TheWineRambler

"A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Posted by Julian 05 Oct 2009

The winery Fürst Hohenlohe-Oehringen has already impressed the distinctly non-aristocratic wine rambler with its marvellous top-of-the line red "Ex flammis orior". And the Lemberger red wine grape of Württemberg, as our regular readers know, is no other than Austria's and Hungary's Blaufränkisch. In the new spirit of german patriotism summoned by german liberal democrat and possible future foreign (!) minister Guido Westerwelle, who refused to answer an english question from a BBC reporter with the witty and adroit words: "Wir sind ja hier in Deutschland", we should probably not even tell you that. So, let's turn to a german wine from a thoroughly german grape: [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 01 Oct 2009

The wine rambler could not agree more to the statement from the excellent german WeinPlus online wine guide "Year after year, Bercher impresses us with their completely unpretentious, yet deep and expressive wines".

This mid-range single vineyard Pinot Blanc justifies the praise with effortless precision wine making: Dense straw colour, a nose of caramel, buttered biscuits and melon juice spilled over hot stones. Dense, polished fruit in the mouth, mineral background, good acidity, and above all, a freshness and drinkeability that is not a matter of course, the Kaiserstuhl almost having turned into a hot-climate wine region in recent years. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 29 Sep 2009

Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach - this Pinot Noir was made by a state owned winery in the German state of Hessen. The Staatsweingüter (state wineries) are among the largest wineries in Germany, growing wine on about 200 ha. The Domaine Assmannshausen, one of three domaines that are part of this estate, focus exclusively on red wine, something quite unique in Germany. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 29 Sep 2009

Grüner Veltliner is Austria's signature white grape variety. It produces lovely, fresh and crisp wines and I am just having one of these from the Kamptal. Located within easy reach of Vienna, the Kamptal has a few well known vineyards and Heiligenstein (holly stone) is one of the prestigious ones. Grüner Veltliner has a reputation of being a good food companion and so far I have not gone wrong with this grape.

The nose of the Heiligenstein Veltliner is a nicely balanced mix of cool mineral, apple and citrus fruit, enhanced by herbs, vegetable and a bit of freshly ground pepper. Not in an in-your-face style, more of a quiet confidence that does not need a fruit explosion to convince. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 27 Sep 2009

Germany has cast its vote in the general election and looking at the result I felt the need to drink some wine. I leave it to you whether you want to see it as a comment that I am not drinking German wine tonight - I am off to Spain. This may be a bit unfair, but so far Spanish red seems to me to be the most exciting Mediterranean red wine (leaving out most of France as not Mediterranean) - send those flame emails and, even better, recommendations for Italian, Greek and southern French wines that will blow my socks off. At the moment, however, I enjoy this Navarre blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 26 Sep 2009

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...]

Posted by Torsten 24 Sep 2009

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...]

Posted by Torsten 19 Sep 2009

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...]

Posted by Torsten 19 Sep 2009

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.

Philglas & SwiggotPhilglas & Swiggot

So what's so special about this shop?

Posted by Julian 18 Sep 2009

California winemaker Heidi Barrett has a clever little routine to train the palate, and also to get a feeling for the overall quality of a wine

I do it on a count of six. I divide it into initial palate, mid palate, and finish. Each of these categories gets a count of two: Initial palate would be one and two [...], mid palate three and four [...] and the finish would be five and six. [...] When I taste wine, I want 1-2-3-4-5-6, this silky impression from start to finish, it running on all cylinders, no holes in the program, a complete wine with everything filled out. Cabernet Franc, for instance, can be just one and two, where the flavours drop off after the first nice burst of fruit, it falls of a cliff. Merlot is often just three and four. A lot of Cabernet [Sauvignon] is 3-4-5-6.

Neat, hah? See Heidi Barrett explain it to Gary Vaynerchuk, at 12:20 in the video: [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 18 Sep 2009

Three bottles. I managed to get my greedy hands on three bottles of this wine last year - regular readers of the Wine Rambler will know that I am a big fan of the lovely wines Theo Haart creates at the Haart family estate overlooking the Mosel river. Most of the wines are sweet, but every year there are a few bottles of dry wines. 'Großes Gewächs' is German for 'great growth' and indicates that you are drinking a dry wine from a top vineyard as certified by the German Association of Premier Winemakers (VdP). Basically, think of it as a dry Spätlese (late harvest) or Auslese. So three bottles. One went down the drain last weekend because it was corked - it tasted of burnt smoke and vinegar. This means I am now down to two. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 12 Sep 2009

The experiment of drinking British supermarket wine has been a disappointment, especially in the cheaper range the Wine Rambler has ventured into so far. Now I am back to drinking supermarket wine, but this time it is a little pricier, crossing the £6 barrier. Dr. Loosen is one of Germany's leading winemakers and very successful at selling in Britain too - Sainsburys stock the more expensive Kabinett and this entry level wine. And what can I say? This is the best wine I bought from a British supermarket below £8 so far. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 12 Sep 2009

This one is for the ladies. Actually, it is not so much for the ladies in general as for my friend Conny who always complains that the Wine Rambler ignores wine from the German region of Franconia, or Franken as we call it. Franken is a Protestant enclave in the north of otherwise Catholic Bavaria. People have a funny accent ('k' comes out like a 'g') and supposedly like robust food and dry wines with the necessary substance to go with it. Did I mention that Conny is from Franconia? [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 11 Sep 2009

2009 is the year of the Silvaner grape variety in Germany - the country celebrates 350 years of growing Silvaner. Never heard of Silvaner? Quite likely, especially if you are not German. However, chances are that you have tasted it at some point as Silvaner is often mixed with other grape varieties, for instance in the infamous Liebfraumilch blends, because of its more neutral flavour. Does that mean it is a boring grape? Not necessarily - a good winemaker can use Silvaner to really let the characteristics of a particular vineyard shine, the famous French concept of terroir. To honour the Silvaner, the Wine Rambler will dedicate itself to opening the odd bottle of Silvaner this year to see what this grape has to offer.

Silvaner in typical Franconian 'Bocksbeutel' botleSilvaner in typical Franconian 'Bocksbeutel' botle

Posted by Torsten 05 Sep 2009

Here we are back with our latest venture into supermarket wines. Friends of the Wine Rambler will know that every so often I visit British supermarkets and explore what they have to offer in the cheap price range. So far the likes of Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch have been very disappointing - but here comes an Australian Riesling, from ASDA, that is actually quite drinkable. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 01 Sep 2009

German organic supermarket chain Alnatura has a small, but convincing wine selection, much of which comes in half bottles as well. A good marketing move, since, apart from being good for single drinkers or weekdays, this always makes me less hesitant about trying a wine I know nothing about.

Deep cherry red, with a brick-red edge.
Nice smell of tannic cherries, raw beef, some red and black currants.
In the mouth, thick-skinned cherries again, red currants, medium bodied, a little leathery, a spicy, but also mouth-drying after-taste with a real pinch of tannic roughness. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2009

American scientists have proven that you can tell a person by their choice of wine: lovers of sweet wine are more impulsive whereas lovers of dry are more open. Actually, it was a group of Australian and UK researchers - and they base their research on a sample of 45 healthy men and women from Sheffield in the UK. Here is the abstract of the article Sweet taste preference and personality traits using a white wine:

Understanding the influences of food and drink consumption patterns could help elucidate the factors that promote healthy dietary practices. Research has begun to investigate the influence of personality traits on dietary decisions. The current experiment measured personality traits and sweet taste preference using white wine in a healthy sample of adults (n = 45). Sweet taste preference was associated with a higher level of impulsiveness but lower openness. These traits have previously been suspected to influence dietary choices and are briefly discussed within this context.

As much as I would like to I cannot tell you much more about the study as the download costs US $ 31.50. If you fancy spending the money please do let me know if there is anything else of interest in the article. Until then I will be happy to oscillate between openness and impulsiveness - and hope for more academic research being made available free of charge. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2009

Every so often I leave German Pinot Noir behind and venture into the New World. This time it is Californian Pinot - and a very pleasant one. It is made by the guys from the Calera Wine Company, a Californian winery founded by Josh Jensen in the 1970s. K&U, where I bought this wine, are giving Josh a lot of praise for his 'slow', handmade and sustainable style of winemaking (actually, they do praise almost all their winemakers in that way). The grapes for this Pinot were indeed harvested by hand and fermented with native yeast. So let's have a look! [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 31 Aug 2009

After having tasted some of the best Germany has to offer this month, the Wine Rambler now jumps right back into the range of the cheapest German supermarket wine available in the UK. Today it is the dreaded Liebfraumilch wine again, this time 'selected by ASDA', the UK arm of retail giant Walmart. As all good and ethical shoppers know, ASDA is evil. However, we do still seem to go there because the temptation of the Cheap is strong. In a way, this wine is very similar: like evil, once you have tasted some, you find it hard to stop. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 28 Aug 2009

Württemberg, Swabia, home of the gleaming Mercedes Benz, the Bausparvertrag, the Kehrwoche and the Häuslebauer (untranslatable terms, because they describe specific anthropological phenomena). And wine country. Many a railroad passenger passing by the beautiful and spectacularly steep vineyards around Stuttgart may have wondered why these wines are consumed avidly by Württembergers themselves, but, too often uninspired and uninspiring, given the cold shoulder by the rest of the wine world. [read the full post...]