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Weingut Dolde, Silvaner Alte Reben, 2010

Frickenhausen-Linsenhofen - say that five times real fast? I would particularly encourage you to try this after you have had a few glasses of wine, for instance the old vines Silvaner pictured below. While you might have to disentangle your tongue afterwards I can at least assure you that it is otherwise perfectly save to say even in polite German company - unless perhaps the Germans are from a neighbouring village that has a long-standing feud with the Frickenhausen-Linsenhofeners.

Now, despite being born in the area my knowledge of local feuds and other details is scant, but I do know that Frickenhausen-Linsenhofen is home to one of Germany's highest vineyards. And it is here where Helmut Dolde makes a Silvaner from 50 year old vines ("Alte Reben").

As far as some new world vineyards or even the famous Visperterminen vineyards (1150m) in Switzerland go the 530m of Frickenhausen-Linsenhofen may not be too impressive, but for Germany it is still quite high up. Apart from Silvaner Helmut Dolde grows Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Müller-Thurgau here, and he also produces spirits and sparkling wine. What makes him even more interesting is that he is only a part-time vintner and winemaker. By day Helmut teaches biology and chemistry, and so he relies heavily on the help of his wife to run the winery and work the vineyards (they have less than 2ha). The Doldes also don't have the resources to invest heavily in capital, so much here is truly handmade.

Dolde's old vines Silvaner is a wine of lighter colour, hay with a light green tint. In a way that also describes the overall impression I had - another description would be apple spritzer with hay tea, citrus and a touch of vegetable. The nose has a distinct hay, camomile tea and floral note, but not in an overly playful style because of a touch of bitterness; there is also ripe pear and if pressed hard I'd say the vegetable aroma reminds me of asparagus. The Silvaner is straightforward, of a lighter style but with surprisingly strong acidity as the grape tends to produce milder wines (2010 though is notable for the higher acidity across the board in Germany). It finishes with a somewhat bitter, herbal dryness on the top of the tongue, more juice fruit on the gum and a lemon spice burn in the throat.

I have to admit that it took me a little while to adjust to the acidity and the light bitter notes which I simply had not expected - and they are more obvious than in a sweeter Riesling for instance. However, with the tuna pasta I had for dinner the Silvaner was excellent. My tuna pasta recipe relies on thyme, chicken stock, cream, capers and lemon, and as it happens the capers were unusually acidic. The Silvaner was strong enough to take it though and in the finish the caper and lemon acid from the food and the acidity in the wine did not just balance each other out, the cheered each other into an exciting mineral spice and citrus explosion.

Now, I had planned to end this review with a pun on Frickenhausen-Linsenhofen, but instead I just recommend the Silvaner as a good food companion (and resist making a joke about lentils, as that is what "Linsen" means in German).

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