Juliusspital, Würzburger Stein, Silvaner Kabinett trocken, 2008

Juliusspital, Würzburger Stein, Silvaner Kabinett trocken, 2008

To the Wine Rambler, Silvaner remains one of the undervalued German grape varietals, particularly as seen from my London perspective. I don't think I have ever come across a Silvaner in a London restaurant or wine shop. This may not mean very much of course as Londoners would also find it difficult to get German Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, for instance, but I recently learned that even more knowledgeable wine people can confuse Silvaner with the (Austrian) Grüner Veltliner (Silvaner is sometimes called 'Grüner Silvaner'). Is this Silvaner from the Juliusspital winery going to change all that?

First a quick word about the unusual bottle. It is called 'Bocksbeutel', and the Franconians (think two hours north of Munich) use this type of bottle for pretty much any wine they grow. Silvaner is their trademark white wine though, and it is particularly famous for being very food friendly (in particular it is seen as the ideal asparagus wine, so listen Britain, as it is Aspargus season!).

A wine living in such a bottle cannot be but a little green. And yes, it actually has a somewhat greenish nose, very typical for Silvaner, with apple, earthy notes, a hint of ground pepper and some mineral. On the tongue the wine is dry, but it shows off a certain amount of fruity juiciness and a dosage of citrus acidity with some herbal notes. The Juliusspital has a reasonably full body, substantial but not too heavy. It has something very consistent, rock-solid to it.

Maybe because of the wine having a bit more substance, my friend Friederike called it 'perfect for spring or autumn' (but not for summer); I would call it a well rounded workhorse and, in particular, a great food wine. Some of my other guests, who all liked it, but were less impressed by it than I was, acknowledged that it seemed more interesting with food - strong enough to go with it but not overwhelming. In an almost Franconian manner, we had sausages with it; in particular the English pork-and-apple sausages went very well, both enhancing each other.

This is certainly not a wine that will make the world take notice of the Silvaner grape - if you want that we'd suggest looking for the 2008 Grand Cru Silvaner from the same winery, a beautiful beast. However, the 2009 Kabinett is a very consistent, well rounded wine that comes into its own with food. Now I wish I had some white asparagus, potatoes, ham and butter - and a bottle of this.