All posts filed under: Germany

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Donnhoff Riesling and climate change. A visit to the Donnhoff vineyards in Nahe, Germany

As we walked up towards the famous Hermannshöhle vineyard in the Nahe, Helmut Donnhoff shouted back to of us, slowing down everyone by taking photos of the spectacularly steep vines, “Hurry up. There are beers waiting for us a the end!”  He has known this vineyard since he was a child. The Hermannshöhle vineyard was replanted in 1949, the year of his birth. As he showed us the frost damage on the canes from April frost, he explained how strange it was for this vineyard to be affected by frost,   “Cornelius (his son, who is now the winemaker, born in 1980) did not believe that frost could happen here. Now he knows that anything can happen.” He recalled his first vintage was 1971, one of the best vintages of the century. We joked that 1971 was a high standard to forever live up to. As we drove up to the Felsenberg vineyard near the “Donnhoff Castle” I asked, “What is the difference between working in the 2017 and 1971 vintage?” He thought for a while, slowing right …

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German Pinot Noir 2015 – Furst and Jean Stodden

German Pinot Noir 2015 is a guilty pleasure. On the one hand, the fruit from this warm and dry vintage is ripe and delicious. They have come into the world with adorable baby fat. But make no mistake, they are not exactly childish or simple. They have a sophisticated poise, even at this early stage, with just the right amount acidity to balance the ripe fruit.  On the other hand, it is difficult not to think about the wider implications of seeing warmer temperatures at this latitude. If wine grows best between 28th and 50th degree of latitude, the wineries we visited were at the limits: 49.7136 degree North (Fürst in Bürgstadter, Franken) and 50.5133 degrees North (Jean Stodden in Rech, Ahr). Many winemakers we visited on the ABS Masters of Riesling trip observed, from their vantage point at the edges of viticulture, the climate is changing. The silver lining for these stormy times ahead, is that red wines from Germany are having their moment. Arguably, the best yet after a few lean years.  These are strange …


Riesling Trocken 2013 by Rebholz

There is something wry and world-weary about dry Pflaz Riesling. The mineral quality is so self-effacing that it would not surprise me if it preferred to keep company with the young and effervescent sparkling mineral waters at the dinner table rather than the serious conversation of the old cellared reds and the over-caked whites. I want to use the word “refreshing” for 2013 Trocken Riesling from Rebholz – the master of the Pfalz – but that term would feel far too energetic and youthful. It reminds me of a very strange party I went to for a 90 year old customer who had never done anything more than polo in Argentina – this wine makes a party out of random people as it stays fascinated in everybody. Sliding up to fancy chicken wings or pretty little nori rolls so it can provide the erudite chat. Not everyone can be devoted to the inconsequential so seriously, so sincerely and for so long. This wine outlasts them all. mineral and cool 


German Riesling 2012 Kabinett & Auslese

The 2012 Germany Riesling vintage is powerful and intense like “lots of violins being played together pianissimo”. There is a real drama to this vintage and the best seem to sweep you up in their drama. The yields are very low this year (down by 50%), particularly in the Mosel – no wonder there is no slouching: they are pure and focused, up and at ’em at first light and not lolling about all day in bed in their silk sheets all day (although you know they want to). Hear the orchestra warming up down before the stage. The last of the violins have stopped their tuning of the strings, the murmuring voices stop and there is a tap from the conductor. Here is my dream flight of the Riesling: Kabinett 5. Saarburger Rausch Kabinett #04 13 Zilliken (Saar) A five-star Saar. Velvet texture rolling over the palate in waves. Mouth-watering spicy tropical fruit with real energy and vibrancy. 4. Rotschiefer Kabinett, Van Volxem (Saar) Incredible power behind the fruit, off-dry high-definition Van Volxem brilliance. A must. 3. Brauneberger Kabinett, Fritz Haag (Mosel) This Mosel is …

wines for a rainy summer

Another weekend of rain, has this been the 40th day/night yet this summer? I’m at home watching the Scottish Open in Scotland, particularly enjoying when the commentators whisper, “It’s a cruel game, cruel, cruel…” I’m not a golf expert (at all) but it seems like a lovely, polite game and the bleak, spare Scottish landscape is stormy but dry making me long for my favourite whisky, Lagavulin 16 year old. And any sport where they smoke cigars, is my idea of a good sport. This has been a week of Riesling, starting with dinner with Ernie Loosen

Urban Riesling

Then you become a beginner all over again. When the next step is a falter after having already reached the landing. The ghost step at the end of the escalator. If I could give only one piece of advice for new people to wine it would be: try to taste with people more experienced than you. Grand Cru Riesling is a challenge in all its decadence. It is all on the aromatic plane and quickly lapses into metaphor. There are no hard facts of flavour. This is the attraction. It’s a fairytale. But an urban fairytale with a backbone made of steel. With Riesling at this level flavours are not SOLID. Forget your W SET lessons. Up to a level you think you know how “pineapple” tastes but what about pineapple slipping into cherry into kirsch with a sprinkle of crunchy icing sugar like a hot-baked Austrian pastry. It is the closest thing to poetry. And in a little of group of tasters this is the closest thing to a communal experience. I don’t think it should …

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Diary of a Riesling Lover

Riesling Redux: April 3 – July 5, 2010 Riesling is something to turn to when the world gets too busy and crazy. Riesling, especially German Riesling, is not easy, outside of the common push and shove of the marketplace, a tonic to the mad prices of Bordeaux En Primeur this year, which has been the background machine-hum to the following notes. Over the past two months there has been some tragedy as well as great moments for me. In fact, Riesling has been my vino da meditazione. A moment to reflect. After the blandness of the day, it’s good to enjoy difficult things. Each Riesling here was like capturing raindrops.