Fürstlich Castell'sches Domänenamt, Casteller Hohenart, Silvaner Kabinett trocken, 2008
Sometimes I think that we should have a wine history segment on the wine rambler. Maybe we will some day. It should be fun to explore some of the microhistory in individual vineyard names, and to maybe get a grip on parts of the larger story of how the wine world that we know and love (well, some of it) came about. The breakup of large noble and monastic estates after 1803 within the crumbling holy roman empire would have to be such a period that changed the landscape of wine making beyond recognition. Or did it?
We could, for example, talk about the Counts of Castell. Princes of the holy roman empire, no less, they had long ruled their tiny fiefdom by the river Main as a souvereign state, both setting and enforcing the law of the land, raising taxes, driving – I imagine – thousands of peasants into the vineyards each harvest. Newfangled egalitarian ideas and Napoleon's armies put an end to aristocratic rule, but the Castell family could hold on to much of their land and wealth through the half-hearted german revolutions of 1848 and 1918.
They are currently lording it over a bank, a fish farming operation, 5000 hectares of forest, immense farm lands, and of course the winery, „Fürlich Castell'sches Domänenamt“ translating roughly as „Demesne Castell“ or „Castell seigneurial administration“, suggesting both a touch of aristocratic class and a modernized version of 18th century aristocratic landholding.
You don't need this historical perspective to enjoy their Silvaner, but only with it will you fully appreciate the indignity this nobleman's wine had to suffer when rudely pitted against one of lowly peasant birth in a wine rambler blind tasting:
Fairly light straw colour
A fresh nose, peaches and unripe apples in it, could be mistaken for a Riesling at first.
Nice peach and apple fruit comes up in the taste as well, light-bodied, with fresh acidity. Appetizing, fresh, not endlessly long, but nice and somewhat „classic“, clearly going for freshness and polished fruit rather than for earthiness and creamy power.
„An aristocrat that does not get his hands dirty“ doesn't quite do it justice, but isn't far off the mark, either.