Riesling and other lovely things

Having visited ProWein (the largest wine fair in Europe) last year and enjoyed it immensely and because you shouldn’t fix what ain’t broken, I decided to go again, though this time with my other half. I took things a little easier this time round, I have plenty of MW study examples and it’s a challenge to remember them all so I was certainly not looking to add to them. So, apart from a few interesting meetings and chats, I mainly concentrated on tasting. A couple of things I’d like to mention in particular. I can never resist making new discoveries in Spain, given that it’s one of my favourite countries. Amongst the most interesting discoveries were thewines from Castell d’Encus in the Costes del Segre, north-eastern Spain. The reds, including a Pinot Noir, Bordeaux blend and Syrah, are fermented outside in natural silica rock. I have never heard of anyone doing this before. Naturally, they are biodynamic, too. They have a chalky texture to them and are sweetly fruited but with fresh acidity, a trademark of biodynamy.

Feeling a little patriotic, I also tasted a range of Czech wines and attended a ‘masterclass’. It wasn’t great, I have to say. The speaker, whilst his English was ok, was sharing his incredibly boring tasting notes with everybody else, instead of talking about the varieties and regions and what it is that should excite us about an up-and-coming wine producing country that Czech Republic undoubtedly is. The wines shown were a mixture of crosses (like Malverina, Laurot, Palava and Neronet) instead of showing wines made from the noble varieties that actually produce decent wines. It’s such a missed opportunity. Sadly, some of these crosses are very popular domestically. They will never work internationally. Having tasted some really delicious Czech Rieslings, Gruners and Pinot Noirs, this is what I would suggest to the wine marketing body to show the world.

No ProWein trip is complete without a pork knuckle or two, several beers and German Riesling. I was mostly hanging out with the lovely types from Wine Australia so evenings were good fun. We found a lovely little wine bar in the back streets of the Altstadt, I’ll have to remember it for next time! I was very tempted to steal some fancy glassware there, I have to admit!

ProWein was followed by a trip to the Mosel and Rheingau. Quality, rather than quantity was the theme. I’ve grown tired of visiting too many wineries in one day. One can never fully appreciate what a producer is trying to do after spending an hour with them. So I selected a few producers that I really wanted to spend some time with. My favourite German is by far Reinhard Lowenstein from Heymann-Lowenstein. His wines are ethereal and other-wordly and he is possibly the nicest winemaker I have ever met. There is a sense of zen about everything he does. His winery, located in the extreme north of the Mosel, the Terrassen-Mosel, is designed according to feng-shui principles and is the most pleasant smelling, positively energised underground cellar I’ve been to. The wines reflect the character of the winemaker. Bottled by soil type (7 different types of slate), they have a rounded acidity and gentle minerality. They dance on the palate, it’s not flamenco, it’s ballet – precise and emotional. I won’t go into so much detail about the other visits, though they were marvellous. It was a privilege to taste Willi Schaefer’s portfolio of wines. These wines are extremely hard to find so I’m glad we’ve managed to grab a few bottles of the 2011 vintage from Bordeaux Index!

Mosel was followed by a short but enjoyable visit to the Rheingau, the slightly less pretty but equally prestigious region. Tasting the 2012s from rising star Eva Fricke were a highlight. It was also interesting to visit the sleek operation that is Robert Weil and taste through their entire range. Rather impressive set-up, I have never seen a winery like that. There is definitely money there! There’s also quality, luckily. Well, I think this will have to do on Germany. Next topic will certainly be Italy, as that’s where I’m off to now!


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