It was New Year's Eve and the Wine Rambler committee had assembled in Munich to drink some god-damn wine. And what could be better to conclude an evening of feasting and drinking with friends than one of the elegant, sweet Mosel Rieslings that Theo Haart turns out year after year? To celebrate the end of 2009 it had to be something special, an 'Auslese' ('selection', one of the highest ratings in the often confusing and not always meaningful German wine classification system). Made by a good winery and stored well these wines can last for decades, so a 2006 Auslese can almost be seen as a young wine when drunk at the end of 2009. Or as darn tasty, at any time.
<p>Reihold Haart is a family owned German winery from the Mosel region, specialising in sweet Riesling. Go directly to their <a href="http://www.haart.de/">website</a></p>
<p>Below are the wines we tasted from this source.</p>
2009. London is hit by snow twice. Usain Bolt breaks the record in breaking world records. A German chancellor is re-elected and a German goalkeeper decides to go. The Royal Bank of Scotland announces a loss of £24.1 billion. Swine flu strikes; or so. British MPs spend money on moats and birdhouses. And the Wine Rambler drinks some wine. Quite a bit, actually, especially considering that we only launched the website in June 2009 (after having rambled between Munich and London via email for more than two years). And while others may still look back at what happened in sport, politics or the economy, we remember five wines that really impressed us last year. Here they come, the Wine Ramblers' top 5 wines of 2009:
Three bottles. I managed to get my greedy hands on three bottles of this wine last year - regular readers of the Wine Rambler will know that I am a big fan of the lovely wines Theo Haart creates at the Haart family estate overlooking the Mosel river. Most of the wines are sweet, but every year there are a few bottles of dry wines. 'Großes Gewächs' is German for 'great growth' and indicates that you are drinking a dry wine from a top vineyard as certified by the German Association of Premier Winemakers (VdP). Basically, think of it as a dry Spätlese (late harvest) or Auslese. So three bottles. One went down the drain last weekend because it was corked - it tasted of burnt smoke and vinegar. This means I am now down to two.
If you like aged Riesling, if you want a perfectly balanced, well rounded wine, if you crave the sensation of a wine that makes your palate feel smooth and peachy - go for this gem from the Mosel. Followers of the Wine Rambler will have noticed that we do tend to like the fruity Rieslings Theo Haart makes and this one is no exception. It is, in fact, the oldest Haart we have tasted for the Rambler and it demonstrates the potential of these wines.
Last Friday, the London branch of the Wine Rambler assembled a crack team of wine lovers and socialites from half a dozen countries for a particular mission: take down eight bottles of wine. The team members were selected following the ancient wisdom of Brigadier General Gavin from A Bridge too far: I need a man with very special qualities to lead. He's got to be tough enough to do it and he's got to be experienced enough to do it. Plus one more thing. He's got to be dumb enough to do it... Start getting ready. Gavin knew what he was speaking of, after all he knew the enemy from first hand combat experience; and the enemy was/is German:
Is there anything better than a nicely aged, excellent Riesling? I am not sure, but drinking this late harvest from winemaker Haart makes me think there may not be many things that would be better.
The colour is just beautiful, shiny gold with a hint of green. The nose is sophisticated, juicy peach with light herbal notes, cool, buttery mineral and the slightest hint of petrol.
Not many things in life beat a late harvest Riesling from the Mosel - sweet, yes, but usually well balanced with acidity and mineral that combine to a perfect sensation that is way too elegant and vibrant to be simply considered a sweet dessert wine. On top of that many of these wines are low on alcohol too. One of my favourite producers of sweet Riesling is Reinhold Haart, a small family owned estate overlooking the Mosel river in the old winemaking village of Piesport.
Light, clean colour. Just seconds after the cork comes out of the bottle, your nose tells you that this (dry) wine is a little different from the sweet Haarts. The mineral is more steely, focused, with light melon, fresh acidity, less herbs than usual.
In June 2008, London was invaded by Germans. Twice. And I was in the thick of it. It all started with an announcement by the guys from The Winery, one of my favourite London wine shops:
Ryanair allowing, two growers from the Mosel will be joining us for the evening, each top of their stylistic trees, masters of their dangerously steep slopes, each with global reputations. Clemens Busch, the dry Riesling guru from Punderich and Theo Haart, the fruity Riesling specialist from Piesport.