Elite, which Elite? Wines and Winemakers at Dallmayr's Spring Wine Tasting

When, every spring, Munich's premier delicatessen store announces an evening of elite wines (and snacks), who am I not to get in line, this time very pleased to be accompanied by Wine Rambler tasting associates Benita and Conny (the latter also photographer for this piece). In last year's report, we walked you through the different wineries' collections in some detail, but I also threatened that I would have a few more general thoughts on the concept of Winzerelite (elite of the winemakers) that Dallmayr has adopted. Why does this make me so deeply uneasy, when it seems so straightforward: The elite is formed by the very best, and who the best are can be established in regular tastings, by journalists, fine wine merchants, and wine guides. Together, they form an elite of sorts, as would athletes, or writers, or scientist or musicians.

Is this an elite rosé?

The great German social theorist Niklas Luhmann famously proposed that we organize our world in systems, such as love, business, political power and jurisdiction. When they get mixed up, when we try to buy love, or put pressure on a judge, or bribe a politician, our social world is bent out of shape and balance. And here's the problem: Invariably, they get mixed up. So it goes with the idea of an elite.

Staircase to heaven - Dallmayr Spring tasting 2011

Dallmayr, Munich's traditional upscale delicatessen store, traditionally advertises the glories of its fine wine department by hosting a springtime tasting where a few select german and austrian wine growers and makers present the upcoming vintage in person. For some years now, they have given this event the ringingly neo-liberal and upper-middle classy title Winzerelite (elite of the wine growers). I'm itching to, and maybe some day will, write a whole separate posting on the sociology of what is right and what is deeply wrong with this name. But leaving that aside for the moment, I can't deny they always choose characterful venues to hold it in.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle. Statue at the entrance of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Before reviewing what the elite had brought to Munich, the few of them that we focussed on, I cannot spare you a few extra words on this year's location, the Bavarian State Library, as it is very special indeed, not least to myself.

Austrian wines at Dallmayr's 09 spring tasting

E.W. Polz, Südsteiermark, had two great Sauvignon Blancs on display:
The 2008 "Steinbach" (27,50) had enormous zest and spritziness, a burst of green flavours like a flowering meadow in may, mint, cassis.
The 2007 "Hochgrassnitzberg" (27,50) had been left to age with the yeast for a year longer, and was completely different: Yellow flavours, creamy, yellow peppers maybe, something that tasted like nutty oak but wasn't, as I was assured no barriques had been used. Very intense as well.

Stefan Potzinger, also Südsteiermark, convinced me less. His 2008 Morillon (=Chardonnay) "Ratsch" (13,90) was nice, but boring, and his 2007 Sauvignon blanc "Joseph" (26,90) was wildly overoaked - no comparison with the spicy and lively one by Polz.

German Wines at Dallmayr's '09 Spring Tasting (long ramble)

Posh Munich fine food retailer Dallmayr for a few years now has had two wine tastings a year: A larger overview of German and Austrian wines in the spring, and a smaller selection of wines from all over the world in autumn. Nicely set in Munich's old city hall, they're rare chances to get a first glimpse at that year's yachting and horse riding fashion trends (always comes in handy), as well as knock yourself out on pricey wines you would not otherwise get to taste. Admission is 20 € which includes free snack foods that - to Dallmayr's credit - are quite delicious.

Wine rambler, as always, sent an inconspicuous taster to investigate.