My last few wine weeks were dominated by Pinot Blanc, so it seemed a good idea to return to the wonderful world of Riesling - in this case to the German wine region of Rheinhessen, where the Keller winery is based. Kellers have an awesome reputation and the demand for their premium wines is high enough that they can sell them in subscription. The wine to introduce today is not one of them, it is Keller's basic Riesling, no subscription necessary and a reasonable price.
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:
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...).
Uncertain what you are looking at here? Somehow strangely attracted yet also confused? Doubtful whether this actually belongs on a wine blog?
If this is what you feel looking at the above picture then welcome to my world of confusion and doubt about a wine of which I am not sure if it should exist at all. What do you do with a wine clocking in at 15% alcohol? How do you feel when you realise it is a white - and from one of the coolest wine regions of a cool wine growing country? Should Mosel winemakers really do this? Should any (white) wine be so strong? Is it actually drinkable? If you want a definitive answer to these questions, please do not read on.
If you have ever come across the German village of Laumersheim, chances are it was because of a wine. Laumersheim is home to the Kinpser winery, a family owned estate that makes some of the best red wines you can get in Germany (and marvellous white wines too). And it is home to the Kuhn winery that is getting more and more attention, especially after Philipp Kuhn in 1992 - at the tender age of 20 - got involved in the family owned estate. You may be surprised to hear that the winery is not only producing some red wine, in fact about 50% of the wines made there are red. The delivery that brought this Riesling to London also included a Merlot! The story of red wine made by the Kuhns in the Palatinate will have to be told another night as tonight we are drinking the entry level Riesling from the Kuhn winery (entry level, by the way, does not mean mass-produced: harvests are limited to below 75 hl per hectare).
Oregon is bad. Stop it if you can. Here it comes. Here it comes. Now it's after you. Flee to some place new. Run away. Run away. - For the Wine Rambler it was too late. Oregon got me. And if you want to find out how it all happened and what this has to do do with one half of a team of almost-giants, well, then it got you too. Don't be afraid, though, it will all be revealed. And make sense. Sort of. Either way, there will be wine!
Read the background story to this wine here (be warned: It's quite a ramble)
A very dark cherry red in the glass, this brought sweet cherry juice, blackberries and a little fruit jam to our noses. The mouthfeel is, again, dominated by marinated cherries, dried fruit, and a chocolate pudding aftertaste.
It's a measure of the quality of the winemaking that this overripeness does not pull it out of balance, but a gentle tannic backbone wraps up the taste in the end. [read the full post...]
Certain ways of cooking fish and shellfish just cry out for a clean, light and crisp dry white wine - especially if you bake a whole sea bass in a salt crust. This is an excellent way to celebrate the delicate flavour of fish and it works well with a range of fish, including sea bream. Just put a little pepper and some herbs into the fish and then cover the whole fish in a dough made of salt, water and perhaps a few egg whites. This seals in all the moisture and preserves the delicate flavours of the fish. Serve the fish just with a bit of olive oil, pepper and salt, perhaps a little lemon and enjoy with very simple side dishes, perhaps just a few slices of white bread.
And make sure to select a wine that will not overpower the fish - I find a dry Muscadet works very well in this context.
London, so the MetOffice tells us, is about to descend into a snow chaos this night. While this may mean that tomorrow evening it will be time for hearty food with a robust red wine, tonight I felt more like spicy food and so I prepared a stir-fry. I use this simple recipe fairly often, it basically involves frying small bits of chicken breast in butter and then adding chopped peppers, green curry paste and lemon juice - the latter nicely balances the flavours and gives it that nice, fresh kick of acidity. So opening a Riesling seemed like the logical choice, and as the food was not overly spicy I thought I could get away with a dry Riesling. A particular bottle from the Wittmann winery had looked at me in this peculiar way for a couple of weeks now, so the choice was easy.
Whenever I drink a lightly (pleasantly!) oaked Chardonnay these days I think of Tom Aikens, a fine restaurant in South West London. I have not been there very often, but single time the sommelier surprised me with an unusual combination of food and wine and also with bringing out my (usually) hidden love for lightly oaked Chardonnay. The wine I have in my glass right now is not a Chardonnay and I am enjoying it at home, without the delight of Tom Aikens' food. Even so, it brings back some good memories. And it is not a Chardonnay, but an Auxerrois. Auxerrois is a relatively unknown and rare grape variety that can be quite similar to Chardonnay and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc). [read the full post...]
Sometimes I think that we should have a wine history segment on the wine rambler. Maybe we will some day. It should be fun to explore some of the microhistory in individual vineyard names, and to maybe get a grip on parts of the larger story of how the wine world that we know and love (well, some of it) came about. The breakup of large noble and monastic estates after 1803 within the crumbling holy roman empire would have to be such a period that changed the landscape of wine making beyond recognition. Or did it? [read the full post...]
Lukas Krauß, 21 years old, is a winemaker, no that's wrong, he is, proudly, a wine grower („Weinbauer“) from the Pfalz. And not the most prestigious part of the Pfalz, either. He is not listed in many wine guides nor will you have heard his name dropped in the wine blogosphere. But if you, like the wine rambler, are sometimes tired of the visual soft pornography and the worn out old clichés that are wine marketing, and want something that is personal, honest, stylish and funny, here is a name for you to remember, and here also is a site for you to look at:
We liked him instantly, and you will soon hear more from Lukas on the wine rambler, something that we look forward to very much. [read the full post...]
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...]
Perhaps unusually for a Mosel winemaker, Clemens Busch is well known for his dry Riesling - he also makes off-dry and sweet wines, but when we visited the winery in 2008 I mostly brought home dry wines. Vom Roten Schiefer - "from red slate" - was one of them.
All starts with a nice golden colour and a nose of a mineral, stone fruit (peach and plum), camomile tea, honey and paraffin wax. All of that made for a substantial, matured impression. On the tongue the Riesling is quite full-bodied and a well rounded, caramel richness. Exotic fruit and ripe plum mix well with noticeable, fresh acidity and a kick of spice. A rich yet elegant wine with a little attitude.
Dark straw colour.
A nose of candied lemon and orange peel, with slate minerality and a tiny bit of vegetal roughness.
Candied lemon peel and "slate" are also prominent in the taste, with a hint of bitterness on the finish.
This very enjoyable Riesling from an up-and-coming producer ranges between the the lighter "traditional" mosel off-dry style and the more opulent and creamy "harmonic dry" created by the likes of Reinhard Löwenstein, Van Volxem and Clemens Busch. Not a bad place to be.
A nose of mineral, citrusy acidity and tobacco welcome you when you pour this Riesling from the Palatinate into a glass. Add some herbs and peach and you get a really pleasant nose that is fresh, crisp and light at the same time. The Riesling is quite similar on your tongue too, light and fresh with notable acidity and some slightly bitter vegetable elements that are a nice balance to the juiciness and, yes!, the tobacco. This organic wine seems quite light at first, but can also show some teeth. Enjoyable and fresh, with quite interesting tobacco notes, the Christmann wine is a pleasant companion, but also not quite a revelation - with a little more substance it could have been though. A decent showing for the price.
Before turning to this Hungarian Chardonnay, I feel I have to reveal the source behind my new interest in eastern European wines such as this:
Manfred Klimek a.k.a. Captain Cork is, to me, the freshest and most entertaining voice among German language wine journalists. I particularly enjoy his reports on winegrowers and -makers behind what used to be the iron curtain, because they bring out the passion and personality of individualists who have often not yet mastered winemaker marketing-speak. Highly recommended, 'nuff said.
Back to the Chard, then, and a weird little number it is:
Pale gold, with a hint of onion skin brown. Unusual.
Smells of brown sugar and fried banana, with a salty freshness at the same time. Even more unusual. [read the full post...]
The wine rambler continues its Silvaner coverage, today with a specimen from Slovenia - that's right, the Wine Rambler has been looking east lately, more on that soon - and this one here from good old Rheinhessen:
Fairly dark straw colour, not quite golden.
Nose of dried apple slices, but also ripe grapes, a little floral too, making me think, unexpectedly, of Gewürztraminer.
In the mouth it's candied apple again, mature fruit, quite some weight and length, noticeable sweetness, although 5 grams per litre of residual sugar make it legally dry. Very mild acidity. [read the full post...]
The winery Fürst Hohenlohe-Oehringen has already impressed the distinctly non-aristocratic wine rambler with its marvellous top-of-the line red "Ex flammis orior". And the Lemberger red wine grape of Württemberg, as our regular readers know, is no other than Austria's and Hungary's Blaufränkisch. In the new spirit of german patriotism summoned by german liberal democrat and possible future foreign (!) minister Guido Westerwelle, who refused to answer an english question from a BBC reporter with the witty and adroit words: "Wir sind ja hier in Deutschland", we should probably not even tell you that. So, let's turn to a german wine from a thoroughly german grape: [read the full post...]
I bought this wine when I last visited Philglas & Swiggot, one of my favourite London wine merchants. Apparently, Paulinshof is one of their long-term favourites, so I was curious to try one. Paulinshof is an old winery from the Mosel region, exclusively focussed on Riesling. So let's see what they have to offer! [read the full post...]