Tuesday, 27 August 2013

This isn't your everyday wine glass.

Nor is it a joke. According to the man who designed it, the glass lets you enjoy wine in "three dimensions". To be honest I was slightly sceptical at first, despite having helped translate the related advertising pamphlet. But after acquiring two Bordeaux glasses last week, my view is altogether more positive. It's all to do with how the wine flows into your mouth, which depends on three specific ways in which you hold the glass. I don't want this blog post to start sounding like an advert, so I won't be mentioning the brand name*.

Suffice to say, the glass isn't just fun to use - it also provides quite a different wine-tasting experience to that offered by conventional glasses.

*However, if you do want to learn more, feel free to contact me directly (see the contact details on my business website by clicking on the logo at the top-right of this page).

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Riesling Herrenpfad

I bought the following bottle on a whim, as the name "Meyer" rang a bell. Andreas Meyer from Heuchelheim-Klingen has some namesakes (and peers) not too far away in Rhodt unter Rietburg who are also in the "up-and-upcoming wine-grower" bracket (Marius and Stefan). I might have confused him with them to be honest, but I won't be doing that in future.

Weingut Meyer, Riesling Herrenpfad trocken 2011 - Goldkapsel -, Pfalz, Germany
Reticent on the nose at first, but some red berry notes gradually emerge. The palate is more expressive, tasting of classically succulent and soft yellow-fleshed peaches. This Riesling is very dry with acids that, to me at least, are more austere than shy and retiring. However, the peach notes manage to squeeze an unlikely sense of sweetness into the wine. The brief finish is slightly disappointing, as is the touch of alcoholic heat that accompanies it. Quite a firm, "masculine" wine. Enjoyable if you like that sort of thing. And I do to a certain extent. Great label.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Haltinger Chardonnay

Now for something closer to home, from the village of Haltingen situated just north of Basel. "Haltinger Winzer" is the official name of the local wine cooperative. Compared to its peers, this Winzergenossenschaft is relatively small, accounting for around 55 hectares of vineyard. Since Markus Büchin took over the reins in the cellar in 2009, the quality of Haltinger wines has come on in leaps and bounds. Compared to previous times, there now seems to be a much greater focus on expressing the natural characteristics of the grape varieties and plots at their disposal. I also particularly like their website - created and updated by Joachim Ott, a local freelance journalist and photographer.

Haltinger Winzer, Chardonnay trocken 2009, Baden, Germany
In colour, this wine is not too dissimilar to our dining room table from a well-known Swedish furniture store. Happily, the woody influence is a lot more discreet on the nose, translating into yeasty notes that support what are predominantly green apple and starfruit aromas. The general effect is maybe more reminiscent of Chasselas/Gutedel aged in large oak casks than Chardonnay.

On the palate, starfruit is noticeable again along with green melon, grapes and some spicy wooden cask flavours. Mentioning grapes probably seems slightly absurd, but that's what I smelt. Balancing this out are some seriously appley notes. The winemaker evidently didn't wait for the malolactic fermentation to kick in. On the other hand, the spiciness of the wood not only lends this wine ample body and complexity but I daresay quite a sweet-and-sour affinity with Asian cuisine as well.

My wife and I were both unanimous in our appreciation for this Chardonnay. That must be a first.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Rote Erde

After white and yellow comes red.... (Please click on these links for some previous context.)

Weingut Braun, "Rote · Erde" Riesling trocken 2012, Rheinhessen, Germany
Admittedly, comparison with the previous two Braun Terroirweine is somewhat skewed due to the differing vintages. As you will have noticed, I started with a 2010 (Weisse Erde), moved on to a 2011 (Gelbe Erde) and now have a 2012 in front of me (Rote Erde). Nevertheless, all three wines have their own distinct character. Whereas the white-soil variant showed pungent dry-as-a-bone salinity, the yellow-soil wine was much more overtly exotic albeit with some interesting earthy notes.

Like its two cousins, I bought this bottle in a supermarket. For some unknown reason, this particular specimen was adorned with just one label. The "back" label customarily showing the wine's alcohol content and exact provenance was missing. However, what I already knew was that the red soils on which the vines for this wine grew are situated in and around Nierstein and Nackenheim, i.e. on Rheinhessen's classic steep incline along the banks of the Rhine. This slope is often translated in Germany as the "Rhine front", which is a blatant calque of "Rheinfront" in German but maybe has more war-related connotations in native English.

Anyway, to the matter at hand. Red apple, dry herbs and yeasty, bread-like notes on the nose. In general, this wine has an altogether more herbal feel to it than the other two. Sweet bread and apricot on the attack, followed by the iodine-like hints of fizzy mineral water. In the mouth, the wine feels silky yet light-footed. It certainly flows down smoothly. The finish is pinpoint. On the second day, the fruit recedes almost completely. What is left are merely herbal, mineral-water notes. What alcohol there is is barely noticeable.

This wine clearly shows a sense of place, as do its aforementioned peers. I would maybe place this one above the others on account of its underlying minerally grip that seems to have legs for plenty more years.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


A lovely wine festival that my wife and I attended in Staufen at the beginning of this month has prompted me to write the following brief missive:

Staufen im Breisgau is situated just south of Freiburg. The town's biggest claim to fame is its association with Dr Faustus, the inspiration behind Goethe's Faust. According to legend, it was in Staufen where Dr Faustus is reputed to have made his pact with Mephisto.

Staufen's more recent, and probably more dubious, claim to fame dates back to as recently to 2007, when geothermal drilling caused extensive damage to the fabric of its old town. Some of Staufen's oldest buildings, including the town hall, were affected, showing visible hairline cracks from ground to roof level. According to the latest measurements, the ground in the centre of Staufen is currently rising three to five millimetres each month. Earth movements of that kind can, of course, cause long-term damage. Only at the beginning of this month, the first building in Staufen was demolished as a result of the irreparable damage caused.

Thus, it was poignant that the proceeds for the official wine glass at this year's festival went to the foundation working to stop Staufen from literally crumbling to the ground (see photo).

Staufen darf nicht zerbrechen!