Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Not to be sniffed at

The next particular wine was acquired at the weekend while staying with friends near Heidelberg. On the Saturday, we walked through town, along Philosophenweg on the northern side of the River Neckar and down through the edge of the Odenwald to Stift Neuburg, a local monastery. A Christmas market is being held there during Advent, so we rewarded ourselves after an hour-long walk through the wintery woods with a Glühwein or two. And believe me: with the outside temperature a bone-chilling -12 C, we were more than happy to drink something warm and fortifying.

Apart from imbibing Lemberger Glühwein, we went into the monastery shop which sells local produce (including a tasty monastery beer), and - low and behold - I found a St. Laurent by Weingut Clauer. Those in the know in the German wine blogging "scene" will tell you that this is the wine estate of the Winzerblogger himself, so curiosity got the better of me (purchase price: EUR 8.20).

Weingut Clauer, Heidelberger Dormenacker, St. Laurent 2008, Baden
Again, my sense of smell was rather numbed for this one. No matter, as this wine was intended as a congenial accompaniment to the beautiful rack of lamb my girl-friend Jenny served up for a special pre-Christmas meal last night. On that score alone, it was a very enjoyable wine.

Sniffle or not, the aromas on this St. Laurent were quite reticent even after some airing. Jenny - her nasal valves in proper working condition - would vouch for that too. However, both on the palate and in texture, it had a lovely sappiness. Medium-bodied, it cut through the lamb elegantly without being at all overbearing. With hints of juicy forest fruit, this a very quaffable wine, yet focused and already with some complexity. Its complete lack of oak character also went down very well with both of us. It shows that such wines can still pack a punch without any noticeable lick of wood. Recommended.

As for the varietal itself, this is the first time I'd tried a St. Laurent on its own, i.e. not as part of a blend. A speciality in Austria, it also has a respectable following in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen, but is only grown sporadically in Baden. I need to try more of them in future.

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