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.

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