Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Sometimes it's not just the wine

Apart from the quality of the wine (or otherwise), the personality of the wine-grower can be a big turn-on or turn-off for me when it comes to making purchasing decisions. I'm often doubly satisfied if the wine I buy is from a winemaker who comes across as a modest, self-effacing, hard-working member of their profession. Conversely, I almost sub-consciously think twice about a very small number of producers - naming no names - who have got my back up for whatever reason in the past (although perceived arrogance is normally the common denominator). But let's not go there. Happily, I can easily count them on one hand.

I've never met Stefanie Weegmüller-Scherr, the winemaker at Weingut Weegmüller in Haardt, a neighbourhood of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in the Pfalz, but thanks to power of social media, she has a certain profile that comes across well to me at least (and I don't mean in Facebook). While browsing in a wine shop a few weeks ago in the middle of Neustadt, this very thought not only crossed my mind but also informed my eventual purchasing choice.

Weegmüller, Der Elegante Riesling Kabinett trocken 2014, Pfalz
From the Haardter Mandelring vineyard site. The main village street in Haardt is also called Mandelring - a name that conjures up good memories in my mind thanks to a number of wine-fest visits many eons ago.

Typical straw with greenish reflexes. Clear on the nose, showing an airy concoction of pineapple, wet stone and apple (of the juicy red variety) with an imagined hint of sweetness in my mind's eye. Quite poised. Pineapple and apple again on the palate. Clean, pure and indeed elegant. This has enough of everything, but not an ounce too much. Spicy with good freshness. Not overly complicated, but full of goodness and refreshment. A mere 11.5 percent abv on the label means it's finished in no time.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

No faffing around

One of the things I love about the current German wine scene are the numerous hard-working families who still grow beautiful handcrafted wines at extremely customer-friendly prices. Some of the larger family operations on the flats of the Rhine valley in the Pfalz are also able to pull this off thanks in part to the relatively large volume of wine they are able to produce. If anything, this makes the quality they achieve all the more remarkable. Weingut Karl Pfaffmann are a case in point. I defy anyone to show me a better wine for EUR 6.49 (supermarket price).

Weingut Karl Pfaffmann, Riesling Silberberg trocken 2014, Pfalz
Beige in appearance. Lime, pineapple and white peach on the nose. Clear as a whistle on the palate, with the aforementioned flavours showing through again. Delicious, pure and unhurried. Dry-tasting, refreshing and digestible. Sure, this wine lives on its primary fruit to some extent, and I daresay it might come a cropper with the number-crunching trocken police who frown on residual sweetness above 4 g/l (notwithstanding the 9 g/l ceiling), but this is a lot of wine for your money. No faffing around.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


"Jay-Jay" Prüm are a hallowed address on the Mosel. This is their entry-level wine.

Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm, Riesling Kabinett 2013, Mosel
Very pale straw. Reticent at first, then opening up to show apple and slate. Puckering slate notes on entry. Appley as well. Light as a feather. Keen acidity lends ample refreshment and reduces the sweetness to a mere whisper on what is a long finish. Very digestible and gratifyingly easy to comprehend.

The label shows a drawing of the eponymous sun dial in the Wehlener Sonnenuhr ("Wehlen Sun Dial") vineyard.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

From the Markgraf

A villages-level Pinot Noir from Bodensee (Lake Constance), produced by a local member of the German nobility no less.

Markgraf von Baden, Schloss Salem, Birnauer Spätburgunder trocken 2013, Baden
Ruby with slightly purple edges. Quite obvious and up-front fruit. Blackcurrant and a some cherry too. Initially a little beetrooty and kitchy in a boiled sweets sort of way. Stemmy aromas counteract that to an extent. One day later and the impression on the nose has settled somewhat. The kitch has gone. Any wooden influence is completely hidden. I wouldn't be surprised if someone said this wine was aged in good old inox (stainless steel). Quite sappy in the mouth, again with an overridingly fruit-driven personality. Strawberry and raspberry. Plays quite a straight bat, as it were, in that it is easy to understand. The finish is refreshing. Should gain complexity with age, I daresay. For the moment an enjoyable and non-too-taxing wine.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Le Kottabe

A producer from Alsace whom I've heard a lot about.

Domaine Josmeyer, Riesling Le Kottabe 2012, Alsace
Pale straw with some slightly greenish hints. Expressive nose of candied lemon and a touch of grapefruit. Maybe also a medicinal, eucalyptus hint in there, too. The aroma promises more concentration than the palate delivers. In the mouth, the wine is quite featherweight and appley with a limpid, clear feel and a slight iodine note reminiscent of mineral water. Lovely citrus freshness holds things together and lends a good deal of length on the finish. The ultra dryness, the relative lightness and the neutrality of this wine would go well with sushi, I daresay.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Alsace Pinot Noir

A first for me: Pinot Noir from Alsace. It's not supposed to be the region's forte, but this wine was impressive.

Domaine Muré, Côte de Rouffach, Pinot Noir 2013, Alsace
The town of Rouffach is situated just south of the village of Pfaffenheim where I spent summer 1998 working with a wine-growing family who, like Véronique and Thomas Muré (and his father René), practise biodynamic viticulture.

Translucent edges. Ruby with purplish suggestions. On the nose, quite reticent at first. So, in the decanter it goes for a couple of hours. Finally, something lovely emerges: blackcurrant and herbs, a hint of strawberry. Minty? Definitely chalky.

Bone dry in the mouth. This lends a chalky feel with considerable tannic grip. Feeling almost austere on the one hand, but overtly fruity on the other. Strawberry on day one, metamorphosing into blackcurrant on day two. Medium body, ample concentration. Exceedingly pure. Less mushroomy and "damp autumnal undergrowth" compared to some of its counterparts directly over the Rhine. In this sense, the wine is imbued with a different type of quality based more on fruit and purity. Maybe its personality is linear in the sense of being precise, direct and refreshing (but by no means simplistic). Any wood influence is barely perceptible and merely provides a skeleton-like structure for the fruit to take effect. The finish lingers for some time.

This is the lesser of three Muré Pinot Noirs - the other two in ascending order being "V" and "Clos Saint Landelin". "V" is grown in the Vorbourg grand cru vineyard. The abbreviation is used because Pinot Noir can't be classified as grand cru in Alsace. The renowned Clos Saint Landelin is a lieu-dit situated within the Vorbourg grand cru and owned exclusively by the Muré family.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Halbstück Réserve

I first wrote about this wine three years ago. This, my penultimate bottle, finally got to breathe some lovely, pure Basel air over a couple of days in August 2015.

Weingut Knipser, "Halbstück Réserve" Riesling trocken 2004, Pfalz
Matt golden with maybe some
rusty hints (see photo). All in all, very savoury and complex on the nose. This wine has clearly taken on additional layers and dimensions over the last three years. For example, I can now detect distinct notes of iron. The effect is quite stark and untamed. Pungent red berry fruit too, reminding me of raspberry ripple ice cream - which, in turn, takes me back to my childhood. Definitely some lime in there, along with blackcurrant maybe. Notwithstanding the aforementioned nuances, this is still smelling as fresh as a daisy, even after 11 years. Bone dry on the palate, reverberating between intense iron/iodine notes and raspberry/strawberry. If truth be told, feeling somewhat leaner than the nose would suggest - but imbued with an innate succulence, freshness and concentration of flavours. Which goes to show that a medium body and a mere 12 percent alcohol need not be an obstacle to complexity. The wine's various nuances seem to be in constant flux all the way through to a long finish.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


Scraping a living has had to take priority over blogging in recent months. But I'm back - at least for now.

Weingut Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling trocken 2011, Nahe
This previously spent three years in my cellar. An attractive yellow tinge to this one. Peach, blossom and apricots on the nose. Then citrus (especially lime). A dense waxy note balances out these high tones.

More waxiness on the palate. Medium body at most, quite light-footed if truth be told. Bright with good acidity, yet at the same time dense and ripe. Long finish. Highly drinkable and mouthwatering, this wine is unashamedly fruit-driven (for exact constituents, see above) with only minimal minerality for now. And yet, it is an elegantly woven, complex package. Nominally, this is the Schönlebers' premier cru from Frühlingsplätzchen, but I fancy it would give most GCs, sorry GGs, a run for their money.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Paradiesgarten is German for "Garden of Eden". It's also a lovely vineyard that overlooks the western tail-end of Deidesheim near the open-air swimming pool (I went for a refreshing dip there once, lovely place). A stone statue of a naked Eve also adorns the scenery.

Weingut von Winning, Erste Lage, Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten "Selection MAX" trocken 2014, Pfalz
The "Selection Max" is a nod to Swiss wine merchant Max Gerstl for whom the winery made this bottling.
Straw yellow in appearance. Surprising open on the nose for a wine this young. Predominantly white fruit notes - something along the lines of white peach, as well as yellow apple and pineapple. Almost translated like-for-like on the palate, along with some gooseberry. Light-medium body and plenty to commend this. A suggestion, or sense, of (tropical) sweetness, but this in itself is an endearing trait and not a weakness. Great for sipping (or swallowing in huge gulps).

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Pinot Rosé, Martin Wassmer

Time for some bubbly.

Weingut Martin Wassmer, Pinot Rosé Brut, Baden
I've always been mildly amused by Martin Wassmer's chutzpah at having a bottle label that is suspiciously reminiscent of a certain famous Champagne label. Salmon orange in appearance (see photo). Raspberry and melon aromas, biscuity hints. A little bit savoury. (Bacon?) Raspberry on the palate with a refreshing apple tartness that keeps my mouth watering. The raspberry is very pure and moreish. Perfect for mid-summer. This doesn't necessarily hit the true heights, but it's a pretty adamant, good-value sparkler that knows its worth. I might be inclined to get more.
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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Schneider from Weil

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. Now I wouldn't dream that for a minute when it comes to the wines of Claus Schneider from Weil. On the contrary, the quality that this down-to-earth family-run winery situated in Germany's most southwestern town produces is more than a little bit good. It's just that I seem to have gravitated away from them in recent years in favour of other wines from maybe a little further afield; I absolutely love the Rieslings of the Pfalz, for example. And yet, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Just like I'm falling back in love with Gutedel - which, when grown in the right places, is in my opinion more than a match for, say, Silvaner - I'm also revisiting the wines from Weiler Schlipf - a vineyard I used to live barely a 10-minute walk away from when I first moved to this part of the world back in the year 2000. (I now live a 20-minute bike ride away.)

Weingut Claus Schneider, Weiler Weissburgunder trocken 2013, Baden
Very light beige, almost grey in appearance. Very minerally on the nose. No, seriously ... unadulterated minerals. That's the best descriptor I can find. It's not salty or iodine-like. It's minerally. If I wanted to sound less abstract but more macabre, I could also say that it's what I imagine crushed bones to smell of. The scent is very earthy, but the tones are light, if you know what I mean. This continues on the palate. Little in the way of obvious fruit, but a wine to be judged more on the basis of its elegant structure on the one hand and pure, stark minerally personality on the other. Light to medium body; long, satisfyingly dry finish. Not too dissimilar to a very good Chablis.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Riesling "R"

This is just tremendous.

Josten & Klein, Riesling "R" trocken, 2013, Mittelrhein
A very healthy yellow straw with a green tinge. Much riper than their entry-level Riesling. Wild with minerally notes, yellow stone fruit, hints of red apple and a certain herbal personality. Much of the above translates onto the palate. Anything but mainstream. Very complex. This is a lot less acidic than the estate wine. Very well integrated, very delicious and very drinkable. Wine of the year so far?

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Josten & Klein

My goodness, this is hardcore.

As a preliminary, I would implore anyone who has a bottle of this to GIVE IT ENOUGH AIR. I can't emphasis that enough.

Josten & Klein won the Gault Millau award of Newcomers of the Year in Germany a couple of years ago, if I recall correctly. Their cellars are based in Remagen, near the apex of where the rivers Rhine and Ahr meet. This is no coincidence as Josten & Klein have vineyard holdings in both the Ahr and the Mittelrhein regions.

Josten & Klein, Riesling trocken 2013, Mittelrhein
The white wines invariably come from the Rhine, the reds from the Ahr. Light straw with a greenish tinge. Already, the appearance gives a slight suggestion of what lies ahead. Mint leaves on the nose, with a greenish minerally hint that's hard to describe, along with citrus and maybe a suggestion of blood orange. What greet me on the palate are iodine notes reminiscent of mineral water. Anyone who lives in the Basel area will have heard of or drunk Eptinger mineral water at some stage. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but that extreme iodine characteristic of Eptinger is certainly there. Bone dry, and no fruit is discernible at all. Instead, we have acidity on the very edge of what could be considered harsh. Some might describe it as being shrill and sour. However ... this is a wine that grows on me. The acidity levels are borderline, yet the more I sip, the more I like. This is electrifying. The 2013 vintage is challenging even for acid hounds. The acidity in this wine is incredible. And yet, ultimately, the wine is not only balanced but ... exhilarating.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Farmer Giles

That's the nickname my wife and I gave Hanspeter Ziereisen after tasting his wines back in early 2010. Most who grew up in the UK would understand what we mean. For all others, it's simply our affectionate way of referring to one of Baden's most brilliant wine-growers. I would imagine the original "Farmer Giles" to be a down-to-earth, red-nosed, hearty, bucolic sort of character. No idea whether how he would react if he ever read this, but, let's face it: Hanspeter Ziereisen looks, dresses and talks like a farmer. I mean this in a good way. Down here, we're more than a little bit proud of the Ziereisens.

It was a while since I last tried this. One bottle still to go after this one.

Weingut Ziereisen, Spätburgunder "Schulen" 2008, Baden, Germany
Cherry-coloured, or pale ruby as it were. Dark cherries on the nose, with resiny, stemmy notes. The whiff is quite perfumy now, yet still very delicate and fresh. Beautiful cedar aromas. Elegant. Minerally on the nose with assertive tannins. Not necessarily silky - this has more of a rustic than elegant charm. Very fresh and vital still.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Bürklin-Wolf Riesling

No point beating around the bush: this is my type of wine.

Weingut Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Riesling trocken 2013, Pfalz
Vivid yellowish straw in appearance. You can already tell that this has stuffing. Beautiful succulent peach along with hints of apricot. Hm, you can't beat the Pfalz for a bit of peach and apricot. Generous as it washes away inside my mouth. On the one hand showing a dark spicy, earthy characteristic, on the other fresh yet well-integrated acidity. Very clean. If anything, purer and a little more austere on the second day, but essentially a wine that is easy to understand. This is their estate wine and as good a calling call as any.

Monday, 6 April 2015


The vineyards of Schlatt are a little unusual in Markgräflerland in that they are situated on what are otherwise the valley flats, albeit on a gentle incline. You could barely call it a hill. The nursery slopes of the Black Forest are still a good few kilometres away. To the west nondescript asparagus fields, to the east the spa town of Bad Krozingen. And yet, Martin Wassmer produces some of the region's best Pinots Noirs from his Maltesergarten holdings.

Weingut Martin Wassmer, Schlatter Maltesergarten Spätburgunder trocken 2010 , Baden
Light ruby with slight brownish suggestions on the rim. A whiff of raspberry along with a savoury, earthy, mushroomy suggestion of undergrowth. Ripe and dense, if a little reticent (the wine needs up two full days to open up). Well-integrated oak, generating a savoury "wet wood" aroma. A fair amount of grip on the palate, yet the tannins are velvety. The overall effect is elegant yet concentrated. Good acidity, as one would expect for 2010. Just a great bottle of Pinot with a lot of sophistication for the price bracket (around 15 euros).

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Max Geitlinger

This is a new local name I've only heard of recently. Great label. The winery adjoins an interesting-looking restaurant that I'd like to discover some time soon.

Max Geitlinger, Gut & Edel 2013, Baden
Good and noble ... Gutedel, of course. A healthy yellowish straw colour. Clear on the nose with a yellow-fruit characteristic, even some melon. An ever-so-slightly nutty tone along with a squeeze of lime. Very pure on the palate. Fruity, yes, but also very elegant. Low alcohol (11 percent) but with quite a bit of interesting intrinsic concentration. Very classy for just six euros.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Baden vs Pfalz (entry-level Weissburgunder)

This was just a little bit of fun. What the following two wines have in common is that they were both made by organic producers and from the same grape, Weissburgunder (or Pinot Blanc). They are also similarly priced. I bought the one from Baden at a wine shop just over the border in Germany, and the one from the Pfalz at a German supermarket a couple of Saturdays ago. The former cost me a little under nine euros, the latter just under seven (the cellar-door prices are €8 and €5.70 respectively).

Firstly, the Pfalz.

Weingut Wöhrle, Bockenheimer Grafenstück Weißer Burgunder trocken 2013, Pfalz
The 1920s-style typeface on the label is quite elegant. The thin shape of the bottle accentuates this impression.

Straw coloured. Quite reticent on the nose, with vegetative and stalky suggestions. Some smokey notes emerge over time. Clean and refreshing on the palate. Yellow apple and a touch of handcream. There is a slight bitterness on the finish which, in itself, can be no bad thing ... in a Riesling. The wine's lower acidity means this particular characteristic stands out more. Overall, quite straightforward but with a slight chewy glaze that lends some weight. Alcohol is 12.5 percent.

Weingut Rieger, Weißer Burgunder trocken 2013, Baden
Very pale straw in appearance. Paler than its cousin from the Pfalz. Shouldn't it be the other way round? Much more expressive on the nose than its counterpart. Blossomy notes, a whiff of apricots, honeysuckle. Even hints of sour cream. Pure, bone dry and minerally on the palate. Yellow apple and floral hints. Virtually no signs of any bitterness. Overall, this wine is more "floral" and open than its Pfalz counterpart. Fresher and lighter too, weighing in at 12 alcohol.

Any conclusions? Well, I enjoyed the latter wine more than the former wine. And this is no April Fool, but no one should take the above match-up too seriously.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Late January in Basel

Thursday, 29 January 2015


Valentin Schiess first got into wine 25 years ago, working in a wine cellar in Spain. He subsequently gained winemaking experience in Australia, New Zealand and California, before studying oenology in Dijon. He now has his own winemaking cellar in Gundeldingen or "Gundeli", as the locals like to call one of Basel's grittier neighbourhoods just south of the railway station. What is unusual is that he is situated in the middle of a big Swiss town, while his grapes come from three disparate corners of Switzerland: Walenstadt (canton of St. Gallen) on the eastern shores of Walensee, Salgesch (Valais) in the Rhône valley, and Jenins (Graubünden) in the Rhine valley. Winemaking isn't his main job. During the day, he works as a quality controller for a large German enterprise. Local rag Tageswoche wrote a profile on Herr Schiess last year. This is his white wine.

Valentin Jakob Schiess (Vinigma GmbH), Priora 2013, Switzerland
Made from Humagne Blanche and Petite Arvine. With the corresponding website not yet fully up and running, and without a smartphone to hold over the QR code (I'm still the proud owner of a daftphone), I'm making an educated guess in stating that the grapes were sourced in Valais. *** (Correction, 3 March 2015: the website is now very much up and running! Thank you Valentin Schiess höchst persönlich for pointing this out to me!) *** A very healthy light yellow in appearance. Immediately, a distinctly flinty whiff rises up from the glass, along with smoky notes, pear and some succulent yellow fruit. Smoky minerals on the palate, with brioche-like notes. This is on a par with, and faintly reminiscent of, an excellent Silvaner I tried a few years back. It lingers on the finish. Otherwise, this is clean as a whistle and medium-bodied but, at 13.5 percent alcohol, actually quite a hammer of a table wine in the best sense of the meaning.


Weingut Bassermann-Jordan, Forster Ungeheuer "S", Riesling trocken 2009, Pfalz
Vivid straw/lime yellow. Flintstone, lime and dried herbs. However, the most distinct whiff is of quince. I drank a quince spritzer once last summer and it reminded me of the smell of countless Rieslings. Not only was the spritzer refreshing, but it refreshed my memory too. The scent is quite bright and breezy, but ripe. There is a slightly glazed characteristic too, along with more tropical notes on the second day.

Quince is even more pronounced on the palate, but dried herbs also take centre stage. Overall, the effect is fairly expressive. Nevertheless, any fruity elements there may be are concealed behind what is a bitingly mineral middle part and lingering finish. On day two, the wine feels somehow silkier in the mouth.

This bottle (with a screwcap enclosure) was in our cellar for four and a half years. The wine still tastes very youthful. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

One litre of Riesling, please.

This is worth a quick mention (in German).

Weingut Markus Schneider, Ein Liter Riesling trocken 2013, Pfalz
Dichtes Stohgelb mit einem grünlichen Schimmer. Frisch und fruchtig in der Nase. Nix für Mineralienlutscher. Dieser Wein hat vor der Abfüllung sicher nur Edelstahl gesehen, und dies auf sehr reduktive Art und Weise. Man riecht die üblichen Verdächtigen Düfte wie Pfirsich, Mango und Maracuja. All dies setzt sich im Gaumen fort. Weiterhin fruchtig mit einem erfrischenden Säureader. Erfrischend kurz im Abgang, aber verdammt lecker. Ein Wein zum Wegtrinken. Eher "geiles Zeug" als "grosser Stoff", aber was soll's.

In dem Sinne verweise ich Sie gerne auf folgenden Blogbeitrag von Herrn Felix Bodmann alias dem Schnutentunker:

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Another random buy from a wine shop in Basel, although I'd already heard favourable things about this winery situated down near Perpignan.

Domaine Gauby, Les Calcinaires Rouge 2011, AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
This is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan.

Opaque with a purple-hued edge. The smell of chalk, chalk and more chalk. Dry chalk like on a blackboard. Very serious and somewhat reticent at first. This needs plenty of air for some amount of time. As the wine opens up, it begins to show blackcurrant and plum. Very elegant indeed.

Very chalky again on the palate. Do you see a theme here? It is as if the grapes have literally sucked chalk out of the ground. This distinct mineral characteristic creates a certain austerity, which becomes less pronounced the longer the evening goes on. Black fruit eventually emerges from under the gleaming white layer of chalk. Very dry and pure. Medium body. Certainly, a wine that demands contemplation and time. Not easy to like at first sip, but ultimately quite wild and charming. This is Gauby's entry-level red. The much more expensive Muntada is their flagship wine.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Boar-ish behaviour

The bottle of the following wine is shaped the same way as the type of glassware Jack Sparrow and his lads might glug directly from. Ah, shiver me timbers.

Villa Wolf, Phaia 2010, Pfalz
Mosel doyen Ernst Loosen acquired Villa Wolf when it was an ailing shadow of its former self back in the mid-1990s. Things picked up from then onwards, although you tended to hear less about the winery from around the early to mid-2000s. If you believe the critics, things dipped again a while ago. Nevertheless, fresh blood arrived in 2011 when Loosen handed the day-to-day running of the estate to Patrick Moellendorf and Sumi Gebauer, a young couple who met while working at Dr. Loosen.

As Villa Wolf is based in Wachenheim, it almost goes without saying that the estate's main focus is Riesling. However, this red blend (of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Dorsa, Merlot and Dunkelfelder) is worth mentioning in its own right.

Phaia, also referred to as the Crommyonian Sow, was a wild pig in Greek mythology that "ravaged the region around the village of Crommyon between Megara and Corinth, and was eventually slain by Theseus in his early adventures" (Wikipedia). According to the bottle, this wine is for those who find Villa Wolf's Spätburgunder too elegant and refined for their tastes and prefer nozzling their snouts in something a bit more rough and ready, hence the reference to a "Drecksau" (or "filthy swine") on what is also an attractive back label.

The wine itself is very dark and brooding in appearance, with slightly purplish edges. Promising on the nose: brambly, ripe dark and red berry fruit (particularly morello cherries and some minty notes). Definitely some class and poise here. The alcohol is "only" at the 12.5-percent mark, but there is a notable level of concentration. Both dark and red again on the palate. Very smooth and I don't mean to damn with faint praise exceptionally tasty. Simply fun to drink and easy to understand. Medium-bodied with a very decent finish.

I bought this bottle at a 30-percent discount for CHF 12 at a store in Basel, which is maybe even a little less than what it retails for in Germany, even after pricing in the euro's very recent dramatic fall against the Swiss franc.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Three stars

Now for something faintly Burgundian from the Kaiserstuhl. This is the second of two bottles, the first having been opened almost four years ago.

Weingut Reinhold & Cornelia Schneider, Weißer Burgunder Spätlese trocken *** 2009, Baden
Pale golden yellow with greenish gold-leaf glints. Quite a savoury vegetative smell of the root variety (fennel? parsnip? potato mash?) along with some woody scents. Peachy notes on the first day, but these dissipate 24 hours later. Fairly dense and concentrated. A little salty with slightly waxy suggestions.

These is virtually translated like-for-like on the palate. Still fresh despite the evident ripeness of the vintage. This wine has a medium to full body but remains very lean, minerally and athletic, with a lingering savoury aftertaste. Impressive and pretty much ready to drink.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Bernhard Huber's Spätburgunder Schlossberg

Starting the year as I mean to go on. ... That would be wishful thinking, as it's not every day I get to enjoy a wine like this. I bought this bottle courtesy of a little monetary birthday present from my mother-in-law. Vicky, you are the best mother-in-law ever.

Weingut Bernhard Huber, GG Schlossberg "R" Spätburgunder trocken 2011, Baden
Had it not been for Vicky's kind donation, I would have been highly reluctant to spend so much on one bottle. As it happened, it gave me the chance to enjoy a top "Burgundian" red wine still at a fraction of top Burgundian prices.

Bernhard Huber passed away last summer. Judging by the tributes that poured in, he was revered not only in his home country but admired by his colleagues and kindred spirits in Burgundy and beyond.

Starting the year? Ending it more like. It was New Year's Eve and my wife cooked a lovely meal for us consisting of rack of lamb, new potatoes, roasted carrots and balsamic cherry tomatoes. In anticipation, I had opened the bottle 24 hours in advance, putting the cork back in immediately. The bottle was then bought back up from the cellar an hour before the meal was served, so as to warm up slightly but not too much.

Hecklinger Schlossberg is a steep gradient of 72 to 96 percent with the same type of yellow limestone soil that prevails on the Côte de Nuits. Quite a dark reddish sort of ruby. Immediately very approachable on the nose. Extremely pure and fresh, but imbued with great aromatic density. Cherry, plum and a distinctive minty scent, along with nuts, hints of curry and the finest and most unobtrusive note of cedar you could imagine. What sets this wine apart is its incredible freshness in the mouth. And I really mean fresh. For all its individual aromas and flavours, it is the scintillatingly mouthwatering acidity that leaves the most indelible mark. Frankly I've barely tasted a fresher wine, red or white. Multi-layered and concentrated on the one hand, yet finely boned and cooling on the other, with not an ounce of fat. A bone-dry chalky mintiness emerges, lending complexity and elegance. It goes without saying that the finish is exceedingly long. Even for a wine in its relative infancy, this must be one of if not the best Pinot Noir I've drunk in my life.