Eurovine.de

Eurovine is a German online wine merchant. Go directly to their <a href="http://www.eurovine.de/">website</a&gt;. Below are the wines we tasted from this source.

Künstler, Hochheimer Hölle, Riesling Erstes Gewächs, 2007

Abroad Germany is mostly know for its delicious sweeter Riesling, but at home it is the top dry Rieslings that get most media attention. They are labelled as "Großes Gewächs" (great growth) or, in the Rheingau, as "Erstes Gewächs" (first growth), at least for the wineries that are members of the growers associations that created these classifications. Quality standards are relatively strict and include low yields, selective harvesting by hand and using only grapes from individual, certified top vineyards.

The price for these grand cru wines is constantly going up, so if you find one from a top producer such as Künstler for less than 20 Euro it is lucky times.

Jurtschitsch Sonnhof, Spiegel, Grüner Veltliner Reserve, 2006

Grüner Veltliner, also known as GruVe and often pronounced "Grooner" by Anglo-Saxons, is certainly hot property these days. Austria's signature white grape has won much critical acclaim and is now seen as cool and trendy. Most of it is consumed in Austria, and - even though Grüner can age very well - traditionally as a young, fresh wine that does not need much ageworthy complexity. Potato salad and Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded veal escalope) is one of the dishes the Austrians serve with it.

Grüner and Wiener Schnitzel ingredients

Some Grüner is made in a different style though, creating complex wines of beauty. Complexity and substance can be a good thing, but did the Jurtschitsch winery go a step too far by creating a Reserve Grüner with astonishing 15% abv?

Georg Mosbacher, Ungeheuer, Riesling GG, 2007

"This monstrosity tastes monstrously good." - This is what Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had to say about a wine from the Ungeheuer vineyard. "Ungeheuer" is the German word for "monstrosity", and it is also the name of a famous vineyard in the Pfalz region. It is about time for us to review an Ungeheuer wine, and today we are looking at the premier dry (GG) Riesling from Mosbacher - one of the top Pfalz wineries.

"Premier", "top", "monstrously good" - can the wine stand up to all this praise or were the Wine Rambler and good old Bismarck (posthumously) left disappointed?

Künstler, Kirchenstück, Riesling Kabinett trocken, 2008

Rheingau - rumour has it was here where Charlemagne had a vineyard and where the concept of 'Spätlese' (late harvest) was invented in the 18th century (albeit by accident). While red wine is on the rise pretty much everywhere else in Germany, the Rheingau (think of the Rhine near Wiesbaden/Frankfurt) is still unchallenged Riesling country. The Künstler family are among the most prominent producers in the area, known mostly for the Riesling from the 'Hölle' (literally 'hell') and 'Kirchenstück' ('church piece') vineyards.

Schäfer-Fröhlich, Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling trocken, 2007

Schäfer-Fröhlich (literally Shepherd-Cheerful) is the name of a very well respected, family-owned winery in the Nahe region. Despite a recent increase in red wine production, the Nahe is still mostly a white wine region, with Riesling being the most popular variety. The same is true for Schäfer-Fröhlich, a Riesling-focussed winery that over the past few years got a lot of good press. For instance, they were awarded the title of 'winery of the year 2010' by wine guide Gault Millau, they won the #1 Riesling trophy from Vinum wine magazine for 2009 and food magazine Feinschmecker crowned one of their 2008 Rieslings as the best dry Riesling in all of Germany. So you can imagine I was really looking forward to trying a Schäfer-Fröhlich, even if it was only one of their basic wines. Sadly, it did not quite live up to my expectations.

Künstler, Stielweg Riesling "Alte Reben", 2008

Gunter Künstler certainly has a reputation for making outstanding Riesling. Many of his vineyards in the Rheingau are planted with old vines (think 50 years plus), or 'Alte Reben', as the Germans say. The Stielweg vineyard, where today's dry Riesling comes from, features loam-clay soil; the name comes from 'steep path', or 'steiler Weg'. The website sums the vineyard up as: 'The wine from these 50 year old Stielweg vines radiates aristocratic strength and nobility.' So what do we think?

In the heat of taking the picture I actually forgot to pour some wine in the glass...

Juliusspital, Würzburger Stein, Silvaner Kabinett trocken, 2008

To the Wine Rambler, Silvaner remains one of the undervalued German grape varietals, particularly as seen from my London perspective. I don't think I have ever come across a Silvaner in a London restaurant or wine shop. This may not mean very much of course as Londoners would also find it difficult to get German Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, for instance, but I recently learned that even more knowledgeable wine people can confuse Silvaner with the (Austrian) Grüner Veltliner (Silvaner is sometimes called 'Grüner Silvaner'). Is this Silvaner from the Juliusspital winery going to change all that?

torsten Monday, 19/04/2010
Dr. Heger, Oktav, Weißburgunder Kabinett, 2008

Yet again it is back to Baden for the Wine Rambler (this year I seem to drink more and more wine from Germany's sun-kissed southern wine region), and yet again a wine from the Heger winery: a surprisingly fresh and fruity, but otherwise very typical Pinot Blanc, if you want the short summary.

torsten Thursday, 08/04/2010

Dr. Heger, Oktav, Grauburgunder Kabinett, 2008

Imagine a hilly landscape somewhere in Europe. The sun is burning down. The temperature is way above 30° C. Sitting on a porch, you look around an area that was shaped by volcanic activity. While there is no lava any more, you have been told by locals that this small town is the warmest in the country. Your host returns to pour more Pinot Grigio. Southern Italy, you may think? Not at all! Chances are that you are sitting in the town of Ihringen in the South West of Germany, drinking a Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder I wanted to say, made by the Heger winery. Well, it is still winter while I am writing this, but a few days ago I opened a bottle of a Grauburgunder, as the Pinot Grigio/Gris variety is called in Germany, for two friends here in London - Dr. Heger's Oktav.

Wittmann, Weißer Burgunder trocken "S", 2007

The Wittmann winery recently got a lot of attention from us - and what is not to like? A wine making family with lots of tradition (been in the business since 1663), unafraid to try new things (they went biodynamic five years ago), and, well, more than capable to deliver the thunder to your wine glass. The latest Wittmann in our collection is no exception here, even though it is not entirely without problems.

I opened the bottle of Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) because I was looking for a dry wine with a bit of substance to be strong yet delicate enough to go with roast partridge. What I got was almost more than what I bargained for, because this wine is indeed quite strong.