Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Follow the litre

Unless wineries send me freebies to taste (I'm not Stuart Pigott, alas), commenting on myriad wines via the medium of a blog can be a potentially expensive pastime. I have to ration my purchases.

It was with this in mind that I stood in the supermarket wine section this evening looking for a red wine. The supermarket in question (in Weil am Rhein) has an excellent selection of German wines to choose from, including some good reds over and above the 20 euro mark - well above my normal price range.

So, forget about the €22 Spätburgunder by Schlossgut Istein that I'd been contemplating longingly. I thought I'd apply some "reverse kidology" and go back to basics instead. Back to litre basics, to be precise.

For the most part, wine by the litre is a quaintly Germanic phenomenon. At their best, these wines can be delicious. Like the eye-opening off-dry Portugieser rosé by Darting I once had. Admittedly, some other examples I've tried were barely worth the price of the bottle. They've tended to be of the mass-produced variety. However, if ye seek, ye shall eventually find some good litre bottles. These tend to be estate-bottled and thus subject to little bit more care and attention than your average specimen. They can be good, clean, uncomplicated, honest wines. Nothing more, nothing less.

The two estate-bottled litre wines I eventually purchased are by the aforementioned Schlossgut Istein and Blankenhorn (whom I mentioned yesterday). I cracked open the former this evening. Notes on the latter will follow at a later date.

Schlossgut Istein, Isteiner Kirchberg Spätburgunder trocken 2007, 1 L
I chose to chill this slightly before opening and let it warm up in the glass. Typical cherry aromas, but in no way perfumed or confectionery. For a wine of this price class (€6.20 - that's €6.20 per litre), this is promising. The nose carries to the palate with cherry and redcurrant - noticeable tannic backbone that almost puckers the lips, but everything is clean. Acidity is omnipresent but well integrated. Most importantly, this wine has character. It would definitely stand up to some good pasta dishes. In the "one litre" stakes, this is a great effort.

To be honest, all my previous Schlossgut Istein experiences have been positive, so I was fairly optimistic before trying their most basic wine.

The Schlossgut Istein wine estate itself is an oddity in that, until recently, it was state-owned. For many years, the winery was expertly run by Albert Soder. However, due to health reasons, the Soder had to hand over the reins at the end of 2006 to owners Landkreis Lörrach. The Lörrach government were eventually able to sell the estate to Royal Vinum Verwaltungs- und Betriebsgesellschaft GmbH in 2007.

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