TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



13.5%

A list of all wines reviewed on the Wine Rambler with 13.5% alcohol by volume.
Posted by Julian 06 May 2011

Neither my co-rambler Torsten nor I have so far been able to warm significantly to Italian reds, especially those from the middle and south of the country. We have our reasons, mainly the predominance of plummy, raisiny fruit and a certain undeniably flabbyness that we think we found in those we have tasted, but to lovers of those regions I'm sure it proves that we are no less capable of prejudice-fuelled wine ignorance than the next drinker. What follows, then, is a little outside of the usual mould of Wine Rambler reviews.

It is to make amends, in a way, but it's also very much a public service announcement: Enjoyable Italian red ahead!

Posted by Julian 17 Apr 2011

After taking a look at Pfalz wines in the last three reviews, time to bring you up to date on Germany's other bread-and-butter region, Rheinhessen. Many german wine drinkers turn there for lower-priced, everyday wines that they order in larger quantity, but don't necessarily talk about the way they would about last weekend's Großes Gewächs or the Mosel Auslese they serve at their own posh dinner party. Everybody has their place of choice - at the moment, mine is Dr. Heyden, whose workhorse wines are carefully made and very dependable, but who also overachieve significantly with their stylish and concentrated old vines-Silvaner and their truly excellent Frühburgunder. In what has become a little tradition, I have been going to see Frank Heyden behind his table at a twice-yearly wine fair in Munich for two years now, both to have a chat and to slip him a follow-up order.

Another wine that he served me there is his Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc cuvée. I liked it there and then. But how will it fare under the cruel light shone on the Wine Rambler's tasting table, where neither friendship nor enmity can hope to sway the incorruptible critic?

Posted by Julian 10 Apr 2011

Lukas Krauß, friend of and contributor to the Wine Rambler, insists that his Spätburgunder is a Spätburgunder, and not a Pinot Noir, by which he means to say that if you miss in it the barnyard smells, wet earth, leanness and minerality associated with Burgundy, and find yourself with plump strawberry and cherry fruit and chocolaty richness instead, that's just how it's meant to be.

Spoken like a true traditionalist of german red wine. But do we let him get away with it?

Posted by Torsten 04 Mar 2011

As far as aged wines go, eight years may not seem seriously old, but Pinot Blanc, especially from Germany, tends to be drunk as a younger wine, light and fresh in style. Having said that, some German wineries also produce more substantial Weißburgunder (German for Pinot Blanc), matured in oak barrels, that can and should age a few years. Dr. Heger is one of those wineries, located in the Kaiserstuhl, the warmest wine growing area in Germany with fantastic volcanic soil.

The dry Auslese from the Winklerberg vineyard is one of those more substantial Pinot Blancs. The colour shows the wine's age, an intense honey coloured gold that promises substance and maturity.

Posted by Julian 31 Jan 2011

Silvaner again? Yes, we're keeping up our coverage. In fact, we mean to grind down any resistance against Germany's second great white grape with the sheer relentlessness of our Silvaner campaign. Great growth Silvaners from lesser known wineries in Franken are arguably some of the best value anywhere in white wine, and we won't stop until every major wine outlet in the english-speaking world carries at least one. Are we not confusing our own partial predilection with an educational mission, you ask, or else: What's in it for me? The two-word answer to this: Food friendliness.

Franconian still life with SilvanerFranconian still life with Silvaner

Following up on this month's risotto suggestion, another classic Silvaner pairing is freshwater fish. Franconians love their regional staple, carp, but since that is a little, shall we say, nutritious for most people, we stuck to the more consensual trout.

Posted by Julian 06 Dec 2010

Time to go regional on you again, with a grape variety hardly ever talked or thought about outside of the roughly 35 acres of land where people actually grow it. Tauberschwarz literally translates as "River Tauber black". While this does seem to provide a first tentative clue about the colour of the wine, a bit more remains to be explored: A bit more about what Weingut Hofmann, an estate that specialises in the all-but-forgotten grape, has brought to the bottle, and a bit more about the vinous backwater that has conserved this endangered species.

Posted by Torsten 27 Sep 2010

Wow, this doesn't look very German! - with these words an English friend of mine greeted Philipp Kuhn's Mano Negra. I opened this bottle recently at a small tasting I had organised for friends. Most had never tried a German red, and none had ever seen anything (German) quite so intense in colour. This cuvée of Blaufränkisch (literally 'Blue Frankish) and Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Pfalz, a region that keeps impressing me with its variety of exciting red wines.

Posted by Julian 25 Jul 2010

Wine rambling-wise, Spain has not been among my preferred hunting grounds. As with Italy, I've not yet figured out what makes it tick as a wine country, and some of the more stream-lined reds I've tried have not encouraged me to invest more energy. Which is my loss, as afficionados and Spain experts will be quick - and correct - to point out. A notable exception over the last few years has been this red that Alvaro Palacios (of Priorato fame) makes from the Mencia grape in the little known northern Spanish region of Bierzo. This was the last of three bottles, and none of them failed to satisfy. So here's making it up to Spain:

Posted by Torsten 21 Jul 2010

It is still Chardonnay time here at the Wine Rambler. Following some of my recent 'foreign' Chardonnay adventures, I decided it was time to go back to what Germany has to offer. This time the journey leads to Rheinhessen, where Philipp Wittmann goes from strength to strength with his biodynamic wines (yes, outstanding Riesling, but not only Riesling). What about his Chardonnay?

Wittmann Chardonnay 2007Wittmann Chardonnay 2007

Posted by Torsten 18 May 2010

As far as wine is concerned, there is much more to California than just Napa Valley or Sonoma. In fact, one of the Californian wineries that so far has impressed me most is located a little bit further south, in Santa Maria Valley: Jim Clendenen's Au Bon Climat. On election day in the UK, when a risotto was slowly cooking in the kitchen, it was time to open a Californian Pinot Noir to support us through the long night.

Posted by Torsten 07 May 2010

Gunter Künstler certainly has a reputation for making outstanding Riesling. Many of his vineyards in the Rheingau are planted with old vines (think 50 years plus), or 'Alte Reben', as the Germans say. The Stielweg vineyard, where today's dry Riesling comes from, features loam-clay soil; the name comes from 'steep path', or 'steiler Weg'. The website sums the vineyard up as: 'The wine from these 50 year old Stielweg vines radiates aristocratic strength and nobility.' So what do we think?

In the heat of taking the picture I actually forgot to pour some wine in the glass...In the heat of taking the picture I actually forgot to pour some wine in the glass...

Posted by Torsten 16 Mar 2010

Bavaria, home of the BMW, the original Disney castle and German red wine. Oh, wait, did I say 'German red wine'? Obviously, I should have said 'German beer' or something along those lines. However, I am just now looking at a bottle coming from Bavaria that features no lion or young maiden on the label; instead, it has a red screw cap and says 'Spätburgunder' (Pinot Noir) and 'unfiltriert' (unfiltered). And it looks, smells and tastes like a red wine. More importantly, it looks, smells and tastes like a good red wine. So while I am not telling you to forget about Bavarian lager, you may want to keep an eye out for red wine from the Bavarian wine growing region of Franken (Franconia).

Posted by Torsten 17 Feb 2010

Recently we reported on a somewhat unusual German wine, a Syrah from the Pfalz. As this wine got a lot of interest, I decided it was time to open a bottle of another, unusual, red wine from the same producer. After having sampled the 2003 Syrah it was time to try the flagship wine of the Knipser winery, the Cuvée X, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot - all grow in Germany, just a few miles left of the Rhine.

Posted by Torsten 03 Feb 2010

The more Pinot Blanc I drink, the more I appreciate this grape variety. While you will find Pinot Blanc in France and, known as Pinot Bianco, in Italy, Germany is the country that grows more of it than any other: Weißburgunder, as it is known here. The Weißburgunder I am reporting about today was grown in the Pfalz, near the village of Gimmeldingen where the Christmann winery is based. The estate has been owned by the Christmann family for seven generations. It is headed by Steffen Christmann, who also happens to be head of the 'Prädikat Wine Estates', Germany's club of premier estates. In 2004, Christmann changed to organic production and recently even to biodynamic methods. I could not say whether this is the reason for a consistently high quality, but Christmann is certainly doing something right. Now let's have a look at this Pinot Blanc, shall we?

Posted by Torsten 25 Jan 2010

So we were drinking this German Syrah one night and - Wait, a German Syrah, you say? Yes, that is true - a Syrah from Germany, and a bloody marvellous one too.

Posted by Julian 17 Jan 2010

Another venture into Eastern Europe, and into a grape that I like more and more: Cabernet Franc.

Very dark red, a little cloudy (unfiltered, probably), with a purplish edge. Smells of stewed vegetables, beetroot, ripe red peppers, but meaty at the same time. In the mouth, it brings rather hard-edged cassis and tar at first, Cabernet Sauvignon-style, but with more exposure to air, the sweeter and more savoury vegetable flavours take over. While the ripe fruit and oak flavours lean toward the international style, the vegetables give it character and spice. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 22 Nov 2009

When you have a Bordeaux style French red in your glass and it is actually German, it could very well be Thomas Seeger's Cuvée Anna. I opened a bottle Friday night for a group of friends without telling them what it was and the guesses ranged from Argentinian Cabernet to Syrah or French Malbec. In fact, Cuvée Anna is a blend of Pinot Noir, Schwarzriesling and Lemberger. Lemberger is a grape variety also know as Blaufränkisch (especially in Austria), and is know to create wines with sometimes spicy dark berry flavour, some tannins and good acidity - 'Anna' has all of the above. Schwarzriesling, literally Darkriesling, is also known as Pinot Meunier and is interestingly used in the production of Champagne (although Pinot Noir is much better known in this respect). [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 16 Nov 2009

Some wines are waiting for a special occasion. My Pinot Noir "R" from the Molitor winery had been waiting almost ten years for its time to come (although most of it in the cellars of the Molitor estate at the Moselle) - until a friend invited me to Oxfordshire for an autumn Sunday in the countryside, including a braised duck. So off I went, and the Pinot Noir from the Moselle came with me. And boy was it worth the wait (although I am not sure if the wine really cared as much about it as we did).

Traditionally, the Moselle - or Mosel, as the German call it - is known as the home of the German Riesling, especially the lighter, fruitier and sweeter Riesling that regularly wins high ratings in international wine challenges. However, since the 1980s or so, red wine has slowly made its return. Molitor started planting Pinot Noir about 20 years ago and has received a lot of praise for his Spätburgunder, also from the Wine Rambler. This is not only the oldest Molitor wine for us to review so far, but also the oldest Pinot Noir. [read the full post...]