Weingut Ziereisen, Syrah "Gestad", 2008

Weingut Ziereisen, Syrah "Gestad", 2008

Nowadays everyone seems to expect the Spanish Inquisition. Well, maybe not exactly Monty Python's torture team with the comfy chair, but with the internet full of surprising wine finds presenting something unusual has become harder. Even so I hope that writing about German Syrah will be unusual enough to attract some attention - at least enough to keep you stuck to your chairs, trembling with anticipation, until my co-Rambler returns from his holiday to give you part two of Speak, barrel sample.

So here it is, the 2008 Syrah from a Baden producer who is at least as unusual and charming as his wines.

And that makes Hanspeter Ziereisen quite unusual, after all German Syrah is a real rarity. It is so rare that it is usually not listed in statistics and often it will have the words "Syrah aus Versuchsanbau" in small print on the label, like Ziereisen's Gestad. Translated literally Versuchsanbau stands for "trial/test growth". What it means is that the estate has been given permission to sell wines made from a grape variety that has not yet been officially certified for commercial use in a particular region - Germany, like other wine growing countries, regulates grape varieties.

Even so there are several dozen hectares of Syrah planted in Germany and the wines I have tried so far have been so good that the word "trial" is not to be used within a few hundred kilometres distance from them as far as I am concerned.

Ziereisen's Syrah has been matured for 16 months in 25% new barrique barrels and 75% large oak barrels and is unfiltered. The wine that has resulted from this process will not compete for your attention with fruit explosion aromas or muscular, animal smells. Instead its bouquet is a rather elegant blend of smoky, herbal and berry aromas with a touch of meat broth that reveals its complexity slowly. With aromas such as bramble, eucalyptus smoke or wooden spice boxes it made me think of the French country side somewhere in the south.

The woodland experience continues on the tongue with flavoursome herbs and spices and a lighter earthiness that, together with the fresh acidity reminded me almost of a Pinot Noir. Don't mistake me, the Gestad has Syrah muscles and fruit (sour cherry for instance), also tannin, but the overall impression is of a cool lightness that does not need to show much muscle to impress. I also remember a distinct dryness mid-palate followed by more fruit in a good finish and vegetable aromas that came out more on the second day.

Combined with the rather low alcohol level this makes Ziereisen's Syrah a red wine I could with much pleasure drink every day, preferably in the aforementioned comfy chair, but a normal chair on a late summer's eve terrace somewhere along the Rhone would also be fine.


Submitted by S.M. Saturday, 25/05/2013

Hi Torsten

Another interesting post, yes it does sound as if it is a more elegant and restrained interpretation of Syrah/Shiraz unlike muscular meaty Rhone Syrah or Aussie fruit/alcohol bomb Shiraz. Would love to try it if I could get my hands on it.

There does seem to be a shift in the world of German wine, as I can see more and more wine makers becoming more adventurous and trying new things. Amazingly enough it seems to be paying off in both sparking interest in the market and also in the awards and medals department as well.

Firstly for Germany to receive a gold medal for a Sauvignon Blanc at the Decanter Wine World awards a few years ago would be hard to imagine. But that's just what happened with the Von Winning Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Deidesheim in the Pfalz 10, but also in late April at the Concurs Mondial du Sauvignon it was again Germany that stole the show.

As it was the Genheimer Kiltz Felseneck Sauvignon Blanc 2012 in Bad Kreuznach, Nahe that took first place for un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc over 10 euros. So I believe we will continue to see more and more changes on the horizon, yes Riesling is not going away neither is Spatburgunder but there will more diversity and experimentation in the future.


Solomon Mengeu

Submitted by torsten Sunday, 26/05/2013

In reply to by S.M.

Thank you for the comment, Solomon. You are right to say that there is an increasing diversity in the German wine world, and as long as that does not lead to losing what is unique about Germany as a wine country then that's a good development. I have tried a few German Sauvignon Blancs and was really impressed; as SB is one of the important varieties I am least interested in that's not a mean feat. I did miss Von Winning winning the Decanter award though - will have to read up on it.


Submitted by Andrew Connor Wednesday, 29/05/2013

Tasting through the range was one of the highlights of Prowein, outstanding winery. The Spätburgunder is terrific and I have the 09 Gestad Syrah on the list, a fun wine to sell to people who are open minded.

Seems to me that in Baden (and maybe a lesser extent Franken) there are a lot of interesting Vintners not in the VDP, some kind of anarchic Mediterranean streak there in the south?

Thanks for the tip on Peter-Jakob Kuhn a few weeks , got some on the list now too, tasty wines indeed


Submitted by torsten Thursday, 30/05/2013

In reply to by Andrew Connor

Happy to hear you like Ziereisen; as you noted, we are huge fans - and Ziereisens are also a great couple and very entertaining and outspoken, for instance when it comes to the German wine law and wine classifications. I know a few people from Rheinhessen who would also claim the anarchic streak, but perhaps less Mediterranean ;-)

And Kuhn keeps impressing me, especially the top dry wines once they have had a few years of age. Will be serving one next week at a German wine dinner I am organising in London. Will be interesting to see what people think!

Submitted by Andrew Connor Thursday, 30/05/2013

In reply to by torsten

On the subject of left-field German reds, Felix Peters at Weingut St. Antony grafted a piece of the Niersteiner Pettenthal to Blaufränkisch (he told me the parcel is too hot for Riesling), nice wines. Very spicy and earthy, a little like what Roland Velich (Moric) is doing in Mittelburgenland but much more reasonably priced. I'm doing the basic Blaufränkisch by the glass and it is going very well indeed