Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Vinipazzi, Vol. 1

After months of work, here it is:

VINIPAZZI - "Naturschönheit. Wenn deutscher Riesling neu aufspielt" / "Nature-made beauty. The new art of German Riesling".

Thom Held wrote the original text in German. I did the English translation. The book is available at Put simply, this publication is for all people who are interested wine. Here are some images from the book launch.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


The first-ever non-Südtirol Italian wine on this blog. Long overdue. I acquired this wine as thanks for a translation job. I don't normally accept payment in kind, but I made an exception in this one particular instance. 

Azienda Agricola La Bellanotte, Merlot "Roja de Isonzo" 2007, DOC Fruili Isonzo, Italy
From Italy's north-eastern extremity. Dark ruby with slightly brown glints on the edge. Herbal with cocoa powder on the nose. Maybe some dark berry notes, though nothing I'd call obvious. Fresh on the palate with that ubiquitous cocoa again. Evident, ample tannins that are slightly drying but not at all mouth-puckering. Mouth-watering would probably be a better descriptor. The tannins have broken down somewhat since 2007 but are not yet at the end of their development. Having said that, they are at the turning point between mildly astringent freshness and something maybe a whole lot "stretched out" and drier. I quite like it.

In terms of body, this has plenty of stuffing but, overall, this wine is quite restrained, structured and elegant. The finish is middling, the enjoyment plentiful.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Brenneisen, Grauburgunder 2012

The wines of local vintner Dirk Brenneisen have featured on this blog before. The odyssey now continues with what, for me, is the most impressive of the lot so far.

Weingut Brenneisen, Grauburgunder trocken 2012, Baden, Germany
This was fermented in a large oak cask and then left on its lees for seven months. The result is an expressive, multilayered aroma with only very delicate cask notes lending a lovely savoury feel. Strawberry, honeydew melon, cashew nuts and complex smoky hints.

Well-integrated and balanced on the palate. The cask notes lift the other flavours into clear relief: mainly red berries and melon with a slight starfruit twist at the end. The wine is bone dry 0.7 g/l according to the label, but there is a fresh sweetness that belies this. Smoky, flinty notes emerge on the finish tasting blind, I might have mistaken this for a Silvaner. The alcohol level is only 12 percent but there is an amazing density of flavour. I'm not saying this is grand cru quality, but for a measly eight euros, this is best-value wine I've enjoyed in a long while.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Naturschönheit / Nature-made beauty

***Blatant commercial plug alert***

Further to my related blog post in January, the book launch for Vinipazzi, Vol. 1 (Naturschönheit / Nature-made beauty) I did the English translation will be taking place at Restaurant Café Boy, Kochstrasse 4, Zurich on Wednesday 19 March. Vintners Helmut Dönnhoff, Peter Jakob Kühn and Clemens Busch will be there, as will Stephan Reinhardt, author of The Finest Wines of Germany (2012).

The event will kick off at 6 p.m. with some Riesling (what else?) and nibbles, followed by the actual book presentation at 6.30 p.m. From 8 o'clock, a three-course meal will be served in the company of the three wine-growers:

Filet vom Loup de Mer mit Ofentomaten auf Erbsenstampf an weissem Tomatenschaum (Sea bass filet with oven tomatoes on a pea mash with white tomato froth); wine: Roxheimer Höllenpfad (Dönnhoff)

Coq au Riesling mit Perlzwiebeln, Speck, Champignons und Croutons mit Magerquarkspätzli (Coq au Riesling with pearl onions, bacon pieces, mushrooms, croutons and low-fat spaetzle); wine: Pündericher Marienburg GG (Busch)
Dessert variations; wine: Oestricher Lenchen Auslese (Kühn)

The event is free from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost of the meal from 8 p.m. onwards is CHF 100 (including water, coffee and wine).

To sign up for the evening meal, please visit

Friday, 7 March 2014

Rock solid

Daniel Vollenweider originally hails from the Swiss canton of Graubünden. His is an unconventional story. This was recently the first Vollenweider wine I've ever tasted:

Weingut Vollenweider, Felsenfest Riesling 2012, Mosel, Germany
No trocken on the label, but this is certainly dry. It's Daniel V's basic dry estate wine. "Felsenfest" literally means "rock solid", but the "-fest" bit in the name also has festive connotations, surprise surprise.

At first, this wine showed slate, slate and more slate but not much else. In fact, it felt quite thin, bony and austere on the palate. However, I should have known that this would improve 24 hours later. On the second day, it also showed mint and lemon on the nose, while the palate suddenly felt decidedly more mellow and fruitier: citrus and some tropical notes, mainly with some lacquer/varnish hints, the latter characteristic being very pleasant and not as bad as it might sound. Refreshing and sustained on the finish. Rock solid indeed.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Klingelberger Kabinett

Continuing the off-dry Riesling theme, but from a totally different locality to the Mosel:

Weinhaus Siegbert Bimmerle, Klingelberger (Riesling) Kabinett feinherb 2012, Baden, Germany
Riesling is commonly referred to as "Klingelberger" in the Ortenau, that small Riesling enclave within the otherwise Pinot-dominated region of Baden. In this case, however, Klingelberger is only mentioned on the back label. I tried this winery's flagship "Riesling Réserve" at a local wine fair a couple of years ago and was ever so slightly blown away (in the positive sense). The following wine is a more basic offering.

Overtly fruitier than the previous blog post specimen. Lime and pineapple dominate on the note along with a slightly prickly gooseberry hint, although these components need time to come to the fore showing a lot more expressively 24 hours later. Pineapple again on the palate, with refreshing, pinpoint acidity. Unsurprisingly given its more southerly origin, this has a little more "oomph" compared to the more subtle, classical Mosel Riesling from Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium. Yet, what both have in common is sheer drinkability.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

School of Riesling

Some of my most favourite wines are off-dry Rieslings. Not only are their alcohol levels lower, but I often find them more versatile and harmonious with food than their trocken cousins. I also find them extremely tasty, full stop. Wines for quaffing, and unashamedly so.

Dating back to the 16th century, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium is one of Germany's oldest schools (Gymnasium is German for "grammar school"). It's also the name of a winery of the same name. How cool is that?

Weingut Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Riesling feinherb 2012, Mosel, Germany
I had only half-turned when the screw-top enclosure popped up into the air and hit the kitchen ceiling of its own accord. Quite a bit of carbon dioxide in there, then! However, this quickly dissipated, leaving a nose of fresh red apples and apricot. Ripe apple initially on the palate, then with some steely acidity and a satisfying, lip-smackingly juicy yet dry finish. This is a beautiful wine with just 11 percent alcohol. It is also straightforward in that it doesn't tax the old grey cells too much. On the other hand, it is as clean as a whistle and full of integrity. Simple pleasures are sometimes the best.