The Andy Rich Project: Rhineland Collection and the new stars of German wine

Weingut Odinstal. Pfalz

I'm gonna be honest, riesling and me, we don't always (ever?) get along. I know I've said it before, that riesling should be/is the wine that super wine geeks/'somms', etc all clamor for.  I get it, but I don't really care.  I'm not so proud as to say I know everything about German wine (quite the opposite actually), it's just that the wines don't generally give me that something indescribable that I seek in interesting, real wine and, in turn, I don't give them much back.  I think it's a mutual relationship between me and riesling.
Ringing endorsement huh?  Well, hopefully knowing ones weaknesses allows you to find inspiration elsewhere, and in this case that means excellent new wines brought to us/you thanks to someone who actually does care, and care A LOT. That person is Andy Rich. 
Andy Rich cares a lot about German wine.  So much so that he has gone out on a limb to create his own import company, Rhineland Collection, dedicated to turning over all those unturned pieces of slate. When Andy looks at the German wine world he doesn't just see the Mosel or the classics.  He sees an upstart naturalist in the Pfalz; he sees an old-school weingut dedicated to just making perfect riesling. He sees a climate shifting towards riper, more balanced red wines. In short, he sees German wine as something truly special and something new to discover...even for hardened stalwarts like myself. 
So, without further ado, we'd like to present a very exciting lineup of new German wines, all from Andy's import portfolio called, Rhineland Collection.  Andrew will be pouring with us tonight to debut these wines and we are thrilled to have him.  Join us for some fun, and oh, it's not all riesling...not at all. 

The Andy Rich Project: Rhineland Collection and the new Germany!
-Since German wine generally means a lot of writing, here are some words about the producers thanks to Andy Rich

Leiner, Weissburgunder + Spatburgunder (pinot noir), Pfalz $25
Sven Leiner is the most daring of a new generation of winemakers in Germany. Growing up in the vineyards of the southern Pfalz town of Ibesheim, Sven's education of wine began in the winery. Grandfather Fidel and Father Jürgen started with a humble 1.5 ha in the early 1970's establishing the winery as a side job until Jürgen took it under his helm as a dedicated wine maker full time. Sven Leiner took over for his Father in 2000, growing the vineyard to 10 hectares, focusing on natural viticultiure work Sven became organic certified within his first 3 years. Since 2005 the vines have been grown using biodynamic practices. The heart of his production, the Handwerk series is the standard dry quality varietal wines that are full of character at modest alcohol levels for today. Sven is in tune with his land and the various creatures that cohabitate with his vines, celebrating their union and showcasing them on the front of each label. Sven 's hard work in the vineyards paid off when he became DEMETER Certified in 2011.

Weingut Tesch, Riesling Liter + Riesling Unplugged, Nahe $20
At the end of 1990 Martin Tesch, a microbiology graduate, started his career as a wine-maker. Beginning with what he calls a "chainsaw massacre of the vines" in his fathers vineyards "Too many varieties, too many wines". Implementing a strategy that he describes as a concentration of the essentials. Pulling out every non-Riesling vine in sight with a very few exceptions. In 2001 Martin released Riesling Unplugged a wine that simply deserves the term iconic. Not just for Weingut Tesch but for Germany. No matter the wine or soil type Martin Tesch's wines are an uncompromising reflection of the vintage and vineyard. In 2002 rather than offering 40 different wines Martin only offered 11 all of them dry, the same as he does today.

Weingut Odintsal, Silvaner 350 N.N. + Gewurztraminer 350 N.N, Pfalz $25/30
This was the producer that started it all for Andy Rich.  Sometimes you see that moment, that producer that inspires and you simply must dive in.  Odenstal did just that and is now the cornerstone of the Rhineland Collection. It's not so difficult to see what Odestal is an important producer, their wines are on a different level then just about anything in the Pfalz region.  Their winemaking is amongst the most natural in Germany and they also manage to express terroir in a clear way, presenting wines with lots of energy and depth.  Tonight, two wines from Odenstal, neither are riesling.  Rather we have some more 'Alsatian' inspired wines; a sylvaner and an aromatic but balanced gewurztraminer that are both really delicious.  Ill let Andy explain the terroirs to you tonight.

Weingut Stodden, Pinot Noir, Ahr $25
The wines of Jean Stodden are not produced to be of easy charm and superficial suavity. Instead, Alexander Stodden third generaƟon winemaker goes for persistence and longevity, producing some of the region's finest wines. Since 1578 the Stodden family has been committed to vitculture in the Ahr valley, just north of the Mosel. Wine making began with Great-Grandfather Alois Stodden who made the first vintage when he pressed grapes in 1900. Alois had the motvation to work in harmony with nature and to work diligently to bring the wine to its own perfection. Now the winery is run by Alexander Stodden who began working under the guidance of his Father in 2001, taking over the vines and production in 2006. As the wine maker he continues to use his Great-Grandfather and Fathers traditions. Tending the vines, keeping yields low, and minimal handling once in the winery allows Weingut Jean Stodden to create wine of depth, elegance, concentration and character. As Alexander exclaims "They are the ultimate expression of the earth from which they are born."

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