London Wine Diary: Day 1 – IT LIVES! My 2018 Nonnberg Riesling for Wein Weiblich the Movie is fermenting!

SPIN

IT LIVES! My two 500 liter barrels of Riesling picked in the early morning of Monday, 17th September in the Nonnberg site of Wicker/Rheingau are now both fermenting. Both barrels were filled with the same must late on the evening of the day of harvest. The one at the front of the picture is very slowly undergoing spontaneous or wild fermentation, while the one behind it was inoculated with Heiligenstein yeast and is fermenting much faster. The goal is a bone dry wine and based on the most weight of 95° Oechsle (straight from the press) I expect the wine to weigh in at around 13% alcohol. Due to a pH of 3.5 in the must, which means very low acidity, I felt there was no option, but to add 1.5 grams per liter of tartaric acid. Some of you will hate me for doing that, because it’s not “natural”, but if I hadn’t done that the danger of an unwanted malolactic fermentation would have been high, and then the wine might have ended up tasting like melted butter. This is Riesling, not warm climate Chardonnay, so no thank you!

Sadly, there’s no point in describing how the fermenting wine tastes now, because it will change from day to day or even hour to hour. I will start talking about the aromas and flavors after alcoholic fermentation is completed and a small amount of sulfites have been added to prevent oxidation. I want the finished wine to live for at least a decade and for that there’s no serious alternative to adding sulfites. Then the wine and its flavors will gain a certain stability. I won’t be hurrying to add that sulfur though (by the way, none was added either to either the grapes or the must), because the longer it is delayed the more chance the wine has for positive aromatic development.

As those of you who have been following my work in the 6 rows of Riesling vines I borrowed for the year from Reiner Flick of the Flick estate already know, I am making this wine for Wein Weiblich aka Wine, Women, Rhine the movie. De facto I am in competition with four talented young professional women winemakers, each of whom is also making a 2017 vintage dry Riesling in front of the movie camera. As the only amateur winemaker in the group I am clearly the one who’s wine is most likely to bomb out in the final scene of the movie: a blind tasting of the finished products at Restaurant Heimat in Frankfurt in early July 0f 2019. At the beginning I was sure that I could only fail that test, then I acquired a very capable assistant called Peam Saisombat and that changed the calculation of my chances quite considerably. She is from Thailand where she already has a degree in agricultural science and is studying winemaking at the Geisenheim Wine University.

Peam & I

Here we are together in the vineyard after the end of a hard day’s work. To give you an idea of how precise Peam’s vineyard work is here are a few photographs she took to document work she did alone in the vineyard (necessary when I was in Spain in late June and in Italy in August for JamesSuckling.com). The first photograph shows the result of twisting the vine shoots around the top wires rather than cutting the tips off them as conventional winegrowers do. The theory behind not cutting the growing shoot tips is that they provide competition for energy and nutrients to the developing bunches, which remain smaller and looser than would normally be the case if the tips remain intact. The contrast to the rows of vines on the left of the photograph that Reiner Flick’s team cultivated is immediately obvious. The canopy of our vines is lower and I am sure that during the long hot and dry months of the summer they used less water than the vines on the left.

Us & ThemSomething else that we did that was different to Reiner Flick was to “halve” the bunches of grapes that struck us as being too fat and compact. Because I was on the road Peam did this by herself. No knife was necessary, just two hands a sharp eye (which she certainly has!) She grasped the upper part of the bunch with her left hand, then twisted off the lower third with her right hand. The theory is that shocked by the wound this inflicts on the vine it tries to compensate for the lost fruit by stretching the bunch, which once again loosens it. A loose bunch is much less likely to rot and the berries at the back of it also get more light exposure. Here’s a picture that also gives an idea of how this procedure also reduced the yield somewhat. In fact, ripening as measured through the sugar content of the grapes progressed rather fast until the drought pulled on the brakes somewhat at the beginning of September. However, I feel pretty sure from the way the grapes tasted at harvest that the aromatic development during the last couple of weeks before harvest continued apace.

"halbieren" / halved bunches

2018 is a really extreme vintage thanks to the heat and drought. My gut tells me that in some vineyards quality will be low because the vines were too stressed during the summer. My guess is that this will not only vary from village to village, but also from vineyard plot to vineyard plot depending on how well each has been tended over the last years. I think the special conditions in Wicker (in particular the very water-retentive soil), Reiner Flick’s very thoughtful cultivation and our own hard work prevented us being affected by that problem. If the very generous yield – much higher than 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 0r 2013 – impacts quality is difficult to say now. The entire harvest team was in agreement that the grapes tasted really good at picking and we removed every berry we could find (it was only isolated berries) that looked less than perfect. It was less than 1% of the fruit!

The next posting will be all about how the two barrels of fermented wine actually smell and taste. I am expecting them to be very different from each other and hope that some kind of blend of the two will be best. It might be a 50/50 blend or maybe an 80/20. We shall have to wait and see. For more information WATCH THIS SPACE or go to:

www.wein-weiblich.de

Wein Weiblich

 

 

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Vienna Wine Diary: Day 4 – BETRIEBSFEIER ZUM 35. JUBILÄUM MEINER TÄTIGKEIT ALS WEINJOURNALIST / OFFICIAL CELEBRATION OF MY 35th ANNIVERSARY AS A WINE JOURNALIST

Riesling Nonnberg, 26.08.18

Samstagabend, den 15.09.18 findet an einem geheimen Ort im Rheingau meine offizielle Betriebsfeier zum 35. Jubiläum meiner Tätigkeit als Weinjournalist statt. Wer eingeladen ist, weiß wo und wann.

The official celebration of my 35th anniversary as a wine journalist takes place on the evening of Saturday, 15.09.18 at a secret location in the Rheingau. Those who are invited know who they are, where and when.

2018 erzeuge ich meinen ersten Riesling im Weingut Flick in Wicker/

Rheingau (siehe Foto oben von meinen Trauben am 26.08.18 – mehr darüber nach dem

Lesetag voraussichtlich am 17.09.18!)

2018 I am producing my first Riesling wine at Weingut Flick in Wicker/

Rheingau (see the photo above of my grapes on 26.08.18 – more about this after the

harvest, probably on 17.09.18!)

2016 habe ich New York aufgegeben und bin nach Eppstein/Taunus gezogen.

Gleichzeitig habe ich angefangen für www.JamesSuckling.com als

Contributing Editor zu arbeiten.

2016 I left New York and moved to Eppstein/Taunus. Simultaneously, I

began to work as a Contributing Editor for www.JamesSuckling.com.

2015 ist mein erstes E-Book Rock Stars of Wine America #1 auf Kindle

erschienen. Es folgten später im Jahr das zweite Band in dieser Reihe und

Anfang 2016 das dritte und vorläufig letzte Band.

2015 my first e-book Rock Stars of Wine America #1 appeared on Kindle.

Later the same year the second volumne in the series was published, then

the third and final one appeared early in 2016.

2014 ist mein letztes gedrucktes Buch Best White Wine on Earth (Stewart,

Tabori & Chang Verlag, New York) erschienen, später im gleichen Jahr ist die

deutschsprachige Ausgabe Planet Riesling (Tre Torri Verlag, Wiesbaden)

gefolgt.

2014 my last printed book Best White Wine on Earth (Stewart, Tabori &

Chang, New York) was published, the German language edition Planet

Riesling (Tre Torri, Wiesbaden) appearing later the same year.

2012 bin ich nach New York gezogen wo ich zuerst im Hotel of Hope in East

Village/Manhattan gewohnt habe. Später wohnte ich in der Nähe von Union

Square/Manhatten und an Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg/Brooklyn.

2012 I moved to New York initially living in the Hotel of Hope in the East

Village/Manhattan. Later I lived close to Union Square/Manhattan, then

finally on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg/Brooklyn.

2010 habe ich mit dem Filmregiseur Alexander Saran angefangen die TV-Serie

Weinwunder Deutschland für BR zu drehen, eine Arbeit die bis weit in

2012 gedauert hat. Schließlich sind 18 Folgen von jeweils 30 Minuten

entstanden.

2010 together with film director Alexander Saran I started shooting the TV

series Weinwunder Deutschland, or wine wonder Germany, for BR Bavarain

Broadcasting. Over three years we wrote and filmed 18 episodes of 30

minutes length each.

2009 habe ich meinen ersten Wein, ein Müller-Thurgau im Grand-Cru- oder

GG-Stil im Winzerhof Stahl in Auernhofen/Franken erzeugt.

2009 I made my first wine, a Müller-Thurgau in Grand Cru or GG style at

Winzerhof Stahl in Auernhofen/Franken.

2008 ging ich als Gasthörer ein Jahr auf die Weinuniversität in Geisenheim/

Rheingau.

2008 I became a guest student at the wine university in Geisenheim/

Rheingau.

2007 erschien das gemeinsame Werk Wein spricht Deutsch (Scherz Verlag,

Frankfurt) das ich mit Ursula Heinzelmann, Chandra Kurt, Manfred Lüer und

Stephan Reinhardt geschrieben habe. Andreas Durst hat fotografiert.

2007 the joint work Wein spricht Deutsch (Scherz, Frankfurt), or wine

speaks German that I wrote together with Ursula Heinzelmann, Chandra

Kurt, Manfred Lüer and Stephan Reinhardt was published. Photography was

by Andreas Durst.

2003 habe ich angefangen meine Buch-Trilogie zum Thema Wein und

Globalisierung – Schöne neue Weinwelt (2003, Argon Verlag, Berlin), Wilder

Wein (2006, Scherz Verlag, Frankfurt), Wein weit weg (2009, Scherz Verlag,

Frankfurt) – zu schreiben.

2003 I began to write my trilogy of books about wine and globalization –

Schöne neue Weinwelt, or brave new wine world (2003, Argon, Berlin),

Wilder Wein, or wild wine (2006, Scherz) and Wein weit weg, or wine far out

(2009, Scherz, Frankfurt).

2001 bin ich Weinkolumnist der Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

geworden. Seitdem erscheint meine Kolumne regelmäßig.

2001 I started to write the wine column in the Sunday edition oft he

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and it still appears there regularly.

1994 ist mein erstes deutschsprachiges Buch Die großen deutschen

Rieslingweine (Econ Verlag, Düsseldorf) erschienen. Es entfachte sich eine

große Kontroverse. Ein Bericht darüber im SPIEGEL trug den Titel Wie eine

Wildsau.

1994 my first German language book Die großen deutschen Rieslingweine

(Econ, Düsseldorf), or the great German Rieslings was published and ignited a public

controversy. The article about this in SPIEGEL magazine was titled Wie eine Wildsau, or

like a wild boar.

1993 bin ich nach Berlin gezogen.

1993 I moved to Berlin.

1989 habe ich London verlassen und eine Wohnung in Bernkastel/Mosel bezogen.

1989 I left London and moved into a flat in Bernkastel/Mosel.

1988 ist mein erstes Weinbuch Life Beyond Liebfraumlich (Sidgwick &

Jackson Verlag, London) in England erschienen. Danach habe ich die

komplette Weinlese bei Weingut Dr. Loosen in Bernkastel/Mosel gearbeitet.

1988 my first wine book Life Beyond Liebfraumilch (Sidgwick & Jackson,

London) was published in London. I worked the wine harvest at Dr. Loosen in

Bernkastel/Mosel.

1984 habe ich meine erste intensive Verkostungsreise nach Deutschland als

Gast des britischen Weinhändlers Philipp Eyres und seinen Sohn Harry Eyres

unternommen.

1984 I undertook my first intensive tasting trip as guest oft he British wine

merchant Philip Eyres and his son Harry Eyres.

1983 habe ich meinen ersten Artikel zum Thema Wein für die

Fachzeitschrift Decanter in London geschrieben.

1983 I wrote my first article fort he wine magazine Decanter in London

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

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Berlin Wine Diary: Day 5 – THE TRUTH WILL OUT

“Those who deny history are condemned to repeat it,” George Santanaya

by Harry EyresIt seems that in 21st century Britain the truth is a very dangerous substance and those who deal in it like myself represent a danger to social order and will be treated accordingly by the self-appointed defenders of that order. Let me explain.

I was supposed to be going to London shortly to speak about the wines from a rather remote place that I know very well. For me and the organizers of this event that was certainly PR, but also something genuinely positive and educational. Then somebody who was invited to the event threatened them with drastic consequences if I was involved in it. I have just withdrawn in order not to cause the organizers any unnecessary problems, but am also making this statement about the background to this naked act of intimidation.

The problem for the intimidators was a short talk I gave to a very small audience at Vintners Hall in London on the evening of Thursday, 29th January, 2015. Along with Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson I had been asked to speak on the subject on my life and Riesling. My talk was very different to theirs, although like them, all I did was to honestly explained how and why I became involved with the wines of this grape and its homeland in Germany.

The British wine merchant Philip Eyres (1926 – 2012) played a decisive role in that process and his motivation for taking me with him on a buying trip to the Mosel, Nahe and Rhine in the spring of 1984 was not only a love for those wines, but also reconciliation for the area bombing campaign of the RAF against German civilians during World War II. In 1946 as a conscript in the British occupation forces he saw what area bombing had done to Hamburg and this shock haunted him for the rest of his life. It was clearly a great comfort to Philip that towards the end of his life he was able to speak about all this and clearly express his compassion for the victims.

Nobody except a few revisionists dispute the historical facts of the area bombing of Germany, nonetheless they have often been suppressed because they don’t fit comfortably with the national myth of Britain as the great moral victor of World War II. That suppression is the reason that I only found out these truths, and realized the role they had played in shaping my life, when Philip’s son Harry Eyres wrote a column on the subject in the Financial Times in March 2005 (pictured above). I remember how after its publication he experienced a wave of fury for daring to state those historical facts.

My attitude was and is that the truth will out. As a trained historian (I have an MA in cultural history from the Royal College of Art) I have a commitment to the truth, even if confronting the past and seeking the truth there is painful. Doing that helps us prevent history from repeating itself. This is an important lesson I learned from the example of Germany sincerely confronting the deeply painful truth of the Shoa or Holocaust and the wider historical context of the persecution of Jews in their country and beyond.

Photo by Caroline Stummel

 

 

I am pretty sure that the person who has taken such exception to what I said that day regards me as unpatriotic and probably thinks that I was being pro-Germany and/or pro-Europe at the expense of Britain. That’s absurd and it would mean that patriotism ought to be built upon selective cognition and censorship. I am happy to be a citizen of Britain and (since a short time) of Germany. Anyone who doubts that please take a close look at the above photograph of me at the celebration of the royal wedding at the British Embassy on Saturday, 19th May.

I find the attempt to intimidate the organizers of this harmless wine event in London completely contrary to the democratic traditions of Britain that have valued frees speech for more than 350 years. It strikes me that this action was clearly influenced by the current political climate in my home country. When I was growing up in London during the 1960s and ‘70s political disputes were often heated, but both parties usually retained a basic respect for the other side. Since the campaign for the Brexit vote the language of national politics and the media has become brutal and sometimes sadistic. I find it deeply shocking that this poison should have spread to the beautiful world of wine.

The text of my short talk can be found as a four part series of postings by clicking on the button Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right and scrolling down.

Riesling Global

 

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 4 – WEIN WEIBLICH Der Schlamm und Ich

Nonnberg Schlamm Für den Dokumentarfilm WEIN WEIBLICH arbeite ich dieses Jahr im Weinberg. Hier meine Gedanken zum zentralen Thema des Weinbaus: Schlamm. Wer interessiert ist unseren Projekt zu unterstützen kann auf den Link zu unseren Crowdfunding klicken. / This year for the documentary movie WINE, WOMEN, RHINE I’m cultivating a small vineyard in the Nonnberg site of Wicker at the eastern end of the Rheingau. Here, in German, are my thoughts on the vital subject of mud. I hope to be able to provide an English translation shortly. Anyone interested in supporting us should click on this link:

www.startnext.com/weinweiblich

DER SCHLAMM UND ICH

Scheiße! Der Schlamm hier im Weinberg schluckte mich und will mich nicht wieder los lassen. Wie ist das mir, einem Journalisten, der normalerweise Weine am Schreibtisch aus feinen Gläsern testet, passiert? Wie wurde dieser Schreibtisch-Tiger in ein Nilpferd verwandelt das fest im Schlamm steckt?

Es passierte mir nachdem ich heute anfing in „meinem“ Weinberg zu arbeiten. Das sind sechs Rebzeilen in der Spitzenlage Nonnberg, einem sanften Hang nahe der kleinen Weinstadt Wicker am unbekannten östlichen Rand des Rheingaus. Diesen Weinberg habe ich von dem Winzer Reiner Flick für dieses Jahr geliehen. Schon innerhalb einiger wenigen Minuten hafteten fette Klumpen von Schlamm an meinen Stiefeln. Meine Füße fühlte sich fünf Kilo schwerer und doppelt so breit an wie vorher. Noch schlimmer: egal wie ich meine Stiefel schüttelte klebten die Schlamm-Massen fest daran! Wie soll ich so arbeiten?

Wenn der Normalo an Weinbau denkt, dann kommt ihm ganz was anderes in den Sinn. Er sieht prächtige Bilder von der Weinlese im goldenen Herbst: goldenes Reblaub und goldene Trauben! Wegen der warmen Sonne des Altweibersommers sind alle Lesehelfer leicht bekleidet und fröhlich. So kann es im glücklichen Fall auch vorkommen, aber dies hier ist die nicht weniger reale verschlammte Kehrseite davon.

Als ich das erste mal hier arbeitete, vor zweieinhalb Wochen, herrschte Frühling. Die Sonne schien, es war mild, der Boden war trocken und blieb unter meinen Füßen stehen, statt sie zu verschlingen. Das waren angenehme Arbeitsbedingungen für den Rebschnitt – die erste große Arbeit des Winzerjahres – und ich kam dementsprechend gut damit voran. Und das, obwohl ich nur mit einer alten Rebschere ausgestattet war und aus der Übung bin. Vor neun Jahren schnitt ich zum letzten mal eine Rebe! Wie geht das?

Es ist schon schwierig genug mit einem solchen Gerät ein Stück Rebholz, welches zwei Zentimeter dick ist, durchzuschneiden. Um das zu schaffen muss man mit der Schere fest drücken und mit dem Ding „schaukeln“. Danach hat eine Dusche gut getan und ich litt unter etwas Muskelkater, aber ich war gut drauf – statt einem Häufchen Elend, wie ich mich jetzt fühle.

Lange Zeit war Schlamm dafür verantwortlich, dass Winzer kein cooler Beruf war. Das gute Gesellschaft hat alle Arten von Landwirtschaft für unter ihrer Würde betrachtet. Nach wie vor verstehen die wenigsten von ihnen überhaupt die Unterschiede zwischen Boden, Schlamm, Kompost, Mist und Scheiße, weil sie sich nicht damit auseinandersetzen wollen. Statt dessen neigen Normalos dazu sie alle als „Dreck“ zu bezeichnen, was fachlich gesehen Quatsch ist. Trotzdem ist Winzer Anfang des 21ten Jahrhunderts ein cooler Beruf geworden, weil es als kreativ gilt, bzw. in „Winemaking“ oder „Wein machen“ umgetauft wurde.

Das ist jetzt auch meine Aufgabe. Ich muss einen trockenen Weißwein aus der Riesling-Traube für den Film WEIN WEIBLICH erzeugen. Ich bin natürlich kein Weib aber die vier weiblichen Hauptfiguren des Films haben verlangt, dass ich genau das für die Kamera mache was sie auch tun. Und das habe ich anstandslos zugesagt, auch weil ich nicht diesen Schlamm erwartet habe. Meine vorherigen Übungen mit Weinbau waren in Lagen mit steinigen oder sandigen Böden die tendenziell nicht in fetten Klumpen an meinem Schuhwerk hafteten.

Das hier ist aber wirklich Winemaking! Denn ohne diese Arbeit tragen die Reben keine reifen Trauben und ohne reife Trauben gibt es keinen Wein – Basta! Aber auch ich verbinde Winemaking meistens mit schönen Holzfässern in einem prächtigen Weinkeller, aus dem Schmutz in jeglicher Art verbannt wurde. Auch vor meinem inneren Auge ist eine Probe des edlen Weins, die der Winemaker mit einer langen gläsernen Pipette aus dem Fass zieht, strahlend klar. Das ist natürlich so weit weg von Schlamm wie man sich nur vorstellen kann und das ist auch mein Ziel.

Der Weg zum Ziel ist aber auch für mich lang und „dreckig“. Mein Wein wird hoffentlich in etwas über einem Jahr genau so aussehen wenn ich eine Probe mit der langen gläsernen Pipette aus „meinem„ 500 Liter Holzfass im Keller vom Weingut Flick in Wicker ziehen werde. Dummerweise verwandeln sich Trauben nicht von selbst schlagartig in trinkfertige Weine verwandeln.

Zuerst muss der Most aus den Trauben durch die Kelterung gewonnen werden, was eine Menge Überreste (Beerenhaut, -Kerne und der Stilgerüst) hinterlässt, die schnell zu Matsch werden können. Dann vergärt die Hefe den Most zum Wein, was aber auch zu einer ganzen Menge schlammartigen Depots, bzw. tote Hefe führt. Das muss von dem jungen Wein getrennt werden, was auch nicht so einfach ist. Erst Monate nach der Traubenernte herrscht im Keller DAS was der Normalo unter Sauberkeit versteht. Dann folgt die Abfüllung, was wiederum zu anderen Arten von Schlamm führt. Aber dann hört es endlich damit auf!

Aber bevor ich damit überhaupt anfangen kann, muss ich x-mal während der nächsten sieben bis acht Monate hier im Weinberg arbeiten. Da die Rebe nicht wie Korn wächst, sondern eine ganz Menge Pflege erfordert, habe ich sehr viel Arbeit vor mir. Mal wird das Wetter schön sein und die Arbeit daher schlammlos, aber manchmal wird es eher nass sein und ich werde mich wieder in ein Nilpferd verwandeln. Wie gut das Ergebnis schmecken wird kann ich Ihnen jetzt leider keinesfalls voraussagen, weil die Qualität des Weins zum guten Teil vom Herbstwetter abhängt. Im Gegensatz zu schnöder Büroarbeit ist das Ganze unglaublich hart und ziemlich unberechenbar.

Wie mein guter Freund, der Rockstar James Maynard Keenan (Sänger von der Heavy Metal Gruppe Tool und von seiner eigenen Band Puscifer) der auch Winzer in Arizona ist (Caduceus Cellars & Merkin Vineyards) oft sagt: „Rock Musik ist Chaos. Weinbau ist Chaos. Wenn Du keinen Chaos verträgst lass die Finger von den beiden!“ Aber er ist süchtig nach Winemaking und ich bin es inzwischen auch. Wir Winzer nehmen den Schlamm im Kauf, weil manchmal kommt ein Wein raus der so genial ist, dass fast jeder Trinker so was sagt wie, „Wow! So was habe ich noch nie im Leben geschmeckt!“ Dafür kämpfe ich mich weiter durch den Schlamm.

Oh je! Jetzt fängt es an zu regnen und das Wasser fließt mir den Nacken runter…

Wein Weiblich

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 2 – What Becomes of My Scathing British Satire Now that I’m German?

bildschirmfoto-2018-03-24-um-16-10-03

Some people have suggested that because I recently gained German Citizenship I’m now no longer British and that I will therefore lose my British humour, if I haven’t done so already. This deserves an answer and a satirical one at that! You see, satire isn’t just the heart of British humour, but also an essential element of British character. So let’s start with the official announcement I have not given up my British citizenship nor do I intend to do so unless forced by the machinations of so-called politicians on the Island of Great Brexit. As far as British humour goes judge for yourself from the following.

We all have a more or less clear idea of what satire is and realize that it in its full-blown, no-holds-barred form it is always scathing. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that even on the Island of Great Brexit it  leaves a few poor souls, including those so-called politicians, stone cold while many others only warm to its charms on occasion. I always found it astonishing that scathing satire could sometimes fail to ignite the fuse of laughter, but clearly it’s possible to have a temperament ill-adjusted to this type of humour, or one that which easily mistakes incendiary satire for poisoned malice directed at the innocent.

In fact, satire never attacks the common man as an individual, rather it burns those who, in one way or another, have pushed themselves into positions of importance and/or the limelight, who’s faces, words and actions are part of public life and well exposed in the media. The movers and shakers of this world are the natural targets of satire, also because they’re easily recognizable to the audience. Their characteristics features, typical gestures and favourite phrases must be exaggerated by the satirist to achieve his goal of igniting laughter, but never so far that the likeness gets lost or he fails as a result of that.

The Plain Man

Satire cannot burn The Plain Man who live quietly next door, because nobody would recognize them except his neighbours resulting in a gaping chasm of silence where there should be ecstatic laughter. At the most he can serve as anonymous models for a satire of a group, e.g. social class, political party, etc. to which they belong, but then his identity is lost in that crowd. Satire cannot hit him anywhere near as it easily does the leaders of such groups.

The whole point of satire is that it should unmask the true character and intentions of the powerful, wealthy, self-important and would-be saints who don’t measure up to their own standards. It’s enemies are greed, arrogance, vanity and all other gross forms of human weakness in public life and the media. For its targets satire is always a double-edged sword, for it exposes them for what they are, but on the other hand by doing so it flatters them with its attention, thereby increases their fame and/or infamy.

However, all this only functions if the satirist’s words, images, gestures, etc. connect directly with an audience. If the incendiary which the satirist has carefully prepared and ignited sets their minds on fire, then he succeeds. Some of them may feel rudely ripped out of their normal state of mind by the satirical work and laugh hesitantly, but others will see their own thoughts confirmed and magnified by the satirical work and laugh boldly. If these reactions are contagious, then a wildfire of laughter results and all hell is let loose!

The kind of laughter has a cleansing effect upon our minds in the way that a big gust of wind that blows away all the dust that’s built up in the back yard. It helps us overcome the adverse effect upon us of those movers and shakers have on us, and through the laughter it unleashes it enables to at least temporarily throw off some of the general fear and loathing that the work-a-day-world induces.  Thankfully, realizing all this won’t defuse the effect of the next piece of satire you encounter, just as an explanation of why something is sexually exciting doesn’t undermine that reaction next time around.

The final essential quality of satire is that although in the strictest and most literal sense of the word the story it tells is not true, in a more fundamental sense it is totally true. That’s one reason why the illustration to these lines is one of the most famous satirical cartoons of James Gilray (1756/7–1815). It shows William Pitt, the British prime minister of the time sitting at the dinner table with Napoleon Bonaparte of France where they are carving up the world as if it was a plum (Christmas) pudding. Of course, this pair never actually did that, but what the cartoon says to us about the two leaders is brutally true. No wonder this cartoon unleashed a wild fire of laughter when it appeared in 1805, even if some laughed behind raised hands, while others denounced it as disrespectful to one or both leaders. Of course, they were right that the cartoon was totally outrageous!

a_drunken_party_with_men_smoking_sleeping_and_falling_to_th_wellcome_v0019069

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other reason for using this image is that it belongs to the great tradition of British satire. That begins properly with the writer Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) and the engraver and painter William Hogarth (1697–1764, his A Drunken Party is pictured above), however, it’s backstory is the explosion of political and other pamphlets published during the Civil War of the 1640s when royal censorship was effectively suspended. British satire went on to reach it’s next high point with Gilray and his colleagues Thomas Rowlandson (1750–1827) and George Cruikshank (1792–1878).

I hope those illustrious and notorious gentlemen would appreciate these thoughts if they could read them, although mine is no pure form of British satire. Both Berlin and New York have influenced the way I write in this vein. If you wish to call the result a hybrid, then you are welcome to do so. Satire, including my own, invites and revels in satirical responses!

Of course, satire can hurt those who are its targets, but mostly it does that because it is the bringer of painful truths. Who has never been shocked by unexpectedly seeing themselves in the mirror? One such moment is the climax of “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” by Hunter S. Thompson (first published in Scanlan’s in June 1970), one of the great works of modern satire in the American language. What makes this story innovative is that there’s a lot of precise factual reporting in it, but in the end you can’t tell where reality ends and satirical exaggeration begins. Remarkably those real things don’t prevent the satirical incendiary from igniting a wildfire of laughter. In fact, at the end the joke literally blows up in Thompson’s face! That inspired my own recent satirical writings.

Satire is always a wake up call, even if the satirist knows in his heart that their work won’t change the world. I think that acceptance of this is part of the mature satirical state of mind. It doesn’t alter the fact that we urgently need to laugh at the “great” of this world in order to be free of their noxious influence upon our minds and hearts. That’s when scathing satire is at its best, be it British, of another nationality or a hybrid of two or more nationalities as my own is.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 4 – WEIN WEIBLICH also known as Wine, Women & Rhine: The Movie

Stuart Pigott In Nonnberg

Yesterday, my assistant Peam Saisombat, a young Thai woman studying winemaking at the famous Geisenheim wine university, and I pruned 6 rows of Riesling vines in the Nonnberg site of Weingut Flick in Wicker at the eastern end of the Rheingau. Reiner Flick has leant to us them for the rest of this year so I can make a Riesling wine from in his cellars. And we’re doing all that in front of the camera for the feature length documentary film WEIN WEIBLICH.

The deeper I get into this beautiful and crazy thing the more I ask myself how did I get in so far so fast? Yes, I live in Germany and I’ve been writing about wine every since I arrived here a quarter of a century ago, but I’m not a young woman winemaker on the Rhine, and that’s what WEIN WEIBLICH is all about. How should I translate that title into English? Literally, it means wine womanly, but I feel happier with Wine, Women & Rhine because it tells you about the three essential ingredients of this revolutionary project. Revolutionary? Which other movie showed in gritty close-up how vines are cultivated and wine is made with a predominantly female cast? None that I know. For more information see our German language website:

https://wein-weiblich.de

I can’t deny that right from the beginning I never hesitated, and from the moment that Marco Schulze first pointed his camera in my direction in Restaurant Heimat in Frankfurt on December 6th, 2017 there was no turning back. In spite of that, there’s also no doubt that Christoph Koch and Gunnar Swanson of the film production company frames2art are equally responsible for my current predicament. We’re all guilty as charged!

Guilty? Yes, of taking the feminization of wine in Germany seriously. I remember that around 1990 I got my first commissions from magazines to write stories about women winemakers. At the time this seemed like an important thing to do, because there were rather few of them and they often struggled for recognition. However, during the next decade the situation for women in the German wine industry changed dramatically for the better. As a result I changed approach to watching out I didn’t miss the talented, then treating them exactly like the guys. In spite of this when I began a year as a guest student in Geisenheim/Rheingau in October 2008 I was pleasantly surprised to find nearly half the students were women. Now they’ve got a better position in the German wine industry than in that of almost any other major wine producing country. But why make a movie about all that?

I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t met Christoph and Marco back in the spring of 2007 at the Darmstadt/Germany HQ of the email-provider T-Online. There, with a minimum of technology and time we shot what is still my most successful YouTube video (see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8J8tBreHTQ) with around 10,000 views. Not bad considering it’s in German without English subtitles. I returned to that studio a couple of times and developed a great creative relationship with them, but then our paths separated. Fast forward to an Italian Café in Wiesbaden on February 9th, 2017 and my first conversation with Christoph in a decade. He convinced me that although I was very well aware of the wine winemakers the wider public’s awareness of the feminization of wine was lagging well behind. That provided compelling logic for his proposal to shoot a 100 – 120 minute movie introducing the world to this social and cultural change in Germany.

First day shooting in Restaurant Heimat, Frankfurt

Now I’m in the same filmmaking boat with four successful thirty-something women winemakers: Theresa Breuer of the Georg Breuer estate in Rüdeheim/Rheingau, Dr. Eva Vollmer of the eponymous estate in Mainz-Ebersheim/Rheinhessen, Katharina Wechsler of the eponymous estate in Westhofen/Rheinhessen and Silke Wolf of Shelter Winery in Kenzingen/Baden. Their names are familiar to anyone who closely follows the astonishing renaissance of the German wine industry since the last turn of the century (the most important theme of my writing).

When we told this quartet we wanted to follow them over a period of about 18 months as they each produced a dry Riesling wine, from pruning of the vines through to the finished wine being tasted for the first time (in July 2019) they accepted the challenge, but collectively demanded I do the same thing. It’s true I once made an experimental wine but it was a dry Müller-Thurgau and that was back in 2009. That’s why yesterday, I suddenly found myself with a pair of old vine pruning shears in my hand. So help me God!

German wine usually comes in six packs, so we decided to add a young woman winemaker at the very beginning of her career to add a yet younger perspective. A casting day at the wine university in Geisenheim left us with an extremely difficult choice, because we had 10 strong candidates for this role. Finally, we decided in favor of 27 year old Carolin Weiler of the tiny Weiler estate in Lorch/Rheingau who abandoned a career as a kindergarten teacher to study wine with the goal of taking over her family winery. Another of the candidates, Peam Saisombat, became my assistant, and that made me feel a lot more confident about making my first ever Riesling.

All of this is unusual enough, but the way we have, financially speaking, thrown ourselves off the trapeze without a safety net is completely new to me. From spring 2010 through fall 2012 I co-wrote and anchored eighteen TV shows (30 minutes each) called Weinwunder Deutschland together with director Alexander Saran. That project was bankrolled by BR, the state TV network of Bavaria and was my largest source of income during that period. We started shooting WEIN WEIBLICH without any of the approximately 80.000 Euros we need to complete the project, a figure that doesn’t include any pay for the core team of Christoph, Gunnar and I, or for the women winemakers!

We seriously need your help. By giving us your financial support, however large or small, you will become part of our team and be able to follow our work on this daring documentary movie. Please visit out crowd funding page at:

www.startnext.com/weinweiblich

Wein Weiblich

 

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#greatburgundyyoucanactuallybuy – The (often delicious) Real Thing vs. (often unaffordable) Holy Burgundy

Norman Hardie

Who doesn’t want to taste the best wine in the world? One theory says the only possible way to do this is to go straight to Burgundy/France, do not pass Go and do not collect $200. At JamesSuckling.com we don’t roll quite like that, but we’re open for all the wines of the world including Burgundy, so in January we spent some fascinating and hectic days tasting in the region.

In Burgundy I keep bumping into winemaker and somm friends from far away and it happened three times last time! The first time I was crossing the Place Carnot, the central square of Beaune when voila there was Norman Hardie – pictured above – my favorite producer of Chardonnay (the signature grapes of Burgundy) in Ontario/Canada. “Norm” greeted me warmly and introduced me to his two hip young companions.

One of them then said to me with enormous gravitas and no hint of irony, „so you came to worship at the shrine.” It was a statement not a question, because the hipster was sure Burgundy is holy. When I answered, “no, JamesSuckling.com and I aren’t interested in Holy Burgundy. We’re interested in the Real Thing, the real place and the real wines!” the young Burgundy Buddha was deeply shocked. How could that be? NO!!!

No other wine-producing region in the world is more idealized and more weighed down by myths than Burgundy. That wouldn’t matter – we believe in the freedom to worship whichever God you want! – if it wasn’t for the way this helps inflate wine prices and promote misconceptions about this beautiful and historic region. Burgundy is famously all about “terroir”, the French word for the taste of the place, but often that’s presented as a mystery so profound only Burgundy Buddhas can even begin to understand it.

We’ve got nothing against a bit of mystery spun around wine, but the truth is that terroir mostly expresses itself in the particular balance between the major flavor components – aromas, body, tannins and acidity – of each wine. On top of this, not even a Burgundy Buddha can separate the influence of the vineyard site from that of the winemaker and the vintage, because each wine is necessarily the product of their interaction. How this plays out in hundreds of wines from the 2016 and 2015 vintages is what makes the new JamesSuckling.com Burgundy report so interesting. Here is the link to it:

Great Burgundy You Can Actually Buy: 2015 and 2016 Shine

For us the problems arise when some people, particularly people whose job it is to sell these products start complicate everything in order to make the wines seem more special than any wine can ever be. The result is not only a culture of veneration, but also explanations for the wines that are as convoluted and narrow as the Medieval streets of the region’s towns and villages. And I promise you they are extremely convoluted!

Again and again we’ve been told by Burgundy Buddhas that the wines of this region are horribly difficult to understand, although the classification system – regional wines, village wines, Premier Cru vineyards then Grand Cru vineyards – is actually as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4. We recommend you treat the hysterical adulation of and holy-than-thou marketing hyperbole for Burgundy with the same healthy degree of skepticism that we do.

Norman Hardie and his two cool companions also reminded me of the other huge problem for this region. “Where did you taste this morning?” I asked them on the Place Carnot. “Oh, the best! We were at Domaine Coche-Dury,” he answered. And it’s true that no white Burgundy wines have a higher reputation around Planet Wine than those from Coche-Dury. “Of course, we didn’t ask if we could buy a bottle,” Norm told me, and that’s equally true. Try to buy a bottle of Coche-Dury in one of the luxury wine stores on the Place Carnot and you’ll either draw a blank or you’ll pay many times the price that the lucky few with an allocation at the domaine do. Norm goes there because although the Coche-Dury wines taste totally different to his own he finds inspiration in them. Of course, that’s great.

The cult surrounding the wines of this domaine, along with those of many other famous Burgundy domaines, is so extreme that even the world’s leading restaurants can’t buy from importers anywhere near the quantity they need to keep the wines on their lists year round. Aldo Sohm, the humble chief sommelier of Le Bernardin in New York explained that situation to me. He told me he has no choice but to scour the secondary market for every bottle he can find, “and, of course, I’m not the only person doing that!” This is one of the factors pushing prices for the wines of the most famous Burgundy domaines up from the stratosphere towards outer space.

What relevance would ratings JamesSuckling.com have for a totally over-heated market like that have? We humbly suggest the answer to this question is, “absolutely none”. And as you will see from our report there are other producers whose wines are rather widely distributed, so that you can buy them in the normal way! Some of them taste so good I’d consider licking them up off the floor!

PS There’s a prize for anyone who can recognize the Burgundian tasting room floor in the picture below!

Grand Cru floorboards in Burgundy

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#bordeauxisreallyback and I am Really Back in Bordeaux

Monday, January 15th at Château Lafite Rothschild

As you can see from the photograph above, taken by Nick Stock on January 15th at Château Lafite Rothschild, after steering clear of red Bordeaux for quite a few  years #bordeauxisback and I’m getting back into Bordeaux with enthusiasm. My lack of interest for red Bordeaux during the decade beginning 2006 had a lot to do with the high prices asked for the excellent 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages. Since then prices shifted back down to more reasonable levels while prices in a bunch of other regions specialized in high-end reds continued to head skywards.

During my three tours of the region since November 2016 and most recently in January 2018 with the JamesSuckling.com team I found plenty of excellent wines in the Euro 10 – 50 range from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages. It’s a long time since Bordeaux had so much excellent wine to offer! I also came to the conclusion that as long as legendary wines like Château Lafite Rothschild also taste legendary there’s no problem with three figure Euro prices. “Expensive” is one of the most elastic words out there, not least because it’s so personal – you decide! – and often depends on both situation and mood.

The other reason for my renewed enthusiasm for Bordeaux is that after some pretty wild stylistic exaggerations that had a lot to do with certain producers trying to cash in Robert Parker’s then enormous influence upon the market there’s been a return to sanity. The long Parker Period is not only over, it’s starting to feel like history. When I was in Bordeaux in January with James Suckling and Nick Stock tasting primarily the 2015 vintage wines in bottle for JamesSuckling.com, I frequently felt a connection between the new wines and the best I tasted when I was introduced to red Bordeaux in London back in the early 1980s. The best comparison is with the string of 1982 cask samples I was lucky to taste (although the 2014s are lighter, the 2015s crisper and the 2016 firmer than those wines). Small quantities of 1982s – I was a poor art student – were amongst my first wine purchases not destined for immediate consumption.

Wines with dominant new oak aromas are now as rare in Bordeaux as those that are massively extracted, both techniques that attempt to magnify the stature of red wines. I’m sure that reverse osmosis concentration and micro-oxidation machines are still being used in some cellars, but today none of the winemakers treat them as short cuts to high quality as was once the case. Sure, some winemakers are picking the grapes later than I would if I was in their shoes, but that’s not manipulation, rather an aesthetic decision on the part of the winemaker. It helps create the wonderful stylistic diversity in Bordeaux.

The result of this is not only well balanced wines with an attractive freshness (very pronounced in 2015), but also that taste of their appellations and sometimes have a clear vineyard character. There’s so much character that it would be possible to write lengthy stories about a bunch of individual producers scattered throughout the region. Isn’t that what we’re looking for? For quite a large chunk of the wine scene in the West the answer seems to be “NO!” in this case, because for them Bordeaux is passé. I’m talking particularly about those somms, journalists and merchants focused on so-called “natural” and orange wines. For many of them red Bordeaux is an industrial and elitist product that’s grossly over-priced. To me it looks like they talked themselves into this corner, and often they can’t really explain why they see the region that way.

I humbly advise anyone who hasn’t taken Bordeaux seriously during recent years to study the reports on the 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages on JamesSuckling.com because there’s so many stunning wines out there, some for friendly prices. Here’s a link to the report on the 2015s in bottle. Enjoy!

Bordeaux is Really Back with 2015

After this was published and I announced its posting on Facebook Annette Schiller (of Ombiasy Public Relations and Wine Tours) made a comment that’s  makes some important additional points, and I therefore quote it in full:

I totally agree with Stuart Pigott. The image of Bordeaux as a wine region that is for a big part in the hands of international companies that reign over huge wineries is simply not true. There are about 7,500 producers in Bordeaux. Only 8% have more than 100 ha; only 3.5% of wines are more expensive than 15 Euro per bottle, only 1.25% of Châteaux belong to the classified ones that make headlines in the news. There is an ocean of dedicated, quality driven producers – the so called “petits Châteaux” who struggle to make ends meet. Just last night we opened a 1987 Château du Grand Bois, Lalande de Pomerol and a 1997 Châteaux Beauséjour, Puisseguin – Saint-Émilion of our friend Gérard Dupuis whose father was a pioneer in the late 1940s to convert to biodynamic winemaking. Both wines were excellent, no teenagers anymore but wonderful mature adults, and did not break our bank. I truly love the Bordeaux wine region and Bordeaux wines.

And just to show that I don’t only use eccentric photos, here is a more conventional one showing Nick Stock (second from left), James Suckling (third from left) and I (far right) with members of the Château Lafite Rothschild team.

Monday, January 15th lunch at Château Lafite Rothschild

 

 

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 2 – WEIN WEIBLICH The Movie Seeks The Superstar / WEIN WEIBLICH sucht den Superstar

This could be you!

I am a small part of the documentary movie WEIN WEINBLICH or Wine Women team. We – Christoph Koch, Gunnar Swanson and I – are seeking a young female winemaker who is studying at the Geisenheim Wine University to be one of the stars of this movie. There is no age limit and you don’t have to be from a wine background, nor do you need to look anything like a Hollywood movie star! Because fluency in the German language is a requirement the German version of this announcement precedes the English version. 

WEIN WEIBLICH sucht den SUPERSTAR

Stuart Pigott sucht das größte Nachwuchstalent unter den angehenden Winzerinnen an der Uni Geisenheim!

„Wein Weiblich“ ist ein Dokumentarfilm in Spielfilmlänge (100 Minuten plus) für den wir eine Jungwinzerin suchen, die Studentin an der Hochschule Geisenheim ist.

Ihre Aufgabe: Sie muss einen eigenen Wein machen.

Die Vorgabe:   Trockener Riesling, Jahrgang 2018 (min. 300 Liter).

Vom ersten Rebschnitt bis zur Abfüllung begleiten wir Sie mit der Kamera. Im großen Finale findet eine Blindverkostung mit allen Weinen der Protagonisten statt. Mit dabei sind die Winzerinnen Dr. Eva Vollmer, Katharina Wechsler, Silke Wolf (Shelter Winery), Theresa Breuer und der Weinkritiker Stuart Pigott, der für dieses Projekt auch einen eigenen Wein kreiert. Am Besten haben Sie genauso viel Spaß an der Sache wie wir. Dann wird es richtig gut! Bitte nicht vergessen: wir sind NICHT in Hollywood! Unser Ziel ist so nahe wie nur möglich an die gegenwärtige Realität des Weinbaus zu kommen!

Am 31.01.2018 findet unser Casting an der Hochschule Geisenheim statt. Sie müssen sich und Ihr Weinbauprojekt „Trockener Riesling 2018“ vor uns und der laufenden Kamera präsentieren (max. 10 Min., jede Teilnehmerin bekommt einen eigenen Termin).

Alle Bewerbungen bitte an folgende E-Mail: casting@wein-weiblich.de

Wir nehmen max. 20 Bewerbungen an. Die ersten 20 Bewerberinnen werden berücksichtigt und bekommen einen Termin am 31. Januar. Die Dreharbeiten beginnen mit dem Casting und enden im Sommer 2019 (ca. 8-10 Drehtage für Sie insgesamt)

Sie erhalten zwar kein Geld, aber werden zum SUPERSTAR!

Stuart Pigott und das WEIN WEIBLICH Filmteam freuen

sich auf Sie.

*********

WEIN WEIBLICH seeks the SUPERSTAR

Stuart Pigott seeks the best new winemaker talent amongst the female students of Geisenheim!

„Wein Weiblich“ is a documentary film of feature film length (100 minutes plus) for which we are seeking a female student at the Hochschule Geisenheim.

Your task:                     to make your own wine

The parameters:          dry Riesling, 2018 vintage (minimum quantity 300 liters)

From the pruning of the vines to the bottling of the finished product our camera will follow how you make your wine. The finale of the film will be a blind tasting in which the wines of all the protagonists will be included. This means that your wine will stand next to those made for our film by Theresa Breuer, Silke Wolf (Shelter Winery) Dr. Eva Vollmer, Katharina Wechsler and the wine critic Stuart Pigott. Ideally you will have as much fun doing all this as we will filming it. Then the results will be really good. Please don’t forget that this is NOT Hollywood! Our goal is to get as close to the contemporary reality of winemaking as possible!

The 31.01.2018 is the casting day for this role and the casting interviews will take place at the Hochschule Geisenheim. You must then present yourself and your dry Riesling 2018 project to us in front of the running camera (maximum 10 minutes per candidate, each of whom get an appointment to prevent long waiting times).

Please send your application to the following email address:

casting@wein-weiblich.de

Unfortunately we can only accept 20 applications, since this is the maximum number of casting interviews we can on 31.01.2018. Therefore it is important to apply as soon as possible. Shooting begins with the casting interview and extends through to the end of the summer 2019 (in total you can expect c. 8-10 days shooting).

Sadly, we can’t pay you for all this,

But it’s your chance to become a SUPERSTAR!

Stuart Pigott and the WEIN WEIBLICH film team look forward to working with you!

Wein Weiblich

 

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Eppstein Wine Diary: Day 1 – The New Beauty of German Wine, James Suckling and I

James Suckling

Who believes in the beauty of wine? James Suckling (pictured above) and I, along with many others too. However, some of our colleagues seem to have a problem with it. My report about the wines of the Nahe region of Germany came out just a few days ago on JamesSuckling.com (for the link scroll to the bottom) and very quickly it became clear that while many wine lovers agree with me about their beauty, some of my colleagues are stunned and outraged by my report.

What’s the problem? It’s very simple really: I dared to rate many dry and sweet Rieslings from rising star producers 90+ and some 95+ because that’s how good the wines struck me when I tasted them. For us at JamesSuckling.com the taste of the wine is everything; fame gains a producer no extra points and being unknown denies them no points either. We are fundamentally democratic in our approach and open for every kind of wine beauty.

Over the last 20 years the printed guides to German wines – there are now 5 of them! – developed a system of rating not only individual wines, but also producers. The problem with that approach seems to be that if a producer is highly-rated, then their wines get higher scores than they would if the producer was less highly rated. During my research for the series of German wine reports (Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz and Nahe) I wrote this year for JamesSuckling.com I was repeatedly told by rising star winemaker in Germany that they didn’t get 90+ scores from one or other German wine guide, “because I’ve only got two stars/grape symbols, not four or five.” Looking at several of the guides (Falstaff seemed to be an exception) I could see exactly what the young winemakers were talking about.

The problem with this situation is that it results in a distorted picture of the nation’s wines being communicated to the readers of the wine guides. I reject this not only because it creates a strange hierarchy but, more importantly, because the ratings fail to reflect what you or I can taste. The beauty of certain wines doesn’t seem to count fully for some of my colleagues.

Of course, giving a wine a 95+ score makes a big statement, and the words of description I used for these wines on JamesSuckling.com do the same thing. Of course, I am sticking my neck out with them and if the majority of readers disagree with me about the beauty of that wine, then I made the opposite mistakes to the wine guides. However, in my opinion every wine critic must be willing to take that risk to state her or his opinion as clearly as possible. Certainly, this is how James Suckling has worked over the 30 years I’ve known him, and this was an important reason for me to join his team.

I must point out that these “high” ratings are not the product of my desire to lavish praise on underdog producers. Rather, they result from the great ambition, determination, perfectionism and rigorousness of the new generation of German winemakers who emerged from the last turn of the century. They have created a wealth of new wine beauty and this demands my attention. However, because of the inherent conservatism of their methods and what strikes me as a grudging attitude to recognizing the achievements of young talent, the printed wine guides are lagging behind this development. All too often their ratings seem to be influenced by the situation 5, 10 or more years ago.

Maybe I am wrong, but my gut tells me that behind this problem lies in the longing for more certainty than is realistic in our rapidly changing world. Many of my colleagues seem to yearn for is a canon of classics that though not static, changes by small increments that are determined by them. They want the illusion that they are in charge, when the truth is that the market is the decisive thing. At JamesSuckling.com we want to be part of that dynamic and believe that doing so enables to have more influence than if we try to pull the breaks on.

None of this means that we are against giving well-established producers top ratings if their wines deserve it. Some of my favorite wines during JamesSuckling.com tastings this year were 2014 Château Mouton-Rothschild (rated 98), 2008 Vega Sicilia Unico (rated 100 points) and the 2015 Hermannshöhle Riesling GG from Dönnhoff (rated 97 points). Take a look at the Nahe report on JamesSuckling.com by using the link below and decide for yourself. Please note that you can read the story for free, but to see all the ratings and tasting notes you have to take out a subscription. The only thing we have in common with the wine guides is that you have to pay for the results of extensive tastings. Please don’t hesitate to tell me what your impression is. You can easily find me on Facebook and Twitter.

https://www.jamessuckling.com/wine-tasting-reports/lost-world-riesling-nahe/?mc_cid=1336fcb083&mc_eid=0765a4a47d

Stuart Pigott Riesling Global

 

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