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



a deeper well

Our special recommendation. Wines that stand out for their memorable character or some unexpected component in their taste. Highly individual bottles that aren't cheap, but add something extra to what you can normally expect from a wine of their type and price range.
Posted by Torsten 06 Aug 2010

Germans love dry wine - this still comes as surprise to many foreigners who think of Germany as country of sweet wine. Actually, almost two thirds of all wine produced in Germany is dry. On top of that the VdP, the association of top producers, are currently pushing for a new top category in the wine classification system that applies to dry wine only. This is where the label 'GG', short for 'Großes Gewächs' (literally 'great growth') of today's Riesling from Baden comes from.
In order to be classified as GG, a wine has to come from a certified top vineyard, yields have to be low, only grape varieties that have some tradition in the region can be used, grapes have to be harvested selectively by hand and the wine has to have the same quality level as a late harvest. And, of course, the producer has to be a member of VdP. The Baden winemaker family Salwey are, and this is their 2008 GG Riesling.

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 25 May 2010

These days, I find myself drinking more and more Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc). It can be very food friendly (especially when you go for lighter food, fish and the seasonal asparagus (even though the latter is always a bit tricky)) and I enjoy the contrast to the sharper Riesling. A particularly good and typical recent example for Weißburgunder came from the Saar river, very close to the Mosel. It looked a little bit like this:

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 Julian 05 May 2010

Having had a fun afternoon sipping austrian wines recently, I dediced it was time for another foray into the territory of Grüner Veltliner, also known as "Groona" in the Vayniac universe. The austrian national grape, Grüner Veltliner makes for powerfully spicy, herbal and mineral whites, if, and only if, handled expertly by ethnic austrians with Veltliner strains in their genome. Johannes Hirsch from the Kamptal clearly qualifies here. We have tasted his 06 Heiligenstein a year ago with a very respectable, but didn't-blow-our-socks-off kind of result. So what has an additional year of bottle age done for this wine?

Posted by Torsten 29 Apr 2010

On a glorious, sunny day (or, in this case, quite a few hours after the sun went down after such a day), not much beats a glorious, sunny Riesling, in particular if it is so very quaffable and yet elegant as this one. Yes, I am again drinking one of the fruity Rieslings made by Theo Haart, this time a lighter wine in 'Kabinett' style.

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 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 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 20 Feb 2010

If you have read the Wine Rambler recently, you will have been introduced to the Knipser family as specialists for red wine - from Syrah to the Cuvée X, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon / Franc and Merlot, the Knipser winery in Rhineland-Palatinate does it all. Among the many other grape varieties grown is Riesling, and today I have the distinct pleasure to write about a late harvest Riesling that is not only a great example of a dry, focussed white wine, but is also, I like to think, seriously good value.

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 22 Nov 2009

Yellow colour with a shiny golden sparkle - very promising. The nose even better: cool mineral, herbs, lemon and peach - very pleasant peach indeed, but not overwhelming, and some apple, which adds just the right amount of bitter. The peach continues right onto your tongue, giving the Riesling an elegant juiciness, while the apple and especially mineral dominate the first half of the long finish. A wine with good structure, elegance but also a certain assertiveness, Georg Mosbacher's dry late harvest Riesling convinces from start to finish - even two days after I opened the bottle it stays sharp and clear. What can I say, a really good wine!

Posted by Julian 15 Nov 2009

This one was recommend by Captain Cork, my favourite german language wine blog. At first, I was a little nervous whether it would be able to handle a Pollo arosto con i limoni. After a few sips, however, It was the chicken I started to worry for:

A hefty dose of fresh oak in the nose, but with it creamy yellow fruit, orange peel, and a tangy saltiness.

New oak dominates the mouth as well, very powerful and long, in no way what I have associated with the Sauvignon Blanc grape, but smoke, roasted almonds, and finally a funky, sulphuric brimstone minerality that stays on the palate for minutes. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 12 Oct 2009

Sometimes something is in the air. A few days ago I realised that we actually never reviewed a wine made by Reinhard Löwenstein. And as it so happened a bottle of his Riesling found itself uncorked last weekend - and not only here in London, but also in Munich where fellow Wine Rambler Julian enjoyed a 2004 Heymann-Löwenstein (we did not coordinate this). Read his excellent review of a gorgeous wine, especially as it will tell you why you should keep an eye on this extraordinary winery. As Julian has already set the context, I can keep this review of the more basic 2008 Schieferterrassen Riesling rather short. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 29 Sep 2009

Grüner Veltliner is Austria's signature white grape variety. It produces lovely, fresh and crisp wines and I am just having one of these from the Kamptal. Located within easy reach of Vienna, the Kamptal has a few well known vineyards and Heiligenstein (holly stone) is one of the prestigious ones. Grüner Veltliner has a reputation of being a good food companion and so far I have not gone wrong with this grape.

The nose of the Heiligenstein Veltliner is a nicely balanced mix of cool mineral, apple and citrus fruit, enhanced by herbs, vegetable and a bit of freshly ground pepper. Not in an in-your-face style, more of a quiet confidence that does not need a fruit explosion to convince. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

Is there anything better than a nicely aged, excellent Riesling? I am not sure, but drinking this late harvest from winemaker Haart makes me think there may not be many things that would be better.

The colour is just beautiful, shiny gold with a hint of green. The nose is sophisticated, juicy peach with light herbal notes, cool, buttery mineral and the slightest hint of petrol. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 25 Jul 2009

Straw-coloured. Fairly understated smell of candied citrus peel, camomile tea and a hint of petrol.

The taste is so much fresher and more open: Wonderful rich sweetness, elegant ripe pineapple notes, the world's fruitiest camomile tea, the tiniest hint of caramel, good stable acidity, a mineral background. What makes this Spätlese wonderful is that it has the complex flavours of maturity (the typical lemon, peach and apricot aroma of young riesling is almost completely gone), but is still vibrant and fresh. It seems that, out of pure luck, I have opened it at a very good point in its development.

From a region not often talked about, a producer to watch out for.

Posted by Julian 08 Apr 2009

Tastes deeply, most interestingly of fleshy peach, tart , very cool somehow, herbal, but also of spicy vegetables (artichokes?). Very promising.

Very dry in the mouth, noble Riesling fruit with perfect acidity and great mineral after-taste, but this wine's signature is the 'cool' feeling on the palate, Gletschereis-Bonbons, you know them, and an almost sharp herbal intensity. It's like a herbal tincture on overheated skin. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 28 Aug 2008

Cherry red, with an orange-brown rim.
Phantastic smell, finest red berries, sour cherries, dry autumn leaves, a nice sour touch.
A bit morbid and smoky in the mouth, like eating berries by a wood fire, enormous minerality.
A melancholy, touching wine with secrets, like a trail into the woods ("down from the door where it began..."). Loved every drop of it.