2011 Saar Riesling trocken from Dr. Wagner for € 7,40
Fall 2011: showdown time on the Saar! That’s when Jungwinzerin Christiane Wagner picked her first solo crop of grapes from the family’s vineyards in Saarburg and Ockfen and made her first solo vintage after sharing responsiblity in the cellar with her father Heinz for two years. What did she do? Well, she jumped on her tractor, drove the grapes back on home and crushed them, then filled her barrels with juice which became some of the best dry, off-dry and sweet Rieslings on the Saar! And the wonderful thing is that the excitement begins with the cheapest and least pretentious wine she produced, the 2011 Saar-Riesling trocken. Smelling of apple blossom and fresh lemon juice this dry wine has a fair amount of natural grape acid, as any good Riesling from this cool location should have, but still manages to feel silky in the mouth and as juicy as a mouthful of ripe berries. The Summer of Riesling is coming soon!
Der 2011 Saar Riesling trocken ist € 7.40 ab Hof von
Weingut Dr. Wagner
Tel: (49) / 0 6581 2457
from Simply Wine
„Wow! It smells of slate…and of limestone…and lots more…“ cascaded out of the mouth of the Jungwinzer or young German winegrower next to me at the table. He was tasting a dry white wine completely blind and everything he said about it was completely right. Into his glass went wines which grew on slate, limestone and a bunch of other soil types as well. Out of his glass poured aromas that shot in all directions like a firework rocket exploding in the sky. He had just tasted a unique German white called „R8“, that is R to the power of 8.
Four years ago the then 8 strong Jungwinzer group Simply Wine mixed up their first „R8“ from one dry Riesling per member. I have to admit that the idea was mine and everyone inclusing me was highly scpetical about it. However, at the tasting to assemble the first R8 all of us were astonished how well wines from such differing soils, climates and five German winegrowing regions married together. The result tasted harmonious and complex! Good as the earlier vintages of R8 were, the 2011 – as a plain „Deutscher Wein“ it may carry neither the vintage nor the name of a grape variety on the label – is easily the best so far. What is the secret of this ground-breaking multi-terroir-wine? Certainly one part of it is the dry Müller-Thurgau from new Simply Wine member Christian Stahl of Winzerhof Stahl in Auernhofen/Franken in the mix. That and improvements at the other member prodcers means the new R8 was composed from 9 highly expressive and individual wines. That number was the only thing which my Jungwinzer friend who tasted the result blind couldn’t tell me!
PS Christian Steitz (see below) was the source for the Riesling grown on prophyry in R8
„R8“ is available from
Mörsfelder Strasse 3
Tel: (49) / 0 6703 9 30 80
May the crystaline Force of Nahe Riesling be with you !
2011 Riesling trocken
Karlheinz Schneider u. Sohn
Wine journalists and critics are writing and talking about it all the time, but what the hell does „minerally“ in wine actually smell or taste like? For some of my colleagues it clearly means just plain tart or acidic, for others it means “funky”, that is certain special kinds of stinks (often coming from the yeast which fermented the wine, but sometimes from other less desirable microbes which were active in the wine). For me it means a range of tantalizing flavours which all have something slightly salty to them, but aren’t just the taste of table salt. The easiest way to explain all this though is through an example, and what better example could there be than this dry Riesling from young Andi Schneider in Sobernheim on the Nahe which strikes me as being super-minerally and indecently good value at the same time. This vibrantly young Riesling grew on soils rich in quartz and slate, and you feel as if you can taste their crystal structure (though that’s an illusion). There’s also something intruigingly herbal in the bouquet and it’s dangerously refreshing. If you don’t like the taste of lemon or you hate any hint of acidity in white wine though, then this „Bladerunner Riesling“ is definitely not for you. But for my taste it’s really uncompromisingly good!
2011 Riesling trocken from
Weingut Karlheinz Schneider u. Sohn
Meddersheimer Straße 29
55566 Bad Sobernheim/Nahe
Tel: (49) / 0 6751 25 05
Christian Steitz & Michael Beck party with their party wine at the ProWein fair in Düsseldorf
WHITE: 2011 Grauburgunder trocken
Steitz & Beck
For me the dry Graubugrunder (Pinot Gris) from Rheinhessen which Christian Steitz of Weingut Steitz in Stein-Bockenheim and Michael Beck of Weingut Beck in Stadecken-Elsheim (also both in Rheinhessen) produce for the REWE chain of supermarkets is one of the best value wines in German supermarket shelves. This is contract winemaking on a high level and with its effusive melon aroma, juicy and lively balance with a spritz of carbon dixoide which makes it taste lighter than its 12,5% alcoholic content, the 2011 is particularly successful. Even better news, there are 200,000 bottles of this great party wine!
REWE supermarkets in Germany
Rainer Wachstetter and his serious "Felix" at the ProWein fair in Düsseldorf
RED: 2009 „Felix“ Lemberger
Yes, I know that you’re probably asking yourselves who the hell Rainer Wachtstetter is and if a red wine from Württemberg can really be worth recommending this highly, but this is a rare bargain amongst „serious“ red wines. Wachtstetter has been perfecting the making of red wines from the Lemberger grape (known as Blaufränkisch in Austria and Kékfrankos in its Hungarian homeland) for over a decade and the result is this medium-bodied, supply tannic dry wine with a wonderful bouquet in which elderberry, plum, baking spices and something floral mingle. Where’s my glass?
2009 „Felix“ Lemberger von
Michelbacher Straße 8
Tel: (49) / 0 7046 329
A first taste of 2011s ripeness and power, but watch out for the "2011 spin"!
2011 Scheurebe feinherb
*that thing which looks like a „B“ is actually a sharp German „s“
The wine of the month is a little late this time, because I wanted to find a 2011 which is neither a thin little wine, nor is completely undrinkable because too young. On the one hand it is much too early to drink the top wines of the vintage, which will not even be bottled for several (or many) months, while on the other quite a few producers have already bottled 2011s for the sole reason that they would be sold out if they had not done so (which is not a recipe for exciting wines). But as the 2011 Scheurebe feinherb from Weingut Sinß in Windesheim/Nahe shows there are some really good 2011s which have already been bottled, live up to the reputation of the vintage and can be drunk now with pleasure.
Though only 24 years old Johannes Sinß has already proven his talent as a winemaker of modestly-priced white wines with serious character. Scheurebe is an almost century-old German vine crossing (of Riesling and Silvaner) whose wines have some similarity with both Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, I frequently prefer dry Scheurebe to Sauvignon Blanc. However, this wine is more like a super-aromatic Riesling, smelling of grapefruit and white peach with quite a vibrant acidity. This, together with the merest hint of unfermented grape sweetness, gives the wine a great juiciness and a just off-dry balance. Apart from the purity of the wine the thing which makes it stand out is its considerable ripeness and power.
Those are the hallmarks of the successful 2011s and you will be hearing a lot more about them here during the coming year. You will also get some serious analysis of how this vintage has been hyped from the moment the harvest began. The 2011 German wines are often exciting, but that doesn’t alter the fact that they have been given a lot of „spin“. By this time next year there will be enough of it to fill a history book, and I might even write that book!
Tel: 06707 2 53
How can I resist you ?
2010 Portugieser „Premium“
There is a great demand for light red wines with character, but there are astonishingly few light reds with real character. Most lighter reds are cheap, one-dimensional and if they come from the New World then they have often been sweetened up with grape concentrate to try and hide their weaknesses. They’re the Liebfraumilch of our times! Let’s be frank, a lot of that stuff tastes gruesome to me. The problem is that red wines gain a lot of their character from the tannins extracted from the grape skins during fermentation, and once you get enough of them into the wine that it tastes interesting, then it tends towards heaviness. So making a really good light red is as difficult as climbing the North Face of the Eiger with one hand tied behind your back!
The 2010 Portugieser „Premium“ from Ralf Wassmann and Susann Hanauer’s small organic wine estate in Villány in the Far South of Hungary is a rare example of a light red with great character. First, it has the most amazing raspberry aroma. Then there’s the wonderful balance of succulent fruit, great freshness and supple tannins. In short, it does everything that Beaujolais is supposed to do, but almost never does. Just pull the cork and drink (with or without food), and if you do then I’d be very surprised if you aren’t almost shocked how quickly that bottle is empty. And it is great value for money.
By the way: Horst Hummel is no ordinary wine merchant. Please be patient with delivery. See the article „The extraordinary Herr Hummel“ about him under Berlin Wine People.
Villány – Berlin
See also: www.weingut-wassmann.com
Real Pinot from J.L. Wolf in Wachenheim/Pfalz
2008 Spätburgunder (yes, 2008!)
Weingut J.L. Wolf
Sometimes you get lucky and a wine which seemed unremarkable in its youth gets that extra bit of bottle age it needed to coax the best out of it and make it something special. Then you have the old fairy tale of the ugly duckling in your glass! But even when this minor miracle happens in a wine merchant’s cellar you still need to discover that wine is there! In this case it took a message from beyond the grave (thank you John Boys MW, we miss you very much!) to move me to Weinhandlung Suff in the heart of the Berlin district of Kreuzberg where I found a great Pinot Noir red for everyday drinking.
What makes this wine special is that it isn’t just fruity and soft as most Pinots at this price level are, but also has some healthy dry tannins which make it way more interesting and give it some real backbone. OK, if you drink it from a relatively small glass then the fruity aromas (red berries) will be dominant, but if you drink it from a large well-rounded wine glass, then suddenly you’ll smell autumn leaves and spicy aromas normally associated with high-end Pinots costing many times more what this regular guy does.
By the way Suff means to hit the bottle in German, and Weinhandlung Suff is everything you might imagine a cool Berlin wine merchant could be and more. There you’ll find many discoveries waiting to be made!
By the way, the story of John Boys MW will follow here at a later date.
Tel.: 030 / 6 14 21 48
Red wine freshness and red wine warmth from the Portugeuse Douro Valley
Quinta de Vale de Pios
Yes, that name does mean excommunicated in Portuguese and is clear proof that not only German Jungwinzer like Christian Stahl of Winzerhof Stahl in Auernhofen/Franken who called his dry 2009 Scheurebe „[rauschgift]“ (an ugly German word for dope, literally intoxication poison), can come up with unusual and startling wines names. However, the important thing about both these wines is the combination of a seriously delicious and stylistically innovative taste with a daring name. In this case it refers to how the wine has been excommunicated from oak. I’m convinced that a majority of red wines matured in oak, regardless of country/region of origin, would taste better if they had less aroma and flavour from oak barrels. Sometimes, when I bump into one negative example after another (which happens quite often), it seems as if all reds are drastically over-oaked. This makes it wonderfully refreshing to encounter a red that deliberately sidesteps the oak mine field by relying entirely on maturation in stainless steel tanks. In my book stainless steel tanks are a great technology with an undeserved bad image due to so many thin wines being made in them, and because the current obsession with amphora and so-called vins naturels. This is a joyful wine bursting with all kinds of red berry and herbal aromas, tasting lighter, more delightful and envigorating than I imagined a red wine with 13,5% could taste. However, it is also light years removed from thin Beaujolais-Ersatz. To me it says DRINK ME!
Rosário & Prange
Hermeskeiler Platz 2
Tel.: 0221 / 96 43 49 88
TWO WEEKS SHOOTING THE SECOND SERIES OF WEINWUNDER DEUTSCHLAND force me to take a pause. In Mid-October Episode 5 of The [yellow tail] Saga will follow!
Bernhard Kirsten, Inge von Geldern and I during the filming for the Bavarian Television (BR) show "Weinwunder Deutschland"
2010 Riesling trocken
Another dry Riesling as wine of the month? Am I obsessed? Yes and no. Firstly, the diversity of aroma and flavour which the Riesling grape gives is so great that although this wine is also dry with a moderate alcoholic content it tastes completely different from last month’s. That is the great thing about Riesling; a multi-faceted personality without a trace of schizophrenia. Whereas the last wine of the month was all about freshness and crispness, this time the qualities which make it stand out are the complex texture and a subtle spiciness. Bernhard Kirsten and Inge von Geldern have been working at perfecting this style of Mosel Riesling since the early 1990s and it shows. A crucial aspect of their method is simply patience in the cellar. They allowed this wine to keep slowly fermenting without any added yeast until the end of July and bottled it in early August, in contrast to many Mosel winegrowers whose basic dry 2010 Rieslings were already sold out by then. Kirsten and von Geldern expected that this would conjure from the juice of fully-ripe Riesling grapes an aromatic richness and harmony to which there is no shortcut in the cellar, and it has indeed. The result is as tantalizing as it is powerful and the often strident acidity of the vintage has been expertly tamed. This means that although it is easy to like, it has many fine nuances which only slowly reveal themselves in the glass (if you have enough patience for that). And just wait for the sensational top dry 2010 Rieslings from Weingut Kirsten which will follow later in the year.
Tel.: 06507 / 9 91 15
Hard to believe: this cool dry Riesling grew in vineyards overlooking the Mercedes Benz plant in Stuttgart !
2010 Riesling trocken *
Often I’m searching for new wines which offer nothing less than mind-expanding taste experiences, but I’m also always on the look out for really good wines for rather little money. Neither of these are so easy to find amongst the 2010 dry German Rieslings because of the very high acidity content of the grapes at the harvest. This had to be reduced in the cellar, by one method or the other (patience was the best way), otherwise the wines would have tasted one-sided or even been undrinkable. On the other hand a certain acidity belongs to Riesling wines and without it they taste neither animating nor fresh. The dry 2010 Riesling * from the Weinmanufaktur Untertürkheim has a self-confidently pronounced acidity, which married to the lively apple and citrus aromas makes it both juicy and refreshing. Its not a wine to philsophise about, rather to quaff. Those seeking a less tart Riesling with more complexity are strongly recomended the dry 2010 Riesling ** from the Weinmanufaktur, for just € 10,31 direct from the producer. It smells of peach, melon and mint, is rich and long in flavour. Last year the Weinmanufaktur’s 2009 Rieslings were brilliant and this year they’ve once again proven that the little-known fact that Württemberg produces some wonderful dry wines from Germany’s flagship grape.
Strümpfelbacher Straße 47
Tel.: 0711 / 3 36 38