With the "wedding of the century" taking place this week, London is invaded by all sorts of visitors. Some have spent a fortune on looking good on tv, others will have spent their money on getting here to watch them. That much I expected, and also that I would encounter more than the odd random stranger in town - but not that one of them would come into my house uninvited. Luckily, my guest needs no money to look good, does not behave disorderly after a few drinks and is perfectly capable of enjoying a glass of Riesling in silence.
So it was not quite the tiger who came for tea, but still a colourful guest - the ladybird who came for Riesling.
After recently exploring his 09 Pinot Gris, it is now time to taste Helmut Dönnhoff's 2009 Riesling. Dönnhoff is the uncrowned winemaking king of the Nahe region and one of the (more or less crowned) archdukes of German Riesling, so I was very curious to see how his entry-level Riesling would do.
After it had been sitting in my famous wardrobe for a while, the Dönnhoff's time had come when I set out to visit one of London's secret supper clubs.
It may sound otherwise, but Huxelrebe is neither a reason to shout "Gesundheit" nor an infectious disease. Instead, it is one of the grape cross-breeds created in Germany in the 1920s, and like many of those it is now mostly grown in Germany and England. Huxelrebe is a very high yielding variety that easily reaches high sugar levels, but it can produce high quality wines if yields are reduced.
You will find dry Huxelrebe ("Rebe" means "vine"), but mostly they are sweet dessert wines, like this one from the Pfalz.
Dallmayr, Munich's traditional upscale delicatessen store, traditionally advertises the glories of its fine wine department by hosting a springtime tasting where a few select german and austrian wine growers and makers present the upcoming vintage in person. For some years now, they have given this event the ringingly neo-liberal and upper-middle classy title Winzerelite (elite of the wine growers). I'm itching to, and maybe some day will, write a whole separate posting on the sociology of what is right and what is deeply wrong with this name. But leaving that aside for the moment, I can't deny they always choose characterful venues to hold it in.
Before reviewing what the elite had brought to Munich, the few of them that we focussed on, I cannot spare you a few extra words on this year's location, the Bavarian State Library, as it is very special indeed, not least to myself.
The German tribe of the Franconians do appear to have been geographically misplaced by providence. Not only are they the Protestant outsiders in deeply Catholic Bavaria, they are also a winemaking tribe in a state known mostly for its beer. Perhaps this is why they aim to make up for it by being more distinctive, for instance with their oddly shaped Bocksbeutel wine bottles. Most winemakers use these as a proud statement of origin - not so the Luckert brothers.
Even some of their Franconian signature Silvaner wines ship in standard bottles, and the bottle of the top of the range Pinot Noir looks a little more Burgundian than Franconian - a stylistic message in a bottle shape?
After taking a look at Pfalz wines in the last three reviews, time to bring you up to date on Germany's other bread-and-butter region, Rheinhessen. Many german wine drinkers turn there for lower-priced, everyday wines that they order in larger quantity, but don't necessarily talk about the way they would about last weekend's Großes Gewächs or the Mosel Auslese they serve at their own posh dinner party. Everybody has their place of choice - at the moment, mine is Dr. Heyden, whose workhorse wines are carefully made and very dependable, but who also overachieve significantly with their stylish and concentrated old vines-Silvaner and their truly excellent Frühburgunder. In what has become a little tradition, I have been going to see Frank Heyden behind his table at a twice-yearly wine fair in Munich for two years now, both to have a chat and to slip him a follow-up order.
Another wine that he served me there is his Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc cuvée. I liked it there and then. But how will it fare under the cruel light shone on the Wine Rambler's tasting table, where neither friendship nor enmity can hope to sway the incorruptible critic?
Wine journalists, bloggers, trade people - sure they all love Riesling. But real people? What do they think about the world's most exciting white grape variety? You may think you know, but you have no idea. Over the past few months, a Wine Rambler covert investigation team infiltrated Twitter to uncover shocking evidence. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what people really think about Riesling.
Men in the know
riesling = skim milk, sauvignon blanc = whole milk, chardonnay = heavy cream
I can't stand sweet wines! Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. nor the people that drink it! YUCK! Learn your wines people!!!!
Germany only have pinot noir and riesling. Don't ask me why.
Trollinger-Lemberger-Riesling hangovers are the worst.
careful! Riesling is like a woman= sweet but can give you a #headache if you have too much in one day!
Sometimes you have no idea what you are looking at. The other day I pulled a bottle out of a newly arrived cask of wine that I hadn't actually ordered - nor had I heard of the winery before! Turns out that the wine merchant had sneakily squeezed it into the box as a thank you for a good customer. Herr Behringer also asked me for my opinion.
Following the recent debate on neutrality of wine bloggers I should probably add that this is the first wine we have received from Behringer without paying, that he did not ask us for a review and that the wine is not in his portfolio (I wonder if he plans to change that though). Anyway, Mr Behringer, here goes.
Lukas Krauß, friend of and contributor to the Wine Rambler, insists that his Spätburgunder is a Spätburgunder, and not a Pinot Noir, by which he means to say that if you miss in it the barnyard smells, wet earth, leanness and minerality associated with Burgundy, and find yourself with plump strawberry and cherry fruit and chocolaty richness instead, that's just how it's meant to be.
Spoken like a true traditionalist of german red wine. But do we let him get away with it?
Once upon a time people drank their wine in peace, relying on word of mouth to find what they liked. Then the forces of darkness struck. Inventing powerful spells such as marketing, advertising and sponsored wine journalism they took control of the innocent wine world. But behold, a small army of light stood up to the forces of darkness. Writing truthfully, unbiased wine bloggers would save wine lovers from evil.
Some may believe this, but a closer look at the wine blogging world will tell you it is not that simple. In fact, bloggers are now targeted by the forces of evil in the ways not too dissimilar to journalism before them. Are we aware enough to resist?
A little while ago I discussed the question of how much a value Pinot Noir should cost with a Canadian and an American on Twitter. With different currencies and tax/duty regimes it was not the easiest discussion, but I made the point that at least in Germany you should get decent Pinot for around, or a little above, ten Euro. Today we are looking at a German Pinot, from one of the country's best "red" wineries, for less than that.
Can Knipser's basic Pinot Noir be my new reference point for value?
I have been a fan of the Mauro wines since my dad casually handed me a bottle several years ago, remarking that I may like this. Well, he was right. Every other year since I had one of those Spanish beauties, and the most recent one we enjoyed at a Wine Rambler meeting in Munich.
Our regular readers may have noticed that Julian is more likely than me to go for the more substantial red wines, but the beautiful and deep Tempranillos from Mauro are just too pleasing to ignore.
Time for another drive-by-shooting of the Lake Constance vineyard that just happens to be the old stopping-place between home and the grandparents' place. So same place, same photographer. This time with a bit more of a wintry feeling, but also scattered signs of approaching spring.