Riesling on a cold and dark December evening

I was reading the new wine social media portal, Bibendum Times the other day and they had a great article on bicycling through the Mosel. Sure you get your exercise but even better are the pitstops along the way to sample all those wonderful Mosel rieslings. Readers of  The Winesleuth will know that I absolutely adore riesling, especially German riesling  – pronounced REEZ-ling, that’s how I say it and that’s how my friend the wine blogger and Munich native, The Wine Rambler says it.   So I found myself last  Sunday evening on my way to Torsten’s (the Wine Rambler)  to sample some, unavailable in the UK, German rieslings. Torsten has such great German wine connections that he doesn’t even bother with buying anything here. I think German rieslings have a bad rep because of their startling fruitiness. Don’t be tempted to associate that fruitiness with “sweet” or call rieslings “sweet wines” even if they do have a good amoung of residual sugar. Despite that residual sugar, well made rieslings will have a fantastic streak of acidity running through them that perfectly balances the fruit, as well as a wonderful minerality, giving wines that are full of intense fruit but at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of being a cloying sugary concoction. Goldtropchen – “little drops of gold”. From the Mosel. Piesport to be exact.  The Piesporter region is known for it’s steep slopes, good exposure to the sun and slatey soils, all of which contribute to produce these top knotch wines. The Reinhold Haart Goldtropfchen Spatlese 2007 may still be in it’s infancy but it was a delicious drop of gold. Produced by one of the oldest and most prestigious vintners, the Haart family have been making wine since 1337, are one of the oldest wine-making families and have one of the oldest private wine estates in the Mosel. Although at 7.5 acres, it’s not exactly huge. The Haart’s use minimal intervention in the vineyards and are almost entirely organic. In order to allow...

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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. Luckily, 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...

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Wineblogging Wednesday – Alsatian Grand Cru ’03 Riesling

A rural country path, leading off into the wilderness…. …it’s not really that rural but I had to make my urban hike look a little bit adventurous… …just to keep up with all those other macho bloggers who, I am sure, were scaling near vertical hillsides along the Rhine while blogging about this months Wineblogging Wednesday choice – Riesling, hosted by Russ Beebe of winehiker. I hacked my way thru the perils of Wandsworth Common to get to Northcote Rd, where a quaint little wine shop called The Grape Shop quietly goes about it’s business of selling hidden gems. I found a fabulous Alsatian Grand Cru from the cooperative, Cave de Turckeim. An ‘03 Riesling from the Brand Grand Cru vineyards. There are only 50 hillsides within Alsace that are qualified to call themselves Grand Cru. According to legend, the hillside of Brand was the location of “an epic battle between a dragon and the sun which set the forested slopes alight. The following spring, vines grew where once there had been trees.” Pretty nifty story, I think. Much more exciting then the usual banal explanations about “sun-soaked” hills, etc. I didn’t consume my wine on the way home so I don’t get any bonus points for that but I did combine it with pan-seared pork chops in a honey-dijon mustard sauce. How was it? Amazing. I used a bit of wine in the sauce which produced a faint vinous echo on my palate. The sauce enhanced the citrus character of the wine and also brought into focus a gentle orange marmalade character lurking about. The wine, when I first opened it, had vibrant nose of ripe red apple, honeysuckle, wet rocks and a whiff of petrol that you are likely to find in rieslings that have a bit of age on them. Dry and crisp but with a bit of heft on the hips, so to speak, plenty of ripe white fruits, white peach, a nice dose of minerality and a refreshing lime/grapefruit...

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