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



Salwey, Oberrotweiler Käsleberg, Spätburgunder 2008

Posted by Torsten 15 Feb 2010

It is time again to drink a Salwey wine - this time with Borough Wines and the Winesleuth as part of my mission to spread the word on German wine. Salwey is a producer I really like. Based in the hot South-West of Germany, they specialise in Pinot (Noir, Gris, Blanc), but do also demonstrate that you can make good Riesling and Chardonnay in the hot, volcanic area of the Kaiserstuhl.

This Pinot Noir comes from the Oberrotweiler Käsleberg, a terraced vineyard with loam soil that is said to produce wines that develop quickly and have an elegant note to them. Is this reflected in the Spätburgunder in front of us?

Deep, but transparent, almost shiny garnet or ruby red colour that goes slightly brown around the edges. The nose is as pleasant, a little spicy with light, toasted notes of oak that mix very nicely with vegetable aromas, sweet cherry fruit, cocoa, spicy candy and apply cinnamon. Nose and eye come together for a promise of light elegance.

On the palate it is somewhat spicy again, think ground mixed pepper, and brings fresh acidity and noticeable, but very soft, almost smooth tannin - giving the Pinot a lovely mouth feel, enhanced by marinated cherries that add the right amount of sweetness. Flavours of vegetable undergrowth and, especially on the second day, leaves, make the balance perfect. The body is a light medium, with the finish enhanced by a hint of creaminess and more spice.

Interestingly, according to the winemaker the wine only has 1.2 g of acidity per litre - it felt fresher than that - and 5g of residual sugar. While it had good fruit, I was a little surprised about that as I expected more acidity and less sugar (a fruity wine does not have to be sweet, after all). Co-Rambler Julian remarked that he suspects they accidentally swapped the numbers for sugar and acidity on the website, which seems plausible to me. Statistics and 'objective' numbers aside, the balance just felt right and that is what matters, after all!

A really lively wine, it went well with our cheese, but seems an even better match for game birds or pheasant. In fact, on the second evening I had it with roast duck breast on minty pea purée with balsamic-glazed baby carrots, which turned out to be an excellent match.

Thanks to the Winesleuth for taking notes during the tasting and to Muriel from Borough Wines for her interest in German wine and joining us for this tasting. More about the other wines we had will be reported here soon.

Acidity levels in Pinot Noir

If in doubt, ask someone who knows - I emailed the Salwey people and they have confirmed that, as Julian suspected, they did indeed accidentally swap the numbers: the wine has 1.2 g/l residual sugar and 5.3 g/l acidity. This makes much more sense than the other way around.

I am sure the world will rest easier knowing this.