Thursday, 30 August 2012


Before ballooning to 158 hectares in 1971, the Maikammer Heiligenberg vineyard comprised just eight hectares. Grown in this original plot, the following wine probably deserves to be called "Heiligenberg" more than most.

Weingut Dengler Seyler, Heiligenberg Riesling trocken 2009, Pfalz, Germany
Straw yellow. Pronounced minerally character on the nose, distinct pineapple, peachy hints. Despite this being one of the winery's weightier Rieslings, this still feels quite elegant and silky in the mouth. Minerals grip the palate and pucker the lips. Without sharing the exact same taste profile, this wine reminds me a little of Jochen Schmitt's Hochbenn (of Weingut Egon Schmitt), but with more than an extra level of complexity and seriousness. Long finish.

On tasting this at the winery, we compared it to Seyler family's two other lieux-dits Heidenstock and Schlangengässel. This probably got the nod, but it would be instructive to compare all three again.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


When receiving a bottle of wine as a gift, I am loathe to make notes when it comes to tasting the contents. After all, it goes without saying that the bestower of said gift wants us to enjoy the wine. I find that gurgling and slurping excessively can sometimes dilute the experience.
At a wine tasting event in Blackpool organised earlier this year by UK wine merchant Laithwaites, some close family members were particularly taken by a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. In fact, it was their favourite wine of the evening, hence we felt flattered to receive a bottle from them.

Insight, Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand
Normally I'm suspicious of wines with labels that spell out how the contents of the bottle are supposed to smell and taste. Is the wine really going to be like its description? Does the winemaker want you to believe that it tastes a certain way? I find that label descriptions can play on your subconsciousness in the same way as tasting notes. They can constitute a suggestive "crutch" to fall back on. As you can see, this label takes the practice to a new level.

Admittedly, it does so in original, aesthetically pleasing detail. In the absence of any notes of my own (we murdered the bottle over a meal of dill-seasoned salmon), these label descriptions come in useful now as an aide-mémoire.

Although I will always find it hard to fall in love with Sauvignon Blanc as a grape variety, we enjoyed this wine greatly. Of the various flavour components pinpointed on the label, I could identify "red capsicum" and "ripe pink grapefruit" surprisingly clearly. Whether the wine would have been able to evoke red capsicum and ripe pink grapefruit in my nasal nerves and taste buds without the aforementioned prompts is another matter. (Probably not, which is why I maybe should have covered the label up beforehand.) Nevertheless, this SB was unabashedly Kiwi in character, full of pungent aromas and fresh, upfront exotic notes. It also showed some welcome complexity.

I would love to try another bottle one of these days - though purely for academic purposes, you understand.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


One bitterly cold Saturday last February, we spent the afternoon in Maikammer tasting a variety of wines. The following Pinot Noir stood out in particular.

Weingut Dengler-Seyler, Spätburgunder "Tradition" 2008, Pfalz, Germany
Ruby in appearance with minty, dried herbal notes on the nose that eventually remind me of breakfast tea. Fresh basil scents also emerge. Some 24 hours later, I can smell strawberry fruit as well as a more earthy, "underground" personality - a bit like clay.
Fine, fresh strawberry on the palate with a sappy, almost limpid feel. Things become slightly creamier a day later. In truth, there is quite a lot of mouth-filling substance and complexity here, but the tannins and acidity are still youthful and vibrant.
There is a lot to like here, plus the lighter 2008 vintage maybe underscores more of this grape's elegant side.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Mandelberg revisited

Bought two bottles of this in early 2009. This first one was opened immediately, I gave the second another couple of years. Without looking back at my previous notes, here is my quick-fire verdict:

Weingut Bergdolt, Mandelberg GG 2008, Weißburgunder, Pfalz, Germany
Dried apricot, herbs and a lovely waxy scent reminiscent of honey. Some chalky minerality - smooth rather than pungent.
Medium-bodied on the palate, slightly bitter pear, hints of apricot. Lots of extract buzzing around the mouth, helping to conceal the alcohol pretty effectively. The acidity isn't pronounced but lends enough freshness for the wine to retain balance.

[After writing the above, I've now taken a look at my admittedly gushing notes of May 2010]
On balance, more fruit has emerged in this Pinot Blanc than was the case two years ago. Whether it is more enjoyable or complex is, however, debatable. Personally, I don't think so. It's just different.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Pretty in pink

Pink and purple seem to have been the most popular decorative colours at London's Olympic venues. Even the "Smurf turf" of the hockey arena has pink on the outside. With pink maybe engrained in our subconsciousness, we recently opened this bottle:

Weingut Kiefer, "Schmetterlinge im Bauch" Rosé feinherb 2011, Baden, Germany
As you can see, even the label has got in on the act. And I love the "butterflies in your tummy" name.

It's fitting, because this really is a slightly garish, purplish-pink sort of rosé. A rosé that's totally comfortable with its pinkness.

A lovely strawberry picnic sort of aroma on the nose, complete with water melons. Much of the same on the palate. Maybe the fruit is a little on the plastic bubblegummy side - lacking the debonair charm of, say, Pinot Noir blush. Yet this is a fun, happy-go-lucky wine and just the ticket for outdoor drinking. Its slightly off-dry personality lent very well to easy quaffing.