Do you eat ice cream on cold winter days? I do, and for some reason I fancy it more often when it is cold than during the few really hot days of summer which London allows me. Maybe for that reason I don't seem to be buying into seasonal wine reviews and I don't find that I crave heavy reds more often in winter than in spring. Therefore it is purely coincidental that I am reviewing this year's first rosé just in time for the official start of spring.
However, if you do enjoy strawberry goodness with sunshine I am sure this English rosé will deliver the goods for you this summer - almost too much, in fact.
I want to believe. Not in UFOs, Armageddon or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but in wine - in all the lost causes, regions and plucky little grape varieties that no one trusted to ever produce anything of worth. I want to believe, to give them a chance, to celebrate their triumph over the expected. One grape variety that needs such a triumph is Müller-Thurgau. Looking at the statistics you would not believe it, after all MT is the second most planted grape variety in Germany.
However, no one loves it as it is seen as the boring main ingredient for German bulk wine, not even worthy to be mentioned on the label. Can we still believe in it?
Remember that one perfect meal? That special memory that has been with you for years? A taste or texture you can still recall? Some treasure these memories so much that they do not want to go back to the restaurant in question as they fear it might not live up to the memory and spoil it. Now, I think it is worth taking that risk, but in the few cases when you are let down I do wonder whether the disappointment might come from expectations that are just too high for anyone to meet.
Today's wine is such a case, but luckily I had help judging it.
Winemaking in Namibia is such a small business, you can actually count the families involved in it on one hand. Wait, did the Wine Rambler just say "Namibia"? Yes, he did. What you see in front of you is a wine from a country you will perhaps just associate with arid Africa, whereas historians and Germans amongst you may be reminded of the German colony "Deutsch-Südwestafrika" (German South West Africa). There is a reason I mention this, as it were German priests who brought vines to Namibia, and the people behind Kristall Kellerei, who, indirectly, brought this wine to me, also seem to have German roots.
The Colombard from Omaruru in Namibia undertook a long journey on its way to my dinner table, and there is a story (and another wine) to be covered another time. The question for today is rather simple: is a wine made from a grape variety often described as boring and coming from an arid, hot African country actually worth drinking?
In our quest for interesting wine, we have ventured as far east of Germany as to Georgia, but we never have explored what the German East has to offer. Now it is time to make good on one of our new year's resolutions and try a wine from Saxony. North of the 51st parallel, Sachsen is Europe's north-easternmost wine growing region, and with about 500 ha of vines it is one of Germany's smallest. A fifth of the Saxonian vineyard area belongs to the zur Lippes, one of the oldest aristocratic families of Germany.
After the wall came down, the current prince zur Lippe, Georg, started buying back his family's property that was lost after the Second World War, and now he runs the largest privately owned winery in the German East. We had tried a few of his wines at tastings in the past, but the dry 2009 Riesling here is the first to undergo the rigorous testing at Wine Rambler HQ.
Liebfraumilch does not need much introduction, seeing as it is probably the wine most foreigners, certainly the British, associate with Germany. What hundred years ago was one of the best white wines in the world has since become cheap supermarket plonk. Hardly a reason to look out for those wines then, I hear you say - and yet I got extremely excited when a little while ago I got my hands on a bottle. Why? Because it was over 25 years old.
At this age, most wines are undrinkable, and even quite a few age-worthy white wines don't look exactly fresh anymore. Surely, the Liebfraumilch must have turned into vinegar. Or did it?
Mystic, Connecticut, may not sound like the place to go for a wine adventure. And yet the Wine Rambler had an adventure moment there when (while browsing the shelves at a wine merchant) I discovered a wine from Connecticut - a wine region we have yet to explore. Naturally, I had to take the Gewürztraminer home with me (in one of those brown bags that the Americans like to sell their booze in).
The 'Gewurz' is part of the Connectictut product line of the Jonathan Edwards Winery (they also make wine in Napa Valley), a company that produces less than 10,000 cases a year: Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc, Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and a few others, including my Gewürz. The winery is located in North Stonnigton, apparently with a distant view over Long Island Sound. It is part of the Connecticut Wine Trail, a group of some 20 state approved wineries you can visit along a scenic route signposted on state highways.
At the beginning of this new year, we resolved that we would try, seriously try, to understand Burgundy. We've just about let you down so far, so let's get into it without any further ado: Let's get into this bottle of Marquis d'Angerville, to be precise. One of the great names of burgundy, a second-rank vineyard (first rank would be "Grand Cru"), a vintage that should now have reached good drinking age. Should be a safe bet.
Tasted blind, with surprising results, here.
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.
Erich Krutzler, a very well known austrian winemaker, is building up this winery in northern Slovenia- we'll have some more on that in a while.
His Silvaner is made in a light, very clean style, smelling and tasting of fresh green apples, a few herbs and hay. With fresh acidity and a background of chalky mineral, this should make a good companion for salads and light vegetable dishes.
As it is by no means cheap, this one has not completely won me over yet. But, as I said earlier, more is to come.
Do you know the German word 'marmeladig'? I have looked into several dictionaries, but no translation could be found. However, you will need to understand it to understand this wine, even though this Shiraz (or Syrah - two names, but same grape) is Australian and not German at all. It also is a wine that the Wine Rambler reviews as part of our venture into UK supermarket wines, even though a £9.99 wine from Waitrose is not quite what you would expect under this label. [read the full post...]
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...]
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.
Very pale colour; a few tiny bubbles. The nose is very closed at first, some mineral, flowery notes; later also aniseed. A seriously dry wine, the Emrich-Schönleber combines strong, sharp dry acidity with vegetable notes, a hint of liquorice and a broadside of bitterness.
This is a serious wine with character and some class. While I appreciate wines with attitude, this one leaves a certain heartburn sensation on my palate that forced me to give up soon. I am sure there is someone out there who, especially with the right food, will appreciate this wine. However, that someone is not me.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself looking at a German Riesling in a supermarket in the outskirts of Alexandria, Virginia. Actually, there were several wines claiming to be 'German' Riesling, but I skipped two that were not bottled in Germany. I also skipped a 'Claret' made by Francis Ford Coppola - yes, THAT Coppola, another celebrity who ventured into wine making -, but as I was drinking 'with' a pregnant woman it seemed best to focus on something light that I could finish by myself, if need be. Still a shame not to have tried the Coppola, but there may be other times.
Smells fresh, with appetizing apple and pear fruit, in no way artificial (a pleasant surprise), but not very deep either.
In the mouth, a lean wine with strong, maybe not completely ripe acidity, nicely subdued and unperfumed fruit again, a little grassy, a hint of minerality, and a shortish finish.
Rather atypical for a Pinot Blanc from Baden, where I have come to expect cantaloupe, almond and buttery flavours, this is nothing to get excited about, but a fairly honest, basic fresh white
nonetheless. It will go well with most summery food, and many people used to northern italian whites (e.g. the wine drinking population of Munich) will find this a well-made version of what they know and like. [read the full post...]
This is our second wine from the supermarket wine category. After the Liebfraumilch, it only could get better. And it did. At first, I was not really impressed. Drinkable, but not too much in the nose or mouth, apart from a little lemon. With a little bit of air, this wine did improve a lot. [read the full post...]
Straw-coloured, on the lighter side.
Ripe apricots and other ripe yellow fruit, rich, some perfumy citrus aromas as well.
Very young and fruit-driven in the mouth, nice acidity, peach and grapefruit notes sprayed onto a creamy body.
This is very much a "made" wine (think cultured yeasts, think low temperature fermentation) and although it has substance, polish and even some spice, it could have been made in South Africa, in Friuli, or some other place where very good winemakers know exactly how their wine should taste in the end. Nothing wrong with that, but it didn't work for me just now. I can't rule out that this might have turned into something with more depth and a sense of place with some bottle ageing. Who knows?
Cherry red, with a purple edge
Smells vaguely of sour cherries and green wood, a little unpleasant funky, sweaty component as well.
Cherries again in the mouth, plums maybe, some sweetness, but also bitterness and a rough edge of tannin. Somehow, the fruit doesn't quite come through.
This has been one of our pasta wines for a few years, and it has done okay, but it doesn't deserve unwavering loyalty: Hard to believe there are no fresher, more focused Italian reds for under 5 €.