8%

A list of all wines reviewed on the Wine Rambler with 8% alcohol by volume.

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Auslese, 2007

Following Julian's recent debacle with a Württemberg Riesling I felt our shocked and terrified readership is in need of comfort and reassurance. Will the Wine Rambler now drink Liebfraumilch only? Has German Riesling failed? Will Modern Talking re-unite? The world may indeed be doomed, I won't dare speculate what Dieter Bohlen might do, but I can assure you that German Riesling has not gone bad.

And to give us some comfort after the shocking events of last episode, here is a classic: Riesling Auslese from the Mosel.

St. Urbans-Hof, Ockfener Bockstein, Riesling Kabinett, 2010

When touring the Mosel in 2008, we visited, amongst other places, a village called Leiwen. It was chosen for very practical reasons, as the wide and comfortable cycle paths along the river lead right past it, but more importantly for bacchanal reasons as it is the home of the St. Urbans-Hof winery. Small by New World standards, the 33ha vineyard area owned by the Weis family actually make the estate one of giants of the Mosel/Saar region and they include sections of several prestigious vineyards.

One of them is the Bockstein, near the village of Ockfen at the Saar river. There was no time to visit Ockfen in 2008, and until that can be remedied I will have to make due with enjoying the odd bottle of Ockfener Bockstein Riesling.

Schlossgut Diel, Dorsheimer Burgberg, Riesling Spätlese, 1999

This is a story of failure. Not a failure of the wine in question, quite the opposite of it. The wine was great. Instead it was me who failed the wine, in a way at least. Having said that, perhaps someone else is to be blamed for this ramble being a little different. As it happens, I have a photo of the culprit, and they look like this:

the real culprit

What has a pure, innocent grasshopper to do with an aged late harvest Riesling? Well, it is all about focus and light.

St. Urbans-Hof, Ockfener Bockstein, Riesling Auslese, 2007

I concluded my recent exploration of the ageing potential of cheap German plonk with a reference to what is a, well, reference point for white wine that often has to age before being at its most enjoyable: a Mosel Auslese. Ideally, these Rieslings have two key ingredients for ageing well - sugar and acidity. A good Auslese can easily improve for a decade and will often last much longer than that.

This means that the 2007 Auslese from Mosel producer St. Urbans-Hof could still be considered a youngling. On the other hand the wine has been living in my wardrobe since I bought it at the winery in 2008 (for €24), hardly the best place to age slowly, and who says you cannot enjoy an Auslese when it is still young?

Martin Müllen, Kröver Paradies, Riesling Kabinett, 2002

I'm always honoured when people who have stumbled onto this blog contact us for expertise on German wine, even while I find myself guiltily hoping that we are not the only source that they rely on, given the patchiness and dabbling character of this our whole undertaking. But here is a piece of advice that I guarantee you will not regret following: When looking for mature-ish Mosel Riesling in great drinking condition, look no further than the 2002 vintage, underrated in many quarters, but in my humble experience as safe a bet for lively, nuanced wines as you are going to find.

Martin Müllen's 2002 Kabinett from the aptly named Paradies ("paradise") vineyard is a case in point. Over and beyond being a minor classic of the neo-traditional style of Mosel winemaking (whatever the hell that is supposed to be), it also has a long and distinguished history in this Wine Rambler's cellar, being one of the very first wines ordered directly from the producer. And I'm happy to report it has never before tasted this good:

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Auslese 1999

Even Wine Ramblers do have a birthday. Just recently, it was the birthday of THE Wine Rambler and also of my co-Rambler Julian. My birthday is already a few months past, but there is still something to report on: When I met our Munich branch as part of my birthday celebrations, I found myself presented with a special gift.

Co-Rambler Julian likes to hunt for aged wines on eBay (great if you are in Germany, imppossile in the UK because of legal restrictions), and for my birthday he managed to find a bottle of a suitably aged Riesling from a Mosel winery that has my personal seal of approval.

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Domherr Auslese, 2001

A good Riesling wine of Auslese quality will usually need a few years before it really shows its potential and some of the outstanding ones may need a decade or more to get there, depending on whether you like them fruitier or a little more sophisticated. The other day, the time for Theo Haart's 2001 Auslese had come, and as it was my last bottle we will never know whether it would have been even more delightful had I waited five years more.

Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst, Riesling Kabinett, 2009

Seeing how good their reputation is, it was high time for us to review a wine made at the Willi Schaefer winery. The Schaefer estate is run by Willi and Christoph Schaefer, father and son, who on a few hectares of steep Mosel land exclusively grow Riesling. They feature a label design that just screams traditional Germanic Mosel style, bordering on cute cliché. I like it, of course. The family also seem to be traditional in other ways as they still don't have a website. Or they hide it. There is nothing that needs hiding about this wine though. Not only highly enjoyable on its own it also paired very well with Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow on a cold autumn night.

It was a cold and windy night. Suffering from a somewhat congested nose, I still desired a glass of wine to keep me company while I watched Christopher Walken decapitate fat blokes in the woods. Just a little light-hearted fun, what could be better than a Mosel Kabinett?

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Spätlese, Riesling, 2003

New York City is hipster territory - or at least that is the message it is trying very hard to project during my current visit. Interestingly, most things German do seem to be considered hip, especially German beer culture. The Lower East Side for instance welcomed me with German brass music, schnitzel and beer served by busty wenches dressed in pseudo Bavarian outfits. German Riesling, it turns out, is also very popular among the cool wine kids here, so it was quite fitting I brought one over to share with my host: a late harvest Riesling made by one of my favourite producers at the Mosel, Theo Haart. Usually, I would have opted for a Haart Riesling from one of the famous vineyards such as Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, but a few years ago I came across this late harvest from several vineyards around Piesport, which to me seemed almost more interesting than some of the wines from the top sites. Did it hold up as well as Haart's premier wines though, I wondered, or were we in for a disappointment?

Martin Müllen, Riesling Auslese 3045, 1994

See short tasting note here

Julian Friday, 01/10/2010