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



2007

Posted by Julian 17 Oct 2010

Ziereisen time here at the Wine Rambler, and with that, a kind of follow-up on the theme of food friendly wines raised by the Wine Rambler's very recent report on Long Island wine growing. While Hanspeter Ziereisen's reputation was largely made by the massive and impressive 03 and 04 vintages, it is not as well known that he has since changed his style completely. Bored by what he came to see as the overconcentration and vacuousness of the "big red"- style he was then aiming for, he decided he would henceforth make the Pinot that he himself likes: Lithe, drinkable, and yes: food friendly. Avantgarde burgundian. In fact, judging by the wine under review, it's not much of an exaggeration to call Ziereisen a one-man french revolution in german Pinot.

Posted by Torsten 29 Sep 2010

It is moments like this when I feel a little embarrassed to write about a wine. I often wish we had more wines to complain about so that we can prove that we are wine bloggers of the really critical sort. However, this is a blog about the wines we drink for pleasure, not for profit, so we try as hard as possible to find wines that we think we might like. When I bought this Riesling from the Rheingau, I hoped it would be good, really good. I had no idea it would be so good that even after going to bed I could still be heard mumbling 'this is fantastic'. Before you read on be warned though: you may seriously hate this wine.

Posted by Torsten 27 Sep 2010

Wow, this doesn't look very German! - with these words an English friend of mine greeted Philipp Kuhn's Mano Negra. I opened this bottle recently at a small tasting I had organised for friends. Most had never tried a German red, and none had ever seen anything (German) quite so intense in colour. This cuvée of Blaufränkisch (literally 'Blue Frankish) and Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Pfalz, a region that keeps impressing me with its variety of exciting red wines.

Posted by Julian 19 Sep 2010

Nice try, Reichsgraf zu Hoensbroech, but you cannot fool the ever-alert Wine Rambler! We know that your whimsically named "Blauer Limberger" is no other grape than Lemberger, known in Austria as - say it with me - Blaufränkisch. In Germany, Lemberger has its home in Württemberg, to which the Reichsgraf's Baden sub-region of Kraichgau is very close.

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 Torsten 03 Aug 2010

When 2009 came to an end, for some reason the Wine Rambler got infected with the idea of developing new year's resolutions. Among the ones Julian came up with was to 'try more from lesser-known French wine regions like the Jura or the Loire Valley'. Traditionally, I leave France more to Julian, but his recent excitement about a Loire Chenin Blanc made me memorise the word 'Vouvray'. Vouvray is a region of the Loire Valley where they specialise in Chenin Blanc, wines that can rival Riesling in terms of their potential to age for decades. So when (following a phase of drinking much Pinot Blanc, Riesling and some Chardonnay) I came across a Vouvray that was recommended by trustworthy wine merchants Philglas & Swiggot, I did not hesitate and grabbed their last bottle. Lucky me, I can now say.

Posted by Torsten 21 Jul 2010

It is still Chardonnay time here at the Wine Rambler. Following some of my recent 'foreign' Chardonnay adventures, I decided it was time to go back to what Germany has to offer. This time the journey leads to Rheinhessen, where Philipp Wittmann goes from strength to strength with his biodynamic wines (yes, outstanding Riesling, but not only Riesling). What about his Chardonnay?

Wittmann Chardonnay 2007Wittmann Chardonnay 2007

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 05 Jul 2010

Schäfer-Fröhlich (literally Shepherd-Cheerful) is the name of a very well respected, family-owned winery in the Nahe region. Despite a recent increase in red wine production, the Nahe is still mostly a white wine region, with Riesling being the most popular variety. The same is true for Schäfer-Fröhlich, a Riesling-focussed winery that over the past few years got a lot of good press. For instance, they were awarded the title of 'winery of the year 2010' by wine guide Gault Millau, they won the #1 Riesling trophy from Vinum wine magazine for 2009 and food magazine Feinschmecker crowned one of their 2008 Rieslings as the best dry Riesling in all of Germany. So you can imagine I was really looking forward to trying a Schäfer-Fröhlich, even if it was only one of their basic wines. Sadly, it did not quite live up to my expectations.

Posted by Julian 27 May 2010

With at least one Wine Rambler new year's resolution still unfulfilled, a sense of duty and self-discipline finally compelled me to open a Loire white. I also wanted to try one of the esoteric, hyper-regional french wines that the really knowledgeable cats like Cory Cartwright from Saignée are always on about. I had hoped for something original to broaden my wine horizon, but this Chenin Blanc from a legendary Vouvray producer turned out to be rather more - a real shock to the Riesling-saturated system.

Posted by Torsten 13 May 2010

The subject of German red wine would certainly deserve a whole series of postings, for instance making the point that there is a lot of it (about a third of all grapes grown in Germany are red) and that it is not just wine of a lighter type. For today I leave the wider context aside and focus on a wine that is an example of a more substantial type German red, a blend of different varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon and Dornfelder. Winemaker Friedrich Becker is a well known specialist for red wine, with the red wine cuvée Guillaume being one of the cheaper wines from a range that can be quite pricey (just recently I saw one of his premier Pinot Noirs in a Munich department store for around a hundred Euro).

Posted by Julian 25 Apr 2010

It's been a while since I have given Hungary a try, and high time to spread the word about this Kékfrankos (a.k.a. Blaufränkisch, a.k.a Lemberger - you know the drill) from Sopron. It is made from organically grown grapes by the Weninger family of Austria, who has built up a branch of their winery across the border on the other side of Lake Neusiedl.

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 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 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 Torsten 10 Mar 2010

An English wine? Yes, very much so. One of the Wine Rambler's wine resolutions for 2010 is to explore the subject of English wine, and report back here. Today, that mission (virtually) leads me to Oxfordshire, specifically to Wallingford, about eight miles from Oxford, where Bob and Carol Nielsen planted 14 acres of wine in 1988. Today, Brightwell Vineyard make five different wines, including a rosé, a red (mostly made from Dornfelder) and a sparkling Chardonnay. They have won several prices for their wines and the 2007 Bacchus was awarded the Silver Medal in the 'Wine of the Year Competition' of the UK Vineyards Association.

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 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 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...]

Posted by Torsten 15 Dec 2009

Imagine the Winesleuth comes to visit. Well, a good week ago fellow London-based wine blogger Denise did actually come over for dinner. And as Winesleuths and -ramblers cannot be without wine for too long, we had to taste two German Rieslings. One was the a deliciously sweet Riesling, the 2007 Goldtröpfchen Spätlese from the Haart winery, which was reviewed here before. The first was a Riesling too, but a dry one the Löwenstein winery. Here is what Denise had to say about it (so I guess this is our first guest-blog, in a way): [read the full post...]