Hansjörg Rebholz, Chardonnay "R", 2009
We all have our missions in life. Big missions, casual missions, impossible missions and the odd small mission. One of my small missions is to convince co-Rambler Julian of the qualities of Chardonnay. Not that he dislikes it, he just does not feel the right excitement. Thankfully, today this mission nicely blends (in a pure, single varietal way of course) with the Wine Rambler mission of convincing you, gentle reader, that German wine is well worth exploring - and that includes German Chardonnay.
Whether this is an impossible mission only you will know, but like Jim Phelps I am not one to turn down a mission when it comes to find me.
My lovely assistant in today's episode comes from the Pfalz, one of Germany's most exciting wine regions. Or rather, make that one of the most exciting wine regions in general. I love the Pfalz for its diversity, bringing together the usual German suspects with interesting, almost forgotten grapes such as Gelber Orleans and a range of international varieties done in German style. Just look at the range of Rebholz wines that have delighted us Ramblers on many a long night: bone-dry Sauvignon Blanc; stunning Pinot Blanc; great Silvaner, Riesling and Muscat; charming Pinot Noir and even outstanding sparkling wine. Since the first Rebholz - Oekonomierat (economic councillor) Eduard Rebholz - the estate has been dedicated to the idea of "natural wine"; not in the recently popular sense but rather determined by a style that shuns practices such as adding of sugar to increase alcohol and focusses on dry wines, organic viticulture and reduced yields. So far the results have convinced us, as did today's Chardonnay.
The colour is lovely lemony hay, supported by a bouquet that nicely balances freshness with oaky flavoursomeness. Lemony citrus notes, faint yeast aromas, herbs, ripe yellow stone fruit and spicy pear blend in nicely with soft vanilla and smoky, oaky spice. On the palate the wine delivers the same balance between freshness and depth. The oak is well integrated so that the Chardonnay is mostly driven by its freshness - in fact it feels so fresh and young I wonder whether I have opened it a year or two too early. I like the apricot and lemon flavours (the latter reminds me of my intense lemon shower gel) and while you inevitably feel the 14% alcohol the wine does not feel overly heavy. The nice finish blends mineral with a subtle bitterness and some spice from the oak.
This is an accomplished cool climate Chardonnay with just the right amount of oak that should compliment food very well. I had it with with mackerel fish cakes but I am leaning more towards a herb roasted bird with a light, fresh sauce for this one.