Thursday, 21 August 2014


A couple of random wines that have brought enjoyment to the Jones household over the last week or so.

Weingut Dörflinger, Müllheimer Reggenhag Weissburgunder Kabinett trocken 2013, Baden
By all accounts, the latest cool-to-cold vintage is slightly dodgy for Riesling, which leads me to believe that Pinots such as this excel in 2013. I'm not far wrong if this wine is anything to go by. This is fresh and as pinpoint as Phil Taylor on the oche. Furztrocken (or as dry as a fart) as one would subtly say in German, but with plenty of sappiness and juice. As refreshing as an icy brook and as straight as a die. From now on, this is one of my favourite "summer" wines, although this doesn't necessarily have to be drunk in the summer. 

Schlossgut Ebringen, Grauburgunder trocken 2013, Baden
Bought and drunk at a local wine fest in Ebringen last weekend after an afternoon's clothes shopping in Freiburg. This was the carrot by dear wife dangled in front of me as a reward for revamping some of the contents of my wardrobe. We'd tried the sparklers and the Gutedel, but this was the best wine by far. Again, extremely precise and refreshing. Best enjoyed well chilled.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Hundertgulden III

Weingut Bischel, Appenheimer Hundertgulden Riesling trocken 2012
Quite unassuming straw yellow in appearance. Citrus scents that remind me of limoncello. Both waxy and blossomy notes, with honeysuckle and peanuts (?!) wrapped up in a savoury complex whole.
Nutmeg on the palate, with exotic papaya and passion fruit. A lovely glaze-like film covers the inside of my mouth. Copious body without becoming overly voluptuous. Great balance with ripe acidity holding everything in check. Minerally and warm undertones. Very long. There is very little separating the three Hundertguldens that I've tried (see here and here), and this specimen is excellent too.

Thursday, 14 August 2014


It's been quiet on here for a while because I've been translating another dual-language book: volume 2 of Vinipazzi, the title of which is "PHANTAPALASTIQUE. The wine does the talking" (The German title is "PHANTAPALASTIQUE. Es ist der Wein, der spricht"). That first part of the title confused me too. All will be revealed in the book itself. Author Thom Held is profiling three producers and their wines: Château Rayas (Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Henri Bonneau (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and Marie-Thérèse Chappaz (Valais, Switzerland). Publication is not until the end of November, which is just as well because the schedule for getting everything translated, typeset and proofread umpteen times has been intentionally spaced out to give all of us involved a lot more breathing space compared to the first book.

In the meantime, here are three photos I took during the tasting sessions I was lucky enough to attend in preparation for the book.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Hundertgulden II

I must say, I'm liking Rheinhessen's dry Rieslings more and more. Again, this one is from the Hundertgulden vineyard.

Weingut Knewitz, Appenheimer Hundertgulden Riesling trocken 2012, Rheinhessen, Germany
Not straw-yellow, but "on the yellow side of straw" according to my initial scribbled note. There is also a slight honey/reddish tinge.

Orange, peach and ripe apricots on the nose. Forty-eight hours later: minerals, starfruit, citrus and gooseberry. Fairly opulent at first on the palate. Ripe apricot again, with middling-to-soft acidity for a Riesling. Everything is very much in concentrated form with the sort of interwoven density that is hard to capture in a few words. However, two days later and the acidity has suddenly turned quite a lot more pronounced and electrifying. Gooseberries comes to the party. Both similar and different to Hofmann's interpretation similar in that both have an unusual gooseberry touch and are extremely enjoyable, marginally different in that Knewitz's version maybe has a little more body.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Middle-High German

"Gulden" is the old German word for gold coin (from the Middle-High German guldin) and is translated into English as "guilder". I came across the word quite frequently while dabbling in Middle-High German for a semester during my first year at university. The course in question given by Dr Ashcroft mostly consisted of trying to make some sense of "Moriz von Craûn", a book of verse written by an unknown author at around the beginning of the 13th century. Sounds boring, I know, but it was still more exciting than German Linguistics with Dr Beedham ...

It was with this in mind that I recently bought three different wines all grown in the exact same vineyard called Hundertgulden, but produced by three different Rheinhessen wineries. Here is the first one.

Weingut Hofmann, Appenheimer Hundertgulden Riesling trocken 2012, Rheinhessen, Germany
I love the bottle label. It makes things fairly clear, don't you think? Each different Hofmann wine has its own individual label, incidentally. I particularly like the drawing of a kiwi (the flightless bird, not the fruit) on the Sauvignon Blanc bottle.

Along with Niersteiner Oelberg, this is Hofmann's "grand cru".*

"Only" 12.5% alcohol. Aromas of freshly sliced, dripping mango and apricot on the nose, with some pineapple and prickly gooseberry hints along with a slightly creamy note. Dense, complex and salty on the palate. As with Winter's Riesling, the acidity is very well integrated. The soil in Hundertgulden a steep south-facing slope is dominated by Muschelkalk, or shell limestone. What I do know is that this particular soil does tend to temper the acids, as do other similar chalky soils in the relative vicinity, e.g. Saumagen (Koehler-Ruprecht, Rings etc.), Am Schwarzen Herrgott (Battenfeld-Spanier), Burgweg (Knipser, Kuhn, Zelt).

Twenty-four hours after opening, I can smell a greater minerally component, although the wine still has a lovely fruity warmth. The finish is long. This is an excellent wine.

[* Although he also produces a super-premium version from old vines.]

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Winter in summer

I'd been wanting to try this Riesling for a long time. Why? Simply because of I've heard and read a lot about Stefan Winter's wines. Winter may not be quite up there yet with the likes of Wittmann and Keller, but he appears to be on the right track.

According to the VDP's classification system, this wine belongs to the Ortswein category (equivalent to a cru villages) only the next step on the ladder after Gutswein but frequently offering the best value for money of all the levels. Winter's Ortswein is effectively the second wine from his grand cru Leckerberg bottling.

Weingut Winter, Dittelsheimer Riesling "Kalkstein" trocken 2012, Rheinhessen, Germany
Straw with honey-like glints. Reticent at first, but a sophisticated whiff of honey, yellow fruit and citrus gradually emerges a theme that continues on the palate. Medium-bodied with a leesy, almost creamy texture. Full of extract and earthy tones, yet the alcohol is moderate (12.5%). The acidity is extremely well-buffered I would definitely recommend this wine to people with slightly lower acid-sensitivity thresholds than mine. The finish is noticeably longer than that of Wittmann's Gutswein a wine I covered last month.

I would say that this is a very unhurried, "relaxed" wine, i.e. it seems to have been given the necessary time to bed down in the cellar and gain added complexity before bottling. It has no grand cru pretentions but would certainly give some lesser grand crus a run for their money.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Much to my delight, I recently won a quiz competition. The only other time I've won a prize in a "correct-answers-on-a-postcard" competition or its contemporary Internet equivalent was at age 10, when I came third and the prize was a set of Subbuteo figurines.

This time, the question (in German) was, "In welcher der drei Regionen wurde das aus dem Jahre 1988 stammende Foto aufgenommen?" ("In which of the three following regions was this photo taken in 1988?").

A. Sundgau
B. Swiss Jura
C. Markgräflerland

The mountain in the photo is Blauen (or Hochblauen). Except when the weather is less than ideal, I have a clear view of it whenever I look northwards out of my office window here in Basel. Therefore, the answer was C, Markgräflerland.

A package of three bottles from the "Weingräfler" range went to the first three correct answers. Fellow blogger Berthold Willi sent me my prize last month, along with an invitation to the annual presentation of the new Weingräfler vintage on 2 May. I was unable to attend the latter as we were in northern England at the time. However, the prize itself was gratefully received (and consumed).

The "Weingräfler" are a grouping of nine wine producers in Markgräflerland who each produce their own Gutedel, Spätburgunder and Spätburgunder rosé under the same respective brand names: "Grüner Markgräfler", "Blauer Markgräfler" and "Rosa Markgräfler". The wines are meant for light, easy, uncomplicated, enjoyable drinking. As an idea, I think the range is a good way of promoting Markgräflerland and its wines to a wider market. The colour-coding is excellent. The wines themselves are fun. The 2013 Grüner Markgräfler from Weingut Missbach is light, spritzy, citrusy and refreshing with no more than 10 percent alcohol. Its blue 2012 counterpart from Weingut Lämmlin-Schindler actually a red wine, but its name a wink to the varietal's full name "Blauer Spätburgunder" leads the palate on a cherry-inspired dance. Alcohol? No more than 11.5 percent. Best enjoyed slightly chilled. However, my favourite was probably the 2013 rosé from Weingut Zimmerman: beautifully balanced and refreshing, extremely versatile, only 11 percent alcohol.

As an aside, it was interesting to note that Lämmlin-Schindler's Blauer Markgräfler is also categorised as the winery's official "VDP.Gutswein" ("VDP estate wine").