When you see one of the Knipser brothers behind a table at a tasting, good-naturedly chatting with his customers while stoically pouring glasses for the thickening throng, there is nothing to suggest he might be anything more than another ruddy-cheeked wine grower from the Pfalz. And yet, the Knipser estate is arguably germany's most accomplished winery, in that they overachieve so consistently in every category and style - white and red, heavy and light, sweet and dry.
This one is light and dry, and, surprise surprise, perfectly made: Wonderful fresh acidity, clean, fragrant, slightly exotic Riesling fruit (think grapefruit and passion fruit), lean structure, light on the alcohol. Not deeply mineral or complex, but so flawlessly made it's a joy to drink.
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...]
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.
About once per season the London branch of the Wine Rambler assembles a coalition of willing wine drinkers in London. The mission: to drink some god-damn wine. Mostly German wine. This time, however, we had new rules - every wine was tasted blind, its identity only to be revealed after the judges had come to a verdict. Also new was the excessiveness: between the eight of us (two arrived late, one left early) we opened nine bottles, although not every wine was finished. So let's jump right in, shall we?
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!
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.
Wine tastings are like battlefields, it is everyone for themselves - or so I have heard people say. Actually, at least the recent VdP tasting in Munich was more like playing a part in the submarine movie Das Boot. Periscope out, zoom in on the next lovely wine and then you give the order: 'Both planes zero. Stand by battle stations.' 'Bottle one through four are ready.', the reply is almost instantaneous. However, before you can strike your helpless target, sonar picks up that sound again: Swoosh slurp swoosh schrub slurp. A split second of panic, then you go: 'Close bow caps! Dive!' Luckily, the enemy passes above you and disappears again. 'Is it getting louder?' 'It seems constant. Ahead of us.' The awaits your next move. As the Old Man said in Das Boot: 'Now it gets psychological, friends.'
That it was, but also great fun with some amazing wines, this year's VdP wine tasting in Munich. VdP stands for 'Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter', or Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates, a group of highly decorated German estates, 'the world’s oldest association of top-quality wine estates'. Every year in November some VdP members hold a wine tasting in Munich. And the Wine Rambler attends, hungry for prey.
Autumn, wine tasting time – at least for the Wine Rambler. After my visit to the recent London Wine Show, both the London and Munich branches of the Rambler joined forces for the Weinherbst München (wine autumn Munich). A fairly large two day tasting, Weinherbst took place in the old town hall, right in the city centre of Munich. One day of sampling wines from some 70 producers cost 9 € (12 € on the door) - good value if you consider the amount of wine on offer.
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.
The very discreet notes of tobacco in the nose of this wine went almost unnoticed when I opened the bottle yesterday to go with a raspberry desert - but that was simply because of the quite intense raspberry smell dominating the table. Despite the fruity dessert we could easily pick up apple, peach and herbs, embedded in a fresh, mineral creaminess. A very pleasant nose coming from this 'feinherb' (=off-dry with perhaps a bit more acidity) Mosel Riesling - and a very good reflection of the sensation awaiting your taste buds. The apple is perhaps a bit more dominant on the tongue than the nose; the Riesling manages to be both smooth and a little rough (in terms of acidity think more vegetable/apple than citrus fruit) with firm minerality, good structure and a nice finish.
Sometimes something is in the air. A few days ago I realised that we actually never reviewed a wine made by Reinhard Löwenstein. And as it so happened a bottle of his Riesling found itself uncorked last weekend - and not only here in London, but also in Munich where fellow Wine Rambler Julian enjoyed a 2004 Heymann-Löwenstein (we did not coordinate this). Read his excellent review of a gorgeous wine, especially as it will tell you why you should keep an eye on this extraordinary winery. As Julian has already set the context, I can keep this review of the more basic 2008 Schieferterrassen Riesling rather short. [read the full post...]
It's high time one of the legends of german wine made his first appearance here: Mosel winemaker Reinhard Löwenstein started using "slow" winemaking techniques like natural fermentation and prolonged skin contact when they were unheard of. He talked about terroir in the dark 1980s, when few within the German must-weight bureaucracy had heard of such a thing. A communist activist in his earlier days, and a natural-born rebel by temperament, Löwenstein has been mistrusted and reviled all along the conservative Mosel, but ridicule quickly turned into envy as his Rieslings won critical acclaim and commanded high prices from raptured customers. [read the full post...]
Welcome to a new category of Wine Rambling: Wine News. Wine News is not really news in the sense that it brings you all the most important events and news from the day, it is much rather a quite random summary of bits of news, blog posts and other randomia I come across. The useful, the interesting, the weird. So let's jump right into it...
Canada seems to have a minority complex with regards to wine. Or why else would you think that the country would have to turn to a men's web portal to demonstrate it does good wine? Canada.com featured an AskMen.com article on the top 7 emerging wine regions, Canada being no. 5. This means that Canadians take pride in having beaten the English (#7) and Brazilians (#6), but being beaten by the Greeks, Romanians, Ukrainians and Swiss (#1)! For a German with Alemannic roots such as me being beaten by the Swiss is like the worst possible nightmare. Why the Canadians would be proud of this, I don't know. It is true, however, that Canadian ice wine does get more interest these days. [read the full post...]
Is there any link between wine snobbing and street credibility? The Wine Rambler of course knows a little something about the former; my street credentials though are limited to having taken part in two street fights in Swabian suburbia in the 80s (don't ask) and walking past a burnt-out car in Hackney at 2am. But all of this is about to change! Because from now on, drinking Riesling will be about as cool as hanging out with "da niggas" and torching a few cars. Seriously!
A little while ago I noticed that 'Riesling' became more popular on Twitter; more importantly perhaps, lots of cool (and black, if you can trust their avatars) kids mentioned it: 'Beasting off the Riesling' seemed to pop up every other minute in my TweetDeck. What had happened?
I bought this wine when I last visited Philglas & Swiggot, one of my favourite London wine merchants. Apparently, Paulinshof is one of their long-term favourites, so I was curious to try one. Paulinshof is an old winery from the Mosel region, exclusively focussed on Riesling. So let's see what they have to offer! [read the full post...]
Would you drink wine from a winemaker who is member of a group called 'Mosel Disciples', or Mosel Jünger in German, who market their wines as 'Mosel mal jünger' (Mosel a little younger for a change), or with the label 'Riesling Reloaded'? Well, I am doing it right now. I did not, however, buy the wine because of the marketing - I bought it earlier this morning because Philglas & Swiggot, one of my favourite wine merchants in London, recommended it. Only later did I find out that there really is group of Mosel winemakers called the Mosel Jünger. And the Regnery winery is part of that group. They promise a focus on quality in order to give the Mosel area a new and better image. [read the full post...]
Sometimes you find one of these local shops that feel a bit like home. For me, Philglas & Swiggot in Battersea is one of them. Located on Northcote Road, Battersea's food and wine shopping street (especially if you count the St John's Road extension), this gem of a shop has been supplying the locals with wine for almost two decades. Now there are two other branches, one in Marylebone, the other in Richmond. The efforts of the team to provide good wine and good advice have been recognised, for instance through the award of London Wine Merchant of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
So what's so special about this shop?