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



13%

A list of all wines reviewed on the Wine Rambler with 13% alcohol by volume.
Posted by Torsten 03 Aug 2010

When 2009 came to an end, for some reason the Wine Rambler got infected with the idea of developing new year's resolutions. Among the ones Julian came up with was to 'try more from lesser-known French wine regions like the Jura or the Loire Valley'. Traditionally, I leave France more to Julian, but his recent excitement about a Loire Chenin Blanc made me memorise the word 'Vouvray'. Vouvray is a region of the Loire Valley where they specialise in Chenin Blanc, wines that can rival Riesling in terms of their potential to age for decades. So when (following a phase of drinking much Pinot Blanc, Riesling and some Chardonnay) I came across a Vouvray that was recommended by trustworthy wine merchants Philglas & Swiggot, I did not hesitate and grabbed their last bottle. Lucky me, I can now say.

Posted by Julian 18 Jul 2010

Today, we continue our exploration of under-the-radar grape varieties in german wine by introducing Pinot Noir's little brother (come on out, don't be shy): Frühburgunder literally translates as "early Burgundy", so we are dealing with a particulary early-ripening member of the pinot family. Like any precocious child, this small-berried variety can be difficult to raise, but promises great complexitiy and aromatics once it really comes into its own. In France, it is known as Pinot Pommier or Pinot Madeleine - except that it isn't really, because it is routinely blended with Pinot Noir without declaring this on the label. In Burgundy, for example, it is often not even known in which of the older Pinot vineyards it exists, and in what proportion. Such ignorance is not for us systematically-minded germans, of course, and in the 1970s, a winemaking college sent out researchers with clipboards, pens behind their ears (as I like to imagine it), into the vineyards to find out. One of the places where they were pleased at what they found must have been Dr. Heyden's vineyards in Rheinhessen, which have given us this excellent example for the grape's qualities:

Posted by Torsten 10 Jul 2010

When it comes to wine, it is always worth keeping an eye on central and eastern Europe. When browsing the shelves at Philglas & Swiggot the other day I remembered this maxim and went for a highly recommended Chardonnay from a Slovenian winery. Sutor are located in the Vipava Valley, an extension of the Friuli. Charonnay is quite popular there, as it is in Slovenia in general (where it is the most planted white variety), and as I had not had a Chardonnay in a while, I took the Sutor home with me.

Posted by Torsten 05 Jul 2010

Schäfer-Fröhlich (literally Shepherd-Cheerful) is the name of a very well respected, family-owned winery in the Nahe region. Despite a recent increase in red wine production, the Nahe is still mostly a white wine region, with Riesling being the most popular variety. The same is true for Schäfer-Fröhlich, a Riesling-focussed winery that over the past few years got a lot of good press. For instance, they were awarded the title of 'winery of the year 2010' by wine guide Gault Millau, they won the #1 Riesling trophy from Vinum wine magazine for 2009 and food magazine Feinschmecker crowned one of their 2008 Rieslings as the best dry Riesling in all of Germany. So you can imagine I was really looking forward to trying a Schäfer-Fröhlich, even if it was only one of their basic wines. Sadly, it did not quite live up to my expectations.

Posted by Julian 03 Jul 2010

After more than one year of rambling across the homely green landscape of german wine, there are still a great many places the Wine Rambler has hardly even begun to go. Among them, the many white grapes outside the Riesling-Silvaner-Pinot triangle: One, the ubiquitous, but not-quite-so-banal Müller-Thurgau, we will investigate in some detail in the coming weeks. Another omission is Scheurebe. Scheurebe like this one here, made by Christian Stahl, one of the most interesting and ambitious young vintners of Franken:

Posted by Torsten 16 Jun 2010

If you are one of those thinking of German Pinot Noir as very light wine, pale in colour and neither substantial nor worth ageing then have a look at the wine below. And if you do not think about German red wine at all, well, then do the same. The two Wine Ramblers, at any rate, did also spend some time looking in amazement at the incredibly rich colour of the ten year old Spätburgunder that they had opened last weekend to celebrate one year of The Wine Rambler. Join us in the merriment:

Posted by Torsten 13 Jun 2010

After all those German and Austrian Rieslings, we are now going Australia. Clearly, the Wine Rambler is no nationalist. What could be more Australian, apart from Paul 'Crocodile Dundee' Hogan perhaps, than a Riesling from Adelaide Hills? Well, actually, it is sort of German too - at least the winemaker is (no one would have guess from the name 'Egon Müller').

Posted by Julian 27 May 2010

With at least one Wine Rambler new year's resolution still unfulfilled, a sense of duty and self-discipline finally compelled me to open a Loire white. I also wanted to try one of the esoteric, hyper-regional french wines that the really knowledgeable cats like Cory Cartwright from Saignée are always on about. I had hoped for something original to broaden my wine horizon, but this Chenin Blanc from a legendary Vouvray producer turned out to be rather more - a real shock to the Riesling-saturated system.

Posted by Torsten 13 May 2010

The subject of German red wine would certainly deserve a whole series of postings, for instance making the point that there is a lot of it (about a third of all grapes grown in Germany are red) and that it is not just wine of a lighter type. For today I leave the wider context aside and focus on a wine that is an example of a more substantial type German red, a blend of different varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon and Dornfelder. Winemaker Friedrich Becker is a well known specialist for red wine, with the red wine cuvée Guillaume being one of the cheaper wines from a range that can be quite pricey (just recently I saw one of his premier Pinot Noirs in a Munich department store for around a hundred Euro).

Posted by Torsten 24 Apr 2010

If I think of a German winery that has lots of experience with blending red wines, the Knipsers come to mind. Just a little while ago I tasted their Cuvée X, a great blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc and Merlot. Even though the Cuvée X can stand up to a good French Bordeaux, it is not exactly cheap either, so I was very curious to try the Gaudenz, a significantly cheaper red wine blend made by the Knipsers. In fact, it is surprisingly cheap. It also is a blend of different grapes, including the German variety of Dornfelder, and is matured in used barrique barrels for about a year.

Posted by Torsten 23 Apr 2010

Again, it is back to the Pfalz, this time to take a look at the entry-level Pinot Noir from the Kuhn winery. The colour is quite dark and intense (for a German Pinot Noir), just screaming deep berry flavours. The first sniff already shows that this is not an empty promise: cherries, yeast and mushroom, but also black currant and a bit of mustard come together with leather aromas and a hint of chocolate to form a robust, but very smooth and enticing nose.

Posted by Torsten 19 Apr 2010

To the Wine Rambler, Silvaner remains one of the undervalued German grape varietals, particularly as seen from my London perspective. I don't think I have ever come across a Silvaner in a London restaurant or wine shop. This may not mean very much of course as Londoners would also find it difficult to get German Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, for instance, but I recently learned that even more knowledgeable wine people can confuse Silvaner with the (Austrian) Grüner Veltliner (Silvaner is sometimes called 'Grüner Silvaner'). Is this Silvaner from the Juliusspital winery going to change all that?

Posted by Torsten 18 Apr 2010

If you are a regular reader of the Wine Rambler, you may have noticed that we do not review much Chardonnay here. Obviously, this is because we are nationalist Riesling-loving basterds from a country that does not make Chardonnay. All very true, apart from, well, Germans do actually grow Chardonnay, and not only for making sparkling wines. So the other day, when I had a few English friends over for wine and food, I opened one of those Chardonnays to remind myself how good they can be.

Posted by Julian 13 Apr 2010

Ripe pear, flowery meadow and some almonds in the nose. The palate is soft and round, warmly alcoholic, warm notes of hay, herbs, even a hint of minerality, certainly a pleasing lack of artificiality.

Not bad at all, I just miss a bit of a bite and a bit of a grip. I find it a little too flabby and complacent by itself, much will depend on a food pairing. A grilled fish with some herbs would obviously do a world of good when you serve the Anemos fairly cold.

Nothing to get crazy about by any means, but a nice mediterranean white. My palate is probably too Riesling-infested to see the merits of these wines, although the herbal notes did also remind me of a Grüner Veltliner from one of the warmer areas of Austria and also from a warmer year.

Posted by Julian 03 Apr 2010

Wine produced and sold by the state? No, we're not talking about socialist eastern europe in the 1980s, we are talking the German federal Länder, who, for good historic reasons [*] own and operate large wine estates. Thus, the fine free state of Bavaria has the Staatlicher Hofkeller in Würzburg, the Land of Hessen its Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach. But for this time, it's Baden-Württemberg's own winery in Meersburg, Lake Constance, that makes bureaucratic beverages look good. How good? Well, here is the winery headquarters, for starters:

Posted by Torsten 03 Apr 2010

Here I am, back to drinking German red wine from Rhineland-Palatinate. The St. Laurent grape is a fairly old one, possibly of French origin, that is now often associated with good old Austria, but also increasingly popular in Germany (after it had almost been forgotten there). It is probably related to Pinot Noir and often described as the little, less sophisticated, but also more powerful brother to this variety. So it is no wonder that the Knipser brothers, German red wine and barrique specialists, matured this wine in barrique barrels - for 18th months, in fact. The Knipser St. Laurent is no doubt a wine of quality. Perversely, it appears to be exactly this quality that left me with a big question mark regarding this wine. Perhaps you can help me clarify the matter?

Posted by Julian 21 Mar 2010

Ink-coloured, almost black, smelling of plum jam, eucalyptus and donkey stable and puckering your mouth all over with overwhelmingly rough tannins, here we have a text book Tannat (note the linguistic closeness to "tannin" as well as to "tanning").

Posted by Julian 21 Feb 2010

Silvaner time again. After our Silvaner appreciation campaign last year, we were not planning to keep quiet about it in 2010. But it still needed Lukas Krauß engaging defense of the grape here to put it back on the immediate menu. Based on the river Main north of Würzburg, in classic Silvaner territory, Rudolf May is making his Wine Rambler debut today (he must be so nervous...).

Posted by Torsten 15 Feb 2010

It is time again to drink a Salwey wine - this time with Borough Wines and the Winesleuth as part of my mission to spread the word on German wine. Salwey is a producer I really like. Based in the hot South-West of Germany, they specialise in Pinot (Noir, Gris, Blanc), but do also demonstrate that you can make good Riesling and Chardonnay in the hot, volcanic area of the Kaiserstuhl.

This Pinot Noir comes from the Oberrotweiler Käsleberg, a terraced vineyard with loam soil that is said to produce wines that develop quickly and have an elegant note to them. Is this reflected in the Spätburgunder in front of us?