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Steinbachhof, Ensinger Schanzreiter, Riesling ***, 2009

This little review revisits old Wine Rambler territory: Swabia's Stromberg region, last seen in the throes of a damaging freak frost in the spring of last year. This time, another winery, just one picturesque beech-forested ridge away. The Steinbachhof is an ancient estate created by the cistercian abbey of Maulbronn, then owned by the dukes, later kings of Württemberg, and now by two adventurous young people, Nanna and Ulrich Eißler, who supplement their income from wine growing by hosting wedding and business receptions in a beautifully refurbished old barn.

From a recent short visit, I brought a bottle of Riesling that, sadly, you won't be able to find outside of Germany, or Swabia for that matter, for any time soon:

Straw-coloured. Sweet peaches and peach jam in the nose, setting up a peach theme that comes up again on the palate. Very ripe, sweet and opulent, chewy yet clear fruit with a hint of yeasty bitterness on the finish. A little one-dimensional (that dimension being peaches), but otherwise very nice Riesling with a little-known name tag for those who like it juicy, ripe and not too dry.

Steinebachhof. Photo by (c) Rudi Thalhäuser
Steinebachhof. Photo by (c) Rudi Thalhäuser

But there's one more thing to clear up: The vineyard name. Schanzreiter translates as "rampart rider" and it goes back to a local legend. Yes, you know what's coming: Another headless horseman story, but with a particularly Swabian twist. A local landlord, so the saying goes, was so cruel and relentless in exploiting his tenants that he made them work on his own estate even after nightfall, even on those days of the week they should have been allowed to tend to their own small plots, and, shockingly, even on Sundays and holidays. For this, he has found no rest in the grave and rides his fiery horse restlessly around the Stromberg towns, head under arm, to reprimand and frighten those who try to put in a few illicit hours of work after nightfall or, god forbid, on Sundays.

A Stromberg vineyard. Photo by (c) Rudi Thalhäuser
A Stromberg vineyard. Photo by (c) Rudi Thalhäuser

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