Arson, sieges, war - not really the first words that would come to mind when thinking about wine: or a mill. And yet such events feature prominently in the long history of the Steinmühle (stone mill) winery in Rheinhessen. Since the Middle Ages, the mill in Osthofen has been burnt down a few times, and yet there it still stands. And it is still in the hands of the same winemaking family, for eleven generations now.
I did not know that when I was handed a bottle of their 2010 Sylvaner (the date 1275 on the label could have been a hint) - but then wine should mostly be about the enjoyment and the history lesson just a good swashbuckling story to be told after the second or third glass.
However, before we can drink some wine let's put the nose in the glass to leave all thoughts of history behind and focus on the wine. The Steinmühle Sylvaner (or Silvaner) is of the herbal and perfumed variety, with juicy apple and a touch of chalk. Fresh and light, its bouquet is rather pleasant.
On the tongue we (the second person being my friend Katy who never before had tried Silvaner) found it a little less complex than the bouquet promised, but still with nice apple flavours and citrus freshness: lemony first, in the finish a little more on the lime side. Good acidity keeps the wine fresh, but the feeling is more on the off-dry side with a touch of vaguely imprecise sweetness. I am a big fan of off-dry wines, but as a dinner companion I like my Silvaner more on the dry side - the balance between residual sugar and acidity does make the Steinmühle quite drinkable though and selling at around £8 it is not bad value either.