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



great

Wines that we really liked - they might not be in the absolute top, but you will not go wrong with any of them.
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 09 Apr 2010

May the day never come when streamlined wine marketing gets rid of the german custom of labelling wines by place of origin and vineyard name. Yes, those make for clumsy label design. Yes, they are phonetically intimidating to non-german speakers. But here's their great glory: The best of them already say everything that can be said about a wine more evocatively than anything a wine marketing agency could dream up. Take "Frühlingsplätzchen", a well-known vineyard of Monzingen, in the Nahe region. This could be translated either as "the little springtime place in Monzingen", or as "the Monzingen springtime biscuit". Isn't that wonderful?

Frühlingsplätzchen - kind of. Courtesy of verygoodfood.dkFrühlingsplätzchen - kind of. Courtesy of verygoodfood.dk

Posted by Torsten 05 Apr 2010

'Sekt' is what the Germans call their sparkling wine, and Volker Raumland has an excellent reputation for making sparklers, so much so that many top wineries in Germany trust him with turning their grapes into Sekt. This non-vintage Riesling Sekt, the cheapest in the Raumland range, was made according to the methode champenois and disgorged in 09/2009, creating a wine that is like being struck by a well balanced and expertly-handled sledgehammer made of mineral and fresh acidity.

Posted by Torsten 05 Apr 2010

A nicely aged Riesling can be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, for those not blessed with a proper cellar storing wine for a decade or two is a risky venture. This makes buying aged wine directly from the winery very interesting, especially when the wine comes at a reasonable price. Of course, there is also the risk that they are trying to dump rubbish they couldn't sell on you, but for €12.90 and coming from a good winery I thought I could take my chances with this half-dry late harvest Riesling from the Moselle:

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 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

Tasted blind, and very subjectively, here.

Posted by Torsten 22 Feb 2010

After two years of mostly going for Riesling, I currently find myself drinking more and more Pinot, specifically Pinot Blanc and Gris. Well, surprise, this is another of those bastards, and despite being made from the same grape variety it is not exactly like your average Italian Pinot Grigio. It is Grauburgunder time, and yet again am I turning to the warm South-West of Germany, to enjoy a wine from the Kaiserstuhl region.

The first thing to notice about it is the colour. Colour is always difficult to capture well in a photograph, and this one does not quite bring across the fairly dark, gold-brown that the Salwey wine radiates. Pretty, really pretty.

Posted by Torsten 19 Feb 2010

I cannot drink, or even think of, this wine without the memories coming back. It was a couple of years ago, and almost summer, and the Wine Rambler committee visited the Mosel. One of our stops was the village of Traben-Trarbach, where we visited the Müllen winery - and we got more than we bargained for. The full story is better to be told over a glass of Riesling, but very generous tasting samples that kept and kept and kept coming are part of it. And stories that kept and kept and kept coming. And there was a bit about a cat. We sampled many Rieslings that day, different styles too, and also a few other varieties. Among them was an impressive Pinot Blanc, a Weißburgunder, and today I opened the last bottle.

Posted by Torsten 16 Feb 2010

One day it will become summer again. And when that happens you will want to drink a wine like this one here - or at least you should. The aptly named 'Sommer Cuvée' ('Sommer' being German for 'summer') is one of the basic wines of the Salwey winery. They make it from 95% Silvaner and 5% Riesling, two grapes the Wine Rambler loves. Together, they produce a light and fresh wine that is just a pleasure to drink.

Posted by Julian 13 Feb 2010

When german Riesling is praised for its "finest perfume of fruit supported by a lightweight frame", it would seem that its ever-delicate balance must be so fragile that it would never survive contact with heavy, savoury food. Not so. To realise what Riesling can do with Sauerkraut, black pudding and liver sausage, you need to have tasted this classic german pairing* (do not, I repeat do not, take the Wine Rambler's word for anything).
For this, you need a Riesling that is dry rather than fruity, steely rather than floral, firm rather than ethereal. You need, in short, a dry Kabinett from the Pfalz. You also need good Sauerkraut and freshly made (raw, that is) sausages, of course. In what may simply be a local tradition or may have deeper and more sinister reasons of carnivore logistics, Munich butchers offer these every Friday.

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 Torsten 03 Feb 2010

The more Pinot Blanc I drink, the more I appreciate this grape variety. While you will find Pinot Blanc in France and, known as Pinot Bianco, in Italy, Germany is the country that grows more of it than any other: Weißburgunder, as it is known here. The Weißburgunder I am reporting about today was grown in the Pfalz, near the village of Gimmeldingen where the Christmann winery is based. The estate has been owned by the Christmann family for seven generations. It is headed by Steffen Christmann, who also happens to be head of the 'Prädikat Wine Estates', Germany's club of premier estates. In 2004, Christmann changed to organic production and recently even to biodynamic methods. I could not say whether this is the reason for a consistently high quality, but Christmann is certainly doing something right. Now let's have a look at this Pinot Blanc, shall we?

Posted by Torsten 28 Jan 2010

Imagine a hilly landscape somewhere in Europe. The sun is burning down. The temperature is way above 30° C. Sitting on a porch, you look around an area that was shaped by volcanic activity. While there is no lava any more, you have been told by locals that this small town is the warmest in the country. Your host returns to pour more Pinot Grigio. Southern Italy, you may think? Not at all! Chances are that you are sitting in the town of Ihringen in the South West of Germany, drinking a Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder I wanted to say, made by the Heger winery. Well, it is still winter while I am writing this, but a few days ago I opened a bottle of a Grauburgunder, as the Pinot Grigio/Gris variety is called in Germany, for two friends here in London - Dr. Heger's Oktav. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 17 Jan 2010

Another venture into Eastern Europe, and into a grape that I like more and more: Cabernet Franc.

Very dark red, a little cloudy (unfiltered, probably), with a purplish edge. Smells of stewed vegetables, beetroot, ripe red peppers, but meaty at the same time. In the mouth, it brings rather hard-edged cassis and tar at first, Cabernet Sauvignon-style, but with more exposure to air, the sweeter and more savoury vegetable flavours take over. While the ripe fruit and oak flavours lean toward the international style, the vegetables give it character and spice. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 13 Jan 2010

Despite its pale lemon colour, this Riesling shines like gold (just in a light, quite pale lemon coloured way). It comes from the Mosel, from a vineyard near the village of Trittenheim, which is called 'Apotheke' - 'Pharmacy' in English (relating to the old-fashioned word Apothecary, of course). While I do normally not go so far as to recommend a wine as medicine, with this one I almost might - it is just such a refreshing joy to drink it.

The nose with its mineral and herbs makes me think of, well, the steep vineyards of the Mosel; add to that refreshing green apples, peach and half-fermented fruit and then finely dust the aromas with icing sugar. A bouquet that says: 'drink me, drink me now!'

Posted by Julian 29 Dec 2009

Winter evenings, we are constantly reminded, are the time to open the big reds, bring out the big guns, release the heavy hitters. That may be so, but light, elegant reds that do not clobber the food or the taster are always in season.

From Blauer Portugieser (a red grape once common across Germany, Austria and eastern Europe but now declining), and Schwarzriesling (nothing to do with Riesling, but Pinot Meunier, of blanc-de-noirs champagne fame), Lukas Krauß makes this wonderfully bright cherry-coloured wine, named in honour of his grandfather.

Posted by Torsten 26 Dec 2009

The Wittmann winery recently got a lot of attention from us - and what is not to like? A wine making family with lots of tradition (been in the business since 1663), unafraid to try new things (they went biodynamic five years ago), and, well, more than capable to deliver the thunder to your wine glass. The latest Wittmann in our collection is no exception here, even though it is not entirely without problems.

I opened the bottle of Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) because I was looking for a dry wine with a bit of substance to be strong yet delicate enough to go with roast partridge. What I got was almost more than what I bargained for, because this wine is indeed quite strong. [read the full post...]