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



half-dry

These wines are half-dry, or 'halbtrocken' in German terminology, - either according to our palate or the classification of the winery.
Posted by Julian 06 Aug 2011

Contrary to the impression given by my recent confessional posting, I do not generally source my aged Rieslings by going through the neighbours' garbage. Here's one I bought absolutely regularly from a Munich wine shop. J. B. Becker is Rheingau winery known for the uncompromising traditionalism of its winemaking and the longevity of its Rieslings.

So while we are on the topic, I thought another little review may be in order:

Posted by Julian 24 Jul 2011

I'm always honoured when people who have stumbled onto this blog contact us for expertise on German wine, even while I find myself guiltily hoping that we are not the only source that they rely on, given the patchiness and dabbling character of this our whole undertaking. But here is a piece of advice that I guarantee you will not regret following: When looking for mature-ish Mosel Riesling in great drinking condition, look no further than the 2002 vintage, underrated in many quarters, but in my humble experience as safe a bet for lively, nuanced wines as you are going to find.

Martin Müllen's 2002 Kabinett from the aptly named Paradies ("paradise") vineyard is a case in point. Over and beyond being a minor classic of the neo-traditional style of Mosel winemaking (whatever the hell that is supposed to be), it also has a long and distinguished history in this Wine Rambler's cellar, being one of the very first wines ordered directly from the producer. And I'm happy to report it has never before tasted this good:

Posted by Torsten 06 Jul 2011

Liebfraumilch does not need much introduction, seeing as it is probably the wine most foreigners, certainly the British, associate with Germany. What hundred years ago was one of the best white wines in the world has since become cheap supermarket plonk. Hardly a reason to look out for those wines then, I hear you say - and yet I got extremely excited when a little while ago I got my hands on a bottle. Why? Because it was over 25 years old.

At this age, most wines are undrinkable, and even quite a few age-worthy white wines don't look exactly fresh anymore. Surely, the Liebfraumilch must have turned into vinegar. Or did it?

Posted by Torsten 27 Apr 2011

After recently exploring his 09 Pinot Gris, it is now time to taste Helmut Dönnhoff's 2009 Riesling. Dönnhoff is the uncrowned winemaking king of the Nahe region and one of the (more or less crowned) archdukes of German Riesling, so I was very curious to see how his entry-level Riesling would do.

After it had been sitting in my famous wardrobe for a while, the Dönnhoff's time had come when I set out to visit one of London's secret supper clubs.

Posted by Torsten 12 Apr 2011

Sometimes you have no idea what you are looking at. The other day I pulled a bottle out of a newly arrived cask of wine that I hadn't actually ordered - nor had I heard of the winery before! Turns out that the wine merchant had sneakily squeezed it into the box as a thank you for a good customer. Herr Behringer also asked me for my opinion.

Following the recent debate on neutrality of wine bloggers I should probably add that this is the first wine we have received from Behringer without paying, that he did not ask us for a review and that the wine is not in his portfolio (I wonder if he plans to change that though). Anyway, Mr Behringer, here goes.

Posted by Julian 25 Mar 2011

The Mosel, Germany's best known wine region, hosts many styles of Riesling winemaking: There are the modernists, there are the traditionalists, there are the ultra-traditionalist. And then, there is Jos. Christoffel Jun. The winery's website nicely underscores their brand of conservatism, in that there isn't one. If you want to get your hands on any of the older vintages (back into the 80s, rumour has it) they still have on offer, get your ass down to the Mosel. Or else get lucky on eBay, like your undeservedly fortunate correspondent. For about 12 €, shipment included, I got this Spätlese from the year Frank Zappa died.

Posted by Torsten 07 Mar 2011

Blue Nun is a German wine label that is very successful in the UK. Known for relatively inexpensive, off-dry wines, Blue Nun is especially marketed at younger women. I am not one of those, but in my quest to explore inexpensive German supermarket wine I have reviewed one previously (see also for details on the brand), and now it was time to brave it a second time.

I bought the 2009 Blue Nun at Sainsburys as part of a blind tasting experiment involving cheap German supermarket wines. How did the £4.29 wine fair?

Posted by Torsten 07 Mar 2011

Having written about Liebfraumilch previously, I will keep this introduction short. What once was the name for a highly sought after German wine has since become a label for plonk - a mildly sweet wine, produced as cheaply as possible from vineyards all over German wine growing regions. It is very popular in the English market and sells in bulk.

I bought mine for £3.06 from Sainsburys as part of a blind tasting experiment in cheap German wine. And was a little surprised.

Posted by Torsten 07 Mar 2011

Piesport is the name of a wine growing village in Germany. On steep hills along the Mosel, some of Germany's best Riesling is grown. "Piesporter Michelsberg", however, only indicates that the wine comes from grapes grown somewhere in the area. It is a designation no quality producer with a good vineyard there would use, so when you find it on a label you are most likely looking at a mass-produced wine that will probably not even contain grapes grown in Piesport itself.

I bought my Michelsberg for £3.99 from Sainsburys as part of a blind tasting experiment in cheap German wine. How did it fair?

Posted by Torsten 02 Mar 2011

Looking back over the wines I have enjoyed over the past few months it was an impressive range of delightfulness and excellent quality. Despite having spent quite a bit on wine I think it was worth every penny, but I was also reminded not to forget to explore what is available on the cheaper end of the market. So during a recent visit to Sainsburys I grabbed a random bottle of relatively inexpensive German wine to set my experiences in perspective.

Mind you, there are people out there for whom £4.99 for a bottle of wine is anything but cheap. However, if you consider that around half of the price goes to the government (tax, excise duty etc.) and quite a bit to the retailer (and that does not even take into account the cost of shipping etc.) then you realise that such a wine has to be produced very cheaply indeed to be commercially viable. Too cheaply?

Posted by Torsten 29 Dec 2010

Seeing how good their reputation is, it was high time for us to review a wine made at the Willi Schaefer winery. The Schaefer estate is run by Willi and Christoph Schaefer, father and son, who on a few hectares of steep Mosel land exclusively grow Riesling. They feature a label design that just screams traditional Germanic Mosel style, bordering on cute cliché. I like it, of course. The family also seem to be traditional in other ways as they still don't have a website. Or they hide it. There is nothing that needs hiding about this wine though. Not only highly enjoyable on its own it also paired very well with Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow on a cold autumn night.

It was a cold and windy night. Suffering from a somewhat congested nose, I still desired a glass of wine to keep me company while I watched Christopher Walken decapitate fat blokes in the woods. Just a little light-hearted fun, what could be better than a Mosel Kabinett?

Posted by Torsten 31 Oct 2010

Over the years, we have tasted a wide sample of German wines (though still so much more to explore!). However, my German wine experience is very different from that of most people here in the UK or across the globe. While we mostly drink wine from smaller, family owned vineyards, the UK especially downs the likes of Liebfraumilch by the gallon. So it was high time to get in touch with my inner mainstream drinker and get one of those iconic Black Tower bottles you can see in most British supermarkets.

Black Tower claims to be Germany's most widely exported wine brand, in fact, it may very well be Germany's best selling wine globally - it certainly is in the UK. Reh-Kendermann, who own Black Tower, spent a lot on the brand, particularly researching the design.

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2010

Mosel Riesling, the embodiment of German wine - at least in foreign perception. Readers of the Wine Rambler will not have to be told that there is so much more to German wine than Mosel Riesling. Still, every so often reminding everyone of the fantastic wines that come out of this area cannot hurt. One of our favourite producers at the Mosel is Markus Molitor (who also makes fantastic Pinot Noir). And one of the best Molitor wines I have had is, no, it is not one of the prestigious Auslese or Trockenbeerenauslese wines, it is a 'Qualitätswein'. These quality wines are somewhere in the middle of the German classification system - but don't let these bureaucratic details fool you. You are looking at pure awesome, and at amazing value too.

Posted by Torsten 29 Jul 2010

The 'Haart' in the Riesling with the funny name 'Haart to Heart' is not a spelling mistake. In fact, it comes from the Haart winery, who make some of our favourite sweet Mosel Riesling. It also seems they like a good pun, at least if it comes to labelling their basic Riesling. The 'Heart to Haart' is the only Haart wine that comes with a screw cap and without the 'eagle logo' of the VdP, the elite club of German wine makers, that is proudly displayed on all other Haart bottles. This is because in some years at least part of the grapes for the Haart to Heart are sourced from other growers, but this does not appear to have been the case for a while now. So, as far as the Haart winery is concerned it does not get more basic than this. How basic is basic?

Posted by Torsten 30 Jun 2010

Well before reaching twenty-five years of age most wines turn to vinegar. Not many wines are really worth keeping for more than a couple of years. Some last five to ten years, but only a tiny minority will make it beyond. With the exception of a few first class wines, sweet Riesling among them, not many wines are drinkable, far less enjoyable at the age of twenty-five. And yet here we are looking at a Silvaner, an often underestimated variety, of this age - does it still deliver?

Right from the start, the Franconian Silvaner impressed us with an intense, very clear golden colour that still had hints of green (which is often said to be a sign of a younger wine). It certainly looked beautiful and also as if it could comfortably age a few years more.

Posted by Torsten 23 Jun 2010

When you put your nose into a glass of wine and it smells a little bit like a car dealership, but in a good way, you can be fairly certain that you have a Riesling in front of you. This Haart Riesling from the Mosel is not one of the petrol noses, so please don't think of a garage wit lots of oil and grease, but its bouquet has a little of the more refined version of that smell, just think of a BMW car dealership salesroom. Or rather walking through one while eating a peach.

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 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 Torsten 23 Mar 2010

After having tried a few English Bacchus-based wines I was curious to see what I would make of a German representative of this variety (Bacchus was, after all, created in Germany). However, it is not that easy as Bacchus is not very popular in Germany. It is mostly blended into cheaper wines and not really a variety wine connoisseurs think of a lot, which is probably why none of my online wine merchants sell it. So I was pleased when, while visiting Munich and food shopping for a Wine Rambler committee meeting, I came across a Bacchus in a similar price range to the English ones I had tried. Little did I know what disappointment would lie ahead.