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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, December 11 2009. 14:07

Historical Tasting of Grand Cru VDP German Wines

A select audience was treated to a taste of twenty wines from different VDP estates at the residence of the German Ambassador by the editor of the German Wine Guide, Mr. Joel Payne on Monday. Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy which organised the historical event in Delhi, reports.

Photos By:: Adil Arora
Joel Payne explaining the German wine regions

‘German wines-cheap and sweet. But no more,’ said Joel Payne when he started the Masterclass with an overflowing house of select group of invitees that included importers, sommeliers, journalists and restaurateurs; all of them occupying the 22 chairs on the long, never-ending dining table in the dining room of the ambassador in the afternoon..

The group had earlier been welcome over a glass of sparkling wine by the new Ambassador to India, H.E. Mr. Thomas Matussek. He talked about his stint at London where many celebrity writers like Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson used to come for German wine tastings. ‘Jancis loved the German Rieslings, he reflected.’ He also promised to encourage such tastings once he settled down.

Payne started by clearing the misconception about German wines ‘Today, contrary to people’s belief, two thirds of the wines produced by Germany are dry wines and if we remove Mosel which is known more for its excellent sweet wines, 90% wines are dry wines.’

To prove this point Joel had selected white dry wines from different regions- Franken, Pfalz, Baden, Nahe, Rheingau, and Rheinhessen. The sweet wines were of course from Mosel and Nahe while the red was from the most popular region for quality Pinot Noirs from Ahr and Pfalz.

Matter of Taste- Kavita Faiella of Hotel Amanresorts sharing her impression

The Silvaner which provides perhaps the best dry value-for-money white German wine was leading the pack with a couple from Franken followed by a Pinot Blanc from Pfalz and a pinot Gris from Baden. The spate of Rieslings followed from Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau and Rheinhessen. Although each had its own character and personality, all of them were so loveable that it would be difficult for anyone to say that one region was decidedly better than the other like in the case of Mosel which rules supreme in the sweet wine category.

The three Pinot Noirs ( Spätburgunder) from Ahr and Pfalz were a good example of how fast Germany has come along in the development of red wines in the recent times. ‘Ahr is a cooler region quite suitable to this red varietal,’ said Joel.

Subhash Arora addressing the invitees

While explaining the genesis and the current status about VDP-the association of German wine producers, he touched upon the subject of German Wine Laws of 1971 which he said were generally conceived to be instrumental in bringing down the quality of their wines. ‘In the democratic society, it would be very difficult for the politicians to incorporate any sweeping changes now. So the role of VDP which was founded in 1910 as Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (natural wines without adding sugar) has become increasingly important in recent times.

The concept of Erste Lage (Grand Cru) has been introduced within the existing legal system so that the customer can identify these wines and be sure of high quality. According to Payne, most of the wines tasted were within the range of €20-€35; great wines to pick up at the duty free shops.

Joel Payne in discussion with the Ambassador

While each participant had his or her personal favourites, not one could say that any of the wines was not well liked. The participants applauded the tasting carried out very professionally by Joel Payne. Craig Wedge, Senior Vice President of FineWinesnMore, who had flown from Mumbai especially for the Tasting was succinct in his remarks, ‘It was very good. These little things are always worth the effort. Thanks for the invite. You can count me in on any such tasting again.’

The selection of the wines was really well planned. Payne had taken pain to give proper weightage to different regions. Kavita Faiella, the Australian Sommelier with Indian name and Italian lineage, who is the cellar master at the Hotel Amanresorts in Delhi since last year says, ‘I thoroughly enjoyed Mondays tasting - the selection of wines and information given was great To tell you the honest truth – it was the best and most professionally executed tasting I have been to since arriving in India. Thanks for the invite. I look forward to more to come.’

Taste in session- Ambassador (R) at the extreme end

It was a good idea to add red wines to the tastings too as people in India still think Germany is basically a Riesling producer. Says Vikash Gupta, Director of the Gurgaon (near Delhi) based import company Opera Wines,’ Thank you for inviting me to the great tasting. I am a big fan of Riesling, so kind of enjoyed all of them quite bit. On the Red, I loved the last one from Kammerberg.’

The attached pdf file published with due permission from the VDP through Joel, is quite detailed and would be extremely useful for  sommeliers, journalists, importers, consumers, hotel industry and even schools and colleges teaching about wine- in fact it would be interesting for all of our readers.. It is difficult to find more concise and lucid explanation and commentary of today’s German industry and the top 198 wine estates producing what VDP calls as the Grand Cru wines.


Grand Cru Tour 2009 delWine

For an earlier delWine article on the German Wine Guide and Joe Payne, click


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