 Keller Mostein Spätburgunder GG – easily of the best German Pinots I have ever triend, from 60 year old vines that were grafted over from Sylvaner (personally I think that is a shame plenty of great Pinot in the world but how many 60 year Sylvaner vines from a vineyard like Morstein)

    8.) I was blown away by the Eva Fricke and Von Winning wines – two wines I buy a small amount of but clearly not as much as I should

    9.) Karthäuserhof dinner at Fung Tu where we drank many great Karthäuserhof and some amazing burgs and then went to Pearl & Ash and then to Ten Bells and then to Blue Ribbon….I can’t remember if Christian and Stephen were there for the entire evening!

    10.) Pouring a very rare 17.1 abv Scholium Project Sylphs Guman Chardonnay for Johannes Weber at the Scholium Project Party and watching and listening to his sheer disbelief that a wine could be made almost dry and fermented naturally with 17.1 abv

    • Thank you, Robert. You’re too kind. I think you have the order wrong, though. We can’t be at the top of your list.

      Unfortunately, I missed the Kabinett seminar at Rieslingfeier. You told me that no one talked about Kabinett trocken, a category still used by some top growers, such as Weiser-Künstler or Falkenstein.

      Any recent favorite German Rieslings that come to mind? It doesn’t have to be at Rieslingfeier.

  • Andrew Bair says:

    Robert and Lars:

    I’m glad to hear that you both enjoyed Rieslingfeier. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to go sometime in the near future. I was going to go to the Riesling Crawl, but the weather had other ideas.

    Anyway, here are a few recent favorites of mine:

    2013 Später-Veit Piesporter Falkenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken
    This is a real bargain in the mid-teens. I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve had from Später-Veit, but this may be my favorite yet.

    1983 Bischöfliches Konvikt Eitelsbacher Marienholz Riesling Spätlese
    I’ve had two bottles of this over the past several months, and while the first one was very good, the second one was a revelation. A very refined, exceptionally balanced, mature Riesling.

    1979 Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlese
    I had a couple of these last fall. Both were so seamless and elegant, yet intense.

    Everything that Florian Lauer has done over the past four vintages has been really impressive. Two that I really enjoyed recently were the 2012 Saarfeilser and the 2013 Neuenberg.

    Outside the M-S-R, I was really impressed by Leitz’ 2012 Rüdesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels Terrassen and Weil’s 2002 Gräfenberg EG. The latter is showing exceptionally well right now. I’ll also have to agree with Robert on von Winning – they made exceptional 2012s. Other favorite producers of mine from other regions include Dönnhoff, Keller, and Bürklin-Wolf.

    My all-time favorite Riesling was a 1971 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Spätlese. If I was inclined to call any wine that I’ve had perfect, this would be it.

    • Andrew, I really like Piesporter Falkenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken from Später-Veit. It’s always one of my favorites from this under-the-radar estate. Early on, the 2013 was quite impressive. But then I had one that was not showing well. It was probably an off bottle.

      As I mentioned before, I once worked in Eitelsbacher Marienholz (with its Duisburger Hof) in the mid-nineties. It was winter, and we replaced worn-out wooden stakes.

      Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch – Erben Thanisch is well known for its mature Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlesen.

      The wines of Peter Lauer have become more and more popular over the last few years—and deservedly so.

      After working the harvest in Rüdesheim, Leif Sundström once gave me a bottle of Leitz’s 2012 Berg Kaisersteinfels. Unfortunately, it was corked, despite having an expensive Trescases cork. But I did taste the 2011 Berg Kaisersteinfels at the second annual Rieslingfeier. It was very good. Josi Leitz said that he ferments the grapes for this wine with whole bunches, which gives it more lightness and finesse.

      I haven’t had recent Robert Weil wines, but 2002 is such an underrated vintage.

      The 2012s from von Winning are supposed to be great. Terry Theise told me the same on a visit in March.

      I once tasted the 1971 Scharzhofberger Kabinett (though not the Spätlese) with the late Egon Müller III.

      • Andrew Bair says:

        Re: the Leitz Kaistersteinfels: I’ve had the 2007, 2010, and 2012 now. The 2007 was labeled as Alte Reben without mention of the Terrassen parcel. It was an impressive wine, and first turned me onto the potential of the Kaistersteinfels, which was long ignored until Josi Leitz came along. I was not as impressed with the 2010, but that was probably due to that vintage being less consistent overall.

        As I may have said before, Leitz switched importers last year to a new company run by one of Terry Theise’s proteges. I hope that I will see more of his wines again – thus far, I’ve only seen the 2013 Dragonstone in Massachusetts.

        Incidentally, I had a chance to try Weil’s 2012 Gräfenberg GG this past weekend at the Boston Wine Expo, and thought that it was relatively closed. The 2012 Gräfenberg Spätlese was showing quite nicely, though.

        • Thanks for your thoughts on Kaisersteinfels from Leitz and Gräfenberg from Robert Weil. Yes, Kevin Pike, formerly the portfolio manager of Terry Theise Estate Selections, is now importing Leitz under his own company called Schatzi Wines. Did you know that Kevin is also a part owner of this vineyard? After listening to him talk about the purchase of this old terraced site on Rüdesheimer Berg on I’ll Drink to That!, I wanted to know exactly where it was located on the hillside and decided to look at Leitz’s acclaimed website. On that night, I became curious about who designed his site, too. Initially, I thought it was Medienagenten in Bad Dürkheim, but it’s a design firm called Fuenfwerken in Wiesbaden.

          • Andrew Bair says:

            You’re welcome Lars. I was not aware of Kevin Pike being a part-owner of the Kaisersteinfels. Good for him!

  • Robert Dentice says:

    Andrew – I opened a 1971 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Spätlese two weeks ago from a perfect cellar in Germany and it was corked! The best corked wine I have ever tried.

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