by Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman
Indecipherable gothic script, unprounceable names, complicated labels and a fear of sweet wines have driven wine lovers away from German wines to the easier-to-understand simply-labelled New World wines.
Some German winemakers like Ernie Loosen in Mosel or Louis Guntrum in Rheinhessen have been working hard to simplify their labels and make drier affordable styles to entice the new generation of wine lovers back to the valleys of the Mosel and Rhine.
If you know what to buy, German wines can be just as deliciously dry and mouthwateringly fresh with their high natural acidity – as good if not better than any New Zealand or Australian Riesling. For those seeking moderation, German wines have the added bonus in that their alcohol levels are almost always lower than their New World counterparts.
I have tried to make it simple for you with my pick of top ten dry and medium dry affordable wines so that you can now rediscover Germany for your sleek aperitifs. Here’s to an Indian summer.
TOP TEN GERMAN WINES FOR SUMMER DRINKING UNDER £15
DR L ‘GREY SLATE’ PRIVATE RESERVE RIESLING 2013
Price: £9.99 Waitrose
Taste: Winemaker Ernie Loosen really understands how to simplify his labels and make styles which appeal to us in the UK. This has a delicious juicy tutti-frutti flavour with hints of sweetness, underlying crisp minerality deriving from the slatey soils – and like all good wines it finishes dry. It has a superb lightness of touch with its moderate alcohol making it ideal for lunch or afternoon sipping served with summer salads or – my favourite – crab fishcakes.
SAAR RIESLING 2013
Region: Saar Valley
Price: £9.50 The Wine Society www.winesociety.com
Taste: A really stylish surprisingly dry (considering its low alcohol level) steely Riesling from the cool Saar valley. So nervy racy and zippy – made to be drunk in its youth. This hails from the fine von Kesselstadt estate run by the Reh family who own 36 hectares of top Mosel and Saar valley vineyards. Serve chilled alongside salmon mousse, pork or even light fish curry.
DURKHEIMER MICHELSBERG RIESLING TROCKEN 2013
Price: £9.49 Marks & Spencer
Taste: My current favourite German Riesling under £15. Beautifully made with poised fruits orange and melon notes, zippy, minerally and dry. Note the Trocken on the label which indicates it is ‘dry’. Still very youthful, so it could mature with honeyed tones if left in bottle. From a single estate in Spielberg made by the wonderfully named Helmut Darting. STAR BUY
BINZ & BRATT RIESLING GEWURZTRAMINER 2012
Grapes: 85% Riesling & 15% Gewurztraminer
Price: £14 German Wine Agencies 0207 617 7038 www.germanwineagencies.co.uk; www.vinoteca.co.uk; www.redsquirrelwine.com; www.yorkshirevintners.co.uk
Taste: An intriguing dry spicy blend of two famous grapes from southern Wonnegau area of Rheinhessen. In the old days, winegrowers used to plant Riesling and Gewurztraminer side by side and harvest, press and vinify them altogether. Today they are planted in separate vineyards on soils most suited to each grape, picked and fermented separately – then blended together prior to bottling. Riesling brings a zippy freshness and Gewurztraminer complements with underlying spiciness. Try with lightly spiced oriental dishes or Thai fishcakes.
LOUIS GUNTRUM GRAUBURGUNDER 2012
Grape: Pinot Gris
Price: £10.99 Marks & Spencer
Taste: An unoaked dry Pinot Gris from one of Rheinhessen’s most distinguished old family wineries. 11th generation Louis makes this deliciously fresh take on this popular French grape. Grapefruit and peach notes with a creamy richness. A far cry from the mass of bland Italian Pinot Grigio, the fuller weightier palate would appeal to those who usually drink unoaked Chardonnay.
BICKEL STUMPF SILVANER MUSCHLKALK TROCKEN 2013
Price: £14.99 www.laithwaites.co.uk
Taste: I am a huge pan of Franken wines, so often forgotten and rarely listed by UK supermarkets. I was delighted to see Laithwaites were stocking this Silvaner, the main grape in Franken. In previous vintages it has been bottled in the traditional ‘bocksbeutel’ flask shaped bottles, but 2013 is in the Burgundy style shape which are certainly more helpful for fridge chilling. Muschlkalk refers to a shell limestone where the Silvaner is grown. Trocken indicates it is dry – and this really is whistle dry – but with attractive peachy nose and earthy notes on the palate.
JOHANN WOLF PINOT NOIR ROSE 2013
Grape: Pinot Noir
Price: £9.99 Waitrose
Taste: A hint of spritz initially followed by light sweetness, finishing dry. I think this unusual German rose would appeal to those who normally buy the slightly sweeter fruity styles of New World roses. Serve it well chilled with cold meats, tuna salad or pates.
PALATAIA PINOT NOIR 2012
Grape: Pinot Noir
Price: £8.99 Marks & Spencer
Taste: Germany is a significant producer of Pinot Noir, but we rarely see good value German Pinots in the UK. This makes a very good introduction to German reds with its bright juicy crunchy cranberry and red fruit flavours, touch of oak and soft rounded smooth finish. Very easy drinking and great value. This is made by Gerd Stepp for worked for many years as M&S’s winemaker and is now back in his homeland in Rheinpalz working alongside Matthias Gaul.
KAISERSTUHL PINOT NOIR 2010
Grape: Pinot Noir
Price: £13.95 The Wine Society www.thewinesociety.com
Taste: Baden in Germany’s south west is home to the country’s Pinot Noir, particularly from Baden’s famous Kaiserstuhl zone with its warm climate and volcanic soils. Karl Johner makes this very charming Pinot with a mellow surprisingly developed aroma, rich cherry fruits and delicious succulent finish. It is admittedly in a New World style, Johner is also associated with the Johner Wairarapa estate in New Zealand. Serve this fine German Pinot just chilled with charcuterie or mushrooms on toast. STAR BUY RED
GEORG FOGT DORNFELDER PORTUGIESER 2011
Grapes: 70% Dornfelder & 30% Portugieser
Price: £14 German Wine Agencies 0207 617 7038 www.germanwineagencies.co.uk; ww.vinoteca.co.uk; www.redsquirrelwine.com; www.yorkshirevintners.co.uk
Taste: Deep in colour, but surprisingly light in taste. Made from a blend of the popular Dornfelder and Austria’s Blau Portugieser grape. Soft tannins, round and fleshy palate remind me of a very fruity fresh Beaujolais in style.
Join Rose’s Introduction to Wine Tasting Series in Edinburgh on 7, 14 & 21 October from £36 www.rosemurraybrown.com