half-dry

These wines are half-dry, or 'halbtrocken' in German terminology, - either according to our palate or the classification of the winery.

Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst, Riesling Kabinett, 2009

Seeing how good their reputation is, it was high time for us to review a wine made at the Willi Schaefer winery. The Schaefer estate is run by Willi and Christoph Schaefer, father and son, who on a few hectares of steep Mosel land exclusively grow Riesling. They feature a label design that just screams traditional Germanic Mosel style, bordering on cute cliché. I like it, of course. The family also seem to be traditional in other ways as they still don't have a website. Or they hide it. There is nothing that needs hiding about this wine though. Not only highly enjoyable on its own it also paired very well with Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow on a cold autumn night.

It was a cold and windy night. Suffering from a somewhat congested nose, I still desired a glass of wine to keep me company while I watched Christopher Walken decapitate fat blokes in the woods. Just a little light-hearted fun, what could be better than a Mosel Kabinett?

Van Volxem, Wiltinger Kupp, Riesling, 2003

See short tasting note here.

Julian Wednesday, 03/11/2010

Black Tower, Pinot Grigio, 2008

Over the years, we have tasted a wide sample of German wines (though still so much more to explore!). However, my German wine experience is very different from that of most people here in the UK or across the globe. While we mostly drink wine from smaller, family owned vineyards, the UK especially downs the likes of Liebfraumilch by the gallon. So it was high time to get in touch with my inner mainstream drinker and get one of those iconic Black Tower bottles you can see in most British supermarkets.

Black Tower claims to be Germany's most widely exported wine brand, in fact, it may very well be Germany's best selling wine globally - it certainly is in the UK. Reh-Kendermann, who own Black Tower, spent a lot on the brand, particularly researching the design.

Markus Molitor, Alte Reben, Riesling, 2005

Mosel Riesling, the embodiment of German wine - at least in foreign perception. Readers of the Wine Rambler will not have to be told that there is so much more to German wine than Mosel Riesling. Still, every so often reminding everyone of the fantastic wines that come out of this area cannot hurt. One of our favourite producers at the Mosel is Markus Molitor (who also makes fantastic Pinot Noir). And one of the best Molitor wines I have had is, no, it is not one of the prestigious Auslese or Trockenbeerenauslese wines, it is a 'Qualitätswein'. These quality wines are somewhere in the middle of the German classification system - but don't let these bureaucratic details fool you. You are looking at pure awesome, and at amazing value too.

Haart to Heart, Riesling, 2008

The 'Haart' in the Riesling with the funny name 'Haart to Heart' is not a spelling mistake. In fact, it comes from the Haart winery, who make some of our favourite sweet Mosel Riesling. It also seems they like a good pun, at least if it comes to labelling their basic Riesling. The 'Heart to Haart' is the only Haart wine that comes with a screw cap and without the 'eagle logo' of the VdP, the elite club of German wine makers, that is proudly displayed on all other Haart bottles. This is because in some years at least part of the grapes for the Haart to Heart are sourced from other growers, but this does not appear to have been the case for a while now. So, as far as the Haart winery is concerned it does not get more basic than this. How basic is basic?

Juliusspital, Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg, Silvaner Spätlese, 1985

Well before reaching twenty-five years of age most wines turn to vinegar. Not many wines are really worth keeping for more than a couple of years. Some last five to ten years, but only a tiny minority will make it beyond. With the exception of a few first class wines, sweet Riesling among them, not many wines are drinkable, far less enjoyable at the age of twenty-five. And yet here we are looking at a Silvaner, an often underestimated variety, of this age - does it still deliver?

Right from the start, the Franconian Silvaner impressed us with an intense, very clear golden colour that still had hints of green (which is often said to be a sign of a younger wine). It certainly looked beautiful and also as if it could comfortably age a few years more.

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Grafenberg, Riesling Kabinett, 2008

When you put your nose into a glass of wine and it smells a little bit like a car dealership, but in a good way, you can be fairly certain that you have a Riesling in front of you. This Haart Riesling from the Mosel is not one of the petrol noses, so please don't think of a garage wit lots of oil and grease, but its bouquet has a little of the more refined version of that smell, just think of a BMW car dealership salesroom. Or rather walking through one while eating a peach.

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2008

On a glorious, sunny day (or, in this case, quite a few hours after the sun went down after such a day), not much beats a glorious, sunny Riesling, in particular if it is so very quaffable and yet elegant as this one. Yes, I am again drinking one of the fruity Rieslings made by Theo Haart, this time a lighter wine in 'Kabinett' style.

Martin Müllen, Kröver Letterlay, Riesling Spätlese, 1994

A nicely aged Riesling can be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, for those not blessed with a proper cellar storing wine for a decade or two is a risky venture. This makes buying aged wine directly from the winery very interesting, especially when the wine comes at a reasonable price. Of course, there is also the risk that they are trying to dump rubbish they couldn't sell on you, but for €12.90 and coming from a good winery I thought I could take my chances with this half-dry late harvest Riesling from the Moselle:

Bürgerspital Würzburg, Würzburger Pfaffenberg, Bacchus Kabinett, 2009

After having tried a few English Bacchus-based wines I was curious to see what I would make of a German representative of this variety (Bacchus was, after all, created in Germany). However, it is not that easy as Bacchus is not very popular in Germany. It is mostly blended into cheaper wines and not really a variety wine connoisseurs think of a lot, which is probably why none of my online wine merchants sell it. So I was pleased when, while visiting Munich and food shopping for a Wine Rambler committee meeting, I came across a Bacchus in a similar price range to the English ones I had tried. Little did I know what disappointment would lie ahead.