Christmas lies behind us, the new year hasn't quite started yet - it is the supposedly quiet time "zwischen den Jahren", or between the years as the Germans say. It is the time when memories and hangovers of heavy Christmas food and wine are still close enough to feel physical, and yet New Year's eve calls with classy Champagne and another set of booze-heavy parties.
In short, it is a good time to leave the heavy, deep, expensive, mindblowing wines behind and think about lighter alternatives that don't lack the enjoyment factor. Enter Hanspeter Ziereisen's Heugumber.
Another wine from the Gutedel (=Chasselas) grape? Indeed. The more serious and objective international wine critics may point out that two wines from this rather pedestrian grape are already too much, when there is so much Riesling to talk about. But we talk about whatever we like here on the Wine Rambler, and I happen to have a soft spot for wines from the Markgräflerland, that pleasant stretch of wine country near Germany's southwestern border with Switzerland. I have another soft spot, incidentally, for the Ziereisen winery, that elite/anti-elite rogue/boutique family outfit that arguably makes Baden's most stylish wines, but that's another story.
And I've come to enjoy Gutedel quite a bit, why the hell not. So what are we looking at here?
I sometimes think that I could, at some time in the distant future, grow conservative. I would remove myself to the country, improve my tax evasion skills and shake my head at the foolishness of do-gooders, environmentalists and labour unions. "They grow good people in our small towns", I would drawl, in the manner of an American republican. But since, for the time being, I'm a European left-leaning, city-dwelling, wine-sipping intellectual (of sorts), I'll have to amend this to the factually indisputable "they grow good wines in our small towns". Baden's out-of-the-way Markgräflerland region, covered for the Wine Rambler by Simon Jones, is the place to go if you want to celebrate small town life. But, far from conservative, it's actually frightfully progressive and reforming when it comes to tackling wine quality. And they grow not only good winemakers, but a speciality: The Gutedel grape, known as Chasselas in Switzerland.
These fresh, light, softly fruited whites can come over a touch boring, but then, they come so invitingly priced that you can afford to taste yourself through a couple before you find one that tickles your palate. I got lucky at the small winery run by the Brenneisen family:
Inspired by Simon Jones' Markgräflerland report, I have opened a bottle of this. If you have read it (and if not - why not?), then I don't need to tell you what the Markgräflerland is, nor what Gutedel means, nor who Ziereisen is. With all that competently taken care of, let's dive right in:
Recently on this very site, we had a little discussion on the future of German reds going that put the spotlight on German wines in the global scheme of things. We enjoyed that. Making great sweeping claims about the future of wine is, after all, the bread and butter of any self-respecting wine blogger. What we enjoy even more, though, is when we can go regional on you, for there is nothing, really nothing that enhances the enjoyment of wine more than a sense of place. We can't do nearly as much wine travelling as we would like to, but we have been lucky enough to have very special guest bloggers reporting on regions and issues that they know intimately. This time, we have asked Basel-based Simon Jones, whose not-just-wine blog From Blackpool to Basel we recommend warmly, to share his knowledge about a patch of land that is not nearly as well known as it deserves to be. As always with our guest rambles, we invite you to do what we have done: Enjoy, and learn.
So the parcel from Ziereisen, one of my very favourite wine estates, has finally arrived, open one right now, methinks, so let's see, oh yeah, here's just the thing:
Steingrüble 2008, a serious dry single-vineyard version of a regional white grape known as Gutedel in Germany, and Chasselas in Switzerland. Been dying to try it.
Nice dark straw colour, appetizing ripe fruit in the nose, hay, mineral freshness and - uh oh - what's this, oh no, it's...
- cut, change of scene -
...imagine that wine has only been invented in 2009. Someone has come up with a way to ferment grape juice into a tasty alcoholic beverage, a corporate board has been set up for branding and packaging this exciting new product, and we are now live with its last decisive meeting: [read the full post...]