half-dry

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

Ansgar Clüsserath, Trittenheimer Apotheke, Riesling Kabinett, 2008

Despite its pale lemon colour, this Riesling shines like gold (just in a light, quite pale lemon coloured way). It comes from the Mosel, from a vineyard near the village of Trittenheim, which is called 'Apotheke' - 'Pharmacy' in English (relating to the old-fashioned word Apothecary, of course). While I do normally not go so far as to recommend a wine as medicine, with this one I almost might - it is just such a refreshing joy to drink it.

The nose with its mineral and herbs makes me think of, well, the steep vineyards of the Mosel; add to that refreshing green apples, peach and half-fermented fruit and then finely dust the aromas with icing sugar. A bouquet that says: 'drink me, drink me now!'

Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon Riesling, Vintage Selection, 2006

Oregon is bad. Stop it if you can. Here it comes. Here it comes. Now it's after you. Flee to some place new. Run away. Run away. - For the Wine Rambler it was too late. Oregon got me. And if you want to find out how it all happened and what this has to do do with one half of a team of almost-giants, well, then it got you too. Don't be afraid, though, it will all be revealed. And make sense. Sort of. Either way, there will be wine!

Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey Gold

It has been a while since I had my last English wine; so far my exploration of local produce has had mixed results, but then I have never systematically looked into English wine. Denbies is an estate that is hard to overlook though, seeing as they are the largest largest single estate vineyard in the UK. Located near Dorking in Surrey, the winery makes a lot of the fact that the North Downs have the same soil-chalk structure as the Champagne. The Surrey Gold, however, that we opened yesterday, is not a sparkling, but rather a "deliciously fragrant off dry wine [that] is rich in fruit and floral aromas with subtle hints of spice and a crisp finish", as the label informs us. It also tells us that the wine is a blend of Müller-Thurgau, Bacchus and Ortega; what it does not mention is the vintage.

Ludwig Thanisch & Sohn, Lieserer Niederberg Helden, Riesling Spätlese Feinherb, 2007

Dark straw colour.
A nose of candied lemon and orange peel, with slate minerality and a tiny bit of vegetal roughness.
Candied lemon peel and "slate" are also prominent in the taste, with a hint of bitterness on the finish.

This very enjoyable Riesling from an up-and-coming producer ranges between the the lighter "traditional" mosel off-dry style and the more opulent and creamy "harmonic dry" created by the likes of Reinhard Löwenstein, Van Volxem and Clemens Busch. Not a bad place to be.

Weingut Dr. Heyden, Silvaner trocken, Alte Reben, 2007

The wine rambler continues its Silvaner coverage, today with a specimen from Slovenia - that's right, the Wine Rambler has been looking east lately, more on that soon - and this one here from good old Rheinhessen:

Fairly dark straw colour, not quite golden.
Nose of dried apple slices, but also ripe grapes, a little floral too, making me think, unexpectedly, of Gewürztraminer.
In the mouth it's candied apple again, mature fruit, quite some weight and length, noticeable sweetness, although 5 grams per litre of residual sugar make it legally dry. Very mild acidity.

Julian Sunday, 18/10/2009

Markus Molitor, Wehlener Klosterberg, Spätlese, Riesling Feinherb, 2005

The very discreet notes of tobacco in the nose of this wine went almost unnoticed when I opened the bottle yesterday to go with a raspberry desert - but that was simply because of the quite intense raspberry smell dominating the table. Despite the fruity dessert we could easily pick up apple, peach and herbs, embedded in a fresh, mineral creaminess. A very pleasant nose coming from this 'feinherb' (=off-dry with perhaps a bit more acidity) Mosel Riesling - and a very good reflection of the sensation awaiting your taste buds. The apple is perhaps a bit more dominant on the tongue than the nose; the Riesling manages to be both smooth and a little rough (in terms of acidity think more vegetable/apple than citrus fruit) with firm minerality, good structure and a nice finish.

Heymann-Löwenstein, Winninger Röttgen, Riesling Erste Lage 2004

It's high time one of the legends of german wine made his first appearance here: Mosel winemaker Reinhard Löwenstein started using "slow" winemaking techniques like natural fermentation and prolonged skin contact when they were unheard of. He talked about terroir in the dark 1980s, when few within the German must-weight bureaucracy had heard of such a thing. A communist activist in his earlier days, and a natural-born rebel by temperament, Löwenstein has been mistrusted and reviled all along the conservative Mosel, but ridicule quickly turned into envy as his Rieslings won critical acclaim and commanded high prices from raptured customers.

Loosen Brothers, Riesling Dr. L., 2008

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.

ASDA Liebfraumilch Pfalz Qualitätswein

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.

WeightWatchers Fruity White 2008

Fear not, I am not on a diet. I just happened to find this tiny (25cl) bottle of WeightWatchers fruity white wine, made by a German producer from grapes from the Mosel and the Rhine. So what has Britain's cheapest supermarket in store for those of you who are on a diet (and are ready to spend £1.44)?

Decent colour, light gold, very clear, light. So far so good. The nose is a little sharp, apple with a tiny tiny hint of pear; think light apple vinegar or at least really sharp green apple. On the palate lemon/apple acidity, pear and something almost buttery nutty in the finish. While this sounds good in theory, none of the flavours is very distinct. The combination is bland and not very well balanced. The wine lacks depth and I found the nose and bitterness a little off-putting.