Mystery German wine….

Torsten, The Winerambler, likes his German wines and he likes to trip me up with his unusual and rare finds so it was with much anticipation that I arrived at his house last night. He had promised a mystery wine and he swore I wouldn’t be able to guess what it was. Well, I have to say the cards were stacked against me, seeing as other then my favourite Riesling, I don’t have that much experience with German wine blind tastings but I was game. I had had various obscure wines at Torsten’s before so I thought I might have a fighting chance. I had seen the label briefly so I knew it was a VDP and it looked like a Weingut Knipser but that’s all I knew. While we waited for the risotto to cook, Torsten poured the wine. A clear vibrant yellow, it looked like a bright summer’s day in a glass. Nosing it, not too aromatic, bit of apricot and overripe peach, you know when it get’s to that point when it’s just about to turn and go off, not unpleasant just very sweet and slatey, you could smell the rocks. On the palate, more of the very ripe peach and apricot but with great acidity and honeyed toasted notes. Did I detect a hint of petrol? Aged riesling!? no, too obvious….a rather oily, mouthfeel…hmmm, Semillon? Viognier? No. A finish of bitter Seville orange marmelade…pinot gris aged in barrel (well, he did say it was unusual)?  Nope. Oaked chardonnay? Not-uh. By now I just started naming off all the white German varietals I could think of, sylvaner, pinot gris, gruner even! I did get into the ballpark with it’s age, guessing it to be about 9 -10 yrs old, it’s 8 yrs old, a 2003. Although Torsten  was enjoying this guessing game, he finally put me out of my misery and did the great reveal…..the Knipser 2003 Gelber Orleans Auslese. The what? Gelber Orleans? Yeah, like me or anyone outside of...

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…and now for something completely different-German syrah, Knipser 2003

Does this look like a German wine to you? Doesn’t look like the pale, watery German reds I’ve met in the past but this was no ordinary red, it was a German syrah. The Wine Rambler had done it again, surprising me with a German red the likes of which I had never encountered before, a lovely syrah from the Pfalz, better known for their flinty rieslings then supple reds.   The Knipser brothers have been experimenting with syrah since 1994 when they decided to plant the vine in their vineyards in the Rhineland-Palatinate. The wine is considered experimental because German wine laws are even more dictatorial and martinet about what types of grapes grow where and, since syrah is not considered an indigenous varietal, it falls outside of the wine laws of Germany. Hence the term experimental, although if this is an experimental wine. I can’t even imagine what a non-experimental wine would taste like. The Knipsers  have been using barriques since the 1980’s so they know a thing or two about oak and it is clearly evident in the Knipser 2003 syrah. The oak is so finely integrated that it’s difficult to know where the oak ends and the fruit begins. The wine was decanted for about half an hour before we tried it but it was starting to open up nicely and got progressively livelier as the night wore on. The syrah was matured in French oak barrels for 20months and it was apparent on the nose, a toasty vanilla scent with a black fruit profile slowly revealing itself with each sniff. After a bit of time, caramel, cocoa, green peppers and licorice also started to show thru the toasty mist. On the palate, supple and smooooooth….full bodied, which despite the colour was still a surprise. I just couldn’t get over the fact that this was a German red wine. I’ve had Austrian reds before but nothing prepared me for the depth of this wine. Tasting it, baked fruit at first, followed by...

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