…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2007 Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Gaisböhl Beerenauslese


Date tasted:  May 19th, 2009 23:40 (11:40pm)

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf is the largest family owned estate in Germany with just over 110HA of vineyards all located in the heart of the Pfalz.  The vineyards are located in Wachenheim, Forst, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg including the monopol sites “Wachenheimer Rechbächel” and “Gaisböhl” in Ruppertsberg. They were the first non-French member of the well-known French organization “Syndicat International des Vignerons en Culture Bio-Dynamique” with the label BIODYVIN.  In the beginning of 2005 all 83 hectares of Bürklin-Wolf’s vineyards were converted to bio-dynamic methods. Dr. Bürklin-Wolf has passed with success all necessary controls by the EU control agencies and is certified as a bio-dynamic winery.

Gaisböhl Beerenauslese harvest

Gaisböhl 2007 BA harvest

This wine has a special place in my heart.  On September 12, 2007 a friend and I arrived in the Pfalz where I would remain for the following 10 days to take part in the harvest.  The very next day we had our very first harvesting experience.  We were to (hand) harvest grapes (Riesling) in the Gaisböl vineyard, and those grapes were to be at the Beerenauslese level!  Beerenauslese (BA) directly translated means “selected grapes”, which simply meant that we were hand selecting grapes that were going to be used in this wine.  The grapes in a BA wine are normally effected by Botrytis (the basis for the worlds greatest sweet wines like Sauternes and Tokaji).  The minimum required Oechsle value (of the grapes) in the Pfalz to qualify as a BA is 120 (the Oechsle scale is a hydrometer scale measuring the density of grape must, which is an indication of grape ripeness and sugar content.  The higher the value, the higher sugar content, the higher the potential alcohol).  This wine also had a small percentage of “fresh” grapes; grapes not effected by this “noble rot”. At analysis, the grapes that went into this wine had an Oechsle reading of 145!  This Oechsle reading puts this wine at just a few degrees under the Trockenbeerenauslese level of 150!

It is quite unusual to be picking grapes of this level so early in the harvest season.  Many of the other Bürklin vineyards weren’t even going to be harvested for fresh grapes for another couple of weeks.  I have to say that it was a challenging first day of harvesting!  There are many types of rot and you have to be very selective to assure that the good rot is the one you are harvesting, the rest goes right on the ground!

The Gaisböhl vineyard is solely owned by the Bürklin estate.  This vineyard is considered a “Grand Cru” (according to the Bürklin-Wolf’s own strict vineyard classification system dating back to 1995).  The vineyard covers 5,7ha and was planted in 1977.

As many of you may know, 2007 is heralded as an excellent vintage in Germany.  A vintage which has the potential to age for decades.  This wine was no exception.  It was immediately approachable but had the potential to age, well probably longer than you or I.

Wine analysis/details:

Grape:  100% Riesling

Oechsle measurement before fermentation:  145° Oe

Price:  € 70,00 per 0,375l, double for 0,75l (this  bottle was a 0,375 l)

Production:  about 500 liters

Residual Sugar:  188g/liter

Residual Acidity:  16g/liter!!

2009-05-20_1764Alcohol content:  7%

Appearance: Poured like liquid syrup!  Golden orange with amber hints.

Nose: Orange marmalade, apricot nectar, honey, lemon with mineral undertones.  “cool” chalky smell with hints of eucalyptus.  Lots of apricots!  I could smell this wine all night!

Palate: Pure, apricot syrup with extreme, mature acidity!  The finish has hints of dried apricots and sour fruit.  The wine really coats the mouth and the texture is mind-blowing.  The finish is extremely long, at least a minute or more..

This has got to be one of the finest sweet wines I have ever tasted, because it had extreme focus of both fresh and dried fruits with amazing acidity giving this wine lift and freshness!

For those of you that don’t enjoy sweet wines, this one is worth a try.  The secret with sweet wines is the acidity.  Sweet wines need acidity to balance out the sugar.  When the acidity is in balance,  the wine will seem fresh no matter how sweet it is.  In other words, the higher the residual sugar, the higher the acidity needs to be.  If there is a lack of acidity, which unfortunately is too often the case, the wine will seem cloying and will sting at the back of the throat.  This is why cool climate countries have the advantage in the sweet wine world. The cooler climate produces grapes with higher acidity and typically the sweet wines made from these grapes are fresher.

Suggested music pairing:  Blank & Jones “Butterfisch” from the album Relax Edition 4

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, biodynamic wine, Germany, Pfalz, Ruppertsberg


Vino Vino Vino 2009


I had the opportunity to check out the Gruppo Vini Veri, Vino Vino Vino 2009 gathering at Villa Boschi in Isola della Scala, Verona Italy last week.  I had never been to this gathering before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Although some things impressed me, I was also disappointed by others. Of course I didn’t get to taste everything, but from my sampling, here’s my personal feedback.

manifesto.inddFirst, the positive. Many exciting wines coming out of Sicily. These Sicilians, especially around Mount Etna, are delivering fresh and interesting wines from  indigenous grapes. White wine grapes like the Carricante and red wine grapes from the Nerello family. What really impressed me the most about these wines was the freshness, something you are seeing more of in well-made Sicilian Wines. Many of these wines were natural, without the addition of Sulphur Dioxide, no filtering and thankfully, no oak. Many of the wines were fermented/stored in cement, steel or amphora’s.

It was also nice to see many “orange wines”, white wines made using maceration techniques (letting the grape must sit with the grape skins for some days) rendering some white wines with a more orange-like hue. Although some of these were exciting, fresh and well-made, many were over-macerated, overly tannic and bitter. Just because this old wine making technique is coming back into fashion, doesn’t mean you should be (over) doing it! Listen up!

Then, there were too many wines from the region of Tuscany. It seemed that upwards of 25% percent of the producers at this gathering were from Tuscany. Although there were some interesting (and excellent) wines from Tuscany,  I found most to be too similar and un-interesting.

The most disappointing thing for me, however, was the shortage of non-Italian wine makers. I understand that Italy has more vineyards being farmed organically (up to 5 times) than other European wine-making countries and that we were in Verona, Italy, but I would have liked to have seen more French, Spanish, Portuguese and German (etc.) wine makers at this gathering.

Overall, I can see that producing natural wine is becoming fashionable and trendy. I am glad that at least natural products are becoming trendy and fashionable, but I felt that there were too many wine makers making natural wine because it was the fashionable thing to do. Thankfully, you can taste who these copycat producers were, and they were not good.

I would like to end this entry on a positive note by saying that I was happy to meet some wine-makers whom I have had some contact with both personally and of course through their wines:

Drink more naturally made wines and wake up the next day feeling fresh!

Category: 1 WINE, biodynamic wine, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), organic wine


Joe Dressner is part owner of Louis/Dressner Selections, an American wine importer specializing in small producers, mostly French wines from highly regarded names like Bernard Baudry and Didier Barrouillet.

I just had to share this quote which was found on a blog post about the state of wine tasting today:

“Wine is not a vehicle for egomania, boastfulness and self-promotion. All the great ‘tasters’ I have known are able to submerge their ego and understand what is in the bottle.”

I couldn’t agree with this quote more and that’s why I am repeating it here.  I feel that there are too many people working in the wine world that just don’t understand wine. Just because you have an education and some knowledge (and brag about it), doesn’t mean you understand wine or that you ever will.

You can follow Joe Dressner’s blog here.

Category: 1 WINE, biodynamic wine, natural wine (100% living wine), organic wine


Vini Veri ("Real Wines")

I’m heading to Vini Veri Vino Vino Vino 2009 (“Real Wines”) in Verona, Italy on April 2nd! Read more about it here.

I’ll update you when I get back!

OK…here’s my update!

Category: 1 WINE, biodynamic wine, Events, natural wine (100% living wine), organic wine


A tasting note: 2002 David Léclapart L'Amateur Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut


Date tasted: March 25th, 2009 (also on at least 4 other occasions over the last two years.)

David Léclapart is a biodynamic Champagne house located in Trépail in the Montagne de Reims. Montagne de Reims is the home of the Pinot Noir grape, but Trépail is an exception to this rule.  Trépail is a Premier Cru village that grows Chardonnay in the heart of Pinot Noir land.

David has farmed his 2.75ha of vines biodynamically since 1998, producing a measly 7000 bottles per year in total,  spread across 4 different wines.  He uses minimal sulfur and doesn’t filter.

This cuvée is called L’Amateur and from what I gather, it’s his “entry-level” Champagne. It’s a blend of Chardonnay grapes from within Trépail.  Although the vintage is not clearly marked on the front label, this IS a vintage Champagne. On the back label in small writting you will find “L.V02”. I don’t know how long the wine has been on the lees, but I would estimate based on purchase date that it spends around 4 years on the lees.  This is an Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter).

Appearance: Some development showing. Good bubble structure and fine mousse.

Nose: I have had this cuvée and vintage on at least 4 other ocassions and this Champagne has really developed in the last few years. Intoxicating flinty minerality dominates with  pure green and yellow apples with some citrus overtones. Some honey notes and mushrooms in the background as you might expect to find on a developed Chardonnay.

Palate: The best way I have come to describe this Champagne when I have tasted it in the past has been to describe it as a very well made, unoaked Chablis with bubbles. Think Louis Michel or Daniel Dampt and you’ll get it. Ton’s of fresh minerals, yellow apples and hints of flint on the palate.  Fine and elegant bubble structure.

This is what I call a transparent wine. Everything is as it should be and easily understood. The fruit and structure are clean. It’s like cooking that fresh meal using the freshest of ingredients and being able to taste every single one of those ingredients. This is why I like naturally made wines. You can taste what should be in the bottle. David respects four principles:  purity, energy, pleasure and ecology. And, this is evident.

Some say that Champagne doesn’t develop well when it’s given a low dosage (of sugar in the form of grape must) after dégorgement, but this Champagne with it’s very low dosage has developed marvelously and is simply put,  is impressive. I have always loved this Champagne and this experience was no exception. I did feel however, that it was at or very near it’s peak, so if you find a bottle of the 2002, buy it, drink it, enjoy it!


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, biodynamic wine, Champagne, Trépail


Wine Tasting with Vinosseur – Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2007

Category: 1 WINE, 5 VIDEO WINE TASTING, biodynamic wine




Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

Get in touch

Joseph would love to hear from you! You can contact him by email at