Taste Explorations #4 - Dry German Riesling
When you think of German Riesling you may automatically think of Alan Partridge ordering half a bottle of Blue Nun or you may think about the copious amounts of Black Tower you would guzzle because it was sweet and didn't really taste like wine. *For disclosure, I am too young to remember guzzling Black Tower, in my day it was all about Cactus Jack Apple Schnapps... urgh*
The two above mentioned wines appear to have slightly bruised the reputation of German wines and created a similar situation to that which Chardonnay has suffered from, with over-oaking methods in Australia and California. A lot of German wine labels are traditionally quite hard to understand, what with words 20 letters long (we're looking at you Trockenbeerenauslese) and umlauts. Thankfully there are winemakers in Germany who understand this and are keen to catch up with the times and become more approachable purely for your enjoyment of this awesome grape variety.
Finding a dry Riesling from Germany doesn't have to be hard or intimidating. When looking at the label there are two things to look out for;
Trocken. This is German for dry and can usually be found in regions such as Rheingau (rine-gow) and Pfalz (faltss).
ABV at 11% or higher. This is due to the sugars in the grapes being converted into alcohol, so the more alcohol made means more sugar used up in the winemaking process. Riesling at the 9% ABV will have that sweeter taste.
Dry Rieslings have the flavour profile that would appeal to most palates. You'll find plenty of concentrated lime flavours, with a really refreshing high acidity. Secondary flavours include stone fruit flavours such as apricot and even a touch of beeswax/hint of honey (the really natural kind that you can buy in farm shops). This is all topped off with a very clean minerality.
For me a stand out would be Villa Wolf's Wachenheimer Riesling. Villa Wolf is part of the Dr. Loosen estate, Ernst Loosen being the king of Riesling in Germany. Part of why I love this wine is the ease of reading the label as soon as you get past the tricky vineyard name Wachenheimer (vack-en-hi-mer). You can clearly see above the label the word 'dry' instantly scrapping any doubt as to whether this is a dry wine. The front of the label simply tells you the vineyard, the grape, the vintage and the estate. The back label then tells you it is from Pfalz (known for their drier more full-bodied style), gives you brief description of the flavour and tells you what to pair it with. There is also a very handy chart ranging from dry to medium dry & medium sweet up to sweet with a clear arrow telling you it is dry. Apart from Ernie himself sending you a letter saying it's dry, you couldn't be clearer about it being dry.
With the classic hit of lime and a pleasant amount of white peach coming through, the acidity will quench any thirst. The minerality on the finish shows the quality of this wine and the flavour stays in the mouth for a good amount of time.
For those of you who enjoy a Picpoul de Pinet, a Pinot Grigio, a dry Chenin Blanc or even a Chablis, you should give this a go - if you haven't already.
Try it with this awesome BBQ fish recipe https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipe/citrus-spiked-sea-bass. The intense lime will stand up to the citrus and the flavours of the wine will beautifully compliment the fish. Summer heaven!
Those of you who know me will know that I absolutely love finding new and exciting things to try, whether it be food and drink or even a new sporting venture (more to follow, keep your eyes peeled). So, you can imagine my wine-nerdy excitement when I discovered what are now three of my absolute favourite grape varieties: Carménère, Tannat and Bonarda. Not only do they create some delicious wines but each one comes with an intriguing little back story and can even be likened to another better-known grape variety. If, like me, you always on the lookout for your next exciting experiment, read on and find out about these underrated grapes and what they can offer.
Fans of Merlot will love Carménère - but those of you who say no to Merlot should also give this guy a go. Bursting with rich red fruit flavours, sometimes smoke and earthiness and quite often a dark chocolate/tobacco like note, I often like to refer to Carménère as Merlot with a bit more "oomph". Thought to have originated in the Médoc region of Bordeaux as one of the original six grapes of Bordeaux, cuttings of Carménère were taken to Chile by growers from France in the mid 1800's just before the Europe's vineyards were devastated by Phylloxera. Thought to have been wiped by the evil vine killing bug Carménère was confused with Merlot in its travels across the pond and forgotten about for 150 years. Until 1994, when Professor Jean-Michel Boursiquot - an expert in the study and classification of cultivated varieties of grape - was wandering among a plot of vines thought to be Merlot and spotted characteristics not usually found on Merlot vines but instead Carménère. Almost overnight there was a boom in Carménère's popularity and now 98% of the world's plantings can be found in Chile. A great pairing with Carménère would be a quality piece of Gouda: the nuttiness of the cheese alongside the rich chocolatey notes in the wine creates a really sexy mouthfeel that leaves you wanting more and more... and more.
When I decided to write about Bonarda I didn't expect to be met with such a confusing back story. As far as I understand (and please feel to correct me) the South American Bonarda in question is a grape variety variously known as Douce Noir/Corbeau/Charbono, and originating from the Savoie region of France, and before that in Italy... However, it is not to be confused with the Bonarda of today's Italy which, in typically confusing Italian style, is the name for three different varieties found throughout the country. If you're not following, worry not! For the most important part is how it tastes, and should you try it. Well, it tastes delicious and yes you should try it! Very similar to Argentina's claim to fame, Malbec, and only second to it in the amount planted in the country, Bonarda typically shows fruit-forward flavours of blueberry, sweet plums and the good expressions have earthy notes of all-spice and cloves. With less tannin than Malbec it's a real glugger!
And finally, on to Tannat. You can find its roots in a small town in south-west France called Madiran where you will find wines famously high in tannins. Much like the history of Carménère, Tannat was taken to South America in the late 1800's to escape Phylloxera, in the present day Tannat is considered Uruguay's national grape. Having spread over to Argentina where the grapes are grown at a very high altitude you can expect to find lower levels of tannin and more influence on fruit forward wines. Still, a full bodied Tannat will pair perfectly with rich red meats: think Rib-eye steak or beef stew, and for the non-meat eaters among you go for a dish with lentils and a rich tomato-based sauce! What's more, this grape variety has high levels of antioxidants contained within its skins, so drinking Tannat can actually make you healthier! (not scientifically proven..._
So, get down to any of our shops and bag yourself 10% off all South American wines in store or online using the code SOUTHAMERICA18 at check out.