Press Releases

Jun

05

2020

The World’s Greatest Riesling Partnership Turns 20!

Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen Celebrate 20 Vintages of Eroica Riesling, Taking Time to Reminisce, Look Ahead and Celebrate

Woodinvile, Wash. – This spring two of the world’s great Riesling producers, Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington state and Ernst Loosen of Germany, will celebrate 20th vintages of their visionary partnership.

Launched in 1999, Eroica is an intermingling of Old and New World philosophies and techniques with a blended statement of the finest Riesling vineyards in Washington. Named after Beethoven’s Third Symphony, Eroica reflects not only its variety and site, but also its heritage: bold and forward from its Washington roots, elegant and refined from German inspiration.

Upon its release in 1999, Eroica set the bar for American Riesling earning a place on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list for its first five vintages. Eroica has gone on to earn 90+ points from national wine publications every vintage. When it launched, the partnership also introduced Single Berry Select, a decadent Riesling crafted in the traditional German Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) style, with each vintage earning between 96-98 points from wine publications. Single Berry Select remains one of the few TBA style wines in North America today.

“At first people thought we were crazy to release a $20 premium American Riesling,” shared Bob Bertheau, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Senior Vice President of Winemaking. “Eroica showed people what Riesling can do and we’ve continued to push the boundaries on the diverse expressions of Riesling.”

Over the years the two winemakers have evolved their techniques and discovered new vineyard sources to achieve their signature Eroica style of bright citrus fruit character with crisp natural acidity and enhanced minerality.

The two decades of learning and exploration have led the team to expand the lineup to include Eroica XLC, a dry Riesling lees-aged for 22 months in upright oak casks, Eroica Gold, a riper, sweeter style, Eroica Ice Wine, when weather conditions allow, and aged Eroica, a five-year bottle aged Eroica vintage designed to showcase the beautiful age-ability of Riesling.

Ernst Loosen shares that it was a combination of curiosity and a happy accident that led him to Chateau Ste. Michelle and Washington 20 years ago. “I was looking to do a Riesling project in the New World, since I believed it would take New World enthusiasm to help us rebuild the reputation of Riesling globally,” explains Loosen. “An American friend of mine introduced me to the wines of Chateau Ste. Michelle and I was immediately impressed.”

“The climate and soils of Washington are different from Germany, but we had Riesling in common. I was interested in exploring what could be done with the variety in such a different environment. We’ve never tried to make a “German” Riesling, but have been experimenting and trying new things to find out what works best for Riesling in Washington. I love discovering new things, so it’s been quite interesting as we’ve learned to get a finer expression of the climate and soil into the wines.”

According to Bob Bertheau, Ernst Loosen has had a lasting impact on the Rieslings of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Washington state.

“On my second day on the job at Chateau Ste. Michelle I was walking the vineyards with Ernst and he has been a true friend and mentor ever since,” shares Bertheau. “Ernst changed how we grow Riesling in Washington state.
When Ernst first visited the vineyards of Eastern Washington we were growing red and white grapes the same way. He wanted us to adjust yields and manage fruit exposure to prolong the ripening season for added flavor development of our cooler climate vineyards.”

What started as a professional partnership has evolved into a lasting friendship.

“Ernst and I have spent many days in the vineyards, at the blending table, traveling and sharing stories over his favorite hefeweizen beer,” explains Bertheau. “Ernst jokes that it takes a lot of hefeweizen to make good Riesling. We are excited to continue our collaboration by exploring new wines and sharing our combined passion for Riesling with a new generation of wine consumers. ”

The partnership will mark the 20th anniversary by featuring Eroica at select wine events including the Auction of Washington Wines, August 13-15 (virtual), the American Wine Society Conference in Seattle, October, 31st as well as upcoming virtual tastings featuring Ernst Loosen & Bob Bertheau.

About Chateau Ste. Michelle

Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle pioneered vinifera grape growing in Washington State and has been producing classic European varietal wines under the Ste. Michelle label since 1967. The winery combines an ongoing dedication to research with a commitment to classic winemaking traditions. The winery owns 3,900 acres of vineyards in the Columbia Valley of Eastern Washington, including Canoe Ridge Estate and Cold Creek, which are LIVE and Salmon Safe certified. Chateau Ste. Michelle enjoys winemaking partnerships with some of the world’s most distinguished vintners. Col Solare is an alliance with Tuscany’s Piero Antinori, Eroica Riesling is a partnership with the Mosel’s Ernst Loosen and Tenet is a collaboration with Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie of France.

Chateau Ste. Michelle has championed Riesling for more than 50 years and was among the first to plant Riesling in Washington state. Ste. Michelle catapulted into the national spotlight when its 1972 Johannisberg Riesling won the now-famous Riesling blind tasting sponsored by the Los Angeles Times in 1974. Today, Chateau Ste. Michelle offers up to nine different Rieslings, each showcasing the versatility of Riesling and the regional styles within Washington’s Columbia Valley, which produces more Riesling than any other American wine region.

About Dr. Loosen Estate The Dr. Loosen Estate in the Mosel Valley has produced fine Riesling for over two centuries. During the last two decades, proprietor Ernst Loosen has traveled the world promoting the fine quality and long tradition of Riesling as a great wine in Europe, and now the New World.

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For further information:
Lynda Eller, Communications
lynda.eller@smwe.com