Cape Moby is a line of South African wines from the cool-climate region of Walker Bay on the Atlantic Coast. The region's wines profit from a deeper character due to the oceanic climate: reds remain intense and structure-orientated rather than offensively fruity, wines remain crisp and dry without high fruit extract.
This red cuvee is made up of four varietals: the very Bordeaux Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon coupled with the typical varietals found in South Africa: Shiraz and Pinotage.
Deep ruby red in the glass, the nose impresses with blackcurrant and black cherry. This is off-set with excellent licorice and tobacco notes encompassing the strong and yet not prominent wood in the background. On the palate, the black fruit is very reserved and here you are presented with plum and pomegranate. Also in the body are the notes of licorice, tobacco and cedar wood. The tannins, wood and acidity are all wonderfully mild making this wine already very pleasurable to drink.
Cape Moby is widely available on the German market, For information about finding this wine where you live, contact me and I'll gladly assist you.
Named after what is perhaps the world’s greatest rock album, the wine parallels the album in the sense of being so very different to everything that came before it. Like all Springfontein wines I’ve tried up until now, its true character lies in the detail and the structure, rather than individual elements of fruit or spice.
Made up of barrel-fermented, white-pressed Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grown all on limestone, the wine is aged in used, small wooden barrels of different geographical descent. The wine didn’t undergo a second malolactic fermentation lending the structure an acidic backbone, something that is crucial to the entire wine’s character.
In fact, I often talk about structure and, in such big powerful wines, it plays an incredibly important role: here it is expertly applied: the attack with its citrus edge (lemon and grapefruit), the body with a touch of stone fruit (white peach and apricot) through to a chalky finish: complete with salt, green herbs and white pepper – this is all held together by the acidic backbone and the constant pulsation of wood: (thankfully lacking the cliché-like vanilla and smoke elements so many New-World whites are dogged with).
This big wine is very different – incorporating a great deal into one wine with the heavy reliance on the two varietals South Africa is famous for, it still manages to impress with elegance and completion. Very much like the Pink Floyd album of the same name, it is ambitious, sometimes absolutely crazy and yet utterly brilliant, wonderfully structured and, once the bottle is empty, it’s time to hit the play button again and open a second one.
Springfontein in the UK
Contact the winery for further availability information
There are a few vineyards with a selection of unmistakable characteristics. Erden's Prälat is one such vineyard and all of its wines are immediately recognisable - perhaps only Ürzig's Würzgarten is parallel in terms of vivid personality in the Mittelmosel region.
Slate isn't limited to this vineyard but the way a kind of evergreen-woodsmoke is worked into this, paired with a faint whiff of lighter fuel: it can only be Prälat. Fruit is pushed into the background in the nose but there is sweet apple compote, quince and maracuja - some lime is lurking in the slate's shadow and so too is juniper.
Whereas many wineries in the Mosel region experience international recognition, there are so many smaller producers doing just as good a job. Without the backing of the VDP or multi-national parent companies, their wines remain little-known and, as a result, have a much lower price. Besides Meulenhof, there are hundreds of Mosel producers, many of which have vines in some of the region's finest vineyards.
On the attack is lime, green apple and sweet lemon. This moves onto cooking apple (think crumble), the promised quince, a touch of pineapple and then a unique display of red fruit: rhubarb and even raspberry. The wine finishes on slate, smoke, white pepper and a satisfying sweetness that keeps the piercing acidity at bay.
Fabulous wine with an awesome signature touch - this is about as Prälat as it gets.
Meulenhof in the UK
Meulenhof in the US
Occasionally a wine comes along and is completely different. Not only does it impress through its appearance in the glass, its wonderful aroma and fabulous taste but just because it is so different to anything that has come before it. Being different alone is a risky business: you run the risk of appealing only to niche audiences but if you can combine being ever-so-slightly different with beloved and traditional elements: success may be coming your way.
I am, of course, talking about the elements of taste that natural wine brings with it: the unmistakable taste of a long, full grape maceration with skins in white wine. This is an acquired taste and, when combined with zero filtration and no sulfites: this is unlikely to be a product with mass appeal. Taking the individual element of full skin maceration and then creating a “regular” wine is becoming popular practise but rarely does this practise appear in the elite world of German Großes Gewächs. Up until recently, only traditional and typical wines made the bar which makes the St. Nikolaus from Peter Jakob Kühn an exotic exception: hats off to the future-looking VDP Rheingau for approving this wine. It wears its double G with pride and yet sports its own look – like a fashion-lover wearing this season’s must-have accessory and yet remaining true to their individual style, maybe even defining which items next year will become “must-have”
There is very little else comparable in the GG realms – similarly good wines: yes but nothing that tastes like this.
Firstly it’s important to realise that this is a very young wine and it wasn’t really intended to be opened so early – the wine takes a while to fall completely into place but impresses at all stages: from straight-out-of-the-bottle at 8˚C, right through to an-hour-in-the-glass at 15˚C.
Immediately present in the nose is a delicate sense of citrus: mainly lemon peel but also a remarkably fresh aroma of honeysuckle. There is a touch of apple and, running in the background and hints of ripe, yellow apple and plenty of spice: sage, mint, a touch of smoke (possibly hinting at flint) and white pepper.
Straight out of the bottle, the wine plays a set of highs and short breaks between individual phases: it starts with fresh citrus: pink grapefruit and dried citrus peel, this vanishes and is eventually replaced by yellow fruit: yellow plum, apple but nothing too strong. This vanishes as well and is finally replaced by a unique sprinkling of sherbet to finish the wine off with sweetness, a touch of acidity and plenty of Rheingau spice. All the while a yeast-wood note runs throughout and leads into the aforementioned finish.
The highs and pauses are brought a lot closer together – the individual elements run into eachother and the citrus on the attack becomes more defined: thick, freshly-preshed grapefruit juice with lemon and Clementine peel backing it up. The body is also fuller and there are yeasty notes involved now too: lots of apple but nothing sharp (a bit like apple pie with the yeast notes)– there is a small amount of apricot in there and this leads on to the finish which has calmed down a lot and now reminds of rhubarb (unsweetened) – tart and excellently brought into white pepper, sage, mint, thyme and fresh grass.
This wine is very unique and, whilst it does carry a few elements of natural wine, it isn’t necessarily one that only freaks can enjoy. Actually it offers a bright picture of the future of this style of wine: seldom is it done as well as this and never before has it carried a GG logo on the bottle. Priced at around 40€, this wine is selling-out fast so grab it while you can!
Peter Jakob Kühn in the UK
When you think of the Rheingau, you think of Riesling and when you think of VDP Rheingau, you think of only Riesling. The idea that a member of this elite club might produce experimental wines is out of the question. However, the young team at Hattenheim’s Balthasar Ress continue to push the boundaries on German viticulture. Whereas the winery’s core range does exist around single-vineyard Riesling and Pinot Noir (also typical for the region), they also have a number of not-so-standard wines including this orange.
Orange wine is a relatively new category of wine in Germany. Whereas it is historically of huge importance, most white wine in Germany is not produced in this way and the trend is only just starting to gain momentum. The grapes are initially macerated whole for a number of weeks or months. This leads to wine with an entirely different colour and taste: the bitter elements of grape skin that are usually removed from white wine production remain in the wine, as do many other grape components. A minimal amount of work takes place in the winery and the liquids are bottled unfiltered.
Made using Pinot Blanc, this Rheingauer Landwein is a good example of easy-drinking Orange. Whereas many of the wines, particularly those from Armenia and Georgia are….let’s call it an acquired taste, this wine is enjoyable for the everyday wine drinker too. Reliant more on the winery’s fresh style than the archaic, traditional taste of Orange wine, this Pinot Blanc is more than just approachable: it’s actually both enlightening and enjoyable.
Bright, shiny orange with a cloudy appearance.
Quite a lot to start with but the wine quickly falls into place. Orange zest and grapefruit juice but also a thick sense of ripe orchard fruit. Quince and yellow apple as well as a cider note. Spice in the way of fresh pepper but also green herbs.
First on the scene is pink grapefruit and this passes through orange peel and finally onto cloudy cider: cooking apples and quince really come through on the body and a touch of apple vinegar too. Clean though, compact and remarkably easy to drink: no stone notes that don’t pair with the vibrant and ripe, stored fruit. Thanks to the sharper elements on the finish: salt, a touch of wood and the continued feel of apple vinegar, you are briefly reminded of Calvados. Excellent wood finish that is neither too strong nor lacking a backbone.
I’ve only just gotten into orange wines and this is, whilst perhaps not the most complex I’ve tried, certainly the easiest to drink. It’s both appealing but its simple: actually something that I find fits with Rheingau wine in general. I’m not 100% sure how this wine will age but I’m sure it’ll develop more with time – the wine tastes great three days later and it was opened 12 hours prior to drinking, not chilled.
A great way to get into orange wine and fairly priced too (21€/750ml bottle)
Brauneberg is one of the most famous parts of the Mosel region, with its Juffer vineyard, its wines make up some of the finest in Germany. The Mosel, best-known for sweet wine, is also home to fabulous cold-climate dry wine and, with the right winemaker at the helm, it can often overshadow some of the region’s world-renowned sweet wines. Whereas the residual sugar in sweet wine works well with the Mosel Riesling’s acidity, it is possible to create remarkably expressive dry wine utilising the slate soils and their expression to work with the acidity and Riesling-style rather than the naturally-occurring sugar alone.
Stefan Steinmetz, winemaker at Weingut Günther Steinmetz has recently gained a great deal of attention for the small Mittelmosel winery. The wines have impressed critics over the past few years and his wines are no longer just an insider tip but rather some of the most important pieces of the Mittelmosel puzzle. Alongside this “basic” Ortswein (village/commune wine), the winery’s single-vineyard wines are fast becoming Brauneberg and Mosel flagships.
Pale, satin gold.
The first thing I noted in the wine was freshly-cut grass. This was remarkable prominent and helped the yellow fruit on its way: apricot and yellow plum. Perhap a deeper-set sense of peach was there too, as was a hint of tropical fruit: mango, pineapple and, to a lesser degree, kiwi as well. Citrus peel (grapefruit and orange), definitive slate and aromatic herbs complete the nose.
Immediately clean on the palate, the attack contains the orange peel and hinted at grapefruit juice but, before the full flavour was unleashed, the wine moved onto the yellow fruit promised: elegant Mirabelle and a touch of sweet apricot. The finish, dry and slate-style flirted with mint before remaining in the mouth for a crisp, dry finish.
A very clean and compact, well-made Riesling. With the attention to detail in this village wine, it makes one want to try the single-site wines of the same winery. With vines in some of the Mosel’s best vineyards and a new partner project with Weingut Dr. Hermann in the legendary Ürziger Würzgarten, the future looks very bright for this small, family winery.
(Picture: 2013 Vintage)
When it comes to fantastic and simple entry-level Riesling, Dönnhoff has always been my first port-of-call. Their Riesling Gutswein is fantastic stuff and sums up the Nahe region better than any other similarly-priced wine from anyone else.
Whilst their single-estate stuff is what they’re known for, this simple, dry Riesling is one of my favourite wines and one I buy again and again. I loved both the 2012 and 2013 and was sure than 2014 would follow up with the same level of quality. Besides it still being a tad too young to drink, the potential is there making Dönnhoff’s Riesling Gutswein Trocken one of the most consistently high-quality wines I know of.
Rather floral thanks to it being freshly filled, the wine emits lovely notes of lemon peel and grapefruit juice. There are some peppery elements to the aroma and freshly cut grass too.
Alongside the lemon peel and grapefruit juice, a very sugary, floral feel is found all through the wine. This makes you think of pear drop candy. The body is full of lovely apricot and fresh green apples and the finish has a bite of wet rock and black pepper.
In a few months this wine is likely to impress on a whole different level. It really offers a sneaky peak at the Nahe 2014 vintage which, despite its problems, looks set to be a cracker. If you have a few bottles of this, wait six months or so before drinking.
Schloss Johannisberg is one of both Germany’s and the Rheingau’s most important producers. It’s famous Rieslings can be found in fine wine stores all over the world. The charismatic wines with all of the typical Rheingau flair are well-known for their modern appeal and classic style. Alongside the winery’s flagship Silberlack Grosses Gewächs, a handful of other wines are also produced by the winery: their classification levels hidden behind a colour scheme rather than the traditional Prädikat names.
The company has launched a new entry-level wine to retail alongside its unique Gelblack series. Weisslack is a simple Qualitätswein with none of the base wine having seen wood: about 10% of Gelblack lies in wood before the final wine is released. It is aimed at the gastronomy sector rather than retail so you might be seeing this wine at a restaurant near you soon.
Rather fresh, behind the floral youth notes, the wine shows a lovely selection of stone fruit: mainly nectarine and apricot. There is lime juice and a faint sense of earthy slate.
The attack isn’t as sharp as was predicted: nice lemon and lime juice notes with a hint of nectarine ran through into the body and was joined by a handful of other exotic fruits such as pineapple and kiwi. The finish was rather clean-cut: neat and kind to the palate: remarkably dry and yet no wood, no bitterness and a slight hint at white pepper.
A clean and tidy wine. Where I love the other Johannisberger wines, they are a whole lot more powerful in the way of finish: they show off the Rheingau soils like no other producer and yet this wine appeals even though it doesn’t really do that. It feels like a solid Gutswein should: it’s evidently Rheingau and yet opens up the specialist category of Riesling from this region to other drinkers. This feels like it might just be the perfect wine to simple Asian cuisine.
In the world of German white wine, there really is only one other contender alongside Riesling. Many will tell you that it's Pinot Gris or even Pinot Blanc. It isn’t though – Silvaner is the only proper alternative to Riesling.
Not all Silvaner mind you – only two regions produce wines worth mentioning: Rheinhessen (although most from here are rubbish as well) and, of course, Franconia.
Alongside the gimmicky bottle, the characteristics of the wine are hard to miss. Alongside a relatively high level of acid, Silvaner from Franken is rather fruity and the best stuff finishes on a mineral level that only a handful of other tiny regions outside of Franken manage to achieve.
Juliusspital is, alongside Hans Wirsching and Bürgerspital, one of Franconia’s most famous wineries. Its base in Würzburg is also home to its most famous product and flagship: dry Silvaner from the Würzburger Stein vineyard. This Erste Lage wine is sought from that very vineyard, is probably a tad too young to drink now and yet is still offering fantastic drinking.
Lemon Juice and peel, a hint of grapefruit and lots of very ripe orchard fruits: particularly pears and quince. There is a metallic, mineral aroma in there as well but it is partially hidden behind the floral note depicting the wine’s youth.
Rather sharp on the attack and with hints of floral elements, there are profound and rather exquisite notes of fine lemon juice. This quickly moves onto a body of green apples, gooseberry and ripe pears with a hint of quince. The finish is heavy on the chalk but also white pepper-laden making it rather spicy – hot almost.
The wine has a way to go. When the floral youthful notes vanish, the fruit will display more character. The mineral finish is about as Franconian as it gets and it is ultimately the defining factor of the wine, the vineyard and the region as a whole. This is what single-vineyard wine is about: this one might not be as fine as the GG from the same site but it is vineyard-specific: there is no better example of the concept of Franconian terroir than a wine like this.
Knipser is one of the biggest and most important names in the Pfalz. Alongside a whole host of varietal specific white wines, the winery is famed for its red wines: particularly those based on Pinot Noir, locally known as Spätburgunder. Over the years though, the company has experimented with a handful of exotic varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for example.
This fresh red is based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a handful of Cabernet hybrids which make it very different to how German rosé is commonly produced. Its youth makes it very fresh – this is perfect food wine and also ideal for drinking outside in summer or late spring.
Pale, pastel-pink like cooked Salmon.
The nose feels rather zingy – alongside the typical red berries (Cassis, raspberry and strawberry) are citrus notes and those of fresh herbs.
The attack is floral and rather fruity – quite sharp actually but this is probably due to the wine having only just been filled into bottles. The body is of red fruit: strawberry, Cassis and creamy raspberry bonbons. A certain amount of pear also comes though and the finish is crisp and slightly metallic.
A very fruity wine but decently done. The dryness and crispness of the finish means that it has classic appeal despite its fruity body. The finish is the defining characteristic of this very modern wine that reminds of well-made French rosé.
-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