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:
For the Wine Rambler, Silvaner clearly was the grape of 2009 - and that is not only because it celebrated its 350th anniversary in Germany. Perhaps more importantly, we drank some outstanding Silvaner that clearly demonstrated what expert vintners and winemakers can do with this grape variety. Clearly the best Silvaner was the 2008 great growth (Großes Gewächs) from the Juliusspital winery in Franconia. A wine that impressed us with aromas of the purest, freshest, ripest green apples ever; a gripping, quicksilver acidity rarely found in Silvaner and a bone dry, slightly smoky, penetrating minerality (fittingly, the vineyard name translates simply as 'stone').
Sadly, we have not found this wine anywhere in the UK or elsewhere abroad, but in Germany you can still buy it at http://www.weinunion.de/ for 27.53 €.
Our second favourite is another Silvaner, but in a different price range. Made by the Wittmann winery in Rheinhessen, this wine too impressed with lots of apple and good acidity. A little bitter, a little edgy, but at the same time smooth and very drinkable. Are you looking for a dry wine that is a good food companion? Go for the Wittmann. Do you want a light and fresh white wine to drink on its own? Go for the Wittmann too. But if you ever make sage risotto with roast walnuts and caramelised apples, well, then you should really go for the Wittmann. For a more basic level/style of wine this one is, I dare say, perfect.
Again, we could not find a source for this wine in the UK, but in Germany you can buy it, for instance, at http://www.weinhalle.de/ for 7.90 €.
Where is the Riesling, you might say? Well, here it is, in all its glory and with aromas to blow your socks off: a perfumed abyss of peaches, ripe ones, dried ones, and sweet grapes. Has any condemned man ever asked for a last smell rather than a last meal? This would probably be ours. This Mosel Riesling is incredibly concentrated, with great fruit and a minerality that you can almost feel physically, there to chew on. This wine is baroquely spectacular. It concentrates what Riesling is and then takes it a step further.
Sadly, we have not found a wine merchant that still sells the Heymann-Löwenstein Riesling; but maybe you can!
And there is another Riesling, made by the Haart family, heroes of the sweet yet elegant Riesling. This wine is all about balance. A nose of wet stone with strong mineral layers, marinated in creamy milk, spiced up with a few drops of petrol and finished off with finely chopped, cool herbs. In the mouth the Haart is extremely well balanced too, not too sweet, despite being quite peachy. Very smooth and mineral creamy, it leaves the sensation of having enjoyed a delicious creamy peach fruit candy all over your mouth, with a nice hint of spice and the wisdom a good Riesling gains with age. It will be interesting to see how this wine develops over the next decade.
You can still buy this wine at http://www.bentleyswine.com/ for £29.95.
What better way to end this wine overview than featuring a wine that demonstrates that Germany can not only produce red wine, but create red wine miracles that can party with top of the line red wines in Bordeaux style. A wine of dark, dense cherry red, a good dosage of oak and ripe plum and cherry notes with great depth and purity, dried herbs, spices, very firm, finely grained tannin. Bringing enormous concentration without being hot and overpowering, this is effortlessly all over your mouth, a world away from the many boneless and over-oaked German reds. Red wine country two hours drive from Munich, we can't wait.
You can still get a taste of this wine at http://www.victoria-weine.de/ for 29.00 €.