Thursday, 28 March 2013

Vanilla loess

My sole bottle of this had been slumbering in our cellar for about two years. It was finally opened not too long ago as the perfect accompaniment to Sunday roast chicken.

Weingut Reinhold & Cornelia Schneider, Weißer Burgunder Spätlese trocken *** "C" 2009, Baden, Germany
According to the winery's internal classification system, the "C" stands for a wine that has been grown on loess soils; wines with an "R" in their title are grown on the volcanic soils that set the Kaiserstuhl region apart in Germany. I'm guessing that Cornelia is more of a loess kind of lady, while Reinhold prefers eruptions.

Quite a conventional straw yellow, though bordering more on yellow than straw. My darling wife cried out "Vanilla!" on plunging her nose into the glass. She wasn't wrong. This is nice vanilla; nothing kitchy or overdone - just good, honest natural vanilla that doesn't detract from but complements fruitier notes of melon. In point of fact, the nose reminds me more of a Chardonnay. I should maybe also add that the vanilla is extremely refined - redolent of the venerable oak casks used to mature the wine.

Beautiful on the palate, with a continuation of the melon plus some apricot/peachy hints. Reverberating and minerally through to a long finish. Medium to full-bodied. Quite ample alcohol (14%) - though barely noticeable until we've finished our glasses and realise the level of potency. This is seriously top stuff. The price tag of EUR 15 was laughably good value in this context. And, all the while, the beautiful flavour of finest vanilla is the thread that keeps the narrative together.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Restorative Riesling

The following wine was enjoyed a few weeks ago. It speaks of its origins and vintage straightforwardly yet eloquently, I think.

Weingut Knipser, Laumersheimer Kapellenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken 2010, Pfalz, Germany
By Kabinett trocken standards, this Riesling's appearance is unusually bright laser yellow on steroids. By Pfalz standards, not so unusual. Beautiful distinct lime notes on the nose as well as a certain tinge of sweetness expressed as ginger, spice (and all things nice). Earthy with grapefruit and star fruit eventually emerging.

Electrifying acid on the palate; this is the vintage coming into its own now. Not in any way sharp, but coming through in refreshing waves. Grapefruit and lime again, as well as a little salinity. Dry with a fairly persistent finish. Enjoyably zingy but with ample ripeness even for a relatively sane 11.5% abv.

All in all, a Riesling with great restorative powers.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Edition 3 from 2003

Another old-school label, but different to the producer's normal design. This is a special edition.

Weingut Markus Molitor, Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese feinherb 2003, "Edition 3", Mosel, Germany
Creamy golden in appearance - matt as opposed to shimmering gloss, so to speak. Admittedly, the condensation on the glass may have accentuated this impression. Packing a punch on the nose with creamy notes married with honey, honeysuckle, mirabelle and roses. This virtually smothers any minerally slate that may be lingering in the background. The bright, hot sunshine of 2003 comes through on the palate - but I mean this in a good way. What acidity the wine has is unsurprisingly soft. The off-dry profile, meanwhile, lends succulence and tempers any alcoholic heat or bitterness. At the same time, there is a pleasing lack of flabbiness. Flavour-wise, the impression is of honey and mirabelle again, as well as roasted hints and even vanilla. There is certainly some viscosity, but nothing bordering on gloop. All things considered, this wine is still as fresh as a daisy.

Enjoyment-wise, this went exceedingly well with some poached salmon, vegetables fried in balsamico, and rice. It represents a departure from the the more acid-rich Rieslings I know and love, but I would definitely try it again.

Monday, 11 March 2013


With its long history, prime location on the Ruwer and gloriously old-fashioned bottle labels, Weingut Maximin Grünhaus is undoubtedly one of the doyens of German wine cultivation. My first Grünhäuser experience was a long time in coming. It was worth the wait.

Weingut Maximin Grünhaus, Riesling Herrenberg Alte Reben trocken, Fass 22, 2011, Mosel, Germany 
Greyish straw yellow with greenish hints. Extremely pungent on the nose, showing obvious slate notes as well as an egg-like, almost savoury aroma that smells better than it sounds. Less pungent a day later, with reddish apple and a lovely complex smokiness. On the palate, this translates into apple, slate and ginger with an almost caramelly texture and faintly sweet note. A dry wine in name, but incredibly balanced, interwoven and generous.

Due in no small part to my relative inexperience when it comes to trockens from the Mosel (or Ruwer for that matter), it's hard for me to place this wine in context. I have merely stored it in my memory bank, and that will have to suffice for now.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

FCB poster

Here's some Swiss vernacular for you:

FC Basel, who are referred to lovingly down here as FCB (pronounced "eff tseh beh") are playing Young Boys of Berne this afternoon in the Swiss Super League. Young Boys aren't referred to as young boys, but as "YB" (pronounced "ee-beh" in honour of that famous online auction house). This is clearly the French influence coming through, as Germans would normally pronounce the "y" as "ipsilon". Confused?

FCB incidentally have a long history of putting up posters around town advertising their upcoming matches. The one for today's fixture is the latest in a proud tradition of corny puns and other ditties. I thought I'd share this with you:

"We welcome Berne to the capital city...
...of football."

Oh, how we laughed.