Thursday, 8 September 2011


The following wine left an impression on me a number of years ago at the Basler Weinmesse. From a hitherto obscure family-run winery in the northern Pfalz, it seemed to ooze the personality I like to associate with good, honest dry Pfalz Riesling: a certain "earthiness" as well as tasty (exotic) fruit and spice. For some reason, I never got round to procuring a bottle to try from the comfort of our living room. Until now.

I say "obscure", but at the time the family's eldest daughter Silvia had just finished her year-long stint as the latest tiara-clad "German Wine Queen". The appointing of "wine royalty" in Germany is a serious business, with each successive incumbant tasked with spreading the word about German wine to all and sundry. The Weinkönigin's reign invariably involves visits to numerous German embassies round the world, swapping handshakes with the German president, random appearances on "Gary Vee"... that sort of thing.

Be that as it may, it's apparently the family's youngest daughter Julia who has been continuing the family winemaking tradition in tandem with her father. This is their top Riesling:

Weingut Benzinger, Steinacker Riesling trocken 2009
Steinacker is the name of the vineyard in Kirchheim an der Weinstrasse.
Highly expressive, "forward" aromas of minerally lime sorbet, dry herbs, some saltiness, a touch of mint and even some berry fruit. Already quite the charmer, this wine, it maintains this form on the palate, with exotic the mango/peach/maracuja triumvirate initially, but then showing a dry herbal, salty personality. The acidity then acts as a razor-sharp counterpoint. All in all, very impressive on first showing, though less so on the following day when the fruit notes seem a little "telegraphed", to coin a footballing term. The herbal depth that was there initially seems to have dissipated 24 hours later. However, the wine really is more-ish regardless of this minor quibble. And for the price of EUR 8 (or even CHF 15 in Swiss terms), it punches above its weight.

[Postscript; 17:56, 08.09.2011: Forty-eight hours later and the herbal sophistication has returned. Maybe it hadn't gone in the first place and I was simply not paying attention. Overall, this wine hits all the right spots.]

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