Friday, 21 June 2013

Heußler Riesling

The wines of Christian Heußler have long been on my radar. His winery is based in Rhodt unter Rietburg, a village I photographed from the top of the Rietburg chair-lift a few years ago (see opposite). As is very much the case throughout the Pfalz, the soils in and around Rhodt are a veritable patchwork. Apart from limestone, red clay, loam, sand and skeletal sandstone, one of Herr Heußler's plots has granite underfoot.
Weingut Heußler, Riesling Spätlese trocken "Granit" 2010, Pfalz, Germany
According to the back label, the plot in question is to be found in the Rhodter Schlossberg vineyard located directly below Villa Ludwigshöhe, a classical Italianate villa perched at the top of the incline.

These short notes are purely from memory.

Vivid yellow to pale yellow in appearance. This has spice, red fruit (redcurrant, strawberry) and earthy tones on the nose. Translated onto the palate, the impression is of sweet, luscious grapes with some of the aforementioned spice. No sign of any granite. Given the resplendently bright definition of its colour, you would expect this to have more than its still-reasonable 12.5% abv.

This Riesling forfeits a little bit of elegance on account of its shortish finish and slightly rough, rustic mouthfeel. Nevertheless, this latter characteristic that also lends it a certain charm. All in all, still pretty good and a wine I would like to revisit in future.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mittelhaardt Rieslingschorle

All things considered, the compact yet picturesque garden at Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl counts among the posher places you could think of to drink a nice cold Rieslingschorle on a sunny, warm early afternoon in June, but this is what my wife and I did a couple of years ago. Not all Rieslingsschorles are born equal, as ample experience has told me over the years. The specimen served to us that day from a humble litre bottle at von Buhl definitely counts among the creme de la creme. What I remember was a luscious ripeness that totally confounded me - all the more so given that the vintage was the oft-maligned 2010. It was merely a spritzer, but it was still a reminder for me that the Mittelhaardt really is a blessed area when it comes to Riesling.

The following wine continues in the same vein.

Weingut Heinrich Spindler, Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Kabinett trocken 2011, Pfalz, Germany
On the nose, you could say that the usual citrus comes to the fore. That may be true, yet the notes are of a lively lemony intensity. More lemon cake than lime soda. Over 48 hours, this initial excitement subsides, but the wine continues to shine on the palate. Peaches and over-ripe lemon. This Riesling is moderate in body and alcohol, although I suspect a mere nudge upwards in terms of the ripeness of the grapes would have seen it reach Spätlese trocken levels pretty quickly. In its designated category, this wine is representative of the type of Riesling I would associate with the Mittelhaardt: generous fruit, elegant, revitalising acidity, with some earthy complexity.

Good for a Rieslingschorle, though that would probably be a waste.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Brenneisen bubbly

I would say the following sparkler is pretty hard to procure unless you live down here in and around Basel or in Markgräflerland or order directly from the producer. For just under eight euros (if I recall rightly), it offers very good value.

Weingut Brenneisen, Weissburgunder Sekt Brut 2010, Baden, Germany
Light gold with fairly fine bubbles. Quite a Chardonnay-esque nose with moderately luscious and firm yellow fruit as well as certain yeastiness expressive of the oak casks in which the initially fermented wine matured for nine months prior to another 12 months of bottle fermentation. Ripe acidity. Drier on the palate than the nose would suggest, with some biscuity character.

This was consumed on its own but, if truth be told, is a little too concentrated to be quite right for lone sipping. On the other hand, a whole platter of antipasti goodies would be ideal - preferably alfresco, given the time of year.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Non-native translations, native wine

Back to English now. The last blog post was a departure from the norm that I very much enjoyed but will probably not be making a habit of, given the extra time and effort it entailed. While I do recognise that a good few people write (wine) blogs in languages other than their native tongue and achieve a high degree of linguistic polish in doing so (London and Munich's resident Wine Ramblers, to my knowledge, providing one of the best examples out there), my little incursion into German territory also underscored the golden rule for me as a professional translator of not delivering texts in any other language other than the one I was brought up in. That's English in my case. Expressing this in another way: I would frankly be kidding myself if I thought my recent German-language blog post was of native-speaker quality.

Incidentally, the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (or BDÜ for short) publishes a quarterly periodical for its members in which articles have occasionally been written in English by German native-speaker translators. Although the authors in question undoubtedly have the requisite German academic qualifications to translate into English, their texts can usually still be identified by the trained eye as "non-native". This, I feel, is symptomatic of the practice in German-speaking countries whereby professional translators also regularly translate from their native language, due in my view to a uniquely Germanic obsession with academic qualifications and titles. By this, I mean that once someone has an academic certificate entitling him or her to translate into a foreign language, this is often what counts ahead of all other considerations - such as actual written skills or the wisdom, or otherwise, of translating into a foreign language in the first place.

But I digress.

Today's ever-so-brief notes relate to a wine produced very close to home - barely three miles away as the crow flies, to be precise.

Weingut Röschard, Weiler Schlipf Weissburgunder trocken 2012, Baden, Germany
I admit that it was the winery's revamped bottle labels first and foremost that attracted me to this Pinot Blanc. It's amazing what a bit of marketing can do.

Yellow apple on the nose. Otherwise somewhat reticent over the course of the three evenings I tasted the wine. Again, yellowish apple on the palate. Tasty and light with keen acidity and some minerally personality. I suspect the shy bouquet may open up a little over the course of the next few months or so - it's still early days. Overall, good value for around EUR 6.50 from the supermarket (or EUR 5.80 from the cellar door).