Thursday, 25 July 2013

Shelter Winery sparkler

My wife and I recent recently enjoyed this bubbly together one Friday evening on the balcony with a selection of antipasti goodies: green and black olives, tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and other savoury nibbles.

Shelter Winery, Sparkling brut 2008, Baden, Germany
Yes, this is "Shelter Winery" despite being a German vineyard. Based in Kenzingen in the northern part of the Breisgau district of Baden, the winery owes its name to the air shelters (or bunkers) of the old Canadian NATO airforce base near Lahr. Today, "Black Forest Airport Lahr" operates mainly as a freight airport and occasionally as a destination for privately chartered jets. In 2003, vintners Hans-Bert Espe and Silke Wolf moved their fledging winery into one of the airport's holes in the ground. Although a grass-clad roof, thick concrete walls and a heavy steel door provided a functional home of sorts, Lahr was always going to be a temporary base given that the airport authorities kept forcing Espe and Wolf to move like nomads from one shelter to another. The two winemakers, both of whom studied together at the renowned Geisenheim wine school, consequently built their own tailor-made winery in Kenzingen from where they now access their vineyard land in and around Kenzingen and Malterdingen.

Before establishing Shelter Winery, Espe and Wolf spent some time learning their trade in the Pinot Noir hotbed of Oregon, USA. (Hotbed? Maybe "cool climate" would be more accurate.) I met Herr Espe briefly a couple of years ago at a wine fair in nearby Offenburg, where he came across to me as a studious yet down-to-earth sort of bloke. I was quietly blown away by the small selection of wines I tasted, all of which, I am tempted to suggest, were embued with the same calm, unhurried personality of their maker.

I especially remember the above-mentioned sparkler from that day's tasting in Offenburg. As a Pinot blanc de noir, its fresh strawberry aromas and finely toasted notes also paired excellently with our antipasti spread. Its fine bubbles as well as its mouth-filling creaminess and complexity were top notch. I didn't make any written notes as such, but I would conclude by stating that this bubbly was a veritable treat and, even at 19 euros, a snip compared to other sparklers of similar quality I can think of.

No comments:

Post a Comment