October 2009

Weingut Bercher, Burkheimer Feuerberg, Weißburgunder Kabinett trocken, 2007

The wine rambler could not agree more to the statement from the excellent german WeinPlus online wine guide "Year after year, Bercher impresses us with their completely unpretentious, yet deep and expressive wines".

This mid-range single vineyard Pinot Blanc justifies the praise with effortless precision wine making: Dense straw colour, a nose of caramel, buttered biscuits and melon juice spilled over hot stones. Dense, polished fruit in the mouth, mineral background, good acidity, and above all, a freshness and drinkeability that is not a matter of course, the Kaiserstuhl almost having turned into a hot-climate wine region in recent years.

Fürst Hohenlohe-Oehringen, Verrenbergerer Verrenberg "Butzen", Lemberger trocken 2007

The winery Fürst Hohenlohe-Oehringen has already impressed the distinctly non-aristocratic wine rambler with its marvellous top-of-the line red "Ex flammis orior". And the Lemberger red wine grape of Württemberg, as our regular readers know, is no other than Austria's and Hungary's Blaufränkisch. In the new spirit of german patriotism summoned by german liberal democrat and possible future foreign (!) minister Guido Westerwelle, who refused to answer an english question from a BBC reporter with the witty and adroit words: "Wir sind ja hier in Deutschland", we should probably not even tell you that. So, let's turn to a german wine from a thoroughly german grape:

Beasting off the Riesling - Riesling and street credibility in Rap music

Is there any link between wine snobbing and street credibility? The Wine Rambler of course knows a little something about the former; my street credentials though are limited to having taken part in two street fights in Swabian suburbia in the 80s (don't ask) and walking past a burnt-out car in Hackney at 2am. But all of this is about to change! Because from now on, drinking Riesling will be about as cool as hanging out with "da niggas" and torching a few cars. Seriously!

A little while ago I noticed that 'Riesling' became more popular on Twitter; more importantly perhaps, lots of cool (and black, if you can trust their avatars) kids mentioned it: 'Beasting off the Riesling' seemed to pop up every other minute in my TweetDeck. What had happened?

these two gents know the answer *

Wine News: wine and sex, Canada, iPhone, Riesling, Austrian red wine

Welcome to a new category of Wine Rambling: Wine News. Wine News is not really news in the sense that it brings you all the most important events and news from the day, it is much rather a quite random summary of bits of news, blog posts and other randomia I come across. The useful, the interesting, the weird. So let's jump right into it...

Canada seems to have a minority complex with regards to wine. Or why else would you think that the country would have to turn to a men's web portal to demonstrate it does good wine? Canada.com featured an AskMen.com article on the top 7 emerging wine regions, Canada being no. 5. This means that Canadians take pride in having beaten the English (#7) and Brazilians (#6), but being beaten by the Greeks, Romanians, Ukrainians and Swiss (#1)! For a German with Alemannic roots such as me being beaten by the Swiss is like the worst possible nightmare. Why the Canadians would be proud of this, I don't know. It is true, however, that Canadian ice wine does get more interest these days.

Wittmann, Grüner Silvaner trocken, 2008

Just one glass. This was my excuse to try this Silvaner. Why just one glass? Well, I have been down with the flu since Thursday night (six days, I know), but earlier tonight I felt well enough to think about having a small (!) treat.

Why a Silvaner, you may ask? First of all it is the year of the Silvaner grape in Germany. Secondly, I was planning to have sage risotto with caramelised apples and roast walnuts, and I wanted to have a light apple-y yet robust wine to go with it. And thirdly, I just had a discussion with Kathryn from Artisan & Vine about natural wines from Germany - and this surely is one. Wittmann is one of the leading German estates and for quite a while now they have been focussing on organic wine. And this Silvaner here, well, it is quite something, for a 'simple' wine.

Heymann-Löwenstein, Winninger Röttgen, Riesling Erste Lage 2004

It's high time one of the legends of german wine made his first appearance here: Mosel winemaker Reinhard Löwenstein started using "slow" winemaking techniques like natural fermentation and prolonged skin contact when they were unheard of. He talked about terroir in the dark 1980s, when few within the German must-weight bureaucracy had heard of such a thing. A communist activist in his earlier days, and a natural-born rebel by temperament, Löwenstein has been mistrusted and reviled all along the conservative Mosel, but ridicule quickly turned into envy as his Rieslings won critical acclaim and commanded high prices from raptured customers.

Heymann-Löwenstein, Schieferterrassen, Riesling 2008

Sometimes something is in the air. A few days ago I realised that we actually never reviewed a wine made by Reinhard Löwenstein. And as it so happened a bottle of his Riesling found itself uncorked last weekend - and not only here in London, but also in Munich where fellow Wine Rambler Julian enjoyed a 2004 Heymann-Löwenstein (we did not coordinate this). Read his excellent review of a gorgeous wine, especially as it will tell you why you should keep an eye on this extraordinary winery. As Julian has already set the context, I can keep this review of the more basic 2008 Schieferterrassen Riesling rather short.

Markus Molitor, Wehlener Klosterberg, Spätlese, Riesling Feinherb, 2005

The very discreet notes of tobacco in the nose of this wine went almost unnoticed when I opened the bottle yesterday to go with a raspberry desert - but that was simply because of the quite intense raspberry smell dominating the table. Despite the fruity dessert we could easily pick up apple, peach and herbs, embedded in a fresh, mineral creaminess. A very pleasant nose coming from this 'feinherb' (=off-dry with perhaps a bit more acidity) Mosel Riesling - and a very good reflection of the sensation awaiting your taste buds. The apple is perhaps a bit more dominant on the tongue than the nose; the Riesling manages to be both smooth and a little rough (in terms of acidity think more vegetable/apple than citrus fruit) with firm minerality, good structure and a nice finish.

torsten Sunday, 18/10/2009

Graf Hardegg, Syrah Reserve vom Schloss, 2004

Here in the UK, most people would probably associate the Shiraz grape with Australia. Germans and Austrians, however, like to call it Syrah, and if they were into wine they might know that Austria produces a few nice ones too - and this Syrah is one of them.

The colour is a shiny ruby-red that almost borders on dark chocolate or very reduced balsamic vinegar. I am quite definitive about the latter as I served the wine with slow roast lamb, potato mash and balsamic glazed baby carrots. But back to Count Hardegg's Syrah. Both nose and mouth brought some nice ground pepper thunder to the table - and lots of dark berries, embedded in an almost chocolaty smooth structure and garnished with roast bread and some notes of vanilla and roast oak.

Marof, Zeleni Silvanec, 2008

Erich Krutzler, a very well known austrian winemaker, is building up this winery in northern Slovenia- we'll have some more on that in a while.

His Silvaner is made in a light, very clean style, smelling and tasting of fresh green apples, a few herbs and hay. With fresh acidity and a background of chalky mineral, this should make a good companion for salads and light vegetable dishes.
As it is by no means cheap, this one has not completely won me over yet. But, as I said earlier, more is to come.

Julian Sunday, 18/10/2009

Weingut Dr. Heyden, Silvaner trocken, Alte Reben, 2007

The wine rambler continues its Silvaner coverage, today with a specimen from Slovenia - that's right, the Wine Rambler has been looking east lately, more on that soon - and this one here from good old Rheinhessen:

Fairly dark straw colour, not quite golden.
Nose of dried apple slices, but also ripe grapes, a little floral too, making me think, unexpectedly, of Gewürztraminer.
In the mouth it's candied apple again, mature fruit, quite some weight and length, noticeable sweetness, although 5 grams per litre of residual sugar make it legally dry. Very mild acidity.

Tamás Pince, Chardonnay, 2007

Before turning to this Hungarian Chardonnay, I feel I have to reveal the source behind my new interest in eastern European wines such as this:

Manfred Klimek a.k.a. Captain Cork is, to me, the freshest and most entertaining voice among German language wine journalists. I particularly enjoy his reports on winegrowers and -makers behind what used to be the iron curtain, because they bring out the passion and personality of individualists who have often not yet mastered winemaker marketing-speak. Highly recommended, 'nuff said.

Back to the Chard, then, and a weird little number it is:

Pale gold, with a hint of onion skin brown. Unusual.

Smells of brown sugar and fried banana, with a salty freshness at the same time. Even more unusual.

Report from the London Wine Show 2009

It has been quite a while since the Wine Rambler last attended a wine event, and so I jumped at the chance to visit the London Wine Show last Friday with a friend. The Wine Show is not one of these events where you will have to be a wine professional or at least in possession of a special invitation in order to be allowed in. Instead of a professional tasting experience, think of it rather as a show with various events and wines, all aimed more at the general public; for a small price, of course.