Monday, May 9, 2011

A world-beating Pinot Blanc from Kruger-Rumpf

Photo: Peter Schleicher

That fine German wines are available in Western Canada is due, at least in part, to the diligent salesmanship of Peter Schleicher, under his banner, German Estate Wines.

He understands the territory from an earlier time. Between 1967 and 1969, he lived in Regina and worked as a salesman for a firm that sold spin driers.

I learned that in a brief conversation with him last week and, unfortunately, neglected to clarify whether he was selling washing machines or industrial equipment for wheat farms.

Nor did I ask how he moved from that to selling wine. Perhaps it had something to do with the notorious taste of Regina water at the time. German wine would have tasted a lot better. In fact, almost anything tasted better,

At British Columbia’s Liquor Distribution Branch, the veteran staff remember Peter’s sales calls when he was getting established in the business. He would travel out to the LDB head office by bus from his downtown hotel, carefully husbanding the transfer. If the visit was short enough, he could travel back downtown on the same ticket.

Hard work has paid off. During the past decade or so, German Estate Wines has been welcomed regularly to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. The festival’s selection committee knew that Peter would always bring four or five outstanding wines from some of the top German producers he represents.

Last week, he was back in Vancouver to call on the LDB (probably arriving by taxi this time) and to host several trade tastings. I attended one of those events and tasted one of the greatest Pinot Blancs that I have ever tasted.

The flagship grape in Germany, of course, is Riesling and Peter had four Rieslings as well. They were all excellent; the Pinot Blanc, however, took many of us by surprise.

I am not sure why it should have. In Germany, the variety is called Weissburgunder and is fairly widely grown because it adapts well to many German terroirs. It was one of the varieties that Dr. Helmut Becker introduced to British Columbia in the late 1970s for a trial of vinifera grapes. Pinot Blanc was arguably the most successful variety in those trials. It is now grown widely here and turned into very appealing white wines by numerous B.C. producers.

The one that Peter showed last week is from Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, a very fine family winery in the Nahe. The family has been growing grapes since 1708. Since 1992, the winery has been a member of VDP, the consortium of top German wine producers.

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Photo: Stefan Rumpf

The winery is well worth visiting. It is in a small community called Münster-Sarmsheim. Stefan and Cornelia Rumpf, the owners, also operate a first-rate tavern as part of the winery.

Three of the five wines Peter presented last week were from Kruger-Rumpf. Two of them, according to Trialto, Peter’s Vancouver agency, are of “limited availability.” If this post stirs your interest, call Kenn Lymer at Trialto (604-367-5670).

Here are notes on Peter’s wines.

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling QBA 2009 ($18.99 and a specialty store listing). This wine is fresh and appealing. Light on the palate, it tastes of limes and grapefruit with a tangy, dry finish. 90.

Rappenhof Alsheimer Fischerpfad Riesling Kabinett 2007 ($22; a speculative offering). This wine has a lovely, juicy balance, with honeyed flavours of lime and apple. The flavours are deceptively fresh and bright for a four-year-old white, a reminder of how well German Rieslings age. 91.

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf Schiefer Riesling Feinberb 2009 ($24.99 and a specialty listing). This elegant dry Riesling shows a complexing touch of petrol on the nose, with flavours of peach and citrus and a honeyed note on the finish. 90.

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Kapellenberg Kabinett 2009 ($25.99 and a speculative offering). Another elegant wine, this has aromas and flavours of lime and grapefruit with a lingering finish that does not want to quit. 91.

Weingut Kruger-Rumpf “Silvercap” Pinot Blanc Dry ($33 and a speculative offering). Both rich and juicy on the palate, this wine has lovely, clean aromas and flavours of apples and melons, with a spine of minerality. The finish is long and immensely satisfying. 95.


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