What to say about last week? It was, in a few words, wildly successful, a great showing of just how many people really love and appreciate these wines, which is more than we usually think. Over the course of a week, we packed in 9 events, both for the trade and for the consumer, and each was well attended. From Monday till Saturday, the growers from Pfeffingen, Dr. F. Weins-Prum, Zilliken, Schloss Lieser, Wirsching, and Reinhold Haart worked tirelessly showing their beautiful wines, accompanying them with genuine stories about where the wines come from and how they are made.
Pictured above are the 6 German winemakers we had with us across two California regions (north and south), 3 airports, multiple counties, and even wine regions Napa and Sonoma vallies. From left, Jan Eymael, owner and winemaker of Pfeffingen Estate in the Pfalz, who is a big World Cup fan (I hope Germany wins on Wednesday!); Philip Vesar, winemaker along with Thomas Haag at Schloss Lieser in the Mosel, and who is a runner, we discovered, and joined us for our Long Beach running group run of 8 miles on Saturday morning; Bert Selbach, owner and winemaker of Dr. F. Weins-Prum in the Mosel, who shared with us a hauntingly delicious 1998 Dr. F. Weins-Prum Bernkasteler Johannisbrunnchen Riesling Eiswein; Johannes Haart, son of Theo Haart, owner and winemaker of Reinhold Haart, the best Piesport producer in the Mosel, who was so enthusiastically presenting his family's mouthwatering wines at every event; Karina Stuhler of Hans Wirsching Estate in the Franken, who used to work for Robert Weil, but now is with this awesome Franken estate showing some of the best Silvaners I have ever tasted, not to mention dry Scheurebe and Riesling; and last but not least, the famous Hanno Zilliken of Zilliken Estate in the Saar, maker of crisp, refreshing Saar Rieslings, and seriously, how many people can pick up a wine from 1992, put a sip in the mouth and call that refreshing? Not many, but that 1992 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Spatlese, of which we only have 30 cases left and will sell out by the end of the week, was just that - refreshing, bright, youthful, and terrific with a certain grilled eel on risotto that we enjoyed at the wine dinner at Ame at the St. Regis in San Francisco.
Things were really exciting this week. So many delicious wines, and so many people appreciating them. The only things I wished were different were that I wish I was less stressed (next time I promise, I will be less stressed), and that the growers had more time to visit the beach or go shopping or enjoy more of what we love about California...... but instead their schedules were pretty packed and we visited so many customers. As I said, even in Napa and Sonoma. They were surprised as I was how many sommeliers and wine directors in Napa and Sonoma want German wines. Hey, they know what good wine is up there, and they're not only going to limit themselves to what the neighbors produce!
What we tasted:
The new 2009 vintage. People were impressed. The vintage has been compared with 2005. Others compare it to a combination of 2007 and 2008. The growing season was cool, not hot, but the wines turned out to be clean, aromatic, and physiologically ripe with great acidity. Something for everyone there, and let's put it this way, I didn't hear anyone in the tastings commenting that the wines were just "meh."
We also tasted some 2008s such as Grosses Gewachs (Great Growth or Grand Cru) wines that are not shown before this time - these wines actually show better in a few years because they need time. There were also other 2008s that we have sold out of that people can order on a presale basis as there is a bit more of it in Germany. The 2008s are showing great now with that slightly crisper style, especially if you are an acid freak. Which is not to say they don't have tons of great fruit because they do!
And finally, there were some mature wines shown in the tastings, which was fun - lovely to see how well these wines age.
I'm glad the growers got to visit the beautiful seaside city of Long Beach! They liked the Yard House as much as Johan and I do. And visiting both The Wine Country and Delius in Signal Hill (a city completely surrounded by Long Beach) were great.
Much thanks to everyone who made this week so special. You know who you are! Thank you for hosting our winemakers and sharing their works of art in your place of business with your customers. Thank you, winemakers, for the hard work in the vineyard, the cellar, and also, in your American market! We love you!
And finally, thank you to Rudi, without whom none of this would be happening. Thank you for bringing the best German wines to the United States for over 30 years.