Monday, 13 February 2012

Wine-tasting weekend in the Pfalz

Just a quick post after our return from the Pfalz at the weekend, where we went wine-tasting with two friends of ours who are due to get married soon. We spent Saturday in Maikammer at Erich Stachel, Faubel, Immengarten Hof and Dengler-Seyler. Yesterday, we did a quick tour of Deidesheim. Pictured is a narrow street in Neustadt, our base for the weekend. More details to follow.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Book review

"111 deutsche Weine, die man getrunken haben muss", Carsten Henn

In my leisure time, most of the reading I do is of material covering the daily news and sport. In terms of actual books, I love the factual genre and don't go in for fiction much (unless it's by JRR Tolkien). Wine books are a favourite of mine among other things. Especially ones that offer a generous mix of words and visuals. For this and some other good reasons, Carsten Henn's "111 deutsche Weine, die man getrunken haben muss" (probably best translated as "111 German wines you should drink before you die") hits the spot.

Firstly, Carsten Henn has an effortless way with the German language. This, I suspect, is thanks to his literary background as the author of "whodunnits" set in the world of wine and vineyards. His prose, combined with tasteful snapshots of each of the 111 German wines in question, results in an aesthetically pleasing, almost "coffee table" style work that the reader can dip into as he or she pleases, knowledge of German permitting.

As for Carsten Henn's choice of wines, there are admittedly some moot points. The book covers all of Germany's wine regions and - within this remit - includes the widest spectrum of styles and grape varieties one could imagine. Now and again, this approach feels slightly provocative when the traditional rubs shoulders with the quirky. How about a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Mosel? A Chardonnay from the Ahr? Or a Chenin Blanc from the Kaiserstuhl? Nevertheless - for this amateur reviewer at least - it is an approach that works. Riesling does get its tuppence worth (and more) in this book - as do the Pinot varietals (red and white) - but it would be a shame to overlook the numerous other styles that characterise German wine to greater or lesser degrees in the 21st century (e.g. aromatic varietals Muskateller, Scheurebe and Gewürztraminer in the Pfalz, Huxelrebe in Rheinhessen, the Württemberg specialities Trollinger and Lemberger, Franken's beloved Silvaner, and new-fangled or native reds Saint Laurent, Regent, Portugieser and Dornfelder).

Another final aspect to note is that none of the wines cost more than 25 euros at the time of publication. Each wine is denoted on a "dot" scale from one to four: from the cheapest price range (5 to 10 euros; one dot) to the most expensive (20 to 25 euros; four dots). This, coupled with the aforementioned images of the wines themselves, is as good an advertisement for German wine that you could ask for.