Letter From Berlin

It is raining in Berlin. It was raining down south, in the wine country, too–a refreshing change after the muggy days of early September in New York. I am here partly on assignment, and partly for my own agenda. Essentially, I have two press trips sandwiching a little time on my own.

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In the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, I had the privilege of traveling with Wines of Germany and meeting a really wide range of producers. If you know me, you know that I’m a little, um, picky about wine. Basically, the more biodynamic, the better. But I also really appreciated, on this trip, touring a veritable factory that produces 50 million bottles per year. It was really incredible to see the machinery, which was operated by very few people. The wines get filtered so much; by the end it is a mere shadow of its natural, healthy state. But Snobby Me needs to understand that this is the 3-buck-chuck (style of wine) that most people, around the world, are consuming. They don’t mind the taste (I did!).

IMG_4907But the real highlight of the trip was in meeting several producers, a few on the younger side and one more established estate, who are working with incredible commitments to producing wines of terroir with the least manipulation possible. And whoa, could we taste it. None of us spit out the wines at Dressigacker, Georg Brauer, or Peter Jacob Kuhn. I was particularly floored by this last producer, Peter Jakob Kuhn, made up of a couple that turned their estate biodynamic in the 90s.

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I’d like to write a more in-depth article about these three visits elsewhere, but for now I will say that, with regard to the Kuhn estate in particular, these were wines of true depth and harmony; you could tell that the grapes and soil were so healthy that they needed no manipulation in the cellar. And Angela Kuhn had no need to spew fancy stories about the estate’s aristocratic heritage, or give us a marketing spiel–the wines spoke for themselves. In the kitchen, she and her husband displayed bottles that had inspired them (often brought by the winemakers themselves): Elisabetta Foradoi, Joan Ramon Escoda, Radikon. On point.

The other main issue we learned about on this trip, which I hope to write about for my next Eater Drinks column, is how many German Riesling producers are changing their appellation system and bottle labeling to mimic the way they do it in Burgundy, where each vineyard has a status. But that’s too much for a blog post.

Now, I am in Berlin for a few days, and then I head to Piedmont for a few more producer visits before taking off for Sicily for an assignment.

I have some new work published in the last few days:

More soon… from Italy! Ciao for now.

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