Friday, 23 December 2011

About to enjoy a good bottle...

My better half is preparing a pre-Christmas feast as I write, and I've emptied the contents of Zind-Humbrecht's Grand Cru Rangen de Thann, Pinot Gris 2005, into the decanter. This wine has been a long time coming, but tonight is the moment of truth. We'll probably murder it, but it at least it will have breathed enough.

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Riesling 2010

Any self-respecting winery's basic "estate" bottling, or Gutswein as they call it in Germany, has to be that winemaking operation's calling card, as it were. There's no point in pulling monster grands crus out of the hat if your bread and butter offering is absolute pants. Mosbacher Estate from the village of Forst in the heart of the famed Mittelhaardt district has nailed this basic Riesling, despite what was a tricky vintage.

Weingut Georg Mosbacher, Riesling Gutswein trocken 2010, Pfalz, Germany
Sourced from various plots in and around Forst. Lime on the nose followed by ginger, tree blossom and earthy notes. There is a lemony personality in the mouth with some traces of talc (aka what I like to call "white wine tannins"). Sure, the pincer attack of 2010 acidity arrives on the sides of the tongue, but it is precise and refreshing. The wine is well balanced with a pleasant, juicy pithiness. The finish is unremarkable, but this does not detract one iota.

A wine to enjoy and, at 11.5% alcohol, just right for sophisticated quaffing. I need to try more Mosbacher.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


"Gneis" is German for gneiss. Confused? Well, gneiss is a type of rock formation. Personally, I've always associated it with granite. Although there was some foundation to this theory, there is apparently a difference between the two.

Weingut Otto & Martin Frey, Grauburgunder "Gneis" trocken 2010, Baden, Germany
From his winery base in Denzlingen in Breisgau, Martin Frey - who succeeded father Otto as winemaker - tends his vines on the south-facing slopes situated at the mouth of the Glottertal valley. The vineyard microclimate is actually quite cool, resulting in more slimlined wines than the norm.

This has blood orange and buttery nuances on the nose. These elements also translate onto the palate, followed by a rather saline characteristic. The finish shows a pleasantly pithy bitterness. On the second evening, there is not much in the way of aroma - apart from some vegetative hints maybe. In the mouth, the salty personality is drier, starker and more blistering than 24 hours previously. This lends complexity.

Overall, I'm impressed.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Grüße aus Deidesheim

My best man and his wife live in the Pfalz. We paid them a visit this weekend for some Christmas market browsing in Deidesheim.

Thursday, 8 December 2011


As the players walked on to the pitch for last night's Champions League clash between FC Basel and Manchester United, the home end unfurled a huge banner reminding those present of past European nights involving their club; this is my photo from where we were sitting. The message was clear: Brugge, Celtic and Liverpool have all copped it in the past; now for the next exploit, to coin a French term.

Being a Man United supporter living in Basel, things could have gone better last night to put it mildly. That said, full credit to FCB.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


We visited Freiburg last Saturday for the enjoyable ritual of Glühwein, Christmas market stall browsing and a visit to a favourite microbrewery of mine. I also took a detour to Weinhandlung Drexler, where I bought six varied bottles all in the price bracket of between 7 and 10 euros, based on my self-imposed budget. Four came from Baden, while two hailed from the Mosel and the Pfalz respectively. Here's one of them:

Weingut Stadt Lahr / Familie Wöhrle, Weissburgunder Kabinett trocken 2010
A refreshing nose of quince. Mildly spritzy too. Nothing too demanding, but that's fine. The quince theme continues on the palate, along with fresh acidity and some slightly more succulent notes. The finish hints at something minerally. All in all, a good "pick-me-up" of a wine.

As I noted during my visit to the Badische Weinmesse last May, what was produced in the difficult 2010 vintage tended to be on the more refreshing side. This, I feel, was more of a boon than a bane when it came to white Baden Pinot. This Weissburgunder is a good example, even though I would normally be expecting something on the lighter side at Kabinett level anyway.

The winery, incidentally, used to be officially owned by the town of Lahr until 1979, when it was merged with Hans and Monika Wöhrle's property. The Wöhrles have continued to make wine under the "Stadt Lahr" name ever since. Son Markus spent four years as deputy general manager at renowned Pfalz winery Müller-Catoir before returning in 2002 to incorporate his own ideas and expertise.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bordeaux inheritance

Before you wonder - no, I haven't come into the possession of a top château by way of blood line. However, two British friends who recently relocated from Basel to Houston (Texas) for professional reasons kindly left us numerous wines which they had accumulated during their time in Switzerland. I can assure you it was heart-wrenching for them, but we were very grateful (and humbled) recipients. Here's one of the wines in question:

Château Maypé Lagrave 2003, Graves AOC, Bordeaux, France
Dark ruby/brick red in appearance with a brownish hue at the edges. On the nose: meaty blood notes, rumtopf, lead pencil shavings. No particular fruit personality stands out - maybe more floral lilac hints if anything.

I was optimistic about this wine before opening due to the vintage. If you couldn't make a nice, generous red in 2003, then you never could. Yet this is no hothouse of a wine. There is a refreshing acidic backbone on the palate with a lovely juicy transparency, elegance, iron tones and finely grained, subtle tannins. Minerally yet understated on the finish.

My exposure to Bordeaux has been limited over the years, but this was as good a reintroduction as I could have got. After some research on the Internet, I found out that the producer releases wines under two names - Château Quincaron and Château Maypé Lagrave. This is slightly confusing, but basically this is a property situated in the heart of Graves not too far from Sauternes. The owner and vintner Carlos Asseretto makes sweet Sauternes, red Graves under the Quincaron label and then "Autre vins", one of which is this specimen. A relatively minor château and wine then, by the looks of it. But it's amazing what a few years of ageing does. (And I don't necessarily mean the dusty appearance of the bottle.)