2007

Weingut Ziereisen, Spätburgunder 'Tschuppen', 2007

Ziereisen time here at the Wine Rambler, and with that, a kind of follow-up on the theme of food friendly wines raised by the Wine Rambler's very recent report on Long Island wine growing. While Hanspeter Ziereisen's reputation was largely made by the massive and impressive 03 and 04 vintages, it is not as well known that he has since changed his style completely. Bored by what he came to see as the overconcentration and vacuousness of the "big red"- style he was then aiming for, he decided he would henceforth make the Pinot that he himself likes: Lithe, drinkable, and yes: food friendly. Avantgarde burgundian. In fact, judging by the wine under review, it's not much of an exaggeration to call Ziereisen a one-man french revolution in german Pinot.

Peter Jakob Kühn, Oestricher Doosberg, Riesling trocken, drei Trauben, 2007

It is moments like this when I feel a little embarrassed to write about a wine. I often wish we had more wines to complain about so that we can prove that we are wine bloggers of the really critical sort. However, this is a blog about the wines we drink for pleasure, not for profit, so we try as hard as possible to find wines that we think we might like. When I bought this Riesling from the Rheingau, I hoped it would be good, really good. I had no idea it would be so good that even after going to bed I could still be heard mumbling 'this is fantastic'. Before you read on be warned though: you may seriously hate this wine.

Philipp Kuhn, Mano Negra, 2007

Wow, this doesn't look very German! - with these words an English friend of mine greeted Philipp Kuhn's Mano Negra. I opened this bottle recently at a small tasting I had organised for friends. Most had never tried a German red, and none had ever seen anything (German) quite so intense in colour. This cuvée of Blaufränkisch (literally 'Blue Frankish) and Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Pfalz, a region that keeps impressing me with its variety of exciting red wines.

Reichsgraf und Marquis zu Hoensbroech, Blauer Limberger, 2007

Nice try, Reichsgraf zu Hoensbroech, but you cannot fool the ever-alert Wine Rambler! We know that your whimsically named "Blauer Limberger" is no other grape than Lemberger, known in Austria as - say it with me - Blaufränkisch. In Germany, Lemberger has its home in Württemberg, to which the Reichsgraf's Baden sub-region of Kraichgau is very close.

A. J. Adam, Riesling Kabinett, 2007

It may not be a polite subject, but there's no dancing around the issue: Deep-dyed mosel Rieslings from slate soils can give off a bit of an odour. You expect a bit of a mosel funk, you appreciate a bit of a mosel funk, yet in my humble mosel experience so far, here's the undisputed sultan of stink: Andreas Adams's Kabinett gives you your petrol spill, your car dealership, but throw in used motor oil, a sulphur spring and some rotten eggs, and you're getting closer. Very distinctive, if you like this kind of thing. And I certainly do. Beneath the stink, or maybe it's better to stay borne on the stink, are ripe apricots, deep stony minerality and a whiff of caramel. The fruit is really subdued at this stage of early maturity, the acidity is not much of a presence either, and it's really the hard-core slate minerality that is the blood and bones of this ultra-trad Kabinett.

Vincent Carême, Vouvray Spring, 2007

When 2009 came to an end, for some reason the Wine Rambler got infected with the idea of developing new year's resolutions. Among the ones Julian came up with was to 'try more from lesser-known French wine regions like the Jura or the Loire Valley'. Traditionally, I leave France more to Julian, but his recent excitement about a Loire Chenin Blanc made me memorise the word 'Vouvray'. Vouvray is a region of the Loire Valley where they specialise in Chenin Blanc, wines that can rival Riesling in terms of their potential to age for decades. So when (following a phase of drinking much Pinot Blanc, Riesling and some Chardonnay) I came across a Vouvray that was recommended by trustworthy wine merchants Philglas & Swiggot, I did not hesitate and grabbed their last bottle. Lucky me, I can now say.

Wittmann, Chardonnay trocken, 2007

It is still Chardonnay time here at the Wine Rambler. Following some of my recent 'foreign' Chardonnay adventures, I decided it was time to go back to what Germany has to offer. This time the journey leads to Rheinhessen, where Philipp Wittmann goes from strength to strength with his biodynamic wines (yes, outstanding Riesling, but not only Riesling). What about his Chardonnay?

Wittmann Chardonnay 2007

Dr. Heyden, Oppenheimer Schloss, Frühburgunder, 2007

Today, we continue our exploration of under-the-radar grape varieties in german wine by introducing Pinot Noir's little brother (come on out, don't be shy): Frühburgunder literally translates as "early Burgundy", so we are dealing with a particularly early-ripening member of the Pinot family. Like any precocious child, this small-berried variety can be difficult to raise, but promises great complexity and aromatics once it really comes into its own. In France, it is known as Pinot Pommier or Pinot Madeleine - except that it isn't really, because it is routinely blended with Pinot Noir without declaring this on the label. In Burgundy, for example, it is often not even known in which of the older Pinot vineyards it exists, and in what proportion. Such ignorance is not for us systematically-minded Germans, of course, and in the 1970s, a winemaking college sent out researchers with clipboards, pens behind their ears (as I like to imagine it), into the vineyards to find out. One of the places where they were pleased at what they found must have been Dr. Heyden's vineyards in Rheinhessen, which have given us this excellent example for the grape's qualities:

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.

Domaine Huet, Vouvray Sec "Le Mont", 2007

With at least one Wine Rambler new year's resolution still unfulfilled, a sense of duty and self-discipline finally compelled me to open a Loire white. I also wanted to try one of the esoteric, hyper-regional french wines that the really knowledgeable cats like Cory Cartwright from Saignée are always on about. I had hoped for something original to broaden my wine horizon, but this Chenin Blanc from a legendary Vouvray producer turned out to be rather more - a real shock to the Riesling-saturated system.