Thursday, 21 January 2016

Out with the old, in with the new ...

This is my last-ever blog entry on From Blackpool to Basel. It's hard to know where to begin, but the long and short of it is that, after no small amount of deliberation, I've decided to discontinue this blog and start afresh on a brand-new site called winetext (please click the embedded link). For an explanation of why I'm making this change, please refer to my first posting on this new site (again, please click the embedded link).

Don't worry, this isn't a cheerio but hopefully more a case of "see you again soon". I've decided not to import the entire contents of this blog across to the new site - everything I've written here will remain here for posterity. However, the basic gist of this blog - ramblings about wine - will continue at the new address (winetext dot net).


Tuesday, 19 January 2016


Schwarzer Herrgott and Am Schwarzen Herrgott are a strange anomaly - two vineyards that go by virtually the same name and sit cheek by jowl, next to each other in the Zellertal, or Zell Valley, but in completely different wine regions. Am Schwarzen Herrgott, situated geographically in Mölsheim in Rheinhessen, has earned fame in recent years on account of the eponymous grand cru Rieslings of Oliver Spanier at Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier. Its bedrock is of pure limestone, as is that of its neighbour with the slightly different name situated in the Pfalz, i.e. Schwarzer Herrgott, which owes its recent prominence to the endeavours of brothers Georg and Stephan Schwedhelm of Weingut Schwedhelm. Riesling is the star performer here, too. But the following wine isn't Riesling - that will have to wait for the time being.

Schwedhelm, Zellertal, Saint Laurent 2013, Pfalz
Very dark garnet/ruby. Fairly expressive on the nose. Dried herbs that become quite pronounced after a while in the glass, along with cherry, dark olives and and hints of dark berry fruit. Leathery notes complete the picture some 48 hours later. A savoury element on the palate - again evoking dark olives. Dark cherry too. As the wine washes around, it leaves behind a thin film on my tongue - a lovely sensation that reminds me of other wines from chalky, limestone soils. Cool in the mouth with keen tannins that lend good structure. Medium-bodied. A surprisingly good wine from the humble Saint Laurent varietal.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016


The German social media wine scene recently imploded with talk about "natural wine" and what the term means. A mud-slinging match ensued.

Hansjörg Rebholz's dad and granddad were already making natural wine - or Naturwein - back in the post-war years of the 1940s and 50s. For them, Naturwein basically referred to wine that was neither subject to chaptalisation (the addition of sugar to increase alcoholic strength) nor underwent any other procedures in the cellar that would render it denuded of its natural character. This was a pioneering approach at the time. Naturwein also refers to many other factors, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Humans play a central part, too.

Rebholz, Riesling vom Buntsandstein trocken 2014, Pfalz
Buntsandstein is German for coloured sandstone. This is one of the wines in Rebholz's "Terroir" range. Vivid straw in appearance. Iodine-like notes reminiscent of mineral water, otherwise quite reticent to be begin with. After 24 hours in the fridge with the cork back in, hints of lime, white peach and ginger show through. Still a fairly shy nose overall. Clear and citrusy on the palate - mostly lemon. The acidity cuts through everything, putting the wine on the proverbial knife edge. It manages to pull off the trick of exhibiting electric freshness without any bitterness whatsoever - a rare feat. It feels likes the tête de cuvée - the free-run juice obtained before pressing. Though I might be totally wrong. Whatever it is, the result is purity and digestibility.