Weingut Knoll in the Wachau’s Loiben probably has the world’s worst labels. As gharish and cheap as they appear, everything else about the winery is fantastic.
The Wachau itself is a UNESCO world heritage site and the vineyards between Krems and Melk on the mighty Danube produce some of Europe’s finest white wines. Whereas the region’s best wines are probably made using the Riesling varietal, the Austrian national grape Grüner Veltliner fairs here pretty well too.
This wine, made using the highest quality grapes in Wachau wine, those that suffice to obtain legendary Smaragd classification, is sourced from the Schütt vineyard between the communes of Loiben and Dürnstein on one of the Danube’s meanders.
Golden yellow with a brassy touch.
Orange peel with a delicate floral edge in the background. Very, very fine nuances of vegetation: meadow grass and drying straw but also sweet white petals. Apricot in the way of fruit with a hint of red apple.
Warming on the attack with red fruit: redcurrant and plums (yellow and red) and leading onto a marmelade body with orange, orange peel and Clementine, there is stone fruit feel but it is remarkably well built-in: nothing brash, just the luscious feel of peach and apricot. Honey melon and a finish with floral elements, fine vegetative structure and the finest pinch of black pepper finest the wine perfectly.
Whereas Grüner Veltliner is bright and lively in youth, it ages with grace and, in my opinion, it does this best in the Wachau. The sharp, refreshing fruit gives way to an excellently balanced, high-quality wine with classic appeal but also a sense of timelessness: a wine with the ability to impress again and again. Weingut Knoll is at the forefront of Austria’s viticulture scene and is, alongside some of the other winemakers in Loiben and Dürnstein, one of the best white wine producers in Europe.
This is the kind of wine that German viticulture is famous for. Rather than the dry wines that are so popular nationally, the rest of the world is more interested in the Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockbeerenauslese wines with rewarding sweetness.
Goldkapsel wines are the sweetest wines created by wineries in the Mosel, Pfalz and Rheingau and are usually sold via auction rather than in retail.
Marienburg is perhaps one of Clemen Busch's most celebrated sites. With a mixture of blue, red and green slate and a South to South-East facing slope (with up to 70% gradient), the site is both typical of the best Mosel vineyards and ideal for the cultivation of Riesling. Due to a meander in the river close-by, the sun's energy is retained on the site and protected from wind and weather.
Golden and oily in the glass.
Lots of cloudy apple juice, almost freshly pressed. Perhaps a hint of quince or green pear in the background with an undeniable sprinkling of slate.
The same is true on the palate with a slippery, smooth attack and then plenty of long cloudy apple-juice body right onto a long finish which is slippery and clean. There are some other spices in there: particularly those of a seasonal character: a touch of cinnamon perhaps and even cloves - nothing too intensive though and all expertly attached to the juice in the body.
A fantastic Goldkapsel and remarkably fresh - even in youth: balanced, smooth (almost buttery) and yet full of character. Priced at around 30€, this is one again proof that if you want to drink the world's best wines on a small budget, Germany is the best place to look.
For me, this is one of the best Mosel Spätlese wines I've had in recent years. I can imagine it keeping well for about ten years and more - offering excellent drinking now though.
As you might know, I’m not a massive fan of tradition. I think that the best things in life are done by putting the most amount of effort into something with the best ingredients at the best time – tradition doesn’t play a role unless you want to sell something. Nowhere is this more appropriate than in the wine branch. Many hundreds of wineries get dogged down in the world of tradition and, when their product style falls out of fashion, they struggle. In Germany, thousands of wineries have struggled over the years with the relaunching of their image – many stay up to date through intelligent market research and sufficing their customer groups’ needs, however many don’t and find themselves sitting on thousands of litres of unsold wine. Particularly in the domestic white wine branch in Germany, tastes have been changing for years now: we've seen a huge rise in top-end dry wine together with the introduction of the almost Burgundian classification system for the best of the best dry wines: Großes Gewächs.
Some companies don’t change though. Their binding to tradition is somehow so important to their product, to their market that they’d never be able or indeed need to throw in the towel when it comes to satisfying a market screaming out for their products: Egon Müller for example – never could this winery resist from producing its legendary Scharzhofberger Prädikatsweine: Even the producers of (mostly) dry wine such as Schloß Johannisberg or Koehler-Ruprecht would never be able to change their product – something which the latter of the two named wineries has had to deal with recently – leaving the prestigious VDP to protect its most valuable, traditional assets: Kabinett Trocken and Spätlese Trocken.
Another such traditional winery is Joh. Jos. Prüm of the Mosel. This company doesn’t even have a functional website (it’s homepage is a landing page with contact information only). Whereas the majority of neighbouring wineries also make dry wines to satisfy market demand, I’ve never seen a dry wine from Joh. Jos. Prüm. Which is just as well, because this stuff is awesome as it is.
Very light white gold appearance in the glass.
On the nose is rather a lot of stone fruit: white peach but also vineyard peaches and canned peaches as well – as if they were sweetened. There is a hint of citrus: orange peel and pink grapefruit but this is way behind all the other notes. An underlying vegetative scent is apparent at all times and it brings with it a note of sage.
First on the scene is the pink grapefruit but it is neither sharp, nor bitter. It goes on to that promised stone fruit which is warming, bright peach with a hint of nectarine and something citrus as well. There are fresh apples and pears and, presumably together with the low alcohol level (8% ABV), they taste rather juicy rather than sharp. The finish is a mineral touch of slate, a hint at wood (rather than of it) and some nice menthols too: eucalyptus with a dash of mint.
A cracker, seven years old and still drinking like it was bottled yesterday although it has nothing left to hide behind its youth. It’s fluid and full of juicy, sweet fruit and yet the finish is decent and rounds off the whole thing making it feel finished. The clean-cut structure of Riesling is there but the wine reminds me more of Monbazillac or young Tokaji with its expressing fruit and such clarity.
If you have 30€ to spend, it’s hard to think of a better way to do it…
The Pfalz is one of Germany’s finest production regions for Riesling. Alongside the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe Valleys, the Pfalz is home to some of the best wines that emerge from Germany and, like those other regions, its wines also have a unique style: they’re usually big, powerful and sometimes rather acidic.
One of the most famous producers in the region is Reichsrat Von Buhl and, although the company has taken a slightly different turn for the latest vintage (and future vintages to come), it’s Großes Gewächs wines from Grand Cru vineyards have always been a highlight in the German wine world.
One of their Grosse Lagen is Reiterpfad in Ruppertsberg, close to the winery’s base in Deidesheim. The chalky soils together with the slopes surrounding assist in keeping the vines warm in the all-important late summer ripening period.
As shiny as, but slightly darker than gold: the colour a ripened and aged Riesling should have.
Upon opening the wine gave off very little other than a sharp sense of alcohol and a touch of petrol. A few hours later the picture was very different. Sharp lime on the nose together with a whole bunch of orchard fruits: apple, pear and quince along with a unique metallic smell that many old Rieslings have.
The attack was fresh and characterised by lime juice. The body was thick with yellow fruit: quince and pear but also honey and caramel. The finish was slightly woody and reminded of high-quality sherry.
The whole wine was, despite the sharp attack, very, very smooth. The yellow fruit was astonishingly profound and shaped the whole thing. The aged aspect of the wine brought in some real elegance that rounded it off leaving a mid-length but smooth, sweet finish.
You might well have seen an introductory feature I posted a few days ago regarding German Syrah. One of the wineries I mentioned was Ziereisen. Whereas a handful of German wineries have indeed experimented with this varietal, Ziereisen’s Gestad is the one of the most highly acclaimed wines in the category. The Baden winery, situated in Efringen-Kirchen in the corner Germany bordering both France and Switzerland was one of the first wineries to plant the varietal and has, arguably, experience the most success.
Officially, this wine isn’t able to be called a quality wine: German wine laws don’t acknowledge the use of Syrah in national viticulture. The modern vintages are allowed to take the Badischer Landwein declaration (Vin de Pays de Bade) – this 2007 was awarded the then lowest classification for a German wine: Deutscher Tafelwein (German table wine).
Pioneering in winemaking has always met with problems when it comes to classification: even modern Germany’s best reds were mocked back in the 1980s when their makers started experimenting with Barrique and the entire Supertuscan movement in Italy was very much the same thing. This wine though is a perfect reminder as to how useless quality classification can be: particularly if it is just the varietal which isn’t favourable. This is a fantastic wine: no doubt about that.
A cloudy, earthy red with a brown-plum hue.
Lots of fresh red and black fruit: particularly blackcurrant, cassis and black cherries. The whole thing feels rather spicy on the nose with rather prominent notes of white pepper and a distinct oak note.
A sweet and elegant attack which leads onto a thicker body full of ripe blackcurrant and tart cherries is finished with spicy pepper, leather and bitter chocolate notes. The extremely silky body expertly leads onto fantastically complex tannins which, whilst character-defining don’t dominate. There is that German spice on the finish: lots of earth and a slight vegetative note but nothing unpleasant.
It’s hard to believe that this wine originated from Germany: its ripe fruit reminds of Hermitage and other luscious Rhone wines. Remaining clean until the finish, it manages to incorporate something almost no new-world Shiraz is able to: character. German and yet full, dark and yet clean: this wine hints at the potential Syrah is going to be able to offer in the future.
Fifty pounds for a bottle of ripe claret is a lot of money. There’s only one way to get around it: buy it before it’s at its best – either en Primeur or when it first hits your handler’s shelves. This too is easier said than done, fresh wine is gone pretty quickly – taken out of shops and placed into dark cellars within just a few weeks. Most of the fresh 2009s and the 2010s are already gone from general sale and, if you do buy a bottle, you’ll be expected to pay a considerable amount more now than you would have done a few months back.
Take the 2007 Château Clerc Milon (the subject of this review), now available for £50. I bought it for £20 two years ago and recently saw it for sale at more than 80€ in Hamburg at the weekend - obscene money but it’s how shops make their money on Bordeaux.
However temptation is always there: I don’t have a wine cellar, nor am I a particularly patient person. I opened my wine a few days ago – thankfully I wasn’t all wrong: the wine was at prime drinking stage, the clear hue (with a hint of brown) suggesting that, whilst it might have held up for a few more years, my impatient scrambling to get the cork out of the neck wasn’t such a bad idea at all.
An opaque, ruby red which was rather cloudy with a clear hue (hint of orange-brown).
Lots of fresh red plum, a splash of cassis and some nice earthy notes of leather and tobacco were to be picked out.
The red plum was very intense and this lead onto notes of red fruit: particularly cherry, redcurrants and even blackcurrant. This compote had a smooth feel and a sweet one too and, when the minerals did kick in, the period of transition dictated chocolate and espresso. This eventually gave way to composed and reserved pepper, some decent vanilla, pipe tobacco and soft French oak. The tannins were a lot lighter than expected but nevertheless present encasing the wine and finishing it off nobly.
Very good Bordeaux and a textbook Pauillac. Not as spicy as some of the other wines to originate from this particular AOC but typically plum-driven and bursting in Cassis. I personally think that there is better Cabernet out there for considerably less money but Pauillac claret is a very special thing and it is a well-known fact that comparing price and quality in the Bordelaise has been a very pointless thing to do for quite a long time now, particularly with this appellation.
I'd been wanting to try this wine for as long as I can remember. Bought at Berry Bros. and Rudd in London, this was in my wine rack all of two whole months before I opened it for Christmas 2011.
Nyetimber are probable the most famous of England's vintners and this 2007 Rose has been hyped up like no other British fizz before. Made entirely of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the winemakers decided to adopt the far more complicated (and risky) grape-skin contact method before fermentation rather than pouring in a small amount of riper Pinot Noir/Meunier afterwards (this is how most £30-100 Rose Champagnes are made).
The wine is peachy in colour with a strong tendency towards blushed pink rose petal. The hue is almost clear but with a pinch of apricot.
Wonderful summer fruits, strawberry, raspberry and a splash of cherry too. Fresh grass and a strong sense of citrus – possibly something really exotic and notes of pink grapefruit too. The yeasty bread aroma was to detect but the wine was too fine and too elegant to throw enough attention in that direction.
Again, strong exotic citrus but this is rather overwhelmed by the fresh sweet berries. There is a slight hint of yeast but this is very brief and almost completely covered up by fresh strawberries and deliciously and deviantly sour lemon and grapefruit notes. There are some tannins going on as well but these are fairly discreet and feel as if they have something to do with the citrus in the glass.
This is a cracking British sparkler, albeit not Nyetimber’s best, with succulent sweet and sour variations that felt like a much more expensive wine. It’s certainly a great deal better than most of the pink Champagne’s inthe same price class.
9.0/10 points -Try it, you won't regret it
This review is also available here.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry