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.
So, national anthem, please, for the winners:
Weinhof Herrenberg, Claudia and Manfred Loch's tiny winery on the river Saar is a gem that has yet to be discovered by the wider world. Having tasted their 2008 "Cruv", that mineral beast with its celery-root spiciness and abyss of minerality, a place on this year's podium is richly deserved.
Herrenberg wines are marketed by Pinard de Picard. They ship to Britain and most of Europe, and may even work something out for the U.S. Don't hesitate to contact them, very friendly service.
The 2008 Riesling Goldberg from Van Volxem is a more consensual pick, but that takes nothing away from the sheer quality on offer here. Hard to imagine anyone who likes white wine, no, make that anyone who likes wine, no, make that anyone who has functioning tastebuds, and not love this splendid, state-of-the art dry Riesling. A crowd pleaser, but at the highest imaginable level of perfection.
Van Volxem wines have good distribution. You should be able to find a wine merchant that carries them.
Good ol' boys have been a most enjoyable recurring theme of this year's drinking. The most memorable one was consumed with a grilled turbot at the Wine Rambler London branch headquarters: a 1985 Iphoefer Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner Spätlese from Juliusspital. While impressive just for what it is, it also stands for the world beyond king Riesling's realm, and what we keep writing up as Germany's second great white grape. Most of all, it stands for wines with stories. Silvaner - believe in it.
We're lucky to have found this one, but we're afraid it's no longer available.
Knipser's majestic 2003 Syrah stands for the future, as even the many doubters will eventually have to come round to Germany's future as a red wine region - see the little discussion that unfolded in the wake of our review.
Knipser Syrahs are made only in some vintages and, unfortunately, sell out quickly. For Knipser wines generally, you can contact Behringer & Sohn, who stock them and are generally helpful.
Our wine of the year will surely raise some eyebrows: Peter Jakob Kühn's 2007 Oestricher Doosberg Drei Trauben. It is our number one pick precisely because it is a polarising wine. Made with breathtaking radicalism by Germany's taliban of terroir, berserk of biodynamics, it is a wine taken to the extremes of what Riesling can be, and beyond many people's Riesling comfort zone. We don't mean to say "love it or leave it", that would be an arrogant thing to say. Instead we are saying, with some urgency, to those who have their wine world ordered in neat little labelled boxes, and turn to Austria and Alsace for their dry Riesling, to Germany for the sweet stuff, to stop in their tracks, take a good long swish out of a bottle of Kühn and recognise the breathtaking ambitions of german dry Riesling and its claim to cutting-edge greatness.
Kühn wines are stocked by K & U. Check with them for shipping outside of Germany.