4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Royal Riesling

'If you're having trouble getting over your fear of sommeliers, here are a few tips on how to make him think you are cool...ask him to recommend a German Riesling...Your sommelier knows that German Riesling in its semidry form currently represents the best white wine value and that it's the most food-friendly wine on the planet."

-- Jay McInerney, "How to Impress Your Sommelier, Part One," in A Hedonist in the Cellar.

Case in point: Damon Goldstein and his wife Sabrina Bochen opened Truly Fine Wine, an import/distribution/retail operation specializing in German wines, back in December of '06. After their grand opening, they celebrated by repairing to the 3rd Corner for dinner. Recalls Damon, "One of their wine buyers came up and sat next to me, and he said, 'I'm so excited to meet you. Do you have Charta Rieslings?' I looked at him and said, 'How do you know what that is?' Charta is an association of wineries in the Rheingau that create a dry, structured, food-pairing wine. It's more floral in bouquet, with more candied fruits on the palate, but still with wonderful acidity." I'd never heard of Charta before speaking with Damon -- and I'm a big fan of Riesling -- but the sommelier knew.

The trick is making sure everybody else knows as well. Damon is enamored enough of his product that he's able to ask, "How can there not be a market for this?" but sensible enough to admit that "the big unknown for us going into this was how the public, the wine-drinking community, was going to perceive us." Still, he has reason for hope: "The U.S. is fast becoming the largest importer of Riesling. Imports are up 28 percent in -- I want to say in just the last 12 months." And numbers aside, there's always his own experience.

"I met my wife in 1998 -- a 'love at first sight' kind of thing. She's German, and she was here in San Diego for three weeks. Two weeks later, I was in Germany. I was graduating college, and I said, 'I am in love and I am going to see this girl.' I spent two weeks over there -- got to meet her family -- and she took me through German wine country. The first tasting was at this small estate in the Rheinhessen; the cellarmaster was a 90-year-old woman. She took us into her home and tasted us through these wines, and my wife was translating, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat, thinking, 'Oh, my God. I've never had anything like this.' I came back with half a dozen Rieslings. On special occasions, when friends were over for dinner, I'd open one and watch the expressions on their faces. My wife and I married six years ago, and we've kept on traveling back and forth -- six bottles turned into two cases, and there was always more interest. I got to watch the excitement build; I got Chardonnay drinkers who had no idea of what a real Riesling was. They drank their first glass and they were converted. Friends were asking for this stuff. We knew there was a market for these wines."

Damon had been running a restaurant franchise company with his brother -- six Cold Stone Creameries and two Quizno's -- and he was burnt out. "You have to know your food cost, or you're subject to 'shrinkage'" -- the mysterious disappearance of delicious inventory. "I was working 100-hour weeks, and we had the gamut of awful things happen -- armed robberies, assaults." After four years, they decided to sell. "My wife said, 'You've had a little bit of a capital event. What do you want to do with your life?'" It took a while, but eventually, he figured it out: "I wanted to spend more time with her family over in Europe and work with a business model I could embrace, something we could both get into that had some growth opportunity." Hello, Truly Fine Wine. "It just sort of snowballed. I drank a lot of good wine, ate in good restaurants. I wouldn't say that I knew a ton about wine -- I've learned a lot in the past year. I look at wine as a lifelong process. It's like golf -- you can never get that good at it, you just practice and practice and practice."

Selling the company bought Damon time, which is what he needed to make a startup work. To gain a toehold in an already-niche market, "We wanted to work with lesser-known estates, ones that weren't yet exported to the U.S." That meant research outside of the usual (read: English-language) channels -- a job made easier by having a German-speaking spouse. "We'd be on the Internet from six until midnight, reading. We contacted 50 estates. Then we went to Germany and visited 20 of them. Of those 20, we selected 8 to work with initially. And from those 8 estates, we probably tried 200 wines in two and a half weeks." That's what comes of working with producers who can take one varietal -- Riesling -- and render it in a host of different styles. "Have you tried my Kabinett Fineherb? What about the Sp...tlese trocken? The Charta? Ah, and here are my dessert Rieslings..."

During their visit, they narrowed the 200 wines to 65. Then they asked for samples to be sent here. "We went through everything, over and over again -- we had neighbors come over, we had wine people come over, we had people who knew nothing about wine come over. We'd do a 15-Kabinett tasting, narrow it down to 8, then go buy every Kabinett we could find in town and put those up against ours. That's how we ended up with our initial 35 wines" -- running the gamut from Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese in weight, from bone-dry to raisin-sweet in sugar content, from Riesling to Huxelrebe to Sp...tburgunder (German Pinot Noir) in varietal. "I have a couple of producers who do traditional, double-fermentation Sekt (sparkling wine), but I thought, 'What's the market for German sparkling wine going to be?' In our first three months of operating, I got asked for it every other day. And I've had tons of requests for Gewürztraminer. Once you get going, you can get feedback and make adjustments."

Initial feedback has been positive. "My wife worked with Sieman's, and one of their VPs was this amazing German guy. He came in with his wife -- they're German to the core -- and they tried the Blees-Ferber Sp...tlese Trocken and this Hans Lang Sp...tburgunder. They looked at each other, and this huge smile came cross their faces. They said, 'You don't know what this means to us; we can't find wines like this here.' They bought a case of each. I didn't know how dry Sp...tleses were going to be perceived, but people love it, they love the mouthfeel. We're bringing in three more on the next order." The less experienced, meanwhile, are opting for the Blees-Ferber Piesporter G...rtchen. "People who want something a little bit sweeter cling to it. If they're used to a buttery Chardonnay, this has some of that creamy character."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Coffee shop sermon

I’ve had some in-depth conversations about theology, culture and scripture.
Next Article

Coffee shop sermon

I’ve had some in-depth conversations about theology, culture and scripture.

'If you're having trouble getting over your fear of sommeliers, here are a few tips on how to make him think you are cool...ask him to recommend a German Riesling...Your sommelier knows that German Riesling in its semidry form currently represents the best white wine value and that it's the most food-friendly wine on the planet."

-- Jay McInerney, "How to Impress Your Sommelier, Part One," in A Hedonist in the Cellar.

Case in point: Damon Goldstein and his wife Sabrina Bochen opened Truly Fine Wine, an import/distribution/retail operation specializing in German wines, back in December of '06. After their grand opening, they celebrated by repairing to the 3rd Corner for dinner. Recalls Damon, "One of their wine buyers came up and sat next to me, and he said, 'I'm so excited to meet you. Do you have Charta Rieslings?' I looked at him and said, 'How do you know what that is?' Charta is an association of wineries in the Rheingau that create a dry, structured, food-pairing wine. It's more floral in bouquet, with more candied fruits on the palate, but still with wonderful acidity." I'd never heard of Charta before speaking with Damon -- and I'm a big fan of Riesling -- but the sommelier knew.

The trick is making sure everybody else knows as well. Damon is enamored enough of his product that he's able to ask, "How can there not be a market for this?" but sensible enough to admit that "the big unknown for us going into this was how the public, the wine-drinking community, was going to perceive us." Still, he has reason for hope: "The U.S. is fast becoming the largest importer of Riesling. Imports are up 28 percent in -- I want to say in just the last 12 months." And numbers aside, there's always his own experience.

"I met my wife in 1998 -- a 'love at first sight' kind of thing. She's German, and she was here in San Diego for three weeks. Two weeks later, I was in Germany. I was graduating college, and I said, 'I am in love and I am going to see this girl.' I spent two weeks over there -- got to meet her family -- and she took me through German wine country. The first tasting was at this small estate in the Rheinhessen; the cellarmaster was a 90-year-old woman. She took us into her home and tasted us through these wines, and my wife was translating, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat, thinking, 'Oh, my God. I've never had anything like this.' I came back with half a dozen Rieslings. On special occasions, when friends were over for dinner, I'd open one and watch the expressions on their faces. My wife and I married six years ago, and we've kept on traveling back and forth -- six bottles turned into two cases, and there was always more interest. I got to watch the excitement build; I got Chardonnay drinkers who had no idea of what a real Riesling was. They drank their first glass and they were converted. Friends were asking for this stuff. We knew there was a market for these wines."

Damon had been running a restaurant franchise company with his brother -- six Cold Stone Creameries and two Quizno's -- and he was burnt out. "You have to know your food cost, or you're subject to 'shrinkage'" -- the mysterious disappearance of delicious inventory. "I was working 100-hour weeks, and we had the gamut of awful things happen -- armed robberies, assaults." After four years, they decided to sell. "My wife said, 'You've had a little bit of a capital event. What do you want to do with your life?'" It took a while, but eventually, he figured it out: "I wanted to spend more time with her family over in Europe and work with a business model I could embrace, something we could both get into that had some growth opportunity." Hello, Truly Fine Wine. "It just sort of snowballed. I drank a lot of good wine, ate in good restaurants. I wouldn't say that I knew a ton about wine -- I've learned a lot in the past year. I look at wine as a lifelong process. It's like golf -- you can never get that good at it, you just practice and practice and practice."

Selling the company bought Damon time, which is what he needed to make a startup work. To gain a toehold in an already-niche market, "We wanted to work with lesser-known estates, ones that weren't yet exported to the U.S." That meant research outside of the usual (read: English-language) channels -- a job made easier by having a German-speaking spouse. "We'd be on the Internet from six until midnight, reading. We contacted 50 estates. Then we went to Germany and visited 20 of them. Of those 20, we selected 8 to work with initially. And from those 8 estates, we probably tried 200 wines in two and a half weeks." That's what comes of working with producers who can take one varietal -- Riesling -- and render it in a host of different styles. "Have you tried my Kabinett Fineherb? What about the Sp...tlese trocken? The Charta? Ah, and here are my dessert Rieslings..."

During their visit, they narrowed the 200 wines to 65. Then they asked for samples to be sent here. "We went through everything, over and over again -- we had neighbors come over, we had wine people come over, we had people who knew nothing about wine come over. We'd do a 15-Kabinett tasting, narrow it down to 8, then go buy every Kabinett we could find in town and put those up against ours. That's how we ended up with our initial 35 wines" -- running the gamut from Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese in weight, from bone-dry to raisin-sweet in sugar content, from Riesling to Huxelrebe to Sp...tburgunder (German Pinot Noir) in varietal. "I have a couple of producers who do traditional, double-fermentation Sekt (sparkling wine), but I thought, 'What's the market for German sparkling wine going to be?' In our first three months of operating, I got asked for it every other day. And I've had tons of requests for Gewürztraminer. Once you get going, you can get feedback and make adjustments."

Initial feedback has been positive. "My wife worked with Sieman's, and one of their VPs was this amazing German guy. He came in with his wife -- they're German to the core -- and they tried the Blees-Ferber Sp...tlese Trocken and this Hans Lang Sp...tburgunder. They looked at each other, and this huge smile came cross their faces. They said, 'You don't know what this means to us; we can't find wines like this here.' They bought a case of each. I didn't know how dry Sp...tleses were going to be perceived, but people love it, they love the mouthfeel. We're bringing in three more on the next order." The less experienced, meanwhile, are opting for the Blees-Ferber Piesporter G...rtchen. "People who want something a little bit sweeter cling to it. If they're used to a buttery Chardonnay, this has some of that creamy character."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Caribe Welcome joins the Coconut Club

Inspired by what is considered the original piña colada
Next Article

Animal Kingdom back in Oceanside to shoot sixth season

Security guards keeping locals away from Pope’s skate ramp
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close