If you have read the Wine Rambler recently, you will have been introduced to the Knipser family as specialists for red wine - from Syrah to the Cuvée X, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon / Franc and Merlot, the Knipser winery in Rhineland-Palatinate does it all. Among the many other grape varieties grown is Riesling, and today I have the distinct pleasure to write about a late harvest Riesling that is not only a great example of a dry, focussed white wine, but is also, I like to think, seriously good value.
One day it will become summer again. And when that happens you will want to drink a wine like this one here - or at least you should. The aptly named 'Sommer Cuvée' ('Sommer' being German for 'summer') is one of the basic wines of the Salwey winery. They make it from 95% Silvaner and 5% Riesling, two grapes the Wine Rambler loves. Together, they produce a light and fresh wine that is just a pleasure to drink.
When german Riesling is praised for its "finest perfume of fruit supported by a lightweight frame", it would seem that its ever-delicate balance must be so fragile that it would never survive contact with heavy, savoury food. Not so. To realise what Riesling can do with Sauerkraut, black pudding and liver sausage, you need to have tasted this classic german pairing* (do not, I repeat do not, take the Wine Rambler's word for anything).
For this, you need a Riesling that is dry rather than fruity, steely rather than floral, firm rather than ethereal. You need, in short, a dry Kabinett from the Pfalz. You also need good Sauerkraut and freshly made (raw, that is) sausages, of course. In what may simply be a local tradition or may have deeper and more sinister reasons of carnivore logistics, Munich butchers offer these every Friday.
You may find a wonderful surprise delivered to your doorstep! I can already say I am going to enjoy this. A lot!
If you have ever come across the German village of Laumersheim, chances are it was because of a wine. Laumersheim is home to the Kinpser winery, a family owned estate that makes some of the best red wines you can get in Germany (and marvellous white wines too). And it is home to the Kuhn winery that is getting more and more attention, especially after Philipp Kuhn in 1992 - at the tender age of 20 - got involved in the family owned estate. You may be surprised to hear that the winery is not only producing some red wine, in fact about 50% of the wines made there are red. The delivery that brought this Riesling to London also included a Merlot! The story of red wine made by the Kuhns in the Palatinate will have to be told another night as tonight we are drinking the entry level Riesling from the Kuhn winery (entry level, by the way, does not mean mass-produced: harvests are limited to below 75 hl per hectare).
Even if you do not know very much about pairing wine and food you might have heard that wine merchants often recommend Riesling with Asian or other spicy food. Or you might have come across a few wine labels that had similar suggestions. While certain wine labels do praise a wine as compatible with pretty much any food ('This wine goes well with salads, chicken, fish and various meats.'), there is indeed a connection between some spicy food and Riesling, especially sweeter Riesling. I will not exhaust this topic tonight, but I will give an example (with recipe) to illustrate how and why sweet (Riesling) and spicy (food) can go together, based on what may be the most important rule of food and wine pairing: match a wine with the sauce (not with the meat). So here it comes, a semi-sweet Riesling from the Mosel and pasta with a chilli-carrot sauce.
Despite its pale lemon colour, this Riesling shines like gold (just in a light, quite pale lemon coloured way). It comes from the Mosel, from a vineyard near the village of Trittenheim, which is called 'Apotheke' - 'Pharmacy' in English (relating to the old-fashioned word Apothecary, of course). While I do normally not go so far as to recommend a wine as medicine, with this one I almost might - it is just such a refreshing joy to drink it.
The nose with its mineral and herbs makes me think of, well, the steep vineyards of the Mosel; add to that refreshing green apples, peach and half-fermented fruit and then finely dust the aromas with icing sugar. A bouquet that says: 'drink me, drink me now!'
Oregon is bad. Stop it if you can. Here it comes. Here it comes. Now it's after you. Flee to some place new. Run away. Run away. - For the Wine Rambler it was too late. Oregon got me. And if you want to find out how it all happened and what this has to do do with one half of a team of almost-giants, well, then it got you too. Don't be afraid, though, it will all be revealed. And make sense. Sort of. Either way, there will be wine!
2009. London is hit by snow twice. Usain Bolt breaks the record in breaking world records. A German chancellor is re-elected and a German goalkeeper decides to go. The Royal Bank of Scotland announces a loss of £24.1 billion. Swine flu strikes; or so. British MPs spend money on moats and birdhouses. And the Wine Rambler drinks some wine. Quite a bit, actually, especially considering that we only launched the website in June 2009 (after having rambled between Munich and London via email for more than two years). And while others may still look back at what happened in sport, politics or the economy, we remember five wines that really impressed us last year. Here they come, the Wine Ramblers' top 5 wines of 2009: [read the full post...]
It was New Year's Eve and the Wine Rambler committee had assembled in Munich to drink some god-damn wine. And what could be better to conclude an evening of feasting and drinking with friends than one of the elegant, sweet Mosel Rieslings that Theo Haart turns out year after year? To celebrate the end of 2009 it had to be something special, an 'Auslese' ('selection', one of the highest ratings in the often confusing and not always meaningful German wine classification system). Made by a good winery and stored well these wines can last for decades, so a 2006 Auslese can almost be seen as a young wine when drunk at the end of 2009. Or as darn tasty, at any time. [read the full post...]
It is time again to write up some wine relate news: the juicy, the interesting, the random and all other sorts of miscellaneous wine information the Wine Rambler happened to stumble upon over the past few weeks.
Let's start with one of your favourite topics, women and wine. Apparently, girls are somewhat intimidated by buying wine and they need a little help to overcome that fear: if the wine label is pink, features stilettos or if the wine is called 'Girls' Night Out' or 'Bitch', girls are apparently more likely to buy it. This is according to the Canadian National Post that recently ran an article entitled ">Wine, women and wrong?, asking the question: 'Do tarted-up labels do a disservice to female drinkers?' I do wonder why they do not consider that men too might want to make a wine their personal bitch? [read the full post...]
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.