Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

German Wine Availability


budrichard
 Share

Recommended Posts

As an advid German wine drinker from the early 60's when my future father-in-law introduced me to German sweet wines, I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about this arcane wine and it's nomenclature. This type of investigation was well suited to a Nuclear Engineer who investigates everything in great detail. In the past 10 years I have noticed that many of the top vineyards wines(by my standards) are not represented in the US anymore and the wines we getting, I believe are the excess judged not worthy by the German's. Often the name wines such as Steinberger and Schloss Vollrads are obtainable but the quality has not been good.

Many of the great German sweet wines are just no longer readily available in the US. One of my favorites is Domdechant Werner's Hochheiemer Domdechaney of which our first was a 59 BA, sublime!

Since 2001 was a good year I decided to lay in a few cases of what i liked. My contact with wine retailers in the mid west was not fruitful. The cases of 2001 Hochheiemer Domdechaney from Domdechant Werner that I purchased were obtained by my direct negotiation with the grower after I could not obtain the wine in the US.

For 2001 Werner is only sending a Trocken Spatlese to the US and agreed to send me a sweet Spatlese. These wines came through Ron Breitstein of Great Lakes Import to a retailer and were very difficult to obtain. For a number of years now I have been frustrated in not finding many of the German wines I wanted and I regularly visit Sam's in Chicago as well as other retailers. Milwaukee used to be a hot bed of German wine but no more. Sam's could not help at all? I also attempted to contact the importer for the State's Domain Kloster Erbach wines with no success. I finally found some of the Kloster Erbach wines at Sam's last Sunday which I purchased, A 2001 Marcobrunner Kabinet and a 2001 Rauenthaler Baiken Spatlese. I was

looking for a Hochheimer Domdechaney to compare with Werner's but no luck.

Has anyone else perceived this problem? -Dick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had no problem finding excellent german wines here in CA, I buy most of them at Premier Cru. I've been able to find JJ Prum, Muller Catoir, Dr Loosen, Dr Thanisch, Maximin Grunhauser, Schloss Saarstein, Carl Loewen, Selbach Oster, and a few others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am currently pouring Erbacher Marcobrunn Kabinett 2001 by the glass in our restaurant. Very tasty stuff. Schloss Vollrads has not been the same since Count Erwin committed suicide several years ago. One importer, Winesellers Inc. is located in Skokie, Dick. They have Dr. Thanisch. You should check these wines out. They make the famous Bernkasteler Doctor wines. I tasted them recently with Barbara Rundquist-Muller, whose family owns the winery. They are super delicious.

Mark

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me clarify. There is a supply of German wines available and much of what used to be generic is now labled with vineyard appelations, not great wines. Certainly not what we have become accustomed to over the years. I am usually looking for Specific vineyards,specific grades, years and growers of which i have a history with. Wines with these attributes are often difficult for me to find. Certainly more difficult than 20 -30 years ago. I certainly can find other wines but I believe that the specific wines I have identified may not be getting out of Germany and the Germans are sending to us the lessor wines or the big name wines that as Mark pointed out have declined in quality to a great extent. As I stated, to get the specific Hochheimer, I had to contact the grower directly, coordinate the importer and retailer and as far as I know, i possess the only three cases in the US. 20 years ago a trip to one of a small number of retailers would have been sufficient to order the wines.

Mark, you are certainly correct about Dr Thanish wines. We have enjoyed some wonderful Dr Thanish wines over the years and have a few left in our celler. For 2001 I purchased a case of Dr Thanish Benrkastler Lay Auslese and 375ml Bernkastler Dokter BA. They are and always have been wonderful wines if overpriced. Uerziger Wurzgarten has always been a favorite of ours at a better price.

Too bad about the count. there are all sorts of stories floating around. -Dick

Edited by budrichard (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dick,

First, Frau Müller would correct you as she did me; the famous Doctor vineyard is spelled for some reason with a "c". I tasted her magnificent 2002's with her. This is a vintage every bit as deserving praise as '01. I bought many cases of these wines, both the Bernkastelers and some Doctor TBA and Eiswein. You should also look at my friend Terry Thiese's book. Aside from the trophy wines like Christoffel and Dönhoff and Muller-Catoir, he has some very fine producers like Merkelbach for Urziger-Wurzgarten and Kerpen for Wehlenner-Sonnenuhr. These are easier to get.

Edited by Mark Sommelier (log)

Mark

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark, thanks for the recommendations. I now have 9 cases of the 2001 German vintage but I always have room for one more. I will find the book at read it. My first wine book was Hornickel's, 'The Great Wines of Europe' published when the wine world was a lot smaller. I purchased that book as an undergraduate and it led me to many great wines. -Dick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several recommendations for you. In the past, I bought exclusively at Age of Riesling at 510-549-2444 (is name is Bill Mayer and is located in Berkeley). He sends out a catalogue of his German travels and stuff he imports personally with notes and great info.

Then I discovered Dee Vine Wines: (877-DVW-WINE - www.dvw.com). They were slightly preferable as they are located on the Embarcadero in San Francisco and I preferred to go there and see the wines and talk to the proprietor. They also notched up a few points on my scale when the cardboard case I brought my wines home in had a name written on the side of a respected reviewer in Boston -- seems my case was just used pre-shipping but when I contacted him later, he confirmed that he buys all his German wines exclusively from Dee Vine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can think of no better source for German wines produced by passionate producers than the portfolio of the dedicated Rudi Wiest (click here). I have had the fortune to taste many of his selections and visit some of his producers. Every wine he selects is of the highest quality.

I would place Rudi among the elite of importers bringing in wines from anywhere for his commitment to working with authentic wines of character and by insisting on the finest wines available at every price range.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dick,

Many of the producers/sites you mention have indeed fallen on hard times. Some (e.g. von Simmern) are trying to come back, but progress is slow. If you are a fan of Rheingau wines I can highly recommend Weingut Josef Leitz. Leitz holds vineyards in the Rudesheimer Berg, including Schlossberg, Roseneck and Rottland (among others) and makes very high quality Rieslings. Johannes Leitz (the current generation) is a fantastic winemaker for all styles, Trocken to TBA, and he's had great success in 2000 (a rare feat indeed), 2001 (no surprise here) and 2002. The grapes in his sites were the best I saw on my recent trip to Germany. He has fantastic ripeness (both sugar and phenolic ripeness) and the grapes are still full of acidity.

Leitz is a Terry Theise import, and Bill Mayer at The Age of Riesling tends to carry the wines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you know what you want there is almost always a chance to contact the producers directly. Most of the quality producers in Germany have a homepage these days and if they don´t list their US distributor(s) you can always drop them a line and ask for those. From there you might ask for a retailer nearest to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few random thoughts re importers:

I agree Terry T has a great portfolio. And his catalogs (Terry Theise Catalogs) for Germany, Austria, and Champagne are available for download from Skurnik . I believe this is what was meant by his book, it's really great reading. Funny, passionate guy.

I also agree that Rudi Weist on a label is a good bet.

While Valckenberg as an importer has some great names, beware the actual Valckenberg wines (where they are listed as producer). Mostly dreck.

I'd second the Chambers St rec, as well as Premier Cru. Zachys has much improved their German line, though as usual unless you catch the right sale they're not cheap. Rochambeau, my favorite store overall, has dramatically increased their line (including lots of TT stuff) for '02 vintage. I've heard praise of Dee Vine, but never ordered myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

let me go ahead and plump once again for the aged germans from corti brothers in sacramento. i don't have the phone right off (and they're not web-accessible), but i've been buying really nice 5-to-10-year-old germans from them for about the same price as most places charge for the recent vintages. if you're in a shipping state, you really need to give them a call.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

let me go ahead and plump once again for the aged germans from corti brothers in sacramento. i don't have the phone right off (and they're not web-accessible), but i've been buying really nice 5-to-10-year-old germans from them for about the same price as most places charge for the recent vintages. if you're in a shipping state, you really need to give them a call.

Can you find me a phone number, please.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

let me go ahead and plump once again for the aged germans from corti brothers in sacramento. i don't have the phone right off (and they're not web-accessible), but i've been buying really nice 5-to-10-year-old germans from them for about the same price as most places charge for the recent vintages. if you're in a shipping state, you really need to give them a call.

Can you find me a phone number, please.

(916) 736-3800

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(Rieslingfan Posted on Oct 21 2003, 04:49 AM)

Schloss Vollrads has not been the same since Count Erwin committed suicide several years ago.

You're right, Vollrads hasn't been the same. It's better.

Since Dr. Rowald Hepp took over the winemaking after the regime change, Vollrads has come back in a big way. Vollrads went into the dumper well before Graf-Matuschka committed suicide. The downhill slide began after the '76 vintage and Vollrads really didn't come back until the '99 vintage. You REALLY need to taste the '99 auction Spat, '00 Auslese and BA, and '01 Spatlese. As a disclaimer, I work one day a week as a computer consultant for the CA/OR/CO importer of Vollrads, Old Vine Imports. I do not do wine sales for them. I DO get to taste a tremendous amount of Riesling, however. :biggrin: I'd put the '01 Spat against most any other '01 I've tried. It may not be better than anything else (I'm sure it's not!), but it WILL hold its own against the competition. Excellent juice.

The '01 Spat should be reasonably easy to find. You won't be able to find the BA as there were only a couple of cases of 375s imported into the US, all going to Old Vine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your advise and comments and the interesting wine sites. Therry Thiese is very interesting but I don't want to send anyone money and then have them send me wine. Part of the enjoyment is the learning process and being responsible for your own wine selections, acquiring the knowledge and experience to allow one to not have to rely on a wine merchant or steward for advice. The other sites appear to offer very good wines for an overhead that I think I can avoid. Just picked up two cases of 1999 Dr Thanisch Wehlener Sonnenuhr BA for a very reasonable price. If I had to rely on someone else's expertise on whether this wine was any good, the price would have been triple what I paid. -Dick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I too started drinking German wine about 30 years ago, and loved both the high quality (what a great year! 1971 is and was - still have some TBA's in the cellar) and the low cost. Now the world has discovered the German Rieslings.

I used to find great German's in Milwaukee, as it sounds like you used to.

Recently, I've bought at Sam's and Binny's (big purchase power and good Internet site). As well as around the country on the Internet.

No more good places in Milwaukee?

Where else in Chicago area then for Germans?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bob Zibung was the long time 'Cellermeister' at Keller's in Milwaukee and assured for many years a great supply of German and French wines. With Bob's retirement, he consulted for a number of restaurants but Keller's lost thier pre-eminent place for German wines Lovers. None in Milwaukee has taken its' place. Sam's in Chicago sometimes has a good selection but I am not sure that is by design. When we go to the Lyric on Sunday we always stop at Sam's anyway as it is a veritable treasure chest of wine. I will try Howard's on Belmont and let you know.

This exercise started as an attempt to find a specific German Vineyard for 2001 and ended up with contacting the grower directly. Neither Sam's nor any other retailer I contacted was able to assist. I suspect that most retailers these days just take what the importer is offering as the expertise has been lost. -Dick

Edited by budrichard (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another good bet from the Rhiengau are the wines of Balthasar - Ress. Vineyard sources include Berg Rottland and Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus. Stefan Ress also served as president of the VDP for some time.

I have quite a few of his wines from earlier vintages ( 85, 89, 91 ) all are showing well. His current release Kabinett wines ( 2001 has got nothing on 2002 ) are racy and exciting.

Download the Terry Thiese catalogs from Skurnik, if for no other reason than sheer reading pleasure.

wine is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy
Ted Cizma

www.cheftedcizma.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I have seen mention of Terry Theise and his portfolio that is available nationally through Michael Skurnik. Terry's German, Austrian, and Champagne selections represent nearly every great estate in these respective wine regions. However, I am extremely surprised no one mentioned Rudi Wiest and his import company, Cellars International. Rudi has been importing the blue chip German estate producers since the early 1980s. While Terry is the poet laureate (and best damn dirty joke teller) of the wine trade, Rudi conducts his business with a no nonsense, disciplined approach derived from his years as an electrical engineer with Ma Bell. Rudi has national distribution and exclusively represents such great estates as Robert Weil, Franz Kunstler, Karthauserhof, Reinhold Haart, Schloss Lieser, von Buhl, Gunderloch, and many, many others. His website offers incredible detail on not only these producers but German wine in general. Any mention of German wine in the United States is flawed without a mention of Rudi and Cellars International. In the end, A Terry Theise Selection and Cellars International are the only markers one need look for when buying great German wine. If you find these names on a German wine bottle, they guarantee quality.

Edited by wineserver (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...