Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Alte Reben

I've made one of two surprising vinous discoveries in Basel in recent times. One of these was the presence in a big Swiss supermarket's wine range of two Pinot Noirs from a prominent Kaiserstuhl wine-grower.

My impression is that if you asked the average man or woman on the streets of Basel to name their favourite wine regions, Italy would probably be right up there along with France, Spain and Portugal. Austria is quite trendy. Although its general profile is improving, Germany is still relatively unknown other than being the home of sweet Rieslings from the Mosel.

Which is just as well, because I'd already seen the following wine a number of times at the retail outlet in question and not one bottle had been taken.

Weingut Michel, Spätburgunder "Alte Reben" trocken 2009, Baden
From vines aged over 30 years (hence "Alte Reben"), this was apparently left for 10 months in 500-litre French oak vats. Dark ruby with a watery rim. A basket of freshly picked black cherries on the nose, followed by what I can make out to be dried black prunes, some spicy notes reminiscent of liquorice/cinnamon. The effect is quite heady and warm. This translates into a fiery, warming sensation on the palate. Despite the concentrated mouthfeel, everything is in balance. The tannins are creamy and the oak influence is only noticeable in that it helps bed the different elements together.

Overall, I'm impressed. The wine is quite young but surprisingly accessible, offering a lot for CHF 14.90. I intend to try the "barrique" version before too long. With the best will in the world, there should still be adequate stocks left by the time I get round to buying a bottle or two, irrespective of what I've just written.

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