TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



August 2009

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2009

American scientists have proven that you can tell a person by their choice of wine: lovers of sweet wine are more impulsive whereas lovers of dry are more open. Actually, it was a group of Australian and UK researchers - and they base their research on a sample of 45 healthy men and women from Sheffield in the UK. Here is the abstract of the article Sweet taste preference and personality traits using a white wine:

Understanding the influences of food and drink consumption patterns could help elucidate the factors that promote healthy dietary practices. Research has begun to investigate the influence of personality traits on dietary decisions. The current experiment measured personality traits and sweet taste preference using white wine in a healthy sample of adults (n = 45). Sweet taste preference was associated with a higher level of impulsiveness but lower openness. These traits have previously been suspected to influence dietary choices and are briefly discussed within this context.

As much as I would like to I cannot tell you much more about the study as the download costs US $ 31.50. If you fancy spending the money please do let me know if there is anything else of interest in the article. Until then I will be happy to oscillate between openness and impulsiveness - and hope for more academic research being made available free of charge. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2009

Every so often I leave German Pinot Noir behind and venture into the New World. This time it is Californian Pinot - and a very pleasant one. It is made by the guys from the Calera Wine Company, a Californian winery founded by Josh Jensen in the 1970s. K&U, where I bought this wine, are giving Josh a lot of praise for his 'slow', handmade and sustainable style of winemaking (actually, they do praise almost all their winemakers in that way). The grapes for this Pinot were indeed harvested by hand and fermented with native yeast. So let's have a look! [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2009

After having tasted some of the best Germany has to offer this month, the Wine Rambler now jumps right back into the range of the cheapest German supermarket wine available in the UK. Today it is the dreaded Liebfraumilch wine again, this time 'selected by ASDA', the UK arm of retail giant Walmart. As all good and ethical shoppers know, ASDA is evil. However, we do still seem to go there because the temptation of the Cheap is strong. In a way, this wine is very similar: like evil, once you have tasted some, you find it hard to stop. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 28 Aug 2009

Württemberg, Swabia, home of the gleaming Mercedes Benz, the Bausparvertrag, the Kehrwoche and the Häuslebauer (untranslatable terms, because they describe specific anthropological phenomena). And wine country. Many a railroad passenger passing by the beautiful and spectacularly steep vineyards around Stuttgart may have wondered why these wines are consumed avidly by Württembergers themselves, but, too often uninspired and uninspiring, given the cold shoulder by the rest of the wine world. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 28 Aug 2009

Do you know the proletarian, beer-drinking type who looks down upon wine? I have a good friend who is like this. Or, to be precise, he always pretended to be like this. Over the past few years, previously hidden signs of middle-classiness have emerged though and he even recently started to buy his own wine. A few days ago I was invited to sample his first home cooked roast and a wine he brought back from New Zealand. Now let's see which is the wine with the power to convert would-be working class beer drinkers into wine snobs. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 25 Aug 2009

If you like aged Riesling, if you want a perfectly balanced, well rounded wine, if you crave the sensation of a wine that makes your palate feel smooth and peachy - go for this gem from the Mosel. Followers of the Wine Rambler will have noticed that we do tend to like the fruity Rieslings Theo Haart makes and this one is no exception. It is, in fact, the oldest Haart we have tasted for the Rambler and it demonstrates the potential of these wines. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 22 Aug 2009

Two rosés from the languedoc, both predominantly Syrah, with some Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, one from Paul Mas, via Jacques Weindepot, around 5 €, the other from Olivier Jullien, via K & U, around 12 €.

Up went the brown paper, professionally applied and stylishly decorated by my lovely assistant, who deserves very special mention. Those sharp of eye and quick of wit will quickly see which is which, but for 24 hours, I had no way of knowing. You can follow the links any time you get bored.

Posted by Julian 21 Aug 2009

Tasted blind here.

Very dark pink, an impressive colour.

Smells of raspberries, rose petals, but peaches and exotic fruit as well, a certain artificial fruitiness (a little fakey-fake action, as Gary Vaynerchuk would probably say).
In the mouth, full-bodied and smooth, pleasantly fruity, very easy to drink, but with a bit of a hole in the middle, not too long.

Good rosé, certainly convincing for its price, that many people will enjoy for summer sipping. Not the world's greates fan of rosés in general, I'm not blown away, but I can think of worse beverages for an august evening.

Posted by Julian 21 Aug 2009

Tasted blind here.

Very dark pink.
Smells of raspberries, rose petals, a lot of red and black currants, and a green, fresh touch, as if the leaves and stems of all those fruit had been thrown in as well.
In the mouth, good concentration, very spicy currant fruit again, some wildness, good acidity and a bit of tannin. Fairly long.

Good, seriously made rosé, whith a bit of a rough edge that makes it a food wine much more than a porch sipping wine, but gives it some character. Mind you, rosés are generally not my kind of wine, so I'm not sure I can describe this with any authority. It does seem a bit pricy.

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

Last Friday, the London branch of the Wine Rambler assembled a crack team of wine lovers and socialites from half a dozen countries for a particular mission: take down eight bottles of wine. The team members were selected following the ancient wisdom of Brigadier General Gavin from A Bridge too far: I need a man with very special qualities to lead. He's got to be tough enough to do it and he's got to be experienced enough to do it. Plus one more thing. He's got to be dumb enough to do it... Start getting ready. Gavin knew what he was speaking of, after all he knew the enemy from first hand combat experience; and the enemy was/is German:

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

Is there anything better than a nicely aged, excellent Riesling? I am not sure, but drinking this late harvest from winemaker Haart makes me think there may not be many things that would be better.

The colour is just beautiful, shiny gold with a hint of green. The nose is sophisticated, juicy peach with light herbal notes, cool, buttery mineral and the slightest hint of petrol. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

Markus Schneider, an up-and-coming wine maker from the Palatinate, seems to like very simple, clean labels - a no-nonsense approach that has nothing of the sometimes overly decorated, old-fashioned German wine labels.

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

It has been quite a while since an English white wine has been reviewed by the Wine Rambler. Chapel Down is a well respected name in the English wine business, so we were curious to see what we would get for almost ten quid.

First of all you get some fizz when unscrewing the cap. The colour is clean, with some fizzy bubbles (initially), but quite pale. The nose has lots of elderflower, fresh green apple and herbs. On the palate apple, fresh citrus acidity, some spice (pepper?) and a little mineral. The finish is dominated by citrus fruit and elderflower. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

I would like to recommend this wine to all Anglo-Saxon wine lovers who enjoy the uniqueness of German wine labelling and, especially, naming. You might know that trocken means 'dry' and that Kabinett indicates that this wine is to be ranked among the quality wines. However, this is just the boring part of the classification system. Much more interesting is the name of the wine - artist's hell. How do the serious Germans come to such an usual name? [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

This wine is an impostor! While it is a rosé made of Pinot Noir grapes, it is so pale in colour and so light and fresh on the tongue that you could almost confuse it with a white wine. Expect an easy to drink and very enjoyable rosé with fresh acid (apple and citrus fruit) that has just a hint of vegetable and roughness to it. Very enjoyable.

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

The yellow foil combined with the greenish glass of the bottle give this Pinot Blanc a warm and friendly appearance, while the simple label indicates that this wine is part of the entry level range of Molitor wines. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

When we poured this wine, we were a little surprised - the colour is a fairly dark red that seemed unusually intense for a (German) Pinot. The nose, however, is quite typical for this grape and combines cherries and berries with creamy-smoky bread and a hint of pepper.

In the mouth, cherries again and woodland berries, bread, some pepper, a hint of morbid vegetable and surprisingly creamy tannins. Just a really well balanced and drinkable Pinot Noir!

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

This is one of several wines we bought during our 2008 Mosel tour. Clemens Busch was the last winery we visited on a busy day of tasting wine and despite a certain exhaustion we were very impressed with the dry Rieslings, a style many people might not expect from the Mosel. So how does the wine taste when taken out of the winery's tasting room? [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

It has been a while since I had my last Gauby, quite a while, but I still remember the yummy cherry flavour of his 2005 red. So I thought the 2004 might be just the wine to have with a duck breast with balsamico glazed baby carrots.

The first thing you notice is the deep, dark, glorious red colour. It is followed by a nose of cherry (hurrah!) and berries with a woodland-pepper-spiciness that finds a good addition in a hint of wild animal smell. The pleasant sensation continues in the mouth where the fruitiness of well rounded cherry-berries is nicely balanced by spicy herbs and a hint chocolate, all of which are presented in a cool, smooth way. The tannins are already well integrated. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 10 Aug 2009

This dry Riesling is a very pleasant surprise. Not that I would not trust the Weil winery to make nice Riesling - but I had seriously planned to just have a glass of this tonight. Or perhaps two. Alas! my plan has been foiled.

To be blamed is a dry Riesling with clear, yellow colour (not too intense). The nose is very fresh, almost cool, with mineral vegetable-lemon and a fruity dose of peach. The wine itself is dry, but not too dry, with a really pleasant freshness that makes your tongue tingle. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 10 Aug 2009

While writing these lines I am sitting at my computer, looking out into the garden, a nice glass of German Riesling in front of me - and a friend from Germany connected via Skype. And as it happens, she also has a Riesling in front of her. It may be hard to believe, but we did not plan it this way. But then it may not have been hard to guess for her that I would not be without a glass of wine.

What are we drinking? Benita has a 2007 Reinhold Haart Spätlese, a guarantee for delicious yumminess. While she is enjoying the more fruity option, I have the dry 2008 Riesling Kabinett from Robert Weil's Rhinegau winery - fresh, lemony acidity and peachy mineral vegetable; certainly not bone-dry. Very drinkable!

While the darkness descends over London, it is time to share some of the music that I am playing while we ramble about this and that, and life in particular.

"Merciful faith rocks this night"; here is the great great John Darnielle, aka The Mountain Goats:

[read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 07 Aug 2009

German department store chain Hertie / Karstadt is broke, and the market on my way to work is one of those that are to close permanently. I couldn't help but look in on its second-but-last day out of morbid curiosity. Amid the eery atmosphere of an empty supermarket, on one of those cheesy fake barrels of the wine section, I found them: Ten or twelve little golden half-bottles, like a lost flock of ducklings, sporting blow-out price tags, but shunned by the bargain hunters. One I took home.

Wirsching is one of Franconia's most reputable producers, with hefty dry Silvaners. "Wiqem" is a rip-off on Chateau d'Yquem, of course, the world's best know dessert wine. Even the lable mimics Sauternes. It's a sweet Auslese made from a mix of grape varieties. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 04 Aug 2009

Pretty cherry red colour.

Cherry stones (well, it smells of cherries, but also stony, so...), some black forest cherry schnaps (I hate that stuff).

Cherry stones again in the mouth, a little blunt and unfocused, but very spicy in a rustic manner, think the skins of cherries and plums, good fresh acidity and tannin.

It is what it is. Nothing to complain about, nothing to get crazy about. I'm still no closer to loving the southern rhone, although Robert Parker and others keep telling me to. I think I'll give up trying some day soon.

Posted by Julian 04 Aug 2009

Zehnthof Luckert has put out a masterly collection of wines in 2008. After the explosively fruity dry Muskateller, the earthy and rich Müller-Thurgau, this old vine-Silvaner brings some more thunder (and these are all from the affordable section...).

Nice deep straw colour, almost a golden tinge. Smells of ripe pears, peaches, ginger. More peachy and Riesling-like on the second day.
In the mouth, ripe apples and peaches, textbook earthy minerality, quite creamy and rich, but with good acidity, vibrant, that great ginger spiciness again, and - is that curry? Not over-typical for Silvaner, as it could easily pass for a unusually creamy and spicy Riesling, but that doesn't take anything away. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 02 Aug 2009

German wine is sweet. Sweet wine will make you fat whereas dry wine won't. Therefore German wine will ruin your diet. Actually, both statements and the conclusion are wrong.

First of all let me say that the majority of wine made in Germany is dry; it just so happens the we export more of the sweet stuff. Now the more interesting question in the context of this posting: what about residual sugar and calories? After all, some of the fruity Rieslings have dozens of grams of sugar - isn't that bad for my waistline? Yes, but no. Actually, it is the alcohol level you should be concerned about too: While 1 gram of alcohol has about 7 kcal, 1 gram of sugar has only about 4 kcal. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 02 Aug 2009

Fear not, I am not on a diet. I just happened to find this tiny (25cl) bottle of WeightWatchers fruity white wine, made by a German producer from grapes from the Mosel and the Rhine. So what has Britain's cheapest supermarket in store for those of you who are on a diet (and are ready to spend £1.44)?

Decent colour, light gold, very clear, light. So far so good. The nose is a little sharp, apple with a tiny tiny hint of pear; think light apple vinegar or at least really sharp green apple. On the palate lemon/apple acidity, pear and something almost buttery nutty in the finish. While this sounds good in theory, none of the flavours is very distinct. The combination is bland and not very well balanced. The wine lacks depth and I found the nose and bitterness a little off-putting. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 01 Aug 2009

The year is 1976 and the French wine legions have conquered the world. The whole world? Wait, a small Californian valley still stands against the empire. But sadly, no one but the Californians themselves is aware of this. The movie Bottle Shock is about a wine tasting held in Paris in 1976, the Judgement of Paris, that changed all that. Despite all the drama, Bottle Shock is also, sometimes sadly, a comedy.

Rickman as Steven SpurrierRickman as Steven Spurrier

Once upon a time there was a slightly eccentric English lover of wine whose dream it was to run a quality wine shop. Luckily, Steven Spurrier was also the son of a well-to-do family and in the 1970s we find him running his own wine shop and wine school in Paris, shaking hands with the French wine elite and over time becoming accepted almost as one of their own. When Spurrier learned that California wine makers used a lot of new, innovative techniques to make good wine in French style, he decided to host a tasting of French and American wines. While Spurrier never expected the Californians to win, he wanted the tasting to be blind so that they would not get totally trashed by the wine judges who would be French.