Heymann-Löwenstein, Fantasie der Schieferterrassen, Rieslingsekt
Marxists and luxurious sparkling wine surely don't mix well? Well, they do. As Champagne consumers the leaders of Eastern block and other communists states did and do quite well, thank you, although one could question whether they are true Marxists. Marxists winemakers are a rarer breed, but I can think of at least one who not only makes stunning still wines but also very charming sparklers. His name is Reinhard Löwenstein and amongst other things he is famous for his Riesling from terraced Mosel vineyards.
Riesling can also be used to make sparkling wine, of course, and today we take a look at Löwenstein's non-vintage "Fantasie der Schieferterrassen" - Fantasy of Slate Terraces.
First of all let me say that I don't know whether Reinhard Löwenstein would describe himself as Marxist these days. He seems to have had a wilder youth, but then I can also see his brilliant book "Terroir" in my bookcase, and that has chapters like "The industrialisation is the civilising mission of the capital". There are not many winemakers who can write, and there are also not many writers who can blend economic with historical analysis and a deep understanding of wine, so I for one applaud serious thinking brought to wine in an entertaining way, no matter what label one might stick on the author.
The author certainly does stick labels on his wine, and on my bottle of Fantasie the labels inform us that the wine was "hand shaken" and disgorged in December 2011 - so we are looking at a sparkling wine made in the traditional method used in the Champagne. We are also looking at a wine of lovely golden colour - in fact the whole thing feels like refreshing Riesling gold. At the core you can really feel the Riesling and also imagine that the grapes could have been made into a lovely still wine too. The nose features apple, lots of citrus and sweet peach - freshness but also some depth. The Sekt also feels very fresh on the tongue, with bubbles galore and well integrated acidity that plays nicely with the residual sugar (about 12g/l). Fantasie has lots of fruit, good substance and some depth, lovely minerality too - there is a touch of mature Riesling in it and despite the freshness also moments of a round, softer mouthfeel. Overall this gives the impression of a good, complex Riesling coming even more alive in a freshness explosion.
With all the talk about Marxism I will now have sent about half of our American readers running, but I can assure you that no matter what you think of the theory of critical socialism you will like this wine - and as it is sold on a capitalist market there is no politically corrupting danger buying it, only pleasure.