Baden

Warm region in the very southwest of Germany - among others, great rich pinots, both white and red.

Reichsgraf und Marquis zu Hoensbroech, Michelfelder Himmelberg, Grauburgunder trocken, 2009

Despite being as egalitarian and anti-aristocratic in outlook as any wine blog, you will from time to time find the Wine Rambler taking a keen interest in one of Germany's nobleman winemakers.
There are good reasons for that: First of all, while being able to trace your forefathers back through a few centuries of high politics and lordly splendour certainly doesn't make you a better winemaker (or a better man, for that matter), it does often provide us historian Ramblers the kind of background story we enjoy. Secondly, in the spirit of our site's motto, we take cruel pleasure in the phonetic challenge german wine labels confront our readers with, and we believe we have found a little gem here: If Reichsgraf zu Hoensbroech doesn't leave a trail of destruction across anglo-saxon larynxes, we will be disappointed indeed. With our Reichsgraf here specifically, there is a third reason:

Salwey, Silvaner 2008 "unfiltriert"

It is Silvaner time again at the Wine Rambler. We have been championing this underrated (or rather unknown) variety for a while now, and even though we have not exactly changed the wine world, we will not shut up either. If you have heard of Silvaner (also known as 'Grüner Silvaner' or 'Sylvaner'), they may have told you that it is a very food friendly wine and a little neutral. While we encountered many seriously food friendly Silvaners, we have yet to find a bland one. We did, however, find some that can party with some of the best white wines in the world, and others that effortlessly age 25 years. The Silvaner that graced the humble Wine Rambler's table the other day was neither old nor did it claim to be a world class wine. It was, however, unfiltered, and that alone seemed to make it worth an investigation.

Salwey, Riesling Eichberg GG, 2008

Germans love dry wine - this still comes as surprise to many foreigners who think of Germany as country of sweet wine. Actually, almost two thirds of all wine produced in Germany is dry. On top of that the VdP, the association of top producers, are currently pushing for a new top category in the wine classification system that applies to dry wine only. This is where the label 'GG', short for 'Großes Gewächs' (literally 'great growth') of today's Riesling from Baden comes from.
In order to be classified as GG, a wine has to come from a certified top vineyard, yields have to be low, only grape varieties that have some tradition in the region can be used, grapes have to be harvested selectively by hand and the wine has to have the same quality level as a late harvest. And, of course, the producer has to be a member of VdP. The Baden winemaker family Salwey are, and this is their 2008 GG Riesling.

Dr. Heger, Ihringer Winklerberg, Spätburgunder ***, 2000

If you are one of those thinking of German Pinot Noir as very light wine, pale in colour and neither substantial nor worth ageing then have a look at the wine below. And if you do not think about German red wine at all, well, then do the same. The two Wine Ramblers, at any rate, did also spend some time looking in amazement at the incredibly rich colour of the ten year old Spätburgunder that they had opened last weekend to celebrate one year of The Wine Rambler. Join us in the merriment:

Salwey, Riesling RS trocken, 2008

If it comes to the Salwey winery, we have so far mostly sampled their range of excellent Pinots - Noir, Gris/Grigio and Blanc. Located in the warmest area of Germany, the volcanic Kaiserstuhl in the South West, the Salwey vineyards are very well suited for growing Pinot. As it turns out, they also make good Riesling there, and I had one of them recently with a nice piece of fish and English asparagus.

Salwey, Sekt Rosé Brut nature, 2004

Recently, I have been drinking quite a few Salwey wines, both red and white. So far the wines from the sun-kissed south-west of Germany have entertained me very well, so it was time to try a sparkling Salwey - even more so as I had a few friends over the other night who had not yet tried a German sparkler. Time to change that!

Pop, went the cork and a wonderfully bubbly sparkling wine of the most amazing amber colour foamed into our glasses. I don't think I have seen such a wonderful deep amber in a wine, it was just perfect. One of my British friends described the colour, and this reference may be lost on many, as 'not quite Irn-bru'. This was a most promising start!

Staatsweingut Meersburg, Meersburger Chorherrnhalde, Weißburgunder trocken, 2008

Wine produced and sold by the state? No, we're not talking about socialist eastern europe in the 1980s, we are talking the German federal Länder, who, for good historic reasons [*] own and operate large wine estates. Thus, the fine free state of Bavaria has the Staatlicher Hofkeller in Würzburg, the Land of Hessen its Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach. But for this time, it's Baden-Württemberg's own winery in Meersburg, Lake Constance, that makes bureaucratic beverages look good. How good? Well, here is the winery headquarters, for starters:

Punch-up of the pinots (blind-tasting madness part 4)

Since the well-remembered Silvaner symposium, Wine Rambler full committee meetings have regularly featured a pair of wines with a characteristic similarity (grape variety and vintage, mostly) that we taste without knowing which is which. Is this a sensible thing to do? The detractors of tasting blind argue two things: It favours bolder, more easily understandable wines at the expense of quieter, more refined types, thereby contributing to a levelling of taste and the loss of originality and regionality in wine. It also, in their view, turns tasting wine, which should be about enjoyment and open minds, into a sort of competitive sport. Valid concerns, surely, but we keep finding that without putting your own palate to the test once in a while, you lay yourself open to the twin dangers of preconceived notions and of auto-suggestion ("Label says this has notes of ripe blackberries. Yeah, I think I'm picking them up..."). So we're stumbling on with the blind tastings.