Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Gift Wine

by Bradford Pace (writer), Richmond, December 07, 2009

Credit: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd
Label: 2005 St. Nikolaus-Hospital Riesling Auslese

A winery in Germany funds a charitable trust.

A German wine label can be beautiful but also confusing. Among the various terms included are vintage, vineyard site, grape varietal, ripeness level of that grape, and location within Germany. The name of the producer can be hard to find, while “banners” or “secondary titles” pose as that name. To start, I’ll explain the label at hand. This is a 2005 Riesling Auslese (“Auslese” meaning "a selection" of late-ripened grape clusters) from the vineyard site Graacher Himmelreich in the Mosel region of Germany (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, found on the label, is even too vague). In the bottom right-hand corner of the label is the name of the producer: Weingut Stiftung St. Nikolaus-Hospital (“Weingut” meaning “Wine Estate” and “Stiftung” meaning “Foundation”) or simply St. Nikolaus-Hospital. The banner, "Cardinal Cusanus Stiftswein," reveals a specific history of the winery: Stiftswein (I translate as “Gift Wine” or “Donation Wine”) historically linked to Cardinal Cusanus.

Importer Fran Kysela contributes: "Himmelreich" means Kingdom of Heaven, which reflects the historic commitment of the churches in wine production, with holdings in the best locations. St. Nikolaus-Hospital is the oldest estate in the Middle Mosel region, founded in 1458 by Nikolaus von Kues. He later became Cardinal (“Cardinal Cusanus”) and founded the St. Nikolaus-Hospital, a social service institution that has been functioning since 1465 (now home to Red Cross Social Services).

Can a consumer benefit from being charitable? To be sure. To start, Terry Theise calls the typical 2005 Mosel a “wine of staggering ripeness and concentration yet still elegant and transparent.” The vineyard site is self-described as heavenly, the facility is state-of-the-art, and winemaker Achim Kerpen enjoys the fruit of numerous international awards. Combine this with a winery of over 500 years history, and I offer my tasting notes:

Minty – but more “subtle herbs” reminiscent of Campari. When held to the light: golden fleece with a pure green tint. Clarified apple cider in the mouth. Very pure. Nice fatness but not utterly viscous. A light girding of minerality (the vines are planted in slate) and imperceptible acidity. ($30)

A beautiful example of German Riesling. You will be struck by the generosity. In this case, the winery’s history adds nothing but class. This holiday, gift wine (Stiftswein). As you enjoy, others will benefit.

About the Writer

Bradford Pace is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on Gift Wine

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By JJFCPA on December 07, 2009 at 04:46 pm

Very informative - most of us do not know what to make of the info on a wine label. Thanks

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By Theresa H Hall on December 16, 2009 at 12:36 am

I always have an inadequate feeling whenever I have the duty of finding wine. I need someone like yourself to choose and pair for me. Sounds like it's time to take wine lessons. Perhaps you could offer classes on this subject?

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By Bradford Pace on December 16, 2009 at 04:01 pm

Hi Theresa. If you lived in/around DC, we could meet! If not, I guess I could create a "do-it-yourself" wine tasting series on Broowaha.

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By Bradford Pace on December 16, 2009 at 05:11 pm

That would be great. I see you're out West. I'm actually planning to be at Ridge (Santa Cruz Mountains) on Saturday. Potentially more opportunity to travel and taste until January 4th when I leave.

I have been tasting w/ Calypso Organic Imports today and will continue tomorrow. If anything, the more I taste the more I hate manipulated wine. They scream from the glass. I scream back. Not so much against technology or even sulfur (when, say, used well for the sake of transporting wine) but do think healthy grapes will produce wine of substance that don't need as much "protection."

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