You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Post by David Derby| April 27th, 2011

During my recent trip several people inquired if I had been to Germany before. “About a lifetime ago,” I replied. My answer was both a reference to the number of years, as many of my fellow travelers were not even born then, and also how modern today’s wines are compared to those antiques of yesteryear.

I think I saw these barrels on my last trip

At more than one cellar they would show us their old barrels, long since replaced, while commenting how fermentation has been done in clean, temperature-controlled stainless steel vats since the early 80s.  A portion of the better wines are still aged in foudres (large 1,000 liter barrels), which offer very little—if any—oak flavor, yet allow the wine to breath.


Rolling on the Ruwer

Rolling on the Ruwer

Post by David Derby| April 27th, 2011

There was a time when the wines were labeled “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.”  Today, to make things simpler, they are lumped together as just “Mosel.”  In my humble opinion, this is a mistake… as each river has its own soils, weather, and identity.

Pretty view, but where's the wine?

On our trip they saved the best for last, as we explored the teeny, tiny Ruwer River. The mighty Rhein is majestic; the Mosel has more twists and turns than the plot of a film noir. Then there is the Ruwer, what we would call a stream in America. Yet what it lacks in size, it makes up for in flavor. The wines produced from this region are probably the raciest of any in the world. This backbone of acidity is what makes them both food friendly and able to last not years, but decades. (more…)

Sirens and Sundials Led This JJB Buyer to JJ Prum

Sirens & Sundials Led This JJB Buyer to JJ Prum

Post by David Derby| April 26th, 2011

The Rheingau is the most prestigious of German wine areas, thanks to the backing of the church to push their cause. But for both the wine lover and the casual tourist, the Mosel sounds the Siren’s call, enticing with breathtaking natural beauty and charming little villages, all washed down with the most delightful local wines.

The Mosel singing its song

From south to north, the Mosel flows from the ancient city of Trier (over 2000 years old) to the confluence with the Rhein at Koblenz. On an extremely twisty route, it can be rather disorienting. Which way is east, which is west, and why is there yet another bend in the river?? One trick I learned is that the more vineyards planted on a hillside, that hillside is likely facing south or southwest. Meanwhile, the northern section of the Mosel is lined with castles on both sides of the river, as taxes and tolls were charged to travel the river in times of yore. (more…)

The Roots & Shoots of Johannisberg Riesling

The Roots & Shoots of Johannisberg Riesling

Post by David Derby| April 22nd, 2011

Riesling comes in many forms with just as many names. White riesling, grey riesling and the famous Johannisberg version. The last originates from the highly regarded Schloss Johannisberg in the very heart of the Rheingau region.

Schloss Johannisberg through the vines

The Rheingau is the section of the Rhein river where it shifts from a south-to-north flow and begins an east-to-west flow. This puts the hillside vineyards facing south, blocking the cold winds and exposing the grapes to reflecting sunlight many hours each day. Located on the 50th parallel, there are many more  hours of summer sunlight than other regions of the globe. This allows an extended slow ripening to fully bring out the natural flavors of the Riesling grape.

Since 1720 Schloss Johannisberg has been planted exclusively to the noble Riesling. Sitting high on top the ridge overlooking the Rhine, for many Schloss Johannisberg  is German riesling and this iconic estate maintains the legacy: (more…)

Day 2 in Germany: Frankfurters & Franconia

Day 2 in Germany: Frankfurters & Franconia

Post by David Derby| April 21st, 2011

Can you imagine trying to ship these babies?

After a hearty breakfast of cured meats (everything but the squeal), sausages (a game of name that animal) cheeses, breads and other German diet food, it was on the bus to Franconia. Many people, upon hearing this name, picture the special wine bottle that looks almost like an upside down heart. While still used throughout the region with great pride, compromise has given into the export market and the wines are now shipped in modern (i.e. easier to pack) bottles.

Franconia is a sub-district of Bavaria, where the beverage of choice is Bier. However, Franconia is unique in that almost every town has its own weinfest, celebrating wine, rather than beer. Another area of difference is the climate. Franconia is not as intense as other areas, with a relatively warmer summer and slightly milder winters. With the long days of sunshine lasting into the evening, more vintages are successful than not. (more…)

And Now a Break From Our Regularly Scheduled Programing

And Now a Break From Our Regularly Scheduled Programing

Post by David Derby| April 20th, 2011

David entertains other riesling fans

Spring is in the air and come early April, it seems that all attention turns to Bordeaux. This year the majority of the sales team covered the latest vintage with a deeper analysis than ever before. But not this assistant wine buyer. It’s been said, on occasion, that I march to the beat of a different drummer. So instead of heading towards France, I made tracks to Germany, in pursuit of understanding the noble riesling.

My goal was to explore the land, meet the people, experience the culture and, of course, taste the wines. For many wine aficionados, riesling holds a special place in our hearts. For some, it was our first love. For others, the gateway to other wines from so many different places. But with all the wines in the world, some are best recognized when coming from their iconic homeland. Take sparkling wine and Champagne, sangiovese and Italy, riesling and Germany. While Germany certainly makes wines in addition to riesling, that is the grape most people associate with the country. (more…)