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Dr. Carmen von Nell-Breuning, of Weingut von Nell, took over the family winery – which dates back to 1670 – in 2013. I enjoyed a wonderful, long conversation with Carmen, and sent quite a few people to her table to sample her four elegant Rieslings.

Hallo und willkommen zurück, meine Freunde und Freundinnen! (Hello and welcome back, my friends!)

This is the fourth and final post about our marvelous private tasting of German wine, on the mezzanine at E&O Kitchen and Bar, near San Francisco’s Union Square.

Over a dozen winery owners and winemakers from the top wine regions in Germany – many of whom represent a centuries-old family heritage – are pouring for us.

Virtually every winery’s table has at least one Riesling, and some are showing two or more styles or vintages.


Ursula Müller of Georg Albrecht Schneider holds a bottle of 2015 Riesling “vom Kalk” (from limestone). The winery also produces a Riesling “vom Rotliegenden” (from red sandstone) bottling.

The Riesling grape, which is strongly affected by terroir (as I mentioned in Part 2), can take on vastly different characteristics depending on the depth, particle size and mineral content of the soil in which it’s grown.

Several of the wineries, in fact, brought chunks of rock (e.g. limestone, volcanic; see below) from their vineyards, to show the original source of the soil.

Chunks of limestone and red sandstone from two of Georg Albrecht Schneider‘s Riesling vineyards. The wines taste so different, because of these different soils, that they are bottled separately.


Dr. Carmen von Nell-Breuning, now the 11th generation in charge of her family’s winery, brought four Rieslings, from a delicate and elegant dry 2015 Spätlese to a rich, concentrated 2011 Auslese. The winery also produces the sweeter designations of Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, as well as hand-riddled, Riesling-based sparklers made in the Champagne method.

A photo from the Weingut von Nell website. The award-winning sparkling wine, called “Ludovico” (second from right), commemorates Ludwig van Beethoven, who as a young musician taught piano to the family’s children and fell in love with one of their daughters.


Volker Schäfer of Weingut Schäfer gets ready to pour his Rosé trocken (dry), a blend of three red varietals.

Although Riesling has long been the cornerstone of Germany’s wine world, there’s been a dramatic upsurge in other wine varietals – not all of them white, and not all of them Germanic.

Volker Schäfer of Weingut Schäfer produces a full-flavored rosé from three reds: Portugieser, Dornfelder “and a touch of Merlot.” His family has been making wine since 1709, and in 2015, Volker’s winery was certified organic. I also enjoyed the red version of his Dornfelder, and was particularly impressed with his 2015 Pinot Noir.


Ulrich “Uli” Allendorf, of Familie Allendorf, brought 3 Rieslings (including a 2002!) and 3 Spätburgunders.

Achim Eberle, of Weingut Fitz-Ritter, poured a Pinot Blanc and an intensely floral Gewürztraminer in addition to his Rieslings.


A bonus feature of today’s walk-around tasting was a self-serve table of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). To quote wine legend Jancis Robinson, “Germany is now making some truly fine Pinot Noir that can be compared with some of the best middle-ranking red Burgundy.”


Riesling is generally an excellent choice to pair with (slightly) sweet, salty and/or spicy foods, which the pan-Asian menu at E&O offers in abundance – but you need to be careful not to overwhelm the wine’s delicate nuances. I also like fruity Pinot Noirs with this kind of food. Here we have Indonesian corn fritters with spicy dipping sauce, Lapsang Souchong deviled eggs with char siu bacon, wood-roasted edamame beans – plus prosciutto and spiced salami.

Sadly, it’s now time to say Auf Wiedersehen, und vielen Dank (Goodbye, and many thanks) to this great group of German winemakers, and wish them much continued success on their American tour. (Next stop, L.A.!)

They’ve been outstanding ambassadors for German wine in general, for their different growing regions, and for each of their wineries in particular.

I’ve loved sharing in their passion for their land, for their families’ history and tradition, and for the fine wines that they’ve so generously shared with us.

Hope you enjoyed today’s tasting as much as I did, my friends! Although we’re closing this chapter on our German tasting, there’s always plenty of good stuff to come.

Until next time –
Cheers and happy tastings,

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