Sunday, 29 April 2012

Something for the Swiss

It's easy to see why Josef Michel's wines would be a perfect fit for the Swiss market. Put simply, they offer quality at insanely low prices. In Switzerland, nearly all things (including wine) cost more than they would in the eurozone. Even discounted wines sold on promotion are usually still a bit pricier. However, take a winery such as Michel's that doesn't charge more than 15 euros for any bottle of its best Pinots Gris and Blancs, and you know you're on to a winner.

Michel's reds aren't too shabby either. Currently, the barrel-aged 2009 vintage from the Achkarrer Schlossberg vineyard (one of Herr Michel's top two Pinot Noirs) is retailing for just less than CHF 20 at a well-known Swiss supermarket. Somehow, I think the supermarket's wine buyer got his pricing wrong, because the same wine also costs just under 20 euro in Germany. (At present, EUR 1 equals around CHF 1.20.) Not that many people seem to have noticed - every time I peruse the supermarket's wine section, the same few bottles peer forlornly down at me. A rogue bottle from the 2007 vintage also seemed to have found its way in there. It had been standing there for months begging me to rescue it. I did the decent thing and obliged last week.

Weingut Michel, Achkarrer Schlossberg Spätburgunder *** trocken 2007, Baden, Germany
Dark ruby red. A potent yet elegant whiff of dark cherry, mint, liquorice and cream on the nose. The oak seems well integrated, and the same is true on an approachable, textured palate. Going against conventional wisdom, the last few years of "supermarket-ageing" have probably done this wine some good. Everything is holding well - there is considerable stuffing but this is countered by juicy acidity and soft tannins that lend complexity and provide a longish finish.

To conclude, this is a classy wine that inadvertently achieves that wondrous thing of costing less in Switzerland than it did in Germany.

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