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by Fred McMillin
Don't Shoot the Messenger
Where on earth is the messenger? The grapes need to be picked; They are starting to rot!
...J.M. Engert, Winemaker, Schloss Johannisberg on the Rhine, 1775.
So why wait for the messenger??
The Rest of the Story
The owner of the famous Schloss (castle) vineyard was the Abbot of Fulda. He lived a seven-day ride away. Each year the harvest was not to start until the owner approved. Some historians say the charms of a lady were involved, but in any case the messenger sent to obtain the approval returned too late. The grapes had shriveled. Even worse, there had been some rain, producing a mold that caused the bunches to rot! I'm sure the 47-year-old Johann Engert would have liked to shoot the messenger.
While all other vineyards had been harvested weeks earlier, nevertheless, the ruined grapes were picked and pressed. There was very little juice to ferment. Gloom city!
February 1776—Wait a minute. Johann is not sure what's going on. His cellar notes are preserved. "The new wine is mostly still cloudy and has stopped fermenting with a spicy sweetness...extraordinary."
April 1776—"This 1775 wine is so extraordinary that from the eight tasters no word was heard other than—I have never had such a wine in my mouth before."
The messenger had done them some favor. They had made the first "noble-rot" Riesling. That noble rot would later be identified as due to the mold Botrytis Cinerea (bow-try-tiss sin-eh-RAY-ah).
September 2000—Let's see what Gary and Mike Hogue, (pictured), have to say about their Riesling from the State of Washington: "The grapes for this wine were lightly coated with a clean Botrytis mold." of course, it is our...
Wine of the Day
1999 Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington
Riesling's origins? There's general agreement that it first appeared wild in southern Germany in the Dark Ages. Benedictine monks nursed it into prominence. In fact, that cellar where Johann wrote his notes was created by German Benedictines.
09/15/00—PK Is A-OK!
09/14/00—Meanwhile, Back at the Chateau
09/13/00—Sept. 13 Is Grandparents' Day
09/11/00—No Way, José...White Wines Don't Win!
09/08/00—Like WOW! Whadda Tasting!
09/07/00—Best of the Course
09/05/00—The Discovery of Wine According to Omar Khayyam
09/04/00—Your Chardonnay For Labor Day
This page created September 2000