Saturday, 27 April 2013

Riesling from Gimmeldingen

What a beautiful label.
I bought a six-pack of the following wine during our recent sojourn at the Mandelblütenfest in Gimmeldingen. Sitting in the garden of Weingut F. Ohler, enjoying the last rays of the evening sun over a Rieslingschorle, it was simply too tempting not to take home a liquid memento of our trip to the Pfalz.

Weingut F. Ohler, "Aus den Gärten" Riesling trocken 2011, Pfalz, Germany
I stand to be corrected, but the name "Aus den Gärten" ("From the gardens") sounds like the grapes for this wine were grown in the Mandelgarten and Biengarten vineyards adjacent to the village of Gimmeldingen.

Fairly nondescript straw-yellow in appearance, but the nose is lovely. Initially only murmuring to begin with, the aromas need a day or two to express themselves fully. Initially, they emerge as lime and lemon, then a keynote of peach reverberates through. Maybe some floral hints, too. Quite a charming scent.

A touch of crunchy acidity on the palate with a lovely stone-fruit personality. Kabinett weight. The dryness lends the requisite precision and forcefulness. Generally uncomplicated but there is enough nuance there to keep me happy.

Actually, more than happy. I love Pfalz Riesling and I love this wine. Certainly, my wife and I look forward to enjoying the remaining five bottles over the summer months.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Gelbe Erde

Here are brief notes on the "yellow-soiled" counterpart to a wine I recently blogged about.

Weingut Braun, "Gelbe · Erde" Riesling trocken 2011, Rheinhessen, Germany
Unassuming straw-yellow with a whiff of tropical fruit - or mango, to be precise. The mango really isn't that loud but quite distinct nonetheless. Maybe some fennel and a hint of earthiness in there too. (Incidentally, my better half detests fennel. Luckily, she still liked the wine.)

For all the sunshine-in-a-glass yet mildly agricultural notes on the nose, this has a surprisingly demure, cool, dry taste. However, at the risk of contradicting myself, it still feels quite generous in the mouth. The body weight is a modest light to medium, though the acidity feels relatively moderate. Maybe the wine actually lacks the same minerally pinpoint precision as "Weisse Erde" as a result.

While its white counterpart is mineral-driven, this wine is more upfront fruity. Though there is nothing wrong in that per se, and the experience is certainly a worthwhile one due to the comparision it affords.

Monday, 22 April 2013


Following on from an unusual wine last year, I'm giving Egringen's favourite winery Weingut Brenneisen some more coverage today with a Pinot Noir dating back a few years. The Brenneisen family sell their wares (fruit and veg, home-made bread, pastries, eggs, flowers and wine) every Saturday in front of Matthäuskirche here in Kleinbasel (i.e. Basel on the right bank of the Rhine). I've heard good things about them since my first encounter, so now it's time for something more "conventional", shall we say, within a Baden context.

Weingut Brenneisen, Spätburgunder trocken "Läufelberg" 2007, Baden, Germany
Dirk Brenneisen produces four different Pinots. A basic offering, one called Hütte ("Hut"), this wine (costing EUR 10), and his premium wine, the aptly named Himmelreich ("Heaven"). I went for this particular bottle because, unlike the others, it had already had a few years of ageing under its belt.

Along with the Tüllinger hill that separates Weil from Lörrach and the Katzenberg rising northwards from Efringen-Kirchen through which Deutsche Bahn's ICE passenger trains now hurtle underground, the Läufelberg hill is one of Markgräflerland's first meadowy precursors to the higher altitudes of the southern Black Forest. Although being known first and foremost as the moderate incline that overlooks the picturesque villages of Fischingen, Egringen and Schallbach, it is also a specific plot of vineyard - as are Hütte and Himmelreich. Whereas Hütte is vinified in traditional large oak casks, Läufelberg undergoes 28 months in used oak barrels (this is according to the label, but it says "24 months" on the website). Himmelreich, meanwhile, is from 34-year old vines and matures in oak barrels of which one-third are new and two-thirds have been used before.

Anyway, this ruby-coloured Läufelberg with lighter beige hints round the edges opens up with a quite a luxurious whiff of dark morello cherries and chocolate. I think I've noticed this in quite a few Pinots in the area from the Kaiserstuhl down to Basel. It also smells slightly sweaty in a farmyard sort of way. On the palate, the body is medium, the acidity fresh and the tannins velvety - still offering scope for further ageing. The cherry and chocolate theme continues. The effect is a little Christmassy, but thankfully there is no sign of any strawberry/raspberry-esque kitsch entering proceedings. The finish is medium.

For its price, this is genuinely good value from a local producer who - apart from getting a mention in Stuart Pigott's Weinwunder Deutschland book - is still fairly unhailed.

Monday, 15 April 2013


Heike Larsson sums it up much better than I can in her Pfalzweinproben blog, but here are a few photographic impressions of our visit with friends to Gimmeldingen in the Pfalz for the Mandelblütenfest (the "Gimmeldingen almond blossom fest"). The scheduling for this annual fest always depends on the weather in spring. Cold temperatures meant that this year's festivities took place much later than normal.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Weisse Erde

German wineries increasingly offer a range of what, in marketing speak, are commonly referred to as Terroirweine. These wines usually occupy the next quality notch up from a winery's basic varietal range. Typically, their names reflect the geological characteristics of the vineyard ground that is literally beneath the vintner's feet. I could mention a few examples: "vom Muschelkalk", "Terra Rossa", "Vulkangestein", "vom Schiefer", "vom Bundsandstein", "vom Rotliegenden", "Kalkstein", "Basalt"...

Based in the world-famous Riesling hotspot of Nierstein, Weingut Braun take a simple yet effective approach to the soil conundrum. The Rheinhessen winery produces three different Rieslings all in the same quality bracket, referring to them simply by the colour of their respective soils. "Gelbe · Erde" is grown in the yellowish loam/loess soils of Dienheim and Ludwigshöhe, and "Rote · Erde" in the red soils (terra rossa) of Nierstein and Nackenheim. "Weisse · Erde", meanwhile, originates from the white lime-marl soils of Oppenheim.

Weingut Braun, "Weisse · Erde" Riesling trocken 2010, Rheinhessen, Germany
Straw-yellow, with maybe an extra hint of yellow. Straight out of the bottle, the impression is quite pungent, minerally and forceful. I just treat myself to one glass before hiding it in the fridge to try the next evening.

On the second day, I try to define the "minerality" in this wine. For me, it's something mildly salty or bitter. I realise that wines making clear references to the soils they were grown in might conjure up certain "perceived" tastes through mere verbal association. Nevertheless, the wine definitely has something I would class as mineral-like.

Light-medium in body, this Riesling also shows star fruit and white peach, feels almost silky in the mouth and has well-integrated acidity. The finish is as dry as a bone yet most satisfying.

For just under 10 euro, this is good stuff. Now I need to try its yellow and red counterparts to see which colour soil I prefer.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Blankenhorn Gutedel

It's been a long time coming, but it looks like spring is finally on its way - at least in these more southerly of Germanic climes. Time for a refreshing glass of Gutedel from a nearby winery I've neglected in the past (for no particular reason).

Weingut Blankenhorn, Gutedel Kabinett trocken 2011, Baden, Germany
Trademark straw-yellow in appearance, with pear and slightly more exotic stone-fruit hints on the nose, as well as faint lemony notes and a pleasantly talcy nuance that could indeed be described as minerally.

Fresh with good acidity for a Gutedel. Clear as a whistle with that disarming transparency and integrity that I love about the grape. As befits its predicate, the wine is light-bodied, lowish in alcohol and undemandingly quaffable.

Maybe it lacks some of the yeasty goodness that other Markgräfler producers have been increasingly introducing into their Gutedels in recent years, but it blows away the winter cobwebs at least.