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I don’t join many wine dinners because you always hope to show up at 7 PM and leave at 9 PM but end up returning home at 3 AM. How does that happen!?
But I did join the Lucashof tasting at Hulu last week because 1) I haven’t seen China rep David Kempf for years, not since he was at Chateau Nine Peaks in Shandong, and 2) I want to learn more about German wines.
Everyone and their Bruder in Germany talks about family history and soil — usually in denominations of millions of years. For Lucashof, it means fourth generation for wine-making, and third generation commercially. For the soil, we’re talking 250 million years, when the Rhine Valley was a seabed. Read the winery materials and you’ll see the word “Jurassic”, too.
These guys, handled in China by Wines 529, are in Pfalz, a key German wine area. And also into organic grapes and minimal intervention in the cellar, with natural yeasts, slow ferments and all that stuff. You don’t sense much oak influence, and when it is in play, we are talking big old barrels, anywhere from 1200 to 4500 liters and 5 to 45 years old.
OK, let’s talk about the wines.
The bubbly–Riesling Secco 2018–is a nice drop. Crisp and refreshing, with a ripe red apple character that takes on some toast, sponge toffee and lime elements. A capable palate opener. (price per bottle this night, minimum six bottle order, rmb120)
The Weissburgunder 2015 (rmb120) aka Pinot Blanc, with pear aromas and hints of white pepper and diesel, got more complex later with honeysuckle, smoke and slightly burnt toast smells. Meanwhile, the Pinot Gris 2017 (rmb125) was fuller, with mild stone fruit and whiffs of almonds and Honey Nut Cheerios. Pleasant acidity. These two were okay but the best was yet to come.
The single vineyard Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling 2018, described as “Premier Cru” to us, had peach, peach flowers and diesel aromas. Clean pure fruit with grapefruit character on this, with a crushed lime sensation at the finish. And also the best value, IMHO, at rmb125 on this night.
The “grand cru” single vineyard Ungeheuer Riesling 2017 was a very different drop. It had an initial grassy aroma–did I get a hint of marijuana?–that later took on loads of citrus plus some eucalyptus and stone fruit. A fresh fruity wine with good acidity and concentration. rmb145.
Finally, we had the sweet wine, Forster Pechstein Riesling Auslese 2007, with deep honey and apricot character. Fresh and sweet, but not sticky, a nice finish. It’s rmb290 — personally, I think your money is better spent on two bottles of those single vineyard wines.
Phillip Lucashof, who makes the wine with his father, presided over dinner. I made him say the names of areas near his winery–Musenhang, Lugisland, Wachenheim–in an Arnold Schwarzenagger voice. (No, I did not. And yes, I know Arnold was born in Austria, not Germany.)
He’s a recent wine-making graduate and travels the world to promote his wine in Lucashof’s key markets: China, Netherlands and US, including Kentucky and both Carolinas.
Also, superb service from the staff at Hulu as usual.
I later took Lucashof and Kempf on a tour of the nearby area, including Groovy Schiller’s and XL, whose investors own the Nearby the Tree in Qingdao, where Kempf lives, and Pi Bar. Unfortunately, and this was a first for me, we saw not a single customer at any of these places. What happened Beijing, not a soul out, even on a crisp Monday night? Maybe they were all at home saving their money to buy some Ungeheuer.
(Apologies for any typos on the German names.)