Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A terrific day tasting the wines of Von Buhl Estate with Christoph Graf

Christoph Graf of Von Buhl Estate in the Pfalz, Germany, was down this week in the Los Angeles area showing a terrific line-up of Von Buhl wines. We ended up driving almost 200 miles that day, tasting with wine directors, sommeliers, buyers and restaurant and retail store owners in such diverse establishments as Inn of the Seventh Ray (pictured above) in Topanga Canyon, Spago and Cut and Whole Foods in Beverly Hills, Pourtal Wine Bar in Santa Monica, the Wine House in West Los Angeles, and the Starling Diner and The Wine Country in Long Beach. Yes, we were all over the map, but it was worth it because so many people got to taste Christoph's lovely wines.

We had 10 wines in our wine carrier. Christoph started the tasting with two sparkling wines, called Sekt in German - there was the 2008 Riesling Sekt, made from 100% Riesling grapes harvested in the Pfalz region, and made in the Champagne method - methode traditionelle - that means bottle fermentation, riddling, disgourging the yeast, the whole bit! This is a very complex and delicious sparkling Riesling with tons of flavor for an easy to swallow price. Very impressive.

Next came the 2008 Spatburgunder Rose Sekt - a sparkling wine made again in the Champagne method, but this time with 100% Pinot Noir. This is a very pale colored rose - so pale that many in the American market would not recognize it as a rose. It was more of a pale Champagne color one might say. Some suggested that perhaps this could be called a Blanc de Noirs, but actually von Buhl has a Blanc de Noirs that is much paler than this. The explanation for the pale color is actually that Germans don't really like that really pink color in their Rose sparklings because it means that a lot of red wine was added to make that color - ie. it is kind of articially created instead of more naturally focused to taste. Anyway, the wine is of course delicious, deep in flavor, rich and serious.

After that, we tasted the 2010 Pinot Noir Rose - this is a still Rose that is definitely a pretty pink in color and juicy and very elegant - a beautiful little summer Rose - I sold tons of this one with Christoph! 100% Pinot Noir - and it shows its purity.

Next up was something different - 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine stole the show. First because many people we visited had never tasted German Sauvignon Blanc, and didn't even know that Germany produced Sauvignon Blanc. But Christoph quickly informed us that actually there are 600 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc being grown in Germany, and the German market loves the wine, so it has been doing very well in the restaurant scene. The 2010 Von Buhl Sauvignon Blanc combines the best of the new world and old world styles by having a lively New Zealand nose, followed by a very European palate - more stone, minerality, and clean zesty fruit like one would find in Sancerre. A very pretty wine and modest price tag which makes this wine a shoo-in for restaurant by-the-glass programs.

There were 6 more wines after these ones. I'll review that in the next post.



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