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



sweet

These wines are sweet, meaning that either we or the winery have classified them so. This means that, for German wines, you are most likely looking at more than 45g of residual sugar per litre, with Auslese or some Spätlese wines potentially much more. Don't be afraid of the sticky stuff. Sweetness is your friend.
Posted by Torsten 23 Jan 2011

A good Riesling wine of Auslese quality will usually need a few years before it really shows its potential and some of the outstanding ones may need a decade or more to get there, depending on whether you like them fruitier or a little more sophisticated. The other day, the time for Theo Haart's 2001 Auslese had come, and as it was my last bottle we will never know whether it would have been even more delightful had I waited five years more.

"Haart since 1337""Haart since 1337"

Posted by Julian 07 Jan 2011

We just voted not one, not two, but three dry Rieslings into our top five picks of last year. We didn't do that to make a point, those were just the wines we happened to enjoy most. Having said that, it is true that the effort many english-speaking wine lovers will make to ignore any german wine that is not sweet Riesling have not ceased to amaze us - amaze, and annoy us ever so slightly. This is not, I hasten to clarify, because we fail to appreciate the great sweet Rieslings. They are indeed unique, delightful and still handsomely underpriced in the global scheme of wine. It's just that this fact is already widely known, so frankly, it is not exactly breaking news to report on another little marvel of liquid stone and sweet peachy caress.

But on this January day, the time has come to do just that.

Posted by Torsten 26 Dec 2010

Cool mineral, herbs and peach - whenever I hear these words I have to think of the bouquet of the Rieslings Theo Haart produces from grapes grown in the famous Goldtröpfchen vineyard at the Mosel. This wine is no exception, it just adds tropical fruit and a hint of citrus to the mix, plus aromas of rubber balls and a faint hint of vegetable, identified as broccoli by my friend Bethan. For a wine of Auslese quality it is still relatively young, so maybe give it some decanter love to allow it to develop properly.

Posted by Torsten 05 Dec 2010

In theory, this wine would have warranted a long review. First of all a twenty year old wine that is still enjoyable should be worth saying something about. Then it was also a gift from a friend who bought it for peanuts from an English wine shop years ago - since then it has lived in his attic until he donated it to a little wine tasting I hosted in August. The reason that I am not inclined to honour it with a long story is that when I emailed the estate to learn more about the wine they didn't even bother with a one line reply. They are of course not obliged to, but then neither am I to spend more time on it.

Posted by Torsten 11 Oct 2010

Dessert wine. Think Riesling so thick with sugar that you could grease your bicycle with it. Think Sauternes with even more sugar than the Riesling and twice the level of alcohol. Think Château d'Yquem. Think Austrian red wine. Ah, wait, did he just say 'Austrian red wine'? Yes he did, and he wrote that in a perfectly sober state. So let me start with saying that that there is Austrian red wine (in case you did not know) and that it can be outright fantastic. Most of it is dry, so I got very excited when I saw this sweet, half bottle beauty on the shelves at Harrods. So what is a sweet Austrian red wine like?

Posted by Torsten 05 Oct 2010

New York City is hipster territory - or at least that is the message it is trying very hard to project during my current visit. Interestingly, most things German do seem to be considered hip, especially German beer culture. The Lower East Side for instance welcomed me with German brass music, schnitzel and beer served by busty wenches dressed in pseudo Bavarian outfits. German Riesling, it turns out, is also very popular among the cool wine kids here, so it was quite fitting I brought one over to share with my host: a late harvest Riesling made by one of my favourite producers at the Mosel, Theo Haart. Usually, I would have opted for a Haart Riesling from one of the famous vineyards such as Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, but a few years ago I came across this late harvest from several vineyards around Piesport, which to me seemed almost more interesting than some of the wines from the top sites. Did it hold up as well as Haart's premier wines though, I wondered, or were we in for a disappointment?

Posted by Julian 11 Aug 2010

It may not be a polite subject, but there's no dancing around the issue: Deep-dyed mosel Rieslings from slate soils can give off a bit of an odour. You expect a bit of a mosel funk, you appreciate a bit of a mosel funk, yet in my humble mosel experience so far, here's the undisputed sultan of stink: Andreas Adams's Kabinett gives you your petrol spill, your car dealership, but throw in used motor oil, a sulphur spring and some rotten eggs, and you're getting closer. Very distinctive, if you like this kind of thing. And I certainly do. Beneath the stink, or maybe it's better to stay borne on the stink, are ripe apricots, deep stony minerality and a whiff of caramel. The fruit is really subdued at this stage of early maturity, the acidity is not much of a presence either, and it's really the hard-core slate minerality that is the blood and bones of this ultra-trad Kabinett.

Posted by Julian 06 Jun 2010

Karthäuserhofberg. Nothing demonstrates the place vineyards occupy in german wine culture like wineries that are synonymous with the vineyards that surround them. This must put some pressure on the staff, must it not? If you work at a place called Karthäuserhof and produce wine from a site that has been called Karthäuserhofberg from time out of mind, you better not screw it up. Not to worry. They never do.

Posted by Torsten 01 Jun 2010

Recently, I found myself drinking with friends who were discussing which type of vegetable they would like to be. When I asked them how they would rate me, Charlotte suggested I could be a squash. Unfortunately I never really found out why she classified me in this way, partly because she went on to say she would quite like to be a courgette. Today's wine, luckily, is not like a vegetable. Instead it is very easy to describe in terms of fruit: take the most deliciously juicy peach you can imagine, add passion fruit, and caramelise it with lots of sugar and some gold, sprinkle finely with herbs and serve in a stony cup with a dash of menthol, spice and lemon juice. As you can see this description really does not work in relation to vegetables, but I can tell you that if this wine were a human being it would have to be the young Liv Tyler - just in blond.

Posted by Torsten 28 Mar 2010

If you ask me to name a winemaker who has really impressed me with consistently, year for year letting the quality (let's avoid the word terroir here, shall we) of an outstanding vineyard shine, well, then I would probably name Theo Haart. Sure, there are others, but I have now tasted his late harvest Rieslings from the famous Piesporter Goldtröpfchen for the vintages 1999 and 2001-2008 (the 05 though is still sitting here, waiting for its day), and not only are they all first class wines, they are also very distinct and consistent in style. The '08 is no exception and, boring as it may sound when I write about Haart late harvest Riesling, just a lovely wine.

Posted by Torsten 07 Mar 2010

It has been a while, way too long, actually, since I reported on a wine made by the lovely people from the Haart winery. The winery is based in the village of Piesport, a name that is infamous in the UK for cheap wine, but famous among wine lovers for the Goldtröpfchen (little drop of gold) vineyard, one of the best at the Mosel. The Haart family has been making wine since the 14th century and the sweet Rieslings of Theo Haart, who runs the family estate with his wife and son, have an excellent reputation. For me they are also the embodiment of what I love about the Mosel style of winemaking.

Posted by Torsten 02 Jan 2010

It was New Year's Eve and the Wine Rambler committee had assembled in Munich to drink some god-damn wine. And what could be better to conclude an evening of feasting and drinking with friends than one of the elegant, sweet Mosel Rieslings that Theo Haart turns out year after year? To celebrate the end of 2009 it had to be something special, an 'Auslese' ('selection', one of the highest ratings in the often confusing and not always meaningful German wine classification system). Made by a good winery and stored well these wines can last for decades, so a 2006 Auslese can almost be seen as a young wine when drunk at the end of 2009. Or as darn tasty, at any time. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 17 Nov 2009

What to write about a wine that's so annoyingly perfect that it has the peachy fruit, has the stones, has the sweetness, has the acid, has those first camomile and petrol hints of age, has the balance and has all the elegance that sweet Riesling can bring.

Not much to say about a wine which will let any of the Wine Rambler's snobbish bonmots and bad puns roll of it anyway.

I'll make this confession, then: Us having enjoyed this with a dear friend who not only makes a fiendishly good mousse au chocolat, but also likes good Spätlesen, amid general contentment, I couldn't help this thought creeping its way into my sluggish brain: This wine is too nice. Yeah, it's boring. There, I've said it.

Posted by Torsten 25 Aug 2009

If you like aged Riesling, if you want a perfectly balanced, well rounded wine, if you crave the sensation of a wine that makes your palate feel smooth and peachy - go for this gem from the Mosel. Followers of the Wine Rambler will have noticed that we do tend to like the fruity Rieslings Theo Haart makes and this one is no exception. It is, in fact, the oldest Haart we have tasted for the Rambler and it demonstrates the potential of these wines. [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 07 Aug 2009

German department store chain Hertie / Karstadt is broke, and the market on my way to work is one of those that are to close permanently. I couldn't help but look in on its second-but-last day out of morbid curiosity. Amid the eery atmosphere of an empty supermarket, on one of those cheesy fake barrels of the wine section, I found them: Ten or twelve little golden half-bottles, like a lost flock of ducklings, sporting blow-out price tags, but shunned by the bargain hunters. One I took home.

Wirsching is one of Franconia's most reputable producers, with hefty dry Silvaners. "Wiqem" is a rip-off on Chateau d'Yquem, of course, the world's best know dessert wine. Even the lable mimics Sauternes. It's a sweet Auslese made from a mix of grape varieties. [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 Torsten 22 Jul 2009

Light golden colour. At first, the nose is a little closed - mineraly yeast with herbs and a hint of peach; not unpleasant, but also not very intense. And while you still wonder where Dönnhoff is going with this, something gorgeous hits your taste buds. Even within seconds after opening the bottle, the sensation on your palate is just marvellous. And it gets better over time, as does the nose. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 18 Jul 2009

White crystals on the cork. Shiny, golden colour. A nose of (flowery) honey and stone fruit, with a faint hint of mineral; peach. In the mouth honey, smooth, caramelised peach, very smooth, a little spice, nicely aged. At first, we noticed a little malt in the finish (think malt beer), but that disappeared after 15 minutes or so; a little bitter towards the finish - not entirely unpleasant though. It made me want to have a soft, not too sweet cheese cake.

A nicely aged Riesling that was very drinkable but lacked that little something to be truly, truly memorable.