Friday, 21 January 2011


Merdingen is probably best known as the village in the Tuniberg district of Baden where former professional cyclist Jan Ullrich used to live. It is also home to Weingut Kalkbödele.

As an admirer of the German Alemannisch dialect (which tends to be slightly gentler on the ear than Baslerdytsch), I think the name "Kalkbödele" is extremely evocative. In standard German, Kalkbödele would be Kalkboden (or "chalk soil"). Its diminutive ending ("-bödele") also conjures up a sense of place and - dare I say it - terroir in a rather playful manner. One senses that the people at Kalkbödele certainly understand terroir as being more than just the soils but also the local people and way of life. I should maybe stop now before I become even more poetic, but you get the picture.

When I met Martin Schärli from Weingut Kalkbödele last November in Lörrach, I expected, and indeed tasted, impressive Pinot Noirs. However, the following wine caught my attention almost just as much. I spotted a bottle of it recently which I simply had to buy. Sadly, it didn't quite live up to my admittedly sizeable expectations.

Weingut Kalkbödele, Pinot Gris trocken "im Holzfass gereift" 2008, Baden
Strangely reminiscent of Chardonnay on the nose. Melons, and lots of them. Some spice and vanilla notes. On the few days that followed, more of an apple compote aroma. On the palate, maybe apricot and more melons. The oak was well integrated. Tasty and excellent with fish. In the grand scheme of things, this wine is very good. It blew me away at a busy wine fair over two months ago, but it didn't quite do so on this occasion.

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