Schmitt's Kinder, Randersacker Sonnenstuhl, Silvaner Kabinett trocken, 2010
"Oh my god, this looks so cheap." This is a common reaction I get when showing a "Bocksbeutel" bottle to British wine drinkers. What to me is the traditional bottle shape in the Franconian wine region of Germany reminds the UK of Mateus rosé, a mass produced, Portuguese wine brand invented in the 1940s. However, the Franconian bottles are much older than Mateus, in fact the bottle shape goes back to antiquity, and there is nothing unrespectable to it.
The same is true for the winery, although - like the bottle shape - it needs explaining. And don't worry, I won't forget about the wine either!
Schmitt's Kinder, Schmitt's Children in English, may be an unusual name for an estate, but it is less confusing if you consider the good old Southern German habit of "Realteilung". When the parents die, the property is split equally amongst the children; in agriculture for instance this has resulted in lots of tiny farms. Going against this custom the heirs of a winemaker - I think it is safe to say his name was Schmitt - in the early 20th century decided not to split his vineyards and instead to work them together.
As a result of that cooperative spirit and a couple of thousand years of wine bottle shape history I can now pour Silvaner from a Bocksbeutel bottle.
The smell is cool and crisp, with typical apple, a hint of tobacco and much hay, floral and herbal aromas, plus a touch of menthol/basil sharpness. On the tongue the wine feels as sharp, fresh and crisp as it smells - in fact there was even a little fizziness to it. It shows a little edge, has a green vegetable taste layer, much earthiness and a certain bitterness in the finish (where the tobacco/herb flavour resurfaces); at moments it reminded me of a Grüner Veltliner.
Schmitt's Silvaner very much felt like a wine that wants food to go with it to round the edge a little. I had this with spicy apple risotto but then realised it would have been much better with (shell)fish or perhaps asparagus. With a good food companion there is nothing cheap to it at all.