Hansjörg Rebholz, Chardonnay "R", 2009

Hansjörg Rebholz, Chardonnay "R", 2009

We all have our missions in life. Big missions, casual missions, impossible missions and the odd small mission. One of my small missions is to convince co-Rambler Julian of the qualities of Chardonnay. Not that he dislikes it, he just does not feel the right excitement. Thankfully, today this mission nicely blends (in a pure, single varietal way of course) with the Wine Rambler mission of convincing you, gentle reader, that German wine is well worth exploring - and that includes German Chardonnay. Whether this is an impossible mission only you will know, but like Jim Phelps I am not one to turn down a mission when it comes to find me

My lovely assistant in today's episode comes from the Pfalz, one of Germany's most exciting wine regions. Or rather, make that one of the most exciting wine regions in general. I love the Pfalz for its diversity, bringing together the usual German suspects with interesting, almost forgotten grapes such as Gelber Orleans and a range of international varieties done in German style. Just look at the range of Rebholz wines that have delighted us Ramblers on many a long night: bone-dry Sauvignon Blanc; stunning Pinot Blanc; great Silvaner, Riesling and Muscat; charming Pinot Noir and even outstanding sparkling wine.

Since the first Rebholz - Oekonomierat (economic councillor) Eduard Rebholz - the estate has been dedicated to the idea of "natural wine"; not in the recently popular sense but rather determined by a style that shuns practices such as adding of sugar to increase alcohol and focusses on dry wines, organic viticulture and reduced yields. So far the results have convinced us, as did today's Chardonnay. The colour is lovely lemony hay, supported by a bouquet that nicely balances freshness with oaky flavoursomeness. Lemony citrus notes, faint yeast aromas, herbs, ripe yellow stone fruit and spicy pear blend in nicely with soft vanilla and smoky, oaky spice. On the palate the wine delivers the same balance between freshness and depth. The oak is well integrated so that the Chardonnay is mostly driven by its freshness - in fact it feels so fresh and young I wonder whether I have opened it a year or two too early. I like the apricot and lemon flavours (the latter reminds me of my intense lemon shower gel) and while you inevitably feel the 14% alcohol the wine does not feel overly heavy. The nice finish blends mineral with a subtle bitterness and some spice from the oak.

This is an accomplished cool climate Chardonnay with just the right amount of oak that should compliment food very well. I had it with with mackerel fish cakes but I am leaning more towards a herb roasted bird with a light, fresh sauce for this one. Mission accomplished?


Submitted by Krista Sunday, 23/12/2012

Yes! Mission accomplished, I want some. Light on the oak, a little of the cool climate minerality and fruity/floral nose are what I enjoy in a Chardonnay.

Submitted by S.M. Monday, 24/12/2012

Liebe Torsten

Ich wünsche Ihnen und deiner Familie Ein Frohes Weihnachtsfest!

Zum neuen Jahr Gesundheit, Glück und viel Erfolg!

Another interesting post Torsten, yes the subject of Chardonnay is always an interesting one, as its the one of the only two white grapes that English speakers are generally familiar with, the other one being the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc.

Actually it was after some nasty experiences with Chardonnay that I gave white wine a wide berth for a number of years and only last spring started learning about the wonders of white wine, particularly the noble Riesling grape.

But alas I am rambling on the Wine Rambler,and I now come to my point. I had a Wilheim Zahringer Ecovin 2004 Baden Heitersheimer Maltesergarten Markgraflerland Chardonnay Trocken in October, in Baden of course. Generally when I see Chardonnay on a wine bottle I am pretty suspicious of it, but I decided to be brave and open it and see what it could say to me.

Surprisingly enough it was earthy, nutty, quite well balanced and layered, it had an underlying minerality, almost a little bit flinty and had a nice long finish. I was quite well surprised as was my fiancée as we for the most part give Chardonnay a wide berth, but this one was pretty good.

I doubt I will ever find it and/or drink it again, but it was a good experience and showed me that us Germans can make a good Chardonnay that is much better than plonk Chardonnay coming out of California, Chile, or the many other places that produce Chardonnay.


Solomon Mengeu

Submitted by torsten Monday, 24/12/2012

Thank you for your kind words and Christmas wishes, Solomon. Frohe Weihnachten and all the best for you and your family too!

My co-Ramber Julian (who is currently far far away from any internet access, to celerate Christmas in style) seems to have a similar scepticism towards Chardonnay. And frankly, there is a lot of Chardonnay out there that is best avoided; however, that is no reason not to seek out the good stuff. I am glad to read that you have had success with Baden Chardonnay. There are other producers in Germany who make excellent Chardonnay, at different price points (the Chardonnay tag below the post will lead you to some of them).

You will probably have looked into this already, but if you haven't I would also like to encourage you to explore Chablis - should be more readily available and usually not heavily oaked (or not oaked at all of course), so it should also excite Krista.

Submitted by Alexander Wednesday, 26/12/2012

In reply to by torsten

Contrary to common perception, there *is* drinkable and even good Chardonnay in Baden. Eichelmann's guide is a good and reliable truffle pig for finding those. However, the bad Chardonnays here still outnumber the good ones 5:1 at least; and that assessment is charitable. :-(