A. Christmann, Riesling Pfalz, 2010
This is the season to write about summer wines. You have to dig up something fresh and light and go on about how well it would go with a garden party or that fresh, light food we all enjoy under the blazing heat. It will either be a light white wine or a rosé that even those who dislike rosé will enjoy as it goes so well with summer. I am having none of that, and for two reasons. First of all there is no summer in London - as I am writing this post the wettest June in history is behind us and water is pouring down outside Wine Rambler London HQ into a wet and cold July.
More importantly perhaps the category "summer wine" would be unfair to a wine that is much more than just an accessory to the hot season. IF there was such a thing as a hot season in London of course.
Christmann's estate Riesling is simply called "Pfalz", and you don't need Sherlock Homes to conclude that the Christmann winery is located in the Pfalz (Palatinate) wine region of Germany. It has been there for seven generations and is well known, both for the quality of the wines but also as Steffen Christmann, the "current" Christmann, is head of VDP, Germany's prestigious winemaker association. Amongst those who care about these things Christmann is also known as he moved to biodynamic winemaking years ago and even the grapes for the estate Riesling were grown organically. More importantly perhaps in a vintage that is characterised by very high levels of acidity Christmann decided not to de-acidify the wine and indeed trust to natural fermentation taking care of things. And from the result I would say his instinct was right.
The amount of freshness Christmann has packed into the Pfalz Riesling was, in a way, even more obvious on the second day when opening the bottle I was greeted with a pressure fizzle of yeast, herbs and fruit - despite only about enough for a small glass being left in there. In the glass there is not much yeast but rather soft, very appealing and precise stone fruit, candied citrus and floral, herbal and hay aromas. Also noticeable are flint and slate, a touch of earthy roughness and perhaps, very faint, soft notes of wood polish that give the Riesling more depth.
On the tongue the Riesling delivers the fresh sharpness you'd expect from the high acid 2010 vintage, but it does so in a very precise way that is not overpowering and nicely balanced by a more robust, earthy soft depth - calling it Pfalz is quite apt, I think. It is a nice blend of lean/sharp and juicy with great herbal spicing (almost tobacco) and citrus. This made it a great companion to fried squid marinated in chilli and lemon, but the spicy mineral and herb are interesting enough in their own right. Definitely worth the money, and then some. Forget about the summer wine nonsense.