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



Juliusspital

A very old Franconian winery, one of the largest in Germany. It goes back to 1576 when the bishop of Würzburg endowed a hospital for the poor with some property, including a vineyard. A variety of grapes are grown here, with Silvaner being the most important. Have a look at the Juliusspital website and at our postings and tasting notes relating to the winery below.
Posted by Julian 31 Dec 2010

As a wine drinking year, 2010 was not without its disappointments. Among them, a Bacchus that bored us to tears, a burgundy that let us down - and, most grimly, a swamp gas attack from the Loire that we would rather not talk about just yet. The ritual that helps us get over these low points is the yearly selection of the Wine Rambler's top five german wines. The shortlist was substantial as always, and the choice was not taken lightly - and by the way, one of our favourite daydreams is that sentences like this might one day cause actual nervousness among german wine makers.

New year's eve. Time to sort the best apples from the merely good onesNew year's eve. Time to sort the best apples from the merely good ones

So, national anthem, please, for the winners:

Posted by Torsten 30 Jun 2010

Some wines are good, some wines are bad, some are exceptional. And then there are the wines that are special because they have a story to tell. When I discovered today's wine on the shelves of London wine shop The Winery I was already certain that I was looking at a wine with a story. What I did not know was that this Franconian gem would be willing to share it with us.

Mouldy cork and the unusual purple cap of the Silvaner bottleMouldy cork and the unusual purple cap of the Silvaner bottle

Maybe we start with the question of why we got so interested in a dusty old bottle with a funny purple cap. Well, for starters because it was just that, a dusty old bottle with an unusual purple cap. It did not only look old-fashioned, it also was quite old, almost twenty-five years old, in fact. Aged wine is always an adventure - sometimes even a gamble on whether you have waited too long or just caught it at the right time. Under the label good ol' boys we have so far only looked at aged red wines and Riesling, the white variety that probably has the best potential for ageing. And here we were, starring at a twenty-five year old Silvaner, the signature grape of the German wine region of Franken (Franconia, about two hours north of Munich). We have been championing this often underrated variety for a while, but we never had the change to try a really old Silvaner.

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 27 Apr 2010

The seasonal wine tastings hosted by the London branch of the Wine Rambler are now something like an institution. So much so that this time change was needed ('change you can believe in' - after all it is election time here in the UK). My message for the electorate was quite simple: 'no Riesling'. This does not mean that I have suddenly lost my love for this amazing variety, not at all. However, it is good to every so often remind people that there is so much more to German wine than just Riesling. So what did I choose for that mission: a sparkling vintage rosé, a Silvaner, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Bordeaux-style blend of red grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon.

Posted by Torsten 19 Apr 2010

To the Wine Rambler, Silvaner remains one of the undervalued German grape varietals, particularly as seen from my London perspective. I don't think I have ever come across a Silvaner in a London restaurant or wine shop. This may not mean very much of course as Londoners would also find it difficult to get German Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, for instance, but I recently learned that even more knowledgeable wine people can confuse Silvaner with the (Austrian) Grüner Veltliner (Silvaner is sometimes called 'Grüner Silvaner'). Is this Silvaner from the Juliusspital winery going to change all that?

Posted by Torsten 05 Jan 2010

2009. London is hit by snow twice. Usain Bolt breaks the record in breaking world records. A German chancellor is re-elected and a German goalkeeper decides to go. The Royal Bank of Scotland announces a loss of £24.1 billion. Swine flu strikes; or so. British MPs spend money on moats and birdhouses. And the Wine Rambler drinks some wine. Quite a bit, actually, especially considering that we only launched the website in June 2009 (after having rambled between Munich and London via email for more than two years). And while others may still look back at what happened in sport, politics or the economy, we remember five wines that really impressed us last year. Here they come, the Wine Ramblers' top 5 wines of 2009: [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 02 Nov 2009

Large wineries owned by immensely land-rich historic trusts are a typical feature of the franconian wine scene, especially in Würzburg. As these go back to charitable - or not so charitable - institutions founded in the late middle ages or the 16th century, they have had some time to accumulate land, assets and reputation. By running wineries alongside hospitals (that's where the "spital"-part comes from), nursing homes and real estate operations, they preserve a forgotten model of business, social services and agriculture whose usefulness must have seemd self-evident to citizens in many premodern cities. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 12 Sep 2009

This one is for the ladies. Actually, it is not so much for the ladies in general as for my friend Conny who always complains that the Wine Rambler ignores wine from the German region of Franconia, or Franken as we call it. Franken is a Protestant enclave in the north of otherwise Catholic Bavaria. People have a funny accent ('k' comes out like a 'g') and supposedly like robust food and dry wines with the necessary substance to go with it. Did I mention that Conny is from Franconia? [read the full post...]