As most of you know who have stepped into our little wine boutique on Green Street in Russian Hill - we LOVE Italian wine. The wines of Italy cover our walls and the spirit of the people who have graced our presence and shared their labor of love with us during our tasting events over the last 6 years, remains in the shop and always will. However, there is something we've held close to our heart over the years and have been waiting for the right opportunity to properly share our deep rooted appreciation of these wines. I will never stop feeling a certain amount of awe for this grape; what greatness can come of a grape that transports you with such purity and clarity while at the same time just tastes plain delicious.
"There is an internaton freemasonry of Riesling drinkers. We know each other by signs non-ititiates might miss, of which a slim green bottle (sometimes brown) is the most frequent. We claim unique properties, magic powers almost, for this singular white grape. Not that there is so much compettition. Only Chardonnay comes close in quality - and without the crutch of oak woud Chardonnay be so interesting? Riesling alone makes pure wine, innocent of oak, that precisely reflects its origin, in a range from flowery and feathery-light, through tense, dry, and mineral-laden, to unctuous and creamy, to a piercing liquor like celestial marmalade. Only Riesling can make wine of inconsiderable strength, a mere 7.5 alcoholic degrees, which drinks joyfully from birth and can put on flesh and flavors for twenty years. This is its Moselle manifestation. Only Riesling can grow to massive power and density on a rock-ledge above the Danube or on the sunniest slopes of the Vosges, on a gamut of soils from sandstone to marl, and keep its essential form and character: the nervous energy of its fruity acidity" -Hugh Johnson
The wines of Riesling always make me feel a bit more abstract than I'm used to. Mostly because any sort of taste descriptor can never do justice to the taste or relay any sort of ethereal beauty it may express. Often, this grape has been betrayed by imitation but the true wines have always been there, just often overlooked. It is our want and pleasure to offer a tasting with one of the most true and pure wines, an honest wine that comes from one of the greatest wine estates in Germany.
Joining us here at Biondivino is Dr. Carl Von Schubert of Gutsverwaltung von Scubert-Grunhaus Estate or better known as Maximin Grunhaus.
As often and true of wine estates throughout Europe, the Maximin Grunhaus estate is woven into the fabric of history in Mosel Saar Ruwer area of Germany. Many of the vineyards were originally part of the empire of Gaul and remained so till the 1st century when it fell to the Romans. Under Roman rule, the vineyards flourished and evidence of Roman presence can be clearly seen to this day by the ancient press houses that are sprinkled along the vineyards of the Mosel.
The first evidence of the Maximin Grünhaus etsate was during the 10th century. Roman Emperor Otto gifted the land to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Maximin in Trier, hence the estates name. For over 800 vintages, the Benedictines cared for the vineyards until the abrupt end of ownership when Napoleon came to power in 1802. The land was sold as secular property to the french government. After changing hands of generations, eventually the estate was gifted to the wife of Conrad von Schubert for their wedding and it was then that the label you see today was created, unchanged since 1904. The general's great grandson now runs the estate and we are fortuntate enough to be able to have Dr. Carl von Schubert himself for the tasting of his stunning wines.
The three vineyards at Maximin Grünhaus is a 34 hectare sweep of vines on a south facing slope on the Grüneberg, running down to a tributary of the Ruwer. The Ruwer is a tiny tributary that joins the Mosel just a bit downstream of Trier. It's more a creek than a river, and doesn't have much of an effect on the climate of the vineyards. The best vineyards in this narrow side valley derive their greatness from their extreme steepness, thier stony slate soil, and their direct southerly exposure. Although the wines are labeled simply as "Mosel," the Ruwer has a very distinct style from the generally cooler conditions and the well-drained, mineral-rich soils. The wines have a unique raciness and a fine mineral edge.
This Tuesday Dr.Carl von Schubert
will be presenting the following wines for you to taste:
2011 Maximin Grunhauser, Trocken, QBA $27
The estate Riesling Trocken (dry) is a blend of the barrels that remain after the single- vineyard dry wines have been selected out of the over- all production. This is a top- down selection process donepurely by taste. It starts with the finest selection for the "Superior" bottlings, then the Alte Reben (old vines) wines from Abtsberg and Herrenberg, the single-vineyard QbA Trocken wines, and finally the estate QbA Trocken. In most years, this wine is predominantly from the Herrenberg vineyard, but the proportions will change depending on the vintage. The result is an entry-level dry Riesling that shows the characteristic mineral- ity of the area and the refined style of the Grünhaus estate.
2010 Grunhauser Riesling, Estate, QBA $27
The classic Grünhaus off-dry estate Riesling is a blend of the barrels that remain after the single-vineyard fruity wines have been selected out of the overall production. This is a top-down selection process done purely by taste. It starts with the finest selection for the Prädikat bottlings (Kabinett and Spätlese), followed by the fruity single-vineyard QbA wines, and finally the estate QbA. The proportions from each of the three Grünhaus vine- yards will change depending on the conditions of the vintage. The result is an off-dry, entry-level estate Riesling that shows the typical minerality of the Ruwer valley, as well as the finely detailed style of the Grünhaus estate.
2011 Maximin Grunhauser 'Herrenberg' Riesling, Kabinett $33
Herrenberg: the largest vineyard, a mix of red and blue slate, approximately 19 hectares, the vines run up the midsection of the hill to its peak. Another walled vineyard with gateway, this site is also of very high quality, and the name indicates that the wines were reserved for the monks of the order. The red slate character imposes a more approachable style on the wines, although they are very close to those of Abtsberg in terms of absolute quality.
2010 Maximin Grunhauser 'Abtsberg' Riesling, Spatlese $42
The Abtsberg vineyard is one of the greatest sites in all of Germany. It is extremely steep (up to 70% slope) and has perfect south-southwest exposure, making it the warmest site at Grünhaus. The wines are characterized by a finely structured, subtle minerality, a racy acidity, generous fruit and great delicacy. The Spätlese is a selection of barrels harvested late in the season. The longer hang time produces more fully developed aromas and flavors, and greater complexity. The vineyard is enclosed with an einzellage at the base - the entrance to which is through an arched gateway. The soils consist of weathered, blue Devonian slate. Certainly of first growth quality and the better of the three sites, the wines were reserved for the Abbot of Maximin Grünhaus, hence the vineyard was named Abtsberg. Today the wines are the most austere and minerally of the trio and gain complexity and show beautifully with age
we hope you will be able to join us
this tuesday, 11 th Sept. 6-8pm
$10 tasting fee
Danke schön ~ Prost!