A great evening yesterday with winemaker Stefanie Hasselbach, 6th generation of family-owned winery Gunderloch Estate in the Rheinhessen. Her older sister just recently had a baby, making Stefanie's niece the 7th generation of this family to own Gunderloch. Amazing isn't it??
I met Stefanie at The Wine Country at 4:30 for a consumer tasting, which was off the charts in attendance and enthusiasm! Wow! I don't have the official count but it seemed like we had between 40 and 50 people attend the tasting, and they were an enthused group who asked all sorts of pertinent, wine-geek questions about the wines and the estate. The wines tasted included the 2006 Gunderloch Gewurztraminer, 2007 Gunderloch Dry Riesling, 2007 Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett, 2007 Gunderloch Diva Riesling Spatlese, and 2007 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Spatlese. What a line-up! The tasters gushed over how great the wines were, starting with the Gewurztraminer, which blew a lot of people away because it normally isn't everyone's favorite variety. But the Gunderloch Gewurz has restraint and focus and some great minerality that a lot of people picked up on. And at about 8 or 9 grams of residual sugar, it was perfectly balanced and not too sweet, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.
Of the Rieslings, people seemed to gravitate toward how perfectly balanced and likeable the Jean-Baptiste Kabinett was. And they marvelled at how divine and sublime the Nackenheimer Rothenberg Spatlese was - pretty much a perfect Spatlese if there ever could be one!
After the tasting, we had to dash off to visit Wine House, another wine store that is well known for being big supporters of German wine. A brief little tasting here had the wine buyer also falling for the Gewurztraminer and the Rothenberg Spatlese, this time, the 2005 Rothenberg Spatlese was shown in all its youthful glory, its superb long length, its complex body that wraps around your tongue. Yum.
Two restaurant visits followed, during which time we enjoyed some of the restaurant offerings as well: The Lobster and Gjelina. Both restaurants, on a Monday night in May, were packed to the gills, giving me all the evidence that I need that the recession is over. At The Lobster, we were treated to a beautiful table with a view overlooking the ocean and the Santa Monica Pier as we dined on delicious shellfish - Stefanie's seafood pasta heaped with colorful mussels, clams, lobster, and crab; my 5 plump and generous diver scallops perfectly seared and perched in a gorgous buttery sauce.....we drank Alsacian Riesling by the glass: 2007 Domaine Ostertag Dry Riesling. We talked with the wine director/manager, but unfortunately he was too busy to taste - he would re-visit the Gunderloch Rieslings another time.
After that, it was to Gjelina in Venice, a restaurant open for less than a year, but always packed, every night of the week, and selling tons of interesting wine. Here, we had some dessert and tasted the wine buyer on the Gunderloch wines - his favorite was the Gewurz! Though of course he also loved the Rothenberg Spatlese........
A successful evening with Stefanie, and most enjoyable! Winemakers rule!