Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Much to my delight, I recently won a quiz competition. The only other time I've won a prize in a "correct-answers-on-a-postcard" competition or its contemporary Internet equivalent was at age 10, when I came third and the prize was a set of Subbuteo figurines.

This time, the question (in German) was, "In welcher der drei Regionen wurde das aus dem Jahre 1988 stammende Foto aufgenommen?" ("In which of the three following regions was this photo taken in 1988?").

A. Sundgau
B. Swiss Jura
C. Markgräflerland

The mountain in the photo is Blauen (or Hochblauen). Except when the weather is less than ideal, I have a clear view of it whenever I look northwards out of my office window here in Basel. Therefore, the answer was C, Markgräflerland.

A package of three bottles from the "Weingräfler" range went to the first three correct answers. Fellow blogger Berthold Willi sent me my prize last month, along with an invitation to the annual presentation of the new Weingräfler vintage on 2 May. I was unable to attend the latter as we were in northern England at the time. However, the prize itself was gratefully received (and consumed).

The "Weingräfler" are a grouping of nine wine producers in Markgräflerland who each produce their own Gutedel, Spätburgunder and Spätburgunder rosé under the same respective brand names: "Grüner Markgräfler", "Blauer Markgräfler" and "Rosa Markgräfler". The wines are meant for light, easy, uncomplicated, enjoyable drinking. As an idea, I think the range is a good way of promoting Markgräflerland and its wines to a wider market. The colour-coding is excellent. The wines themselves are fun. The 2013 Grüner Markgräfler from Weingut Missbach is light, spritzy, citrusy and refreshing with no more than 10 percent alcohol. Its blue 2012 counterpart from Weingut Lämmlin-Schindler actually a red wine, but its name a wink to the varietal's full name "Blauer Spätburgunder" leads the palate on a cherry-inspired dance. Alcohol? No more than 11.5 percent. Best enjoyed slightly chilled. However, my favourite was probably the 2013 rosé from Weingut Zimmerman: beautifully balanced and refreshing, extremely versatile, only 11 percent alcohol.

As an aside, it was interesting to note that Lämmlin-Schindler's Blauer Markgräfler is also categorised as the winery's official "VDP.Gutswein" ("VDP estate wine").

Monday, 19 May 2014

Wittmann Riesling trocken

Despite being priced just on the wrong side of 10 euros, Philipp Wittmann's dry estate Riesling sells like hot cakes. I can tell why.

Weingut Wittmann, Riesling trocken 2012, Rheinhessen, Germany
This may be Wittmann's basic offering, but there is nothing basic about the colour. It has a very healthy yellowy tinge. No fruit shortage on the nose either: mostly apricot, some peach and a few exotic notes come to the fore. Initially, dry herbs show through, though these gradually retreat behind the fruit. Again, crystal-clear yellowish fruit coupled with a pleasantly dry saltiness on the palate. Slight caramel hints, too. The acidity is fresh but well balanced. The fruit generates considerable succulence. Certainly, this is more complex than your average estate wine and some more prestigious wines from other wineries I could think of. My only quibble concerns its surprisingly short finish. However, this is hard to top in the Gutswein bracket.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Back in early February, I was lucky enough to visit Weingut Franz Keller in Oberbergen with a group of friends. Nestled snugly betwixt the volcanic vineyard terraces of the Kaiserstuhl, the new winery building there is a sight to behold. After being shown around the premises, we tasted some of the wines. "Alas, no Gutedel," we joked my friends and I belong to the self-styled "Gutedelstammtisch", a convivial gathering of lads who convene every second Tuesday in Binzen over Gutedel and good food, work permitting. We followed our tasting session with lunch at the Rebstock, an afternoon at the football (Freiburg 1-1 Hoffenheim), then an evening at the Rebstock again. It was a fabulous if not entirely sober day.

One of the things I said to myself thereafter was that I need to drink more wines from the white Pinot varietals, i.e. Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder and dare I say the dreaded Chardonnay. From this admittedly narrow varietal-centric perspective, I would say that Weissburgunder is my personal favourite of those three. When my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Barry Fowden back in September last year, I remember my fellow wine blogger saying to me that he had never really warmed that much to the old "Pinot Bianco". I can't recall his exact words, but I know he was slightly underwhelmed by wines from that variety. I appreciate where he's coming from. I, for one, have experienced a certain "sameness" bordering on tedium in certain WBs over the years. On the other hand, other Weissburgunders have been a revelation, none more so recently than this one:

Weingut Ziereisen, Weißer Burgunder trocken 2012, Baden, Germany
Vivid beige in appearance. The impression on the nose is quite unique. Intense peppery notes that are reminiscent of Grüner Veltliner. Smelt blind, I might not have identified this as a Weissburgunder. Citrus, juicy peach and yoghurt play a succulent supporting role. Over time, I can also make out a herbal, savoury characteristic. It takes me a while to pinpoint the aroma, but I eventually conclude that there is something here akin to ... liverwurst.

On the palate, the citrus, peach and pepper form a congenial triumvirate. The result is highly refreshing. I also love the extra complexity and savouriness undoubtedly generated by cask-ageing and spontaneous fermentation. This has heaps of what the French call buvabilité, i.e. it is extremely drinkable. For nine euros, an absolute bargain. And just to stress: this is one of Ziereisen's more basic estate wines. I would recommend this wine to anyone.