Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Polenta and Ticino Wine at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland

Picture: Polenta at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland

As part of the 2014 Digitul Wine Communications Conference in Montreux, Switzerland, I explored the wines of Ticino during a post-conference press trip. This is the third of a series of postings (see below) emanating from my visit of Ticino. It is the first posting that does not focus on wine, but on food – polenta.

Exploring the Wines of Ticino in Ticino, the Italian Speaking Part of Switzerland
Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland
Polenta at Grotto Bundi, Mendrisio, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Cantina Kopp von der Crone Visini, with Anna Barbara von der Crone and Paolo Visini, Switzerland
Visiting and Tasting the Wines of Tamborini Carlo SA and Lunch with Valentina Tamborini, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Vini e Distillati Angelo Delea SA, with David Delea, Switzerland
Touring an Tasting the Wines of Agriloro SA and Diner with Owner Meinrad Perler, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Vinattieri Ticinesi, Switzerland
Lunch at Ristorante Montalbano in Stabio, Switzerland

Wine Producer Switzerland

Switzerland is a small wine producer with about 15 000 hectares of vineyards only. This is about 15 percent of Germany’s total winegrowing area and a bit more than 1 percent of that of Spain. Only less than 2% of the wine is exported, mainly to Germany.

Picture: Map of Switzerland

Switzerland's particular situation - in between four wine-producing nations (France, Italy, Germany and Austria) and itself divided into four different areas with different languages and traditions - has resulted in an extreme diversity of its wines.

Switzerland has an extensive range of grape varieties. Among the white grapes, the Chasselas is the most widespread. Müller-Thurgau, cultivated above all in the German speaking part of Switzerland, and Sylvaner are also popular. The main red grape varieties are Pinot Noir, which can be found in all the wine-producing regions of Switzerland, and Gamay, which predominates in the Valais; Merlot has found a second home in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino.


Ticino is a quite distinct winemaking zone in Switzerland, totaling 1000 hectares. The canton Ticino (and the wine region Tecino) is divided into two regions by the dividing line of the Monte Ceneri Pass: Sopraceneri in the north and Sottoceneri in the south. The Sopraceneri soils are rather stony with a full complement of silt and sand, while the Sottoceneri soils are limestone and deep, rich clays. Ticino's climate is Mediterranean.

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and Wine Tours, and Christian Schiller in Ticino, Switzerland

There are a total of about 3600 grape growers in Ticino and 200 or so winemakers, including a co-operative. The 200 or so winemakers range from pure negociant-type producer (who buy all the grapes the use for their wine) to winemakers that only use their own grapes for making wine. Vineyards are generally small, steep plots of between 3 ha and 6 ha and yields are at 70 hl/ha. 15 winemakers account for about 80% of the total production. The co-op produces 1 million bottles annually.

Merlot is the dominant grape variety. The Ticino Merlot ranges from easy drinking, including white, Merlots to ultra-premium Merlots that can compete with the best in the world (including Bordeaux) and cost US$50 to US$150 per bottle.

Guido Brivio, Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA, and Polenta Dinner at Grotto Bundi

In an interview, winemaker Guido Brivio, Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA, was asked: What traditional dishes would you recommend to drink with your wines? His answer: Polenta and risotto are traditional dishes. We have a north Italian culture here. What restaurants do you recommend in the region? If you want rustic food then the tavern, Grotto Bundi (, located on a road full of ancient wine cellars, is a must. Grotto serves the best polenta in the world, in my opinion.

In fact, after the tasting with Guido Brivio, see here: Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland, we were treated to a fabulous Polenta Dinner at Grotto Bundi.

Picture: Guido Brivio and Christian G.E. Schiller

Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA are operating as a pure negociants-type winery under the same roof and management in Mendrisio. Together, they buy fruit from 400 farmers operating on 100 ha of land in the region and produce 100.000 cases.

See also:
Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland
Exploring the Wines of Ticino in Ticino, the Italian Speaking Part of Switzerland

Polenta The word “polenta” has Hebrew, Greek and Latin (pulmentum) origins. Since the most ancient times, people have eaten some form of ground grain cereal (originally made from wheat, barley, millet, spelt (farro) or buckwheat), cooked in water or milk. In some areas of Italy polenta was prepared using course chestnut flour or flours made from dried legumes, such as fava beans, chickpeas, or cicerchia - a cereal similar to chickpeas but with a sweeter, earthier flavor still common in central and southern Italy. These different types of polenta, as alternatives to bread and pasta, have been basic to the diet of rural populations for centuries.

Pictures: Grotto Bundi

Beginning in the late 16th century - after the introduction of corn in Europe from the Americas (where it was known in Peru as “mahyz”) - polenta made from corn became the main source of nourishment for farm families in northeastern Italy. The importance of polenta in the everyday diet of northern Italians - especially in Veneto and Lombardy, where the climate and soil are well suited for the cultivation of corn cannot be overstated; historically, polenta has been as essential to the diet of northern Italians as the potato has been for the Irish and Germans. To this day, polenta is mainly associated with northern Italy and is a beloved element of the now celebrated “cucina povera” - meaning the “humble food” of Italian cuisine.

Pictures: Grotto Bundi - Sandrine e Stefano Romelli, Proprietari e Gerenti

For many northern Italians - particularly those who immigrated to South and North America - polenta evokes memories of family, warmth and winters around the fireplace when polenta was cooked in the paiolo - a copper pot used exclusively for the making of polenta.

Pictures: Polenta and Ticino Wine at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland

Venetians in general, but also gourmands and people that love good regional food, still appreciate this wonderful way to accompany an infinite number of regional recipes - from Fegato alla veneziana (a delicious recipe based on veal liver and onions) to Baccalà alla vicentina (a unique stockfish recipe) to the various pasticci (a culinary term meaning a “delicious mess”).

Pictures: Starters

Grotto Bundi’s Polenta Recipe

Here is a polenta recipe that you can find on the web site of Grotto Bundi.

240 g di farina ogni litro d'acqua (per una polenta non troppo spessa)
240 g. of flour per each water liter (for a not too thick polenta)
200 g. of flour per water liter (for a very smooth polenta).
Salt as for pasta.
½ liter of water for one person.

Pictures: Polenta at Grotto Bundi

Procedure: Put a pot with a thick bottom and a lid on the burner. Salt water, when it starts boiling take it away from fire and pour flour using the whisk , paying attention not to form lumps. Put on the large burner until polenta starts boiling again.

Picture: Dessert

When boil lessens and the first “vapor volcanoes” appear cover with lid and finish cooking with low temperature for at least 45 - 60 minutes. You can cook it longer if you want: the longer it cooks the more it’s good and digestible. If polenta remains too firm add a little boiling water.

Pictures: Grappa Nostrana

schiller-wine: Related Posting

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

The 2014 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Switzerland 

The Wines of Weingut Saxer, a Winemaker in the German-speaking part of Switzerland

The Wines of Switzerland – Grand Tasting with (and Introduction to Swiss Wines by) Jancis Robinson and José Vouillamoz 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A New Dr. Loosen Project Setting the Standard for Dry German Rieslings

Picture: German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy (2013) at Weingut Dr. Loosen with Ernst Loosen

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Weingut Dr. Loosen has just announced that they have launched two Grosses Gewächs Riesling Reserve wines which are bringing back the true origins of dry Riesling in Germany. The release of these Grosses Gewächs Riesling Reserve culminates Ernst Loosen’s 25-year search to find the most precise expression of dry Riesling and its terroir. Ernst is convinced that his Dr. L Riesling brand has been instrumental in introducing a new generation to the Riesling grape, and that the time is right to show the wine world that a dry Riesling from Grosse Lagen (Grand Cru) vineyards can make its name among the best wines in the world. To separate these wines from his normal Grosses Gewächs wines, Ernst Loosen has added the term “Reserve” to highlight their extended barrel aging.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Ernst Loosen and Christian G.E. Schiller at the 2013 Rheingau Riesling Gala at Kloster Eberbach, Rheingau, Germany

Ernst Loosen: “These Reserve Rieslings are a unique approach to Grosses Gewächs wines, which are dry Riesling from the top Grosse Lagen (Grand Cru) vineyards. I am returning to the traditions of my great grandfather who produced exclusively dry Riesling from our best vineyards and aged them for 24 to 36 months in large oak Fuder barrels. I have always believed that dry German Riesling deserved the same respect internationally as sweet Riesling, which has not been the case up to now. With the Grosses Gewächs Riesling Reserve, I feel we are now at the level of excellence I have been striving for over the last 25 years.”

Pictures: Tête-à-tête dinner at Rasika in Washington DC with Ernst Loosen, Washington Post Wine Columnist Dave McIntyre, Annette Schiller, wine tours by ombiasy and Christian Schiller.

To produce the Grosses Gewächs Riesling Reserve wines, Dr. Loosen looked for the most traditional way of making great dry Riesling. The use of Riesling grapes from Grosse Lagen parcels, fermentation using only indigenous yeasts, and aging in large old oak Fuder barrels on the full lees with no batonnage, has proven to be a winning combination. For the just-released 2011 vintage, parcels of 100-year-old Riesling vines with original rootstocks from the Ürziger Würzgarten and Erdener Prälat vineyards were aged on their lees for 24 to 36 months in 1,000-liter Fuder barrels. Due to the outstanding results, the 24-month method of aging has been expanded to another Grand Cru vineyard for the 2012 vintage, which will bring the total of Reserve Riesling to three for the 2012 vintage: Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Ürziger Würzgarten and Erdener Prälat. Dr. Loosen has also seen that a year of aging in bottle has given even more elegance and charm to the 2011 Grosses Gewächs Riesling Reserve wines; thus, in addition to the extended barrel aging the future Reserve Riesling will also be aged one year in bottle before release.

Click here for a video with Ernst Loosen explaining his new ultra-premium dry wines.

This is a press release by Dr. Loosen Imports. For more info, contact: Kirk Wille, Dr. Loosen Imports (USA)

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Riesling from Germany and Pinot Noir from Oregon: A Winemaker Dinner with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen and J.Christopher Wines, at Black Salt in Washington DC.

Riesling, Pinot Noir and Indian Cuisine: A tête-à-tête Dinner with Winemaker Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at Rasika in Washington DC, USA

Ernst Loosen and Dr. L. Riesling - His Hugely Popular Entry-level Wine Sold Throughout the World;

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

A Riesling Guru and a Killer Guitarist cum Cult Winemaker: Ernst Loosen and Jay Somers and their J. Christopher Winery in Newberg, Oregon

Wine ratings: Two American/German wines - Eroica and Poet's Leap - on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009

German American Wines: (1) Pacific Rim Riesling (2) Eroica and (3) Woelffer's Schillerwein

The German Winemakers at the 4th Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, USA

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weingut Kloster Pforta: Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting with Managing Director Christian Kloss – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Picture: Opening a Bottle of Sekt in Style: Sabrage

The Germany North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014) took us to 3 exceptional winemakers in the Saale Unstrut region. One of them was Weingut Kloster Pforta.

See also:
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux
Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Managing Director Christian Kloss toured with us the vineyards and the cellar and then sat down with us for a tasting.

The Saale Unstrut Wine Region

The Saale Unstrut wine region is Germany’s most northern wine region, in the valleys of the Saale and Unstrut rivers, around Freyburg and Naumburg. With 730 hectares of vineyard area, it is one of the smaller wine regions in Germany. The oldest record of viticulture dates back to the year 998 during the reign of Emperor Otto III.

Located in the area of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Saale-Unstrut has become a thriving emerging wine region after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 (as Sachsen, the other wine region in the area of the former GDR; Sachsen is half of the size of Saale Unstrut).

Most of the region's vineyards are situated in the State of Saxony-Anhalt, with the remainder in the State of Thuringia and in the State of Brandenburg (the "Werderaner Wachtelberg" near Potsdam). The vineyards are located on the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers. It all looks very attractive, with steep terraces, dry stone walls and century-old vineyard cottages, interspersed with meadows, floodplains. High above, are defiant castles and palaces. Culture, history, nature and wine are combined here perfectly.

Picture: Saale Unstrut

Saale-Unstrut is the northernmost of Germany's wine regions, and is therefore one of Europe's northernmost traditional wine regions. It lies to the north of the 51st degree of latitude, which was considered to be the limit for viticulture before global warming. Also, the weather is more variable than in the regions to the west.

White grape varieties make up 75% of Saale-Unstrut's plantations. The most common grape varieties are the white varieties Müller-Thurgau and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc). The wines tend to be vinified dry and have a refreshing acidity.

Weingut Kloster Pforta

Weingut Kloster Pforta is owned and run by the State Government of Sachsen Anhalt. It is one of five important wine estates owned by a state government in Germany. The others are: Hessische Staatsweingueter Kloster Eberbach (Rheingau and Hessische Bergstrasse), Saechsisches Staatsweingut Schloss Wackerbarth (Sachsen), Staatliche Hofkellerei Wuerzburg (Franken) and Staatsweingut Meersburg (Baden).

Its history mirrors German history. Its origins date back to the Pforta Abbey, founded in 1137 by Cistercian monks. In 1154 the monks started to plant vines in the Pfortenser Köppelberg vineyard, which still today is one of the six vineyards of the winery, producing excellent wines. Pforta Abbey soon had a reputation as the richest abbey in medieval Thuringia, with vineyard holdings in 192 communes, totaling at least 250 ha (around 625 acres).

Pictures: Managing Director Christian Kloss Welcoming us

After Reformation (during the 16th century the eastern part of Germany became Lutheran and the monks had to leave), ownership went to the kings of Saxony, which subsequently lost the Abbey Pforta to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Vienna Congress in 1814.

Prussia converted Pforta into a wine estate and wine research institute. After World War II, it became the socialist co-operative VEG Weinbau Naumburg in East-Germany, with 120 hectares of land. After the breakdown of the socialist system in East Germany in 1989, Pforta was in the hands of the privatization organization Treuhand for a couple of years, but not privatized and became the Landesweingut Kloster Pforta of the Federal State of Sachsen-Anhalt.

The vineyard area totals 51 hectares, with holdings in the following sites: Goseck (Dechantenberg), Großjena (Blütengrund), Naumburg (Paradies), Pforta (Köppelberg) and Saalhäuser (with eponymous monopole sites). The main grape varities are Müller-Thurgau (10 ha), Silvaner (6 ha), Riesling (6 ha) and Pinot Blanc (5 ha) as well as Portugieser (5 ha), and Zweigelt.

See also:
The Role of Government - Government Owned Wineries in Germany 

Christian Kloss

Christian Kloss was born and grew up in the Rheingau, but he was deep roots in the Saale Unstrut wine sector. The Sekt Giant Rotkäppchen-Mumm, based in the Saale Unstrut region, was founded in 1856 by the rothers Moritz and Julius Kloss and their friend Carl Förster. After World War II, the Kloss + Förster Sekt House was nationalized by the communist regime and became VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb/Company owned by the People) Rotkäppchen Sektkellerei Freyburg / Unstrut. Günther Kloss - the grandson of the founder and grandfather of Christian Kloss fled to West Germany and reestablished the Kloss and Förster Sekt House in West Germany in 1952.

Christian Kloss has degrees from the Fachhochschule Wiesbaden, University of Texas at Austin and the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen.

Sekt Reception

We started the tour with a 2011 Kloster Pforta Burgunder Premium Sekt.

Pictures: Sabrage and Sekt Reception

Vineyard Tour

We then toured the vineyards of Weingut Kloster Pforta, with a 2013 Bacchus trocken.

Pictures: In the Vineyards of Weingut Kloster Pforta

Cellar Tour

Christian Kloss then showed us the wine cellar of Weingut Kloster Pforta.

Pictures: In the Cellar of Weingut Kloster Pforta


We finished the visit with an excellent tasting of Weingut Kloster Pforta wines. All the wines we tasted were bone-dry.

2013 Naumburger Roter Traminer trocken
2013 Pfortenser Köppelberg Blauer Silvaner trocken
2012 Breitengrad 51 Saalhäuser Weisser Burgunder Barrique trocken
2011 Saalhäuser Blauer Zweigelt Alte Reben trocken
1999 Grossjenaer Blütengrund Andre trocken

Pictures: Wine Tasting


Thank you very much Christian Kloss for a memorable visit. We will return!

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Weingut Pawis in the Saale Unstrut Region - A Profile, Germany

Weingut Pawis in Saale Unstrut, Germany (2011)

The Role of Government - Government Owned Wineries in Germany 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser, Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015

Picture: Thomas Haag, Owner and Winemaker, Weingut Schloss Lieser

Thomas Haag is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year (Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015).

See also:
Germany’s Best Winemakers and Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015 Awards Ceremony in Mainz, Germany

Wilhelm, Fritz, Oliver and Thomas Haag

Thomas Haag is the son of winemaker Wilhelm Haag (who was Germany’s Winemaker of the Year 1994) and the brother of winemaker Oliver Haag. He grew up at the famous Weingut Fritz Haag in Brauneberg. The first record of Weingut Fritz Haag is from 1605, with the Haag family having continuous ownership since that time. Wilhelm Haag was in charge of Weingut Fritz Haag until 2005, when he retired and handed over to Thomas Haag’s younger brother, Oliver Haag.

Picture: Joel B. Payne, Gault Millau, Thomas Haag, Winemaker of the Year, and Father Wilhelm Haag

Thomas Haag has been the winemaker at Weingut Schloss Lieser in Lieser since 1992 and its owner since 1997. Schloss Lieser – a mighty castle – is the landmark of Lieser, a tiny, quaint Mosel village, built in 1875 by Baron von Schorlemer. Weingut Schloss Lieser was founded in 1904 and produced some of the greatest wines in the Mosel region. In the second half of the 1900s, however, the estate passed through several hands and went into decline.

Thomas Haag entered the picture in 1992, when he was appointed General Manager of Weingut Schloss Lieser. In 1997, Thomas Haag purchased the estate out of bankruptcy. From then on, Weingut Schloss Lieser went only one way: upwards. Today, Weingut Schloss Lieser is again one of the great estates in the Mosel region, and in all of Germany.

Weingut Schloss Lieser produces 8,000 cases and is a member of the VDP.

Winemaking Philosophy

Thomas Haag: With an average yield of 55 hectolitres per hectare we attend to a consistent reduction of the yield to ensure the high quality standards that characterize our wines. Using a strict selection process and exclusively manual harvesting that spans across several cycles, only fully ripened grapes will be harvested. Subsequently, a speedy but extremely gentle soft pressing of the grapes takes place. The carefully cleared must is stored according to their different characters in barrels of wood or stainless steel tank. Here, a slow fermentation will kick-start under cool temperatures using entirely natural yeast. When the favored degree of remaining natural residual sugar is attained the traditional decanting is performed. That means the young wine gets separated from the yeast. The remaining residual sugar is consequently an original component of the primordial must so that every aspect of individuality remains.

Picture: Markus Molitor, Weingut Markus Molitor, Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser, and Christian G.E. Schiller


Thomas Haag: The estate Schloss Lieser cultivates a total area of 13 hectares, the majority of is located at the top sites of Lieser Niederberg Helden. Additional top sites are the Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr and Brauneberger Juffer.

Promotion to 5 Grapes

Thomas Haag is the Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015. This is a very important award. In addition, Thomas Haag got the Best Riesling Spätlese Award of the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015. Last, but not least, Weingut Schloss Lieser was promoted to the 5 (out of 5) grapes group of (11) winemakers in the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015.

Picture: Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser, Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015

Thomas Haag: Starting from scratch by buying the winery without any client base and bottled wine in 1992, we faced the challenge to rehabilitate the winery, its buildings and vineyards: Now we have been rewarded! The Gault & Millau Wine Guide honored us ‘Wine Maker of the Year 2015’ and rewarded our hard work with the 5th grape, the highest category which includes only 11 top-wineries throughout Germany.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Germany’s Best Winemakers and Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015 Awards Ceremony in Mainz, Germany

Best German Wines and Winemakers: Gault Millau Awards – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2014

Best German Wines and Wine Makers – the Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2013 Awards

2012: Best German Wines (Awards) – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2012

2011: Gault Millau WeinGuide Germany 2011 – Ratings

Gault Millau Wine Germany 2010

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy