Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Back to wine

Another humiliating exit for England in the major tournament, then. At least everyone will have forgotten about it by August when the Premier League season begins.

What with a break in the football before the quarter-finals commence and the current hot weather, we opened a bottle earlier this evening to go with a light summer salad.

Weingut Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, 2008 Villa Bürklin weiß, Pfalz
Purchased the weekend before last at Hofgut Ruppertsberg, costing EUR 7.50. This is an unusual blend of, wait for it... Silvaner, Weißburgunder, Riesling, Chardonnay, Scheurebe, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Auxerrois. With so many varietals, you'd think the wine would be neither here nor there. It is, however, a lovely wine with clear definition. On the nose, a good balance between fruit and floral, but predominately with hints of yellow apple, melon and a minerally whiff. Tasting fresh and lively, the palate hints at citrus (thanks to the Riesling influence?) although the acidity is mild. A righter charmer, this one. Elegant, eclectic and perfect for a balmy evening like this one.

Monday, 28 June 2010


...and time for some home truths. This piece by Paul Hayward in the Guardian sums it up brilliantly.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

I'm not going to mention a certain football match tomorrow...

I'm getting sweaty palms just thinking about it. No, instead, I'm going to write briefly again about last weekend in the Pfalz.

We went to the annual Burg- und Weinfest in Wachenheim and met some friends there who live in Heidelberg. Although living in Basel, I have a lot of past experience with Pfälzer wine fests. To the uninitiated, drinking spritzers containing Riesling (or off-dry blush) and fizzy water from dimpled, half-litre glasses can be a shock to the system (and one's constitution). When served, the wine/water combination should theoretically be half and half. However, in practice, the wine tends to account for quite a bit more than a half. The secret, I suppose, is to pace yourself.

Apart from wine fest escapades, Jenny and I stayed in a lovely guest house in the picturesque village of Deidesheim. On the Friday evening, we ate at Hofgut Ruppertberg and enjoyed the food and ambiance in the courtyard there immensely. Geese and cockerels took care of the farmyard sounds, and with a herb garden and vineyards aplenty nearby, the place had a certain Mediterranean flair.

Before meeting our friends in Wachenheim the next day, we ventured into the vinotheque of Weingut Bassermann-Jordan and tasted a couple of wines. I bought three bottles from the 2009 vintage: 2 x Riesling Forster Ungeheuer "S" trocken and 1 x Riesling "Auf der Mauer", the latter being a blend from the best vineyards in Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg, i.e. Hohenmorgen, Grainhübel, Kalkofen and Reiterpfad. The parcels of land in question are situated on mini-plateaus surrounded by tall vineyard walls - hence the name Auf der Mauer ("On the wall").

After a surreal moment outside Deidesheim's very own Togolese Consulate (see photo), we then proceeded to walk through the vineyards to Wachenheim via Forst, where we had a late lunch (Saumagen-Maultaschen, anyone?). We then eased gently into the vinous festivities with an aperitif at a local well-known fizz purveyor, before settling down with Rieslingschorle in hand at the castle overlooking Wachenheim. You can't beat a good wine fest.

On the Sunday, we spent a leisurely few hours in lovely old wine town of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse before heading back to Basel later in the afternoon - glad of having spent a weekend "away from it all".

Monday, 21 June 2010

Weekend in the Pfalz

Just come back from a long weekend (Friday to Sunday) at that combined mecca of Pfalz Riesling - Deidesheim/Forst/Wachenheim. More on that once I get a spare moment inbetween watching the World Cup and working, but suffice to say, we had a lovely time.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Pinot rosé

A local rosé for these balmy(ish) mid-summer nights:

Winzergenossenschaft Britzingen, Spätburgunder Rosé Kabinett trocken 2008, Baden
Watery salmon pink with an orangey hue (see photo, which exaggerates the colours somewhat - especially the orange). Delicate water melon, bitter orange and floral aromas on the nose. This continues on the palate. If anything, the fruit is understated. Elegant, fresh and balanced with a welcome degree of focus for this style of wine. Unusual and interesting in its more melon-driven style. Nothing at all to quibble here, but plenty to quaff.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Putting the cart before the horse

My annual hay-fever bout has just begun. I suspect some sort of grass started to pollenate a few days ago, and I've been sneezing ever since. I tried anti-histamines once as an adolescent, but they didn't seem to do much good. As is normally the case, the worst of the hay-fever will probably blow over within a couple of weeks, so I think I'll just grin and bear it for the time being.

Anyway, other wine from Martin Tesch's winery in the Nahe region - this time a notch up from the Unplugged version I tried in early May.

Weingut Tesch, Karthäuser Riesling 2007, Nahe
Straw hue with greenish notes. A steely nose of lemon sorbet and crushed rock. Anyone familiar with the Lockets throat lozenge in the UK may also be reminded of menthol flavour. Dry as a bone yet mouthwatering and lime-infused on the palate with a certain minerally bitter-lemon finish. Although I do not share the view of many over in Germany that the drier a Riesling is, the more "precise" and "focused" (and, hence, "better") it should be, this wine is admittedly as laser sharp as they come. In a good way, I hasten to add.

Monday, 7 June 2010

More unusual offerings from Efringen

Although maybe better known for his reds (Pinot Noir, Syrah), Hanspeter Ziereisen's whites from the village of Efringen-Kirchen deserve more than just a passing mention. This wine is a case in point.

Weingut Ziereisen, Grauer Burgunder, Jaspis Alte Reben unfiltriert, 2007
From 50-year old vines, hence the "Alte Reben" moniker. As recommended on the back label (see below), I decanted this first. I then left well alone for over an hour before serving it for dinner.

The appearance is a lovely pale gold yet quite cloudy. "Morning urine," was my better half's strictly tongue-in-cheek description. Such is the visual effect, I suppose, when you do without filtration during the vinification process! However, don't let this put you off, because the wine itself is extremely worthwhile. Showing off spice, chalk and vanilla, the nose is complex and multi-layered. This translates on to a palate showing depth, fullness and persistence, and a lovely wild, untamed character. The oak notes are well integrated. While showing some richness, the wine is well balanced and refreshing. Not much fruit to speak of, but you'd hardly mourn its absence amid the other myriad sensations. Lovely.

Hard to compare with any other wine, let alone any other Pinot Gris, I've ever had.

Strawberries and cream

The rewards awaiting us at the Mooswald restaurant in Weil am Rhein (D) near the end of our afternoon bike ride yesterday. "Is it rude to take pictures of food?" asks Jamie Goode. Maybe, but in this case I thought it would be rude not to.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Juicy Grauburgunder

Amid the volcanic soils of the Kaiserstuhl region, Weingut Kiefer in Eichstetten is a sizeable operation that not only owns 13 hectares of vines, but also vinifies grapes from some 94 hectares of wine cooperative land.

Weingut Kiefer, Eichstetter Herrenbuck Grauburgunder Kabinett trocken 2009, Baden
Sealed with a Stelvin screwtop. "Only" a Kabinett, yet this has 12.5% alcohol. Attractive yellow-straw appearance with cool red melon and apricot on the nose. More of the same on the palate, as well as spices and almond. A juicy mouthfeel and a pretty decent finish for a wine of this level.

Other grape varietals, such as Riesling and Scheurebe, take the accolades as far as compatibility with Pac-Rim cuisine is concerned. However, the more I taste Pinot Gris, the more I think it would be a match made in heaven for that type of food.

Basel's favourite German wine

The following wine was covered a year ago in my previous blog, but deserves another airing due to its propensity to delight and confound in equal measure.

Only the other week, the latest vintage was delivered to Basel's city hall amid a certain degree of ceremonial pomp and circumstance. For another year, Isteiner Kirchberg will be the wine of choice served at all of Basel's civic receptions.

Bezirkskellerei Markgräflerland, Isteiner Kirchberg Gutedel trocken "Exklusiv" QbA 2009, Baden
And I swear this wine gets better and better each year. The chalky Kirchberg terroir is, for an initial moment, quite apparent on the nose. Lovely, fresh "grapey" aromas follow, and I can also detect hints of apricot. On the second evening, I get a momentary blast of cooked apple after opening, but this dissipates, giving way to the same grapey character and some lingering minerality. On the palate, elegance abounds. The acidity is low - as with most Gutedels - and the (white) fruit flavours are of the sweet, cooked variety. Quite complex for a wine under 5 euro. Another contender for summer sipping this year. One of Jenny's favourites, too.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Wine rambling in London

Jenny and I took advantage of Switzerland's Whit Monday holiday (on 24 May) to spend a long weekend in London. Being a Northerner whose knowledge of his capital city is, at best, limited, I left all the organisation and logistics of our trip to my better half. That was just as well, as we both had a great time.

However, there was one excursion I took into my own hands on the Sunday evening, when we took a detour out of the centre of London to spend a lovely evening of exquisite food, wine and chat with Torsten, London's resident Wine Rambler.

Torsten's description of one of the wines he served us that evening can be found here. I'd also like to give an honorable mention to an exceedingly quaffable English wine we drank. An English rosé, in fact, and a great introduction to the vinous offerings of my home country! It went perfectly with the delicious beetroot soup our host laid on for starters.

Anyway, Jenny and I both had a cracking time, and we hope to reciprocate in Basel one of these days.