Was that….Blue Nun?!?

When I was a kid I remember my Mom having a bottle of Blue Nun on the fridge door among the milk and jars of mayo and mustard. She’d have a glass after a long day at work and I remember being  fascinated by the tall blue bottle. I once snuck a sip to see what it was like – ewwww!! That was about the extent of my winedrinking exposure until university and even then I didn’t take much of a step up.

bluenun-004Luckily, I grew up and came to love German wines but I still had those lingering memories of Blue Nun as a “Mom” wine and not that good to boot.  I had heard that Blue Nun had relaunced their wine not long ago and wandering around the wine aisle of Sainsbury’s the other day, talking on the phone to my mom, I spotted that long tapering bottle on the shelf. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was because at that moment I was talking to my mom in faraway Nevada (we even had a laugh about the wine when I mentioned that I’d spotted it on the shelf), maybe it was just curiosity but for whatever reason I popped it into my basket and headed off to the checkout line.

When I say they relaunched, they really relaunched. Those Germans are serious about rebranding Blue Nun, changing the label to one nun instead of 3 and making the label more modern, all in an effort to make it a player in the under £5 range. They are even starting a new campaign to trumpet the fact that one glass is the equivalent of one unit of alcohol, mind you, that is a 12.5 cl glass but one unit nonetheless.

The wine comes from the Rheinhessen which is the biggest wine producing region in Germany, it’s the traditional home of  Liebfraumilch, which helps to explain the medium-dry style of Blue Nun and it’s a blend of Silvaner and Müller-Thurgau with an abv of 9.5%. Since the new reclassification, the wine is a now a Deutscher tafelwein instead of a Qualitatswien. There’s a lot of other info on the website and you can check out the stats  if you must, they even tell you the dimensions of the bottles and cases!

The bottle says it’s “fresh, crisp and fruity”. I can attest to that, it definitely ticks all those boxes. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. It was clear and bright, a light hay colour, the nose – fruity, peachy, not too intense, nice and simple. The palate –  very fruity, nice acidity, ripe peaches, some citrusy notes, hint of spritzyness, the finish was short and slightly sweet, a bit of tinned peaches hanging about. It was really tasty with spicy potatos, plenty of fruit left over but not too much. It was an engaging surprise. I was prepared to scoff and hate it but it wasn’t that bad at all. Ok, it wasn’t like those world class Rieslings from the Pfalz but for £3.99 I’m not complaining. I can’t wait to tell my mom. She has long since moved on from Blue Nun but maybe it’s time she revisited an old friend, just for kicks.

24 Comments

  1. And yet another producer for the list of things-to-try-soon! I had a few Cono Sur wines recently, but from the entry level range, and thought they were quite good, especially for the price. I will keep my eyes open for more.

  2. I am very curious myself, but not really convinced that you can have a meaningful tasting France vs US on that budget. But then it should be fun either way, I hope.

    Thanks for the recommendations, I will keep my eyes open for Oregon and Washington wines. I did have some nice wines from Au Bon Climat for, relatively, reasonable prices – so I am not giving up on California yet. Having said that, so far no New World country has really managed to lure me away from the Europeans. Although some of that Argentinian Malbec…

    • I agree with you on the budget question!

      However, I did remember that I have had some very good wines from Qupe, I think they are based around Santa Barbara – they are more like a co-op, using grapes from various growers to produce some very well made, organic wine. I’ve had their Syrah and Marsanne/Roussane, both of which are available here in the UK for around £20, sometimes less!

      As for Argentina, I think Chile is outstripping them, their cool climate syrahs are fabulous. And the Cono Sur Ocio (100% pinot noir) I had recently was superb.

  3. Now you have me at a disadvantage as I do not even know if my university has any kind of sports team – or cheer, for that matter…

    I am not that big on American wine either (but I have to admit that I never ventured into that direction systematically), but there are some adorable Pinot Noirs. Sadly, good US wine seems rather pricey. It will be interesting to see what wines they will serve…

    Thanks for keeping me posted on the Bluebird!

    • To be fair, universities here don’t really have mascots, do they? Although Nevada is my adopted one (mom lives there) my uni in CA didn’t believe in organized sports either.

      There are some great pinot noirs coming out of Washington and Oregon state. They both have much cooler climes then Ca. I’ve had quite a few CA p.n.’s and find most of them just a touch baked however Monterey county and the Central Coast are doing some nice stuff. Those Wa and Ore. wines are just miles better (sorry CA). Drouhin has a vineyard in Ore. somewhere, his daughter moved to Oregon and set up shop there, lovely stuff and ‘J’ pinot noir is another winner. Those WA and Ore wines are available here in the UK and certainly worth seeking out. I find CA wines just too big for my palate now, last year at the WBC, I had a hard time drinking many of them with food!

      That’s not to say that there are no drinkable (to a european palate) CA wines but they are not cheap – £50 or more! I think I’ll stick to Europe for now, thank you very much!

      My curiosity may get the better of me and I just might attend that tasting, I really wonder what wines they will be serving for £20.

  4. Yes, please do let me know about the tastings – this should be fun! Speaking of tastings, Thursday next week the Clapham Picturehouse shows Bottle Shock, the movie on the Judgement of Paris. There will also be a wine tasting to go with the movie, so it might be interesting to anyone who is into American wine: http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/news_item.aspx?venueId=cph&id=1756

    Good to hear that Nevada is still fighting prohibition!

    • Thanks for the heads up on the Bottle Shock showing and tasting. Believe it or not, I’m not a big fan of American wines but I am curious to see how they compare now to their French counterparts. I prefer French and Italian but the Bottle Shock tasting might make a liar out of me!

      I will keep you posted on any upcoming Bluebird Tastings.

      GO Nevada Wolf Pack!!! LOL

  5. I have to say that that makes me almost more curious to try a Black Tower, if it is that bad…

    Despite also being based south of the river I every so often venture north to have a look at what David and his team at the Winery have uncovered and it is usually worth it. I have heard of the Bluebird, but have never been there. Seems like a place worth checking out on the way home from work. The tastings do also sound good!

    Those Germans are lucky indeed, many wineries ship the first “taster” cask for free, which is great for trying new stuff. How do you handle the shipments from the US?

    • winesleuth /

      Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the Black Tower! Penny is winding down the summer tastings as she is getting married (!) but in Sept I’m sure she will be starting up again so you should pop by the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird for a tasting. I could drop you a line when I get a lineup of the winetastings.

      As for wine shipping in America, it all depends on where you live, some states you can ship to and some you cannot. I think the Supreme Court was considering the legality of those alcohol shipping laws – a hangover of Prohibition. Luckily, last time I was in the States I was in Nevada where anything goes! Other then that it’s just a hodgepodge of alcohol shipping laws as far as I know but since I no longer live in America don’t take my word for it!

  6. I have never tried Black Tower, so I cannot compare it – but I will make sure to taste it soon. Sainsburys do have a Kabinett by F. W. Langguth Erben (the same company that owns the Blue Nun label) for 4.80 that I found a little more interesting than the Blue Nun. But then I would always be prepared to pay 2 pounds more and get an entry level Riesling from Dr Loosen – I am aware though that not everyone wants to spend that much. It is a shame that the pound is still so weak against the Euro, otherwise it would be so much more attractive to order wine directly (which I continue to do as it is still cheaper).

    London, I find, does actually have a good range of shops that sell German wine. You will probably know the Winery in Maida Vale – they have an awesome range of Riesling – and they do free tastings every so often. But even there, as you say, you will not find German wine in a good entry level price range. In moments like these I miss living in Germany where you sometimes can get wine shipped directly to your door for free.

    • Trust me, you don’t need to try Black Tower! I do know the Winery but since I live south of the river, well, you know…. Do you know the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird on the King’s Rd? Penny occasionally has some very nice rieslings in stock and even gets the winemakers to come along to conduct winetastings. She stocks Dr. von Basserman-Jordan Rieslings, some lovely stuff. I did a post on it, it’s on my site somewhere!

      You comment about free wine shipping – those lucky Germans! For the moment, we’ll just have to pay for quality Riesling, which I don’t mind doing :-)

  7. I liked your review, winesleuth, but I found it much harder to like this one. There was something bitter in the finish that still troubles me. It is a shame that German entry level wines are so much more expensive here in the UK/London – if we were both based in Germany I could easily recommend several much better wines for the same price. Still, loved the story with your mum.

    • Thanks for your comment! I know that there are great German wines out there and I’ve been lucky enough to have tried them but here in the UK, the pickings are slim, esp. on the budget side. I’d rather pay for good German wine then buy a cheapie but there are people out there who just want a simple hock and this one is better then say, Black Tower!

  8. Yes, I remember Blue Nun too! – a distant memory, Blue Nun, Mateus and Boone Farms – these were some of the first wines I can remember sampling and not liking very much – sweet to be sure, sickly so and the reason I stuck with beer for so many years. Good to know Blue Nun is back and actually drinkable.

    • I forgot about Mateus! A friend posted a pic on facebook of me back when I was in uni and I was holding a bottle of Mateus, must have erased the memory! I think I may have opened a real can of worms by trying that B.N.!

  9. I’m hoping they have this at the Artisan and Vine :D

  10. If you are going to visit me once I will show you this rather small real Liebfrauenmilch vineyards!! Ja, they haven’t much to do with that stuff what is sold under the flag of Liebraumilch.
    It is writen in german, but have a look at this nice article of a friend of mine.
    http://tinyurl.com/cxduzj

    • Thomas, Arrrgh!! I wish I spoke German but I did gather that they were trying Riesling, no? I would love to come for a visit and try the real deal in the Liebfrauenmilch vineyards and maybe even some Rieslings! Maybe this spring?

  11. Alex, I’ve always liked German wines and now, I’m going to HAVE TO try Liebfraumilch!!

    Helen, trying Black Tower might be pushing it but if they do a re-vamp, I’d give it a try. Nothing wrong with cheap and cheerful!

    Brett, I love German wines so I’m really glad to see that they’re stepping up their game on the entry level, now just to convince people that their wines are drinkable and even enjoyable.

    Liza, Get it for your dad but don’t tell him what it is until after he’s tried it!

  12. Blue nun is back!?!RIght on! I totally remember when my darling parents who have no idea how they ended up with a Snarkling like me thought that was the pinnacle of good taste—literally and figuratively. I have got to get a bottle of that for my dad’s b-day! THANKS, Denise!

  13. Interesting! When I was taking the WSET Diploma blind tasting exam (a few years ago) one of the wines was particularly striking. Throwing all the sensible WSET training of wine deduction to the winds I decided that the wine was a Pires Dry Moscato from Portugal. At the end of the exam, the wind went out of my sails when it was revealed that the wine was in fact Blue Nun!
    Indeed, the Sichel rep (Sichel were the agents at the time) told me later that, such was German wines’ reputation so poor, that he always got clients to taste the wine without showing them the bottle; invariably it was liked!
    So it’s good to see you enjoy it too. It’s a good opener to learn and discover more of the joy of German wines.

  14. I can’t believe it! Blue Nun?! Actually drinkable?! How times have changed. Will you be moving on to the Black Tower next then!

  15. God – now I’m going to have to go & buy a bottle of the stuff to try out! Last year I tried a Liebfraumilch from M&S which was also an OK wine – clean, well made and, like the Blue Nun, probably would have been fab with spicy potatoes! I guess a change is as good as a holiday …

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