June 3, 2011
I landed in Germany today for the beginning of my trip with Kevin Pike, National Mgr of Terry Theise Selections. This is the first trip I've been on where we received a disclaimer beforehand that if we had sensitive teeth “start using Sensodyne now.” We will be tasting so many high acid wines that our teeth will hurt most nights!
Up to the Rheinhessen...
First stop—Gysler! The name should sound familiar, as his Liter bottlings have become a staple for value on our shelves. I was lucky enough to have dinner with Alex Gysler years ago, but it was even better to get to see his tasting room, a beautiful new facility ca. 2006. Alex opened the windows so we could enjoy the perfect weather.
The wines showed well, with standouts from his Scheurebe and Weinheimer Rieslings. And THEN we got a treat—someone made a joke that we needed to try some older vintages, and Alex disappeared for a bit, only to return with 3 bottles for us to share.
We had a 1999 Weinheimer Holle Riesling Kabinett (his first vintage since taking over from his father), a 1989 Eiswein Weinheimer Mandelbert, and a 1976 TBA. Although the dessert wines were absolutely phenomenal and memorable, the 1999 is drinking perfectly right now. Unbelievable, actually, how light it was on its feet despite the 12 years laying down.
Also present at the tasting room—Elizabeth Geil. Wne ran through Geil's current vintages, with their Silvaner Spatlese Trocken, Scheurebe Kabinett, and Rieslaner Beerenauslese ranking tops for me. The Rieslaner dessert wine tasted like lime ice cream with crushed gravel as a topping, and a hint of dreamsicle. But most of the wines were dry, and great food wines.
Alex's wife made us pretzels and a trio of dips to go with them. All in all, we tasted 17 wines.
Next up—Strub! Margit and Walter Strub are favorites of mine, both their wines and themselves. And theirs was the very first wine out of the Terry Theise portfolio to grace our newsletter. So what a treat to spend a day with them in their vineyards! We took a trolley of sorts up to these extremely steep slopes,
The most famous of Strub's wines is Hipping, which is also the most famous (and expensive) site in the Rheinhessen. It's a very! steep slope, and the soil is red from an intense amount of iron. It's all harvested by hand, of course (any machine would tip over), and has a special flavor from the soil. Look closely at the pictures and see if you can tell how steep it is!!
I have always loved Strub, but this year was particularly balanced—perhaps due to the addition of their son, Sebastian, to the winemaking team. We tasted 8 wines, and I have my eye on the favorites (it occurred to me after my earlier tasting notes that maybe I shouldn't mention too much about best-of-shows, no matter how true, because the wines won't be here until October at the earliest) anyway...
We had dinner at Strub in the tasting room. That lady of the house is really talented when it comes to food, and we had a fantastic spread to add to the steaks they grilled out on the back porch. Pasta salad, slaw, almond cake, panna cotta, cheese, pork cheeks... delicious! We had a lovely dinner, but the night wasn't over yet.
I had mentioned to Walter about our having some older vintages during the day, and he promised to do the same. Sure enough, here he was with goodies from the cellar, including a 1975, my birthday! It wasn't the best of the bunch, but I like seeing how long these wonderful wines will make it.
Also need to report a delightful stay at a beautiful hotel in downtown Nierstein, which I highly recommend. We'll be back at it tomorrow!