London, so the MetOffice tells us, is about to descend into a snow chaos this night. While this may mean that tomorrow evening it will be time for hearty food with a robust red wine, tonight I felt more like spicy food and so I prepared a stir-fry. I use this simple recipe fairly often, it basically involves frying small bits of chicken breast in butter and then adding chopped peppers, green curry paste and lemon juice - the latter nicely balances the flavours and gives it that nice, fresh kick of acidity. So opening a Riesling seemed like the logical choice, and as the food was not overly spicy I thought I could get away with a dry Riesling. A particular bottle from the Wittmann winery had looked at me in this peculiar way for a couple of weeks now, so the choice was easy.
Imagine the Winesleuth comes to visit. Well, a good week ago fellow London-based wine blogger Denise did actually come over for dinner. And as Winesleuths and -ramblers cannot be without wine for too long, we had to taste two German Rieslings. One was the a deliciously sweet Riesling, the 2007 Goldtröpfchen Spätlese from the Haart winery, which was reviewed here before. The first was a Riesling too, but a dry one the Löwenstein winery. Here is what Denise had to say about it (so I guess this is our first guest-blog, in a way): [read the full post...]
Most current wine marketing revolves around the attempt to associate wine with "nature", and to make not technical refinement, but true representation of the soil and the land the measure for wine quality. So you have your natural wine bandwagon on the one side, with your organic winegrowing, your biodynamics, your "slow" winemaking, your "natural wine". And then you have Natural wine with a capital N. And there you have your non-sulphurisers, your amphorae-diggers, your oxidizers, purists, extremists and experimentalists. Angiolino Maule from northern Italy's veneto is one of those. This wine is naturally fermented in open wooden barrels, not shielded from oxygen, unfined and unfiltered, with no added sulphur. [read the full post...]
Whenever I drink a lightly (pleasantly!) oaked Chardonnay these days I think of Tom Aikens, a fine restaurant in South West London. I have not been there very often, but single time the sommelier surprised me with an unusual combination of food and wine and also with bringing out my (usually) hidden love for lightly oaked Chardonnay. The wine I have in my glass right now is not a Chardonnay and I am enjoying it at home, without the delight of Tom Aikens' food. Even so, it brings back some good memories. And it is not a Chardonnay, but an Auxerrois. Auxerrois is a relatively unknown and rare grape variety that can be quite similar to Chardonnay and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc). [read the full post...]
Sometimes I think that we should have a wine history segment on the wine rambler. Maybe we will some day. It should be fun to explore some of the microhistory in individual vineyard names, and to maybe get a grip on parts of the larger story of how the wine world that we know and love (well, some of it) came about. The breakup of large noble and monastic estates after 1803 within the crumbling holy roman empire would have to be such a period that changed the landscape of wine making beyond recognition. Or did it? [read the full post...]
Lukas Krauß, 21 years old, is a winemaker, no that's wrong, he is, proudly, a wine grower („Weinbauer“) from the Pfalz. And not the most prestigious part of the Pfalz, either. He is not listed in many wine guides nor will you have heard his name dropped in the wine blogosphere. But if you, like the wine rambler, are sometimes tired of the visual soft pornography and the worn out old clichés that are wine marketing, and want something that is personal, honest, stylish and funny, here is a name for you to remember, and here also is a site for you to look at:
We liked him instantly, and you will soon hear more from Lukas on the wine rambler, something that we look forward to very much. [read the full post...]
Wittmann needs no introduction, neither in the german wine scene nor on this site. They are well known as one of the leading lights from Rheinhessen, although it's always worth pointing out that they went seriously organic long before that became fashionable. The Westhofener is their mid-range dry Riesling, somewhere in between the single vineyard Große Gewächse and the simpler varietal QbA.
And you couldn't wish for better if, say, a friend had just fried a piece of tuna in a sesame crust for you:
Deep peachy Riesling fruit, razorlike yet ripe acidity, minerality, a great mixture of fruity power and mineral tension.
Another winner from an estate that seems incapable of making mediocre wine.
Yellow colour with a shiny golden sparkle - very promising. The nose even better: cool mineral, herbs, lemon and peach - very pleasant peach indeed, but not overwhelming, and some apple, which adds just the right amount of bitter. The peach continues right onto your tongue, giving the Riesling an elegant juiciness, while the apple and especially mineral dominate the first half of the long finish. A wine with good structure, elegance but also a certain assertiveness, Georg Mosbacher's dry late harvest Riesling convinces from start to finish - even two days after I opened the bottle it stays sharp and clear. What can I say, a really good wine!
It has been a while since I had my last English wine; so far my exploration of local produce has had mixed results, but then I have never systematically looked into English wine. Denbies is an estate that is hard to overlook though, seeing as they are the largest largest single estate vineyard in the UK. Located near Dorking in Surrey, the winery makes a lot of the fact that the North Downs have the same soil-chalk structure as the Champagne. The Surrey Gold, however, that we opened yesterday, is not a sparkling, but rather a "deliciously fragrant off dry wine [that] is rich in fruit and floral aromas with subtle hints of spice and a crisp finish", as the label informs us. It also tells us that the wine is a blend of Müller-Thurgau, Bacchus and Ortega; what it does not mention is the vintage.
People have very different ideas about wine labels, including people in wineries, of course, and that must be a good thing as it creates a certain variety. The artist-designed label of this year's GrüVe is certainly very distinctive, although I cannot say that I like the way in which it overpowers the whole bottle to the point that you see nothing else. But that just is the tradition of the Sonnhof estate's GrüVe label, an entry level Austrian Grüner Veltliner from one of Austria's premier wineries.
Sun-kissed Baden, the southernmost of Germany's wine growing regions, specialises on Pinots: Pinot Noir, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Gris/Grigio (or Spätburgunder, Weißburgunder and Grauburgunder), and for some reason we have so far only reviewed Spät- und Weißburgunder from Baden on the Wine Rambler. So it was high time to open a bottle of Grauburgunder and and do some reviewing - and this time it was not just me, but a group of British wine drinkers who joined the London Wine Rambler for a night of fun yesterday. [read the full post...]
Perhaps unusually for a Mosel winemaker, Clemens Busch is well known for his dry Riesling - he also makes off-dry and sweet wines, but when we visited the winery in 2008 I mostly brought home dry wines. Vom Roten Schiefer - "from red slate" - was one of them.
All starts with a nice golden colour and a nose of a mineral, stone fruit (peach and plum), camomile tea, honey and paraffin wax. All of that made for a substantial, matured impression. On the tongue the Riesling is quite full-bodied and a well rounded, caramel richness. Exotic fruit and ripe plum mix well with noticeable, fresh acidity and a kick of spice. A rich yet elegant wine with a little attitude.
What to write about a wine that's so annoyingly perfect that it has the peachy fruit, has the stones, has the sweetness, has the acid, has those first camomile and petrol hints of age, has the balance and has all the elegance that sweet Riesling can bring.
Not much to say about a wine which will let any of the Wine Rambler's snobbish bonmots and bad puns roll of it anyway.
I'll make this confession, then: Us having enjoyed this with a dear friend who not only makes a fiendishly good mousse au chocolat, but also likes good Spätlesen, amid general contentment, I couldn't help this thought creeping its way into my sluggish brain: This wine is too nice. Yeah, it's boring. There, I've said it.
This one was recommend by Captain Cork, my favourite german language wine blog. At first, I was a little nervous whether it would be able to handle a Pollo arosto con i limoni. After a few sips, however, It was the chicken I started to worry for:
A hefty dose of fresh oak in the nose, but with it creamy yellow fruit, orange peel, and a tangy saltiness.
New oak dominates the mouth as well, very powerful and long, in no way what I have associated with the Sauvignon Blanc grape, but smoke, roasted almonds, and finally a funky, sulphuric brimstone minerality that stays on the palate for minutes. [read the full post...]
After having spent quite some time on the Silvaner grape recently, I felt the need to explore Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) again, especially as a decent food wine was needed. And as I just heard the the Seeger estate has been accepted into the prestigious club of the VdP (the German association of premier wine estates), it seemed a good idea to open Seeger's basic Pinot Blanc with some food. [read the full post...]
Dark straw colour.
A nose of candied lemon and orange peel, with slate minerality and a tiny bit of vegetal roughness.
Candied lemon peel and "slate" are also prominent in the taste, with a hint of bitterness on the finish.
This very enjoyable Riesling from an up-and-coming producer ranges between the the lighter "traditional" mosel off-dry style and the more opulent and creamy "harmonic dry" created by the likes of Reinhard Löwenstein, Van Volxem and Clemens Busch. Not a bad place to be.
A nose of mineral, citrusy acidity and tobacco welcome you when you pour this Riesling from the Palatinate into a glass. Add some herbs and peach and you get a really pleasant nose that is fresh, crisp and light at the same time. The Riesling is quite similar on your tongue too, light and fresh with notable acidity and some slightly bitter vegetable elements that are a nice balance to the juiciness and, yes!, the tobacco. This organic wine seems quite light at first, but can also show some teeth. Enjoyable and fresh, with quite interesting tobacco notes, the Christmann wine is a pleasant companion, but also not quite a revelation - with a little more substance it could have been though. A decent showing for the price.
It is still 2009, the year of the Silvaner grape in Germany - and the Wine Rambler is of course drinking Silvaner. After a full committee meeting last Saturday enjoyed an outstanding Silvaner from Franconia, the London branch of the Wine Rambler jumped right back into Silvaner, this time with a more aged wine - another outstanding example of what a competent winemaker can do with this grape.
Large wineries owned by immensely land-rich historic trusts are a typical feature of the franconian wine scene, especially in Würzburg. As these go back to charitable - or not so charitable - institutions founded in the late middle ages or the 16th century, they have had some time to accumulate land, assets and reputation. By running wineries alongside hospitals (that's where the "spital"-part comes from), nursing homes and real estate operations, they preserve a forgotten model of business, social services and agriculture whose usefulness must have seemd self-evident to citizens in many premodern cities. [read the full post...]
Before turning to this Hungarian Chardonnay, I feel I have to reveal the source behind my new interest in eastern European wines such as this:
Manfred Klimek a.k.a. Captain Cork is, to me, the freshest and most entertaining voice among German language wine journalists. I particularly enjoy his reports on winegrowers and -makers behind what used to be the iron curtain, because they bring out the passion and personality of individualists who have often not yet mastered winemaker marketing-speak. Highly recommended, 'nuff said.
Back to the Chard, then, and a weird little number it is:
Pale gold, with a hint of onion skin brown. Unusual.
Smells of brown sugar and fried banana, with a salty freshness at the same time. Even more unusual. [read the full post...]