Looking back over the wines I have enjoyed over the past few months it was an impressive range of delightfulness and excellent quality. Despite having spent quite a bit on wine I think it was worth every penny, but I was also reminded not to forget to explore what is available on the cheaper end of the market. So during a recent visit to Sainsburys I grabbed a random bottle of relatively inexpensive German wine to set my experiences in perspective.
Mind you, there are people out there for whom £4.99 for a bottle of wine is anything but cheap. However, if you consider that around half of the price goes to the government (tax, excise duty etc.) and quite a bit to the retailer (and that does not even take into account the cost of shipping etc.) then you realise that such a wine has to be produced very cheaply indeed to be commercially viable. Too cheaply?
The nose has something green to it, apple but also a little vegetable. There are pleasant elements here such as lemon, a faint hint of mineral and orange peel, but my nostrils also were irritated by a not so pleasant bitter note that had something of stomach acid or fermented fruit to it. The different elements did not quite come together.
It has to be said that the Erben Kabinett tastes better than it smells, featuring (candied) lime and light, juicy elements - lemony at first, then more on the lime side of things, then more juicy, immediately before swallowing the last bit it falls flat and ends on a bitter note, which disturbs the balance (not of the force, one would hope though). Still, the wine lacks character and depth.
Overall this left me with mixed feelings. It is clearly better than the very cheap German supermarket wines - and it should be seeing as it is way more expensive -, with elements of a nice, light and refreshing summer wine. However, as soon as you do pay attention it feels too light and the unbalanced bitterness becomes annoying.
So, if you do not want very much of your wine or if you drink it in a setting that stops you from paying attention - I thought of different ways to finish this sentence, but I think it speaks for itself. I also tried the wine with food (see above), but it was overshadowed. Personally, I'd rather spend one or two quid more and drink something with more character and balance, but it could be worse.