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Flag Germany Message in a Bottle

Award for Friends

Award for Friends 2012

The WINE AWARD “For Friends” was presented at “Schloss Bensberg” on 3rd March 2012 to the group of winemakers “Message in a Bottle” from Rheinhessen, Germany.

Video of the winner

Founded in 2002, “Message in a Bottle” has committed itself to one special aim from the beginning: to give the German winegrowing area Rhine Hesse a better, a clearer and last but not least a younger image. By now, there are 28 young winemakers who supply the market with messages in the form of bottles. The group is characterized by the fact that they work together without reserve: Established businesses which belong to the renowned wine association VDP are represented in the group just as much as talented winemakers, who have not caught much attention until now. According to the motto “Exchange instead of Envy”, the joint tasting of wines, i.e. the professional exchange, remains most important. Also appearing together in public is on the agenda, for example on the occasion of the already legendary “Wein in den Mai”-parties on the last day in April which in recent years have shown how pop music and the enjoyment of drinking wine can be combined. With their activities and the marked improvement in the quality of the wine, the members of “Message in a Bottle” were able to ensure a significant boost in popularity, for themselves as well as for the winegrowing region Rhine Hesse.

Following vineyards belong to the association:
Battenfeld-Spanier Vineyard, Hohen-Sülzen; Bäder Vineyard , Wendelsheim;
Becker-Landgraf Vineyard, Gau-Odernheim; Bischel Vineyard, Appenheim; Burgunderhof Vineyard, Worms; Dr. Koehler Vineyard, Bechtheim; Dreissigacker Vineyard, Bechtheim;
Göhring Vineyard, Flörsheim-Dalsheim; Gutzler Vineyard, Gundheim; Gysler Vineyard, Karl May Vineyard, Osthofen; Kühling-Gillot Vineyard, Bodenheim; Keller Vineyard, Flörsheim-Dalsheim;
Keth Vineyard, Offstein; Landgraf Vineyard, Saulheim; Meiser Vineyard, Neef-Emmich Vineyard, Bermersheim; Oekonomierat Johann Geil I. Erben Vineyard, Bechtheim; Sander Vineyard, Mettenheim;
Seehof Vineyard, Westhofen; Spohr Vineyard, Worms-Abenheim; Wagner-Stempel Vineyard, Siefersheim;
Weedenbornhof Vineyard, Monzernheim; Winter Vineyard, Dittelsheim; Wittmann Vineyard, Westhofen; Winzerhof Thörle, Saulheim

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Flag Austria Franz Xaver (F. X.) Pichler

Lifetime Achievement

The FEINSCHMECKER editorial staff presents the WINE AWARD for “Lifetime Achievement” to an outstanding personality from the international wine scene who has set a course in winemaking in a sustainable fashion which is relevant all over the world. This award emphasizes the life’s achievements of a winemaker; this means that in addition to the undisputed quality of the wines, the visionary work and the role model function for young winemaking colleagues are honoured.

Lifetime Achievement 2012

The decision about the prizewinner 2012 was announced at “Schloss Bensberg” on 3rd March 2012. Franz Xaver (F. X.) Pichler, Wachau, Austria, receives the WINE AWARD 2012 for his lifetime achievement.

Video of the winner

In 1898 the prizewinner’s great grandfather founds the Pichler Vineyard in Dürnstein. The third generation already focusses on quality winemaking: Franz Pichler senior, born in 1906, begins selecting his own clones of the Grüner Veltliner variety in 1928. He keeps records for 37 years in order to increase the numbers of vines which have stood the test well.

In 1971 Franz Xaver Pichler, at the time 30 years old, takes over the family’s vineyard: by then about three hectares are cultivated. Already in the 1980’s, “F.X.” Pichler, as he is called by wine connoisseurs, is successful in gaining a high level of recognition, initially in Austria – and internationally at least since the 1990 vintage. At the beginning it is mainly his Rieslings and Grüner Veltliner from the top vineyards Kellerberg and Loibner Berg in Wachau, which cause a sensation with their fullness of extract and aromatic diversity. Yet Pichler strives even further: in 1991 he produces his Grüner Veltliner “M” (for “monumental”) for the first time. It is a wine which is designed as a vineyard blend – and which targets the ideal combination of highly mature aroma and mineral freshness. In 1998 Pichler presses a Riesling which is designed similarly for the first time: “Unendlich” – it has been legendary since then.

In 1999, F.X. Pichler passes on the responsibility for the winery to his son Lucas, though he continues to take care of the vineyard work personally. Together with the Tement and Szemes families and also in the cellars of the “Associated Winemakers of Horitschon”, Pichler additionally produces the red cuvée “Arachon T.FX.T” in Burgenland.

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Flag France Château Lafite-Rothschild

  • Vineyard: Château Lafite-Rothschild
  • Wine growing region: Bordeaux
  • City: Pauillac
  • Country: France
  • Vinetage: 280.00
  • website: »

Wine Legend

Every year the FEINSCHMECKER editorial staff presents a wine with the WINE AWARD “Wine Legend”. This award honours the outstanding position that the chosen wine has enjoyed due to its undisputed quality and its reputation amongst experts and wine friends which has increased over the years.

Wine Legend 2012

The winner of the WINE AWARD “Wine Legend” was announced at “Schloss Bensberg” on 3rd March 2012: The WINE AWARD “Wine Legend 2012” is presented to the Château Lafite-Rothschild, Bordeaux, France.

Video of the winner

The name Lafite first appears in documents in 1234: The abbot at the time, from the Vertheuil abbey ten kilometers north of Pauillac, is called Gombaud de Lafite. The vineyard’s ascent starts in the 17th century, when the famous winemaking dynasty, the Ségur family, takes care of the estate. Lafite’s vines grow on one of the biggest gravel banks of the Médoc. The name “Lafite” which is derived from the Gascon dialect la hite (“hill”), indicates the privileged location. Lafite’s wines already have the highest reputation near the end of the 18th century; one of the most famous Lafite admirers is the American president Thomas Jefferson.

In 1868 the Château, which was already classified as premier grand cru classé, was purchased by the French branch of the Rothschild family who still owns the estate today. The vineyard property is structured in three parts: The best plots of land are situated on the gravel hilltop near the Château, a second vineyard is on the Carruades plateau (the second wine is named after it) and the third part comprises 4.5 hectares in the area of the St-Estèphe community. Although the other vineyards also border on this community, which is well-known for its robust, rather dry wine, the Lafite counts as the finest and most subtle of all the wines in Pauillac. Paradoxically, the Latour wines which grow at the other end of the boundary on the border to St-Julien, are much more similar in style to a St-Estèphe than the Lafite ones.

The significant Bordeaux châteaus Duhart Milon (Pauillac), L’Evangile (Pomerol) and Rieussec (Sauternes) also belong to the Domaine Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) property – it is not to be confused with the Rothschild branch which runs the Château Mouton-Rothschild. Outside of Bordeaux, the company is active in Languedoc (Château d’Aussieres) and in Chile (Los Vascos). Since 2008 Lafite also maintains a winemaking project in the Chinese province Shandong.

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Flag France Michel Chapoutier

  • Wine growing region: Rhône
  • City: Tain l’Hermitage
  • Country: France
  • Vinetage: 750.00
  • website: »

Winemaker of the Year

The FEINSCHMECKER editorial staff awards a personality from the international wine scene who, over the years, has continually produced top wines and who enjoys an excellent reputation as a winemaker even beyond the national borders with the title “Winemaker of the Year.“

Winemaker of the Year 2012

The WINE AWARD “Winemaker of the Year 2012” was awarded to Michel Chapoutier, Domaine M. Chapoutier, Rhône, France on 3rd March 2012 at “Schloss Bensberg”.

Video of the winner

The story of winemaking in the Chapoutier family begins in 1808. In keeping with their motto “Fac et spera” (“Do and hope”), the family continually extends its property in the course of generations. Thus they became one of the largest land owners on the famous Hermitage slopes, where the vines for the most sought after and long-lasting Syrah wines of the Rhône valley grow in the soil of weather-beaten granite. Today Chapoutier owns 35 hectares of land in this appellation which is 135 hectares in total.

Even so, when Michel Chapoutier joins the company in 1990, he faces great tasks: in these years the Rhône wines do not exactly have a good reputation and the Chapoutier company has a weak profile. The dynamic young businessman – at the time just 25 years old – is determined to advance the family business again, though. With a lot of willpower he turns the house around: He restricts the yields in the vineyards and in addition to the introduced Chapoutier brand wines he starts to create elaborately produced selections from plots of land. He replaces the old horse-chestnut casks with barriques. Furthermore, Chapoutier promotes the changeover of the vineyards to bio-dynamic cultivation. In the meantime, the larger part of the 85 hectares vineyard area at the northern Rhône is cultivated without pesticides and artificial fertilizer, yet with help from plant extracts and with the moon phases in mind.

Today Chapoutier is a business whose wines from the headquarters at the northern Rhône enjoy an outstanding reputation and this reputation radiates onto the wines of other origins as well as onto the commercial activities. The business is flourishing: The current annual turnover of 22 million euros is eleven times higher than the turnover in 1990. Moreover, Chapoutier is not only active at his headquarters at the northern Rhône, but also at the southern part of the river, in the Provence, in Roussillon, in Alsace and also in Portugal and Australia. All wines from the house are recognizable at a glance, because Chapoutier endows his labels with an additional embossment in Braille which enables blind and visually impaired people to inform themselves easily about the contents of the bottle.

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Flag Spain Dominik Huber

  • Vineyard: Terroir al Límit
  • Wine growing region: Priorat
  • City: Torroja del Priorat
  • Country: Spain
  • Vinetage: 32.50
  • website: »

Nominees 2012:

  • Giorgio  Clai
    Flag Croatia

    Giorgio Clai

    • Vineyard: Giorgio Clai Vineyard
    • Region: Istria
    • Country: Croatia
  • Paul  Weltner
    Flag Germany

    Paul Weltner

    • Vineyard: Weltner Vineyard
    • Region: Franconia
    • Country: Germany

Newcomer of the Year

The FEINSCHMECKER editorial staff presents the award “Newcomer of the Year 2003” annually to a newcomer from the international wine scene. The winemaker should have brought attention to themselves, particularly in recent years, because of a spectacular improvement in the wine quality and should therefore have set an example in their own wine region.

Newcomer of the Year 2012

The FEINSCHMECKER editorial staff nominated three winemakers for the WINE AWARD “Newcomer of the Year 2012”, the final decision on the prizewinner was announced on 3rd March 2012 at “Schloss Bensberg”: “Newcomer of the Year 2012” is Dominik Huber, Terroir al Límit, Spain.

Video of the winner

This young vineyard is one of the most ambitious businesses in the Catalonian winemaking region, Priorat. The name “Terroir al Límit” already makes it clear that the work is done under demanding conditions at the “Terroir at the limit of the possible” – by hand and with the help of mules. The owners have no intention to use machinery for the organically cultivated vine rows: Terroir al Limit is a manufactory. The steep vineyards with their stony slate soil are also situated at a high level, up to 850 metres above sea level.

Dominik Huber, who was born in Bavaria, studies business administration before he founds Terroir al Limit in 2001, together with Eben Sadie, the successful winemaker from South Africa who was nominated as “Newcomer of the Year” at the WINE AWARDS in 2008. Huber, 41 years old today, started as a lateral entrant, yet in the meantime he has become an old hand. Since Eben Sadie spends most of his time in South Africa, Huber takes care of the daily business; therefore he is now the face of this wine project. His remarkable red wines which he presses for the top qualities as pure varietals from Cariñena and Garnacha, are well-known for their almost Burgundian finesse. It is unusual for the Priorat region which is obsessed with wood that Huber has worked completely without barriques for some years. Stimulated by the Spanish co-owner of the vineyard, Jaume Sabaté, Huber focuses on cement tanks and on 1800-litre casks which affects the wine much less than barriques. His first white wine, “Pedra de Guix”, is also a resounding success, a temperamental cuvee from white Garnacha and the Pedro Ximénez variety, imported from Andalusia. Dominik Huber is a culinary person through and through, that is why he has set up a kitchen with a long dining table next to the casks – after all, solid food once in a while is a must.

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Flag Germany Thomas Haag

Wine of the Year

The editorial staff of the FEINSCHMECKER presents an outstanding wine from German wine-growing areas with the award “Wine of the Year” or a winemaker’s range with the award “Collection of the Year.” This award honours German winemakers’ pursuits for quality.

Wine of the Year 2012

The “Wine of the Year 2012” is an example of the continuously increasing choice of German top wines, which also contribute to the kudos of the German winemaking which is growing internationally. The winner of this WINE AWARD was announced on the 3rd March 2012 at “Schloss Bensberg”: The WINE AWARD for the “Collection of the Year 2012” is presented to Thomas Haag, Schloss Lieser, Mosel, Germany, for his brilliant 2010 Riesling Spätlese (late harvest) from the Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr vineyard.

Video of the winner

Thomas Haag is no stranger to the WINE AWARDS: In 2007 he is nominated as Newcomer of the Year. Already at that time the FEINSCHMECKER editorial staff honours the fact that Haag lead the previously little known vineyard Schloss Lieser to the top in the winegrowing area Mosel within a few years. After training as a winemaker and then studying winemaking and horticulture, Thomas Haag begins to work as cellar master at Schloss Lieser in 1992. Just five years later he is able to acquire the vineyard and run it on his own. Since then Thomas Haag, supported by his wife Ute, has cultivated vineyards in Lieser, Bernkastel and Graach – but also some of his parents’ vineyards in Brauneberg. His father Wilhelm Haag counts as one of the leading names in German winemaking, Thomas’ equally talented brother Oliver continues to run the business of his parents.

Thomas Haag gains the highest reputation in a very short time with his mineral, expressive wines from the steep slate vineyards Niederberg Helden, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr and Brauneberger Juffer. He lets most of his wines ferment spontaneously without adding cultured yeast. They tend to be rather inaccessible in their youth, but they develop to great aromatic richness and diversity during their maturation in the bottle. Therefore his wines sparkle through all quality grades and tastes. Thus the “FEINSCHMECKER Wine Guide” from 2012 writes about Haag’s current vintage: “The wines that the winemaker produced in 2010 is of convincing quality: dry aged wines with a remarkable mineral length, off-dry Rieslings, in which a stimulating acidity structures the subtle fruity sweetness, as well as residual sweet late harvests which have an almost steely acidity, a lot of play, a great length and an impressive aftertaste.

The peak of this flawless collection is formed by the wine of the year, the Spätlese (late harvest) from the first-class site Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, which captivates by means of its razor-sharp precision, its unusual clarity and its mineral final touch.

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Flag Germany Nico Hofmann

  • Country: Germany
  • Profession: Director and Film Producer

Wine Gourmet of the Year

During the presentation of the WINE AWARDS it is not only winemakers who are honoured, but also an outstanding personality from the world of fine arts who professes to the culinary lifestyle and who appreciates wine as a cultural asset.

Wine Gourmet of the Year 2012

The decision about the prizewinner in 2012 was announced on 3rd March 2012 at “Schloss Bensberg”: The film producer Nico Hofmann was presented with the award “Wine Gourmet of the Year 2012”.

Video of the winner

Nico Hofmann was born in the excellent wine year, 1959, in Heidelberg as son of a journalist couple. After Abitur (German “A” Levels) and a traineeship at a daily newspaper, the 20 year old applies for a place at the University for Film and Television in Munich and is accepted there. In 1985 he graduates with distinction. Since then Hofmann has worked as an author, director and film producer. Among his best-known productions are “Land der Väter, Land der Söhne” (“Land of the Fathers, Land of the Sons” in 1998 which received the the Bavarian Film Award), “Der große Abgang” (“The Grand Exit” 1995, awarded the Television Film Award by the German Academy of Arts) and the TV production “Der Sandmann” (“The Sandman”) starring Götz George, also from 1995 (awarded the Adolf-Grimme-Award).

Since 1995 Hofmann has had a professorship for scenic films at the Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg. Since 1998 he also runs his own production company teamWorx which specializes in historical topics for television. Productions such as “Stauffenberg”, “Nicht alle waren Mörder” (“Not everyone was a Murderer”), “Flucht (“Escape”), “Das Wunder von Berlin” (“The Miracle of Berlin“), “Dutschke” or “Mogadischu” (“Mogadishu”) succeeded in gaining impressive ratings with up to 11 million viewers. Subsequently, the “Spiegel” magazine describes Hofmann as the “person in charge of significance in German Television”. In 2000, together with film producer Bernd Eichinger, Hofmann initiates the advancement award “First Steps” which honours graduation films by students of German film universities every year.

Hofmann lives in Berlin, but spends most of his time travelling. Some years ago he admitted in an interview with the FEINSCHMECKER, that he always makes his best business deals over an opulent meal. The frequent flyer emphasizes the fact that drinking water is very important for him (“During a flight to Los Angeles I drink three litres of water”), yet once at his destination the passionate hobby chef does not say no to a glass of champagne.