LIFE BEYOND RIESLING IN GERMANY

LIFE BEYOND RIESLING IN GERMANY image

By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 3 Feb 2018

There is more to Germany than Riesling – we look at seven other grapes used to make dry white and soft juicy red wines from Rheingau to southern Baden:


PINOT BLANC
                                     
Mittelrhein: Weissburgunder 2016 Toni Jost (£11.95 The Wine Society)

For anyone who likes Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc can make a welcome change with similar citric fruits and creamy palate.  Sadly many Pinot Blancs are pretty dull, but this grape is highly respected in Germany.  It makes an enchantingly fresh zippy example here from vines grown on dark slately soils near Bacharach on the northern banks of the Rhine where the Jost family have grown Weissburgunder, as the grape is known in Germany, for 180 years: 13.5%


PINOT GRIS
                                  
Pfalz: Pinot Grigio 2016 (£6.75 reduced from £9 Marks & Spencer)

It seems a shame that Marks & Spencer had to name this Pinot Grigio, rather than Pinot Gris, presumably it would entice those who normally buy Italian Pinot Grigio.  Similar in style with crisp unoaked simple structure, but with a touch of tutti-fruit boiled sweet flavours on the palate and lighter alcohol.  Made by Jurgen Hofman from Pinot Gris grown in sunny dry vineyards in the foothills of Haardt mountains: 12%

Pfalz: Pinot Gris 2016 Johann Wolf (£10.99 Virgin Wines)
Pinot Gris was first discovered growing wild in a garden in southern Germany in 1711 – well before it arrived in Italy.  Today it is one of Pfalz’s best grapes when grown on deep heavy soils.  It makes dry unoaked and initially crisp styles, with very rich pear and apple fruits and a touch of spritz - quite close to the Alsace Pinot Gris style – but light enough to serve with sushi or grilled fish: 12.5%

Baden:  Burkheimer Feuerberg Grauburgunder 2016 Bercher (£20 The Wine Society)   ***STAR BUY***
Much more serious example of Pinot Gris – this beautifully-made rich intense white has a touch of honeyed sweetness, made in the Alsace style by Baden-based Bercher family.  They grow vines on the famous volcanic Kaiserstuhl slopes in southern Germany – just across the Rhine river from Alsace.  It has a little extra weight from a portion of barrel ageing – a fine match with ‘surf and turf’ calamari and confit pork: 13.5%


SCHEUREBE

Franken:  Scheurebe QbA Dry 2016 Hans Wirsching (£13.60 The Wine Barn www.thewinebarn.co.uk)
A grape created during WW1 from a Riesling cross, but now Scheurebe plantings are sadly in decline.  When fully ripe it can make deliciously zesty dry whites with citric and passionfruit flavours, but so delicate, juicy and light – this attractive example is made by the master of Scheurebe, Dr Heinrich Wirsching: 12%


SAUVIGNON BLANC

Nahe: Anette Closheim Savvy 2016 (£12.75 Oddbins)
Curious to find Sauvignon Blanc in Germany, but a little is grown in Nahe, Pfalz and Bade.  This intriguing Nahe version has less pungency then you get in New Zealand, more similar to the crisp dry minerally Loire style.  It is often known as Muskat-Silvaner in Germany – and the Savvy in the name actually refers to an elixir potion offered by the fabled ‘woman of Nahe’: 12%


MULLER THURGAU

Pfalz:  Fruhlingsbote Trocken 2016 (£11.99 www.laithwaites.co.uk)
A gentle introduction to dry German wines, Muller Thurgau is like a toned down Riesling : lightly aromatic with a touch of floral and Muscaty notes, lacking the minerality of Riesling, but this is a very quaffable crisp dry white:12.5%


ALVARINHO

Rheingau: Alvarinho Trocken 2016 Kunstler (£22 The Wine Society)
Grower Gunter Kunstler was curious about the name of this Iberian grape which has been gaining popularity in north west Spain.  It translates as ‘white from the Rhine’ and might be a cousin of Riesling taken by pilgrims to Spain enroute to Santiago di Compostella.  So he decided to plant some in his Rhine-facing vineyards in Rheingau.  The result is a rather fine elegant linear unoaked white with pronounced acidity – a good match for seafood – and a rare example of Alvarino outside Spain: 12.5%


PINOT NOIR

Pfalz:  Lenne Pinot Noir 2015 Bernhard Schug (£12.99 Virgin Wines)  ***GOOD VALUE***
At the lighter end of Germany’s Pinot Noirs with pale colour, delicate strawberry flavours but a good introduction to the Spatburgunder grape which is now prolific here – Germany now has the world’s third largest plantings of Pinot Noir. Very soft juicy and quaffable example: 12.5%

Pfalz: Eymann Toreye Spatburgunder 2015 (£19.50 Berry Bros & Rudd www.bbr.com)
A more serious Pinot Noir than Lenne’s.  Serve this pretty Pinot Noir from a small family producer who has both organic and biodynamic certification.  This is made from a blend of vineyards around Gonnheim in southwest Germany.  Vincent Eymann has created a fragrant herby Pinot Noir alongside a similarly priced red Burgundy and it will shine: 13%

Rheinhessen:  Wunderwerk Spatburgunder 2013 Dreissigacker (£32.99 Drinkmonger, Bruntsfield Rd, Edinburgh & Pitlochry; Exel Wines Perth)  ***STAR BUY***
From one of my favourite organic German producers, Jochen Dreissigacker who is based in the rather unfashionable Rheinhessen.  I have been impressed with every wine I have tasted – particularly this beautifully made Pinot Noir – partly aged in French and Austrian barrels – it has light smoky notes and gorgeous velvet smooth palate: 13%


Join Rose’s Alsace v Germany wine tasting at The Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh on Thursday 8 February £45 www.rosemurraybrown.com