Feb 12, 2016

Ten out of forty thousand - a nice selection of a great collection

How many bottles of wine do you store in you cellar? Ten, twenty or even a hundred? What about 40.000!? Yes, forty thousand. That’s the number of bottles that an elderly married couple in Würzburg, Franconia, collected over the last 40 years. And this are just the bottles which were stored away. Uncounted the wines that were drunk by Wolfgang and Luise Koegel, since they were infected with the wine-virus back in the 1970s. They made it their hobby to drive through the German wine regions and visit wineries almost each weekend.

A selection of ten ripe wines of a collection of fourty thousand. Vintages between 1976 and 1993.
Ten out of forty thousand
They amassed this great collection and till this day they open a bottle each day. Now in their 90th the lease of their cellar was resigned and they had to decide what to do with all those wines. Be it fate or coincidence, they converged with Martin Steinmann, the owner of the wine estate Schloss Sommerhausen, who instantly was stunned by this compilation of German wines of the last 40 years.

But what to do with those wines? Taken by inquisitiveness about this hoard, Martin agreed to care about this fanciful assortment. The challenge was not only the mere number of the bottles but also that there were almost no duplicates, which made it barely impossible to commercialize this selection. By another coincidence the Vinum wine magazine got attention of this. This and the fact that the Koegls had no commercial interest with their wine heritage saw to it, that they bore the idea to salvage this for charity purposes.

Martin Steinmann of the wine estate Schloss Sommerhausen hosts a tasting of old wines
Tasting for charity
“Transferring all the bottles to one of the cellars of the Weingut Schloss Sommerhausen was a challenging task, but the bigger exercise was - and still is - to screen and classify the bottles”, Martin comments this. The idea was to pack six bottles each into a cardboard box and merchandise them as a surprise package. The net profit of this benefits the charitable organization Wine Saves Life e.V. supporting child welfare in developing countries.

Besides this, Martin hosts a surprise wine tasting of ripe wines each month. Lucky me, I could attend one of this tastings. We had a line-up of ten white wines of vintages between 1976 and 1993, dominated by the German Riesling grape, but also one of Muskateller, of a Traminer and of a Scheurebe. One surprise was, that all of the wines were still drinkable, but the bigger surprise was how excellent some developed and matured. Especially Riesling with some residual sugar matures pretty well. The typical fruity flavors are complemented by balmy notes like honey, resin or wax.

You need not to collect 40.000 bottles but you could consider to store away some of your favorite wines for later. Much later! Ah, and if you don’t want to wait until then, I know from good authority, that there are still some surprise packages left. You could try to get one via the Vinum magazine (www.vinum.de/weinsammlung). See also www.winesaveslifes.de and www.sommerhausen.com for more information.

A 1993 vintage of a Muskateller Spätlese from the Ortenberger Schloßberg. Weinbauversuchsgut Schloß Ortenberg, Baden
1993 Ortenberger Schloßberg
Muskateller Spätlese
Label of the 1989 Wachenheimer Fuchsmantel Riesling Spätlese

A 1989 vintage of the Riesling Spätlese from the Wachenheimer Fuchsmantel vineyard. Weingut Probsthof, Rheinpfalz
1989 Wachenheimer Fuchsmantel
Riesling Spätlese

A 1984 vintage of Riesling from the Schloßböckelheimer Kupfergrube vineyard. Weinbaudomäne Niederhausen-Schloßbockelheim, Nahe
1984 Schloßböckelheimer Kupfergrube
A 1983 vintage of Riesling Spätlese trocken from the Forster Ungeheuer vineyard. Weingut Acham-Magin, Rheinpfalz
1983 Forster Ungeheuer
Riesling Spätlese trocken

A 1983 vintage of Scheurebe Spätlese from the Niersteiner Petersberg vineyard. Weingut Heinrich Braun, Rheinhessen
1983 Niersteiner Petersberg
Scheurebe Spätlese
A 1983 vintage of Riesling Auslese from the Dürkheimer Michelsberg vineyard. Weingut Karl Schaefer, Rheinpfalz
1983 Dürkheimer Michelsberg
Riesling Auslese
A 1976 vintage of Riesling Auslese from the Johannisberger Hölle vineyard. Weingut Johannishof, Rheingau
1976 Johannisberger Hölle
Riesling Auslese