Thursday, 30 October 2014


Weingut Vollenweider, Wolfer Goldgrube Riesling Kabinett 2012, Mosel
Very pure lime scents along with the best, most expensive lemons you could think of and an ever-so-slight sprinkling of top-quality sugar. Multi-faceted, bright and appetising. Sweetish at first on the palate, but then lemon, lime and apple dance a jig on my palate. Incredibly mouthwatering and tremendously bright, like a shining beam of light. Wet stone puckers my mouth slightly. Lip-smackingly good. Light but with ample flavour concentration. Great balance, finishing long and dry. Only 8.5 percent alcohol. Satisfying and extremely moreish.

Or, as my wife said in her understated way: "Yummy."

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Mosel trocken

From my point of view, dry Mosel Rieslings used to have a bit of "fear factor". Although climate change has helped further the trend towards Mosel trockens, it was not until the revelatory experience of tasting the Rieslings of Clemens Busch last year that I fully appreciated what was possible. Obviously, Clemens Busch is a top grower and, as such, maybe not that reflective of the rank and file of Mosel vintners. But how about this relative unknown then purchased for a mere 10 Swiss francs (!) as a bin-end, bargain-basement deal here in Basel?

Weingut Paul Knod, "Mons Prin" Riesling Spätlese trocken 2011, Mosel
Quite a high-definition light-coloured yellow in appearance. Pineapple and wet stone, already showing some mature wax-like tones, but otherwise bright in character. Overall, the impression is quite dense and reminds me of crushed stone not slate, but maybe chalk. Personally, it also reminds me of warm squash balls, however strange that may sound. There is also a slightly nutty whiff that suggests ageing in wooden casks (I might be totally wrong though).

Clear with a medium body on the palate, but ripe and quite concentrated, with a continuation of the mature notes I mentioned, along with lovely red apples, stone fruit and even suggestions of red berry fruit. Nuts then come to the fore again, helping to buffer the acidity. All this lends the wine a certain inherent sweetness within its otherwise trocken idiom. All in all, quite long and refreshing and very drinkable.

According to the bottle's "back label", the Romans used the Latin term "mons prin" to mean "Erste Lage" or "premier cru". Monnbring, the old name of the cadaster plot in which this wine was grown, is derived from this.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Müller-Catoir Muskateller

It was a tasting note by American wine importer Terry Theise that motivated me to buy the following wine. Although I do find wine descriptions useful from time to time, it is rare for me to buy a particular bottle purely and solely on the strength of such notes. Then again, Theise's prose which I've enjoyed reading year in year out for over more than a decade in his annual catalogues is very unlike most other trains of thought I've read on wine. And I mean that in a good way.

Weingut Müller-Catoir, Haardter Muskateller trocken 2013, Pfalz
Straw-yellow in appearance with exceedingly bright aromatics: fresh garden blossom, nutmeg, greenish appley notes, but also some yellowish suggestions and even a hint of fennel. Quite an exciting panoply of different elements. Cool, complex and vibrant on the palate. No less exciting than on the nose. A slightly glazed feel in the mouth midway through with light-to-medium concentration, although the overriding impression is that of a wine that is cleansing, "grapey" in the best sense, and above all exceedingly vivid with a long finish.

Or, as Terry Theise puts it in his 2014 Germany Estate Selections catalogue: "It break-dances over the palate and sizzles away with this crazy incipient salivating sense of sweetness but of course it isn't sweet. It's like drinking wine while you're stoned, it's derangedly vivid and you can't stop laughing."

Amen to that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Back in the year 2000, the German Wine Institute decided to coin two wine terms or categories in a bid to revive Germany's export market. These were "Classic" and "Selection". The latter was meant to equate to some sort of glorified "premium" level of dry wine with no more than 9 g/l of residual (but with an exception made for Riesling, whereby the sweetness was allowed to be 1.5 times the acidity level up to a maximum of 12 g/l). These would be labelled as having been grown in a specific vineyards and were subject to a yield cap of 60 hectolitres per hectare and a minimum ripeness level of 90 degrees Oechsle. "Classic", on the other hand, applied to wines that were meant to be "harmoniously dry" ("harmonisch trocken") with residual sugar levels of no more than 15 g/l, that had a good intensity of flavour and were typical of the specific region from which they originated. Unsurprisingly, neither of these terms caught on outside Germany. As Owen Bird pointed out in his worthwhile study on German wine, Rheingold, The German Wine Renaissance (2005), English-native-speaking consumers might believe "Classic" was something "old-fashioned" or "traditional" as opposed to a laser-sharp representation of a specific wine-growing area or grape variety, which is the meaning the German Wine Institute mistakenly thought the word would convey. The term "classic" is not the first and definitely won't be the last English word that somehow gets lost or warped in translation when used in a German context ...

Be that as it may, the "Classic" moniker within Germany does at least seem to have outlasted "Selection". I can understand why this would be the case. Notwithstanding the unfortunate "Anglo-German" usage of this particular c word, "harmoniously dry" is a style a lot of people can relate to. Consequently, the "Classic" tag plays a role in some wineries' basic entry-level ranges to this day. Such wines are relatively inexpensive and, assuming the consumer is vaguely aware of the "harmonisch trocken" remit, quite easy to grasp and enjoy. This was a good example:

Weingut Werner, Riesling Classic 2013, Mosel
A producer totally unknown to me until now. Purchased for just under 12 Swiss francs from Liechti Weine here in Basel, this wine is pale straw-yellow in appearance. Quite straightforward and linear, but by no means simplistic with pleasing scents of exotic and stone fruit. As clean as a whistle on the palate with exceedingly fresh, bright acidity. On the one hand, the lack of any of the Mosel's typically "slatey" notes maybe makes what little residual sweetness there is seem a little more obvious. On the other hand, the acidity is so pure and electrifying that this impression remains but a fleeting one. All in all, a very balanced, harmonious wine that does not pretend to hit the heights of the previous wine but simply offers good value within its price bracket.