A few weeks ago I was shocked by some comments I heard. I asked about the wines of a certain Saar winery and was immediately hit with a lecture about how people who know about wine don’t drink such products: apparently the wines have no style, are dull, are overpriced, can be found in every supermarket and are only popular because of a certain celebrity lurking in the background.
I was a bit shocked because I’ve always liked the wines. Sure, I agree that the entry-level stuff is available on every corner but, as a supermarket wine buyer, I don’t see that as a problem: the wines are always sold at a respectable price and neither the winery, nor the prestigious VDP institution is harmed by this. Quite the contrary in fact: the availability of entry-levels wines in supermarkets is a general sales boost and a kind of dangling bait hook for the consumer: “hey, you like this? Visit your local wine dealer and ask for our premium wines.”
That is exactly what I did back then.
The winery in question is Von Othegraven, one of the Saar’s most important producers: a stone’s throw from Egon Müller, Van Volxem, Forstmeister-Geltz Zilliken, Peter Lauer and many other fantastic producers. Von Othegraven belongs in this club in my opinion and I was really shocked when I heard that a handful of people think the opposite is true.
So, here I say it: regardless of whichever TV personality stands behind the Kanzem winery, regardless of the fact that you can find the entry-level wines in many supermarkets, regardless of the fact that some people refuse to accept this blatant truth: the Von Othegraven winery is a producer of fantastic wines and, in one market segment specifically, one of both Germany and the Saar’s frontrunners: Kabinett and Spätlese Feinherb from Grand Cru sites.
The wines drink excellently from day one and, whilst this is the case with a few other entries in this category too, this characteristic runs throughout the entire portfolio rather than only being applicable to one or two wines. They grace with age but represent excellently drinking at every stage in their long lives which is a rare treat with many winery’s best products entering drinking five to ten years after bottling (and in some cases, much longer).
Even the aforementioned entry-level wines are well made, full of Saar character and, true to the spirit of this part of the world, realistically priced. The dry wines from Grand Cru wines are good as well: the Illustrious Größe Gewächse are very enjoyable indeed: the flagship Kanzemer Altenberg GG is, for me at least, one of the Saar’s best. However, I still regard the winemaker’s sweet wines as being far superior but, let’s face it, that’s normal in the Saar region and the Mosel in general as well.
So, last night, whilst enjoying a bottle of the basic VO Riesling, I decided to dig up some tasting notes of the Von Othegraven wines I’ve tried over the years. I’d call it “best of VO” but I haven’t tried all of the wines in all of the vintages so here are a few random wines from the Kanzem winery that I recommend you try.
Finding Von Othegraven wines where you live
In the UK, the Wiltinger Kupp Kabinett is available through www.thewinesociety.com however, for a full range, contact the guys www.thewineryuk.com. In the USA, it can be a little harder to find the wines but some of them are available. Visit www.skurnik.com for a comprehensive range and information about shipping in your state.
The wines are widely available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For further information about getting hold of these wines where you live, get in touch and I'll gladly help you.
www.von-othegraven.de - the winery's official website
www.grosserring.de - The Grosser Ring's website (VDP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer)
www.moselfinewines.com - comprehensive information and tasting notes for VO wines