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



Weingut Künstler

Posted by Julian 23 Dec 2011

If you follow this blog regularly (and if not: why not?), you will know that the VDP, Germany's trade association of elite wine estates, hosts an annual tasting in Munich every November that has special significance for the Wine Rambler. We have reported on it last year and the year before that. And we will do so again in a minute. Just a few words to introduce the photographic theme of this posting: Since that chandeliered, psychedelically carpeted lounge has become an extension of our living rooms, as it were, we also take a keen interest in the other tasters gathered there. There are always some sociological observations to make, of course, and to discuss afterwards, about age structure and gender of the sample group, and in fact I think we can report some tentative progress in those two categories, wink wink. But this time, it was something rather different that caught our attention: Shoes.

Hip shoes, boring shoes, sexy shoes, sensible shoes. Endless variety with a few common themes, which makes shoes a bit like wine. That's the kind of thought that looking at mind-altering carpeting in state of growing tipsiness will bring up in the course of an afternoon. In pursuing it, however, we could profit from Wine Rambler Torsten's keen photographic eye, as well as some underhanded camera moves he learned by prowling London as a street photographer.

Posted by Torsten 10 May 2011

Abroad Germany is mostly know for its delicious sweeter Riesling, but at home it is the top dry Rieslings that get most media attention. They are labelled as "Großes Gewächs" (great growth) or, in the Rheingau, as "Erstes Gewächs" (first growth), at least for the wineries that are members of the growers associations that created these classifications. Quality standards are relatively strict and include low yields, selective harvesting by hand and using only grapes from individual, certified top vineyards.

The price for these grand cru wines is constantly going up, so if you find one from a top producer such as Künstler for less than 20 Euro it is lucky times.

Posted by Julian 14 Dec 2010

A few years ago, when the Wine Ramblers were not yet Wine Ramblers, we attended our first ever wine tasting together. An unhealthy mix of curiosity and the promise of a free tipple had brought us to downtown Munich's venerable Bayerischer Hof. At this hotel, members of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter), an association of some of Germany's most distinguished wineries, were presenting a range of their wines. It was a memorable evening that began with a lot of awkward swooshing and spitting, and ended with a drunken plan of creating a diversion in order to steal a case of Knipser Syrah that, sadly, never came to fruition. But that is a story for some other year.

The tasting is an annual event, we reported on it last year and we will in the future. This year, we decided to cover in more depth the six wineries that most convinced us - and to point out a few wider trends that we think may be worth noting and discussing.

Posted by Torsten 22 Sep 2010

Rheingau - rumour has it was here where Charlemagne had a vineyard and where the concept of 'Spätlese' (late harvest) was invented in the 18th century (albeit by accident). While red wine is on the rise pretty much everywhere else in Germany, the Rheingau (think of the Rhine near Wiesbaden/Frankfurt) is still unchallenged Riesling country. The Künstler family are among the most prominent producers in the area, known mostly for the Riesling from the 'Hölle' (literally 'hell') and 'Kirchenstück' ('church piece') vineyards.

Posted by Torsten 07 May 2010

Gunter Künstler certainly has a reputation for making outstanding Riesling. Many of his vineyards in the Rheingau are planted with old vines (think 50 years plus), or 'Alte Reben', as the Germans say. The Stielweg vineyard, where today's dry Riesling comes from, features loam-clay soil; the name comes from 'steep path', or 'steiler Weg'. The website sums the vineyard up as: 'The wine from these 50 year old Stielweg vines radiates aristocratic strength and nobility.' So what do we think?

In the heat of taking the picture I actually forgot to pour some wine in the glass...In the heat of taking the picture I actually forgot to pour some wine in the glass...

Posted by Torsten 14 Nov 2009

Wine tastings are like battlefields, it is everyone for themselves - or so I have heard people say. Actually, at least the recent VdP tasting in Munich was more like playing a part in the submarine movie Das Boot. Periscope out, zoom in on the next lovely wine and then you give the order: 'Both planes zero. Stand by battle stations.' 'Bottle one through four are ready.', the reply is almost instantaneous. However, before you can strike your helpless target, sonar picks up that sound again: Swoosh slurp swoosh schrub slurp. A split second of panic, then you go: 'Close bow caps! Dive!' Luckily, the enemy passes above you and disappears again. 'Is it getting louder?' 'It seems constant. Ahead of us.' The awaits your next move. As the Old Man said in Das Boot: 'Now it gets psychological, friends.'

That it was, but also great fun with some amazing wines, this year's VdP wine tasting in Munich. VdP stands for 'Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter', or Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates, a group of highly decorated German estates, 'the world’s oldest association of top-quality wine estates'. Every year in November some VdP members hold a wine tasting in Munich. And the Wine Rambler attends, hungry for prey.

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

Last Friday, the London branch of the Wine Rambler assembled a crack team of wine lovers and socialites from half a dozen countries for a particular mission: take down eight bottles of wine. The team members were selected following the ancient wisdom of Brigadier General Gavin from A Bridge too far: I need a man with very special qualities to lead. He's got to be tough enough to do it and he's got to be experienced enough to do it. Plus one more thing. He's got to be dumb enough to do it... Start getting ready. Gavin knew what he was speaking of, after all he knew the enemy from first hand combat experience; and the enemy was/is German:

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

I would like to recommend this wine to all Anglo-Saxon wine lovers who enjoy the uniqueness of German wine labelling and, especially, naming. You might know that trocken means 'dry' and that Kabinett indicates that this wine is to be ranked among the quality wines. However, this is just the boring part of the classification system. Much more interesting is the name of the wine - artist's hell. How do the serious Germans come to such an usual name? [read the full post...]