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



Pinot Noir

This grape is known as Spätburgunder (=late Burgundy) in Germany. If Riesling is the quintessential German white grape, Spätburgunder can be considered the top red. The traditional style of German Spätburgunder is lighter in colour, body and tannic acidity than its counterparts from warmer climates.
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 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 06 Apr 2010

Sometimes, a wine tasting among friends turns into an unexpected wine and food orgy. Of course, this could never happen to a moderate and austere German like me, not even with Denise, the Winesleuth, and Douglas, of Intoxicating Prose fame, coming to visit. Denise had been given a couple of German wines by a trade representative, and I had suggested to top that up with a few more wines to set things into perspective. Nothing heavy, just a light evening with a bit of wine and food fun among friends.

Posted by Torsten 30 Mar 2010

Pheasant is one of my favourite birds, and luckily it is available in abundance in England. Obviously, it is no longer in season, but as I did not get around to write this posting in winter let me invite you to join me in the memory of past delights. And to think ahead to the pleasures of next autumn. I am not only a fan of pheasant, I also adore Pinot Noir. Even better, I think the two can be an excellent match, particularly when you roast the bird in the oven and serve it with a lighter sauce and herbs.

The reason I mention the sauce is that it is actually more important to match sauce and wine than to think too much about matching meat and wine. Chicken with a spicy sauce might be good with Riesling, but in a casserole with a cream sauce it could go with a Chardonnay and if it was a red wine casserole even a heavier red might be suitable. So why pheasant and Pinot Noir then?

Posted by Torsten 24 Mar 2010

When the Wine Rambler committee assembles in Munich, we often send two evenly matched wines into a blind tasting battle. Last weekend was no exception and two formidable contestants were preparing themselves for the main event. To get us in the right mood for this epic battle, a good supporting act was needed. So I brought along a mystery wine. It was pretty obvious that the properly wrapped wine was a rosé, but little did my co-ramblers know that it was from the County of Kent. However, I too was in for a surprise - little did I know that this support-act blind tasting would turn into a triumph for English wine (to be followed by a defeat for German winemaking, but that is another story).

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 Julian 14 Mar 2010

Since the well-remembered Silvaner symposium, Wine Rambler full committee meetings have regularly featured a pair of wines with a characteristic similarity (grape variety and vintage, mostly) that we taste without knowing which is which. Is this a sensible thing to do? The detractors of tasting blind argue two things: It favours bolder, more easily understandable wines at the expense of quieter, more refined types, thereby contributing to a levelling of taste and the loss of originality and regionality in wine. It also, in their view, turns tasting wine, which should be about enjoyment and open minds, into a sort of competitive sport. Valid concerns, surely, but we keep finding that without putting your own palate to the test once in a while, you lay yourself open to the twin dangers of preconceived notions and of auto-suggestion ("Label says this has notes of ripe blackberries. Yeah, I think I'm picking them up..."). So we're stumbling on with the blind tastings.

Posted by Julian 14 Mar 2010

Tasted blind, and very subjectively, here.

Posted by Torsten 02 Mar 2010

Sparkling wine is very popular in Germany. Very. As a matter of fact, the Germans consume more than a fifth of the world's production of bubbly. The Wine Rambler is a little less addicted, but we are getting more and more into Sekt, as sparkling wine made in Germany is called. We even made it one of our New Year's resolutions to pay more attention to the world of sparkling wine. This is my first contribution, and it was a most pleasant task.

The sparkling wine in question was made by the Raumland winery. Raumland, based in a village with the wonderful name of Flörsheim-Dalsheim in Rhineland-Palatinate, are specialists for sparkling wine, or 'Sekt' as the Germans call it. So much so that some of Germany's top estates trust Raumland with producing their sparkling wines for them. Raumland are doing such a good job with this that you can find listings of top German sparkling wines that only contain Raumland Sekt or sparklings produced by Raumland (which is not always mentioned on the label).

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?

Posted by Torsten 09 Feb 2010

You may find a wonderful surprise delivered to your doorstep! I can already say I am going to enjoy this. A lot!

Posted by Julian 03 Feb 2010

If you ever come across ruddy-cheeked, twinkly-eyed, chatty Hanspeter Ziereisen, do me a big favour: Don't underestimate him. And do yourself another: Try his wines. There has hardly been another Pinot Noir winemaker in Germany who has a more consistent, sharp-edged stylistic vision for the grape, or taken a more principled, self-critical and determined path to realising it. Excepting maybe Bernhard Huber in Malterdingen, we know of no greater francophile in german Pinot than Hanspeter Ziereisen. High time he made his debut on the Wine Rambler.

He grows it...He grows it...

Posted by Julian 24 Jan 2010

Whenever the invitations to those '47 Petrus and '86 Lafite tastings go out, somehow our names seem to get passed over. Shame, but that doesn't stop us from embarking on the adventure that is aged wine from time to time.

Today, an 18 year-old german Pinot Noir. This ol' boy comes in a light, cloudy cherry red with brown edges. If you want to know how great decaying leaves, wet earth, manure, marinated cherries and smoked bacon smell when mixed together, I suggest you stick your nose into this. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 09 Jan 2010

Nine days into the new year and we're already sticking our noses into the sparkling wine again. Is that hedonistic cheek on our part or a commendable discipline in making good our new year's resolution number 2? Actually, it's neither, since this is a postscript to our new year's eve.

Lively, but not over-strong bubbles, a smell of ripe apples and quince. Bone dry and almost austere at first taste, but at the same time fairly creamy and intense, with the tiniest hint of oak maybe, and in the end, it's mature quince and apple fruit again, maybe also a hint of tangerine, with very fresh acidity all the way through.

Posted by Julian 13 Dec 2009

Deep, but transparent cherry red, going brown around the edge.
Wonderful mature pinot smell, wet forest floor, plum juice, quite dense and so seductive.
Dense, but also transparent fruit, salty mineral flavours, noticeable, but by now perfectly integrated oak. It ends like a great lunch, with chocolate and coffee notes.
Excellent, a real pleasure to smell and drink.

This was my second-to-last bottle, and I didn't enjoy the previous ones nearly as much. Maybe my palate is adjusting more and more to the lighter, more elegant style of Spätburgunder (possible), or else this wine has just reached the drinking age that brings out its very best (also possible, four to six years being generally a good age to drink the better german pinots at, in my humble experience).

Posted by Torsten 22 Nov 2009

About once per season the London branch of the Wine Rambler assembles a coalition of willing wine drinkers in London. The mission: to drink some god-damn wine. Mostly German wine. This time, however, we had new rules - every wine was tasted blind, its identity only to be revealed after the judges had come to a verdict. Also new was the excessiveness: between the eight of us (two arrived late, one left early) we opened nine bottles, although not every wine was finished. So let's jump right in, shall we?

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 21 Nov 2009

A fairly dark Pinot Noir, the 07 Vitus has a seriously dry nose: smoky, toasted oak, a little yeast and a little cherry fruit - more serious than playful, I would say. The wine is also not very fruity on the tongue, where leather and a hint of pepper are added to the mix. It does not feel heavy though, partly due to its fresh acidity. The finish is good, marinated cherries, acidity and tannins, but reasonably smooth, and a bit of woodland aroma with the tiniest hint of chocolate. [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...]