Schloss Biebrich Sekt

oenophilogical_munichaugustinerkellerLast fall l had the chance to get a quick trip in to Germany and Switzerland.  It had to be quick due to necessary commitments, but it was a wonderful trip.

The first leg we spent in Munich.  We could have gone gallivanting about Germany because there is so much to see and do, but we decided to focus on beautiful München.  Why?  Well, in part because I had lived in Munich as a young man just out of college.  Thus, I wanted to take a good look around and see just how much had changed.  I also wanted to share some of the gems I’d discovered previously with my sweetie.

Staying in a hotel close to (but not right at) the Hauptbahnhof allowed us to utilize the outstanding public transportation system to go everywhere. oenophilogical_munich_nymphenburgerschloss Whether by subway, commuter rail, bus or streetcar, we were able to get to all our destinations.  Our hotel was also within easy striking distance of the Altstadt (old city) area that includes the famous Rathaus with it’s glockenspiel, Marienkirche and the many shops and restaurants lining the Fussgängerzone (pedestrian zone) that links Karlsplatz, Marienplatz and Odeonsplatz.  Yes, we heard and watched the glockenspiel.  We also packed in a visit to the Olympic Center, Olympic Tower and Olympic Village (and my old apartment which was within walking distance).  oenophilogical_munich_englishegarten2We saw the Nymphenburger Schloss with it’s fascinating history and beautiful gardens.  We pondered the amazing collection of art in the Alte Pinakothek museum, part of a group of museums where you could spend days – weeks, even – appreciating the art.  We took a stroll around the Englisher Garten and stopped for lunch at the Chinesischer Turm/Chinese Tower.  In fact, we had plenty of Bavarian food and beer, dropping in at the Augustiner Keller Beer Garden one evening and the Hofbräuhaus another.  And perhaps most enjoyably, we discovered a wonderful pub/restaurant a few blocks from our hotel in a quiet residential neighborhood that served, among other tasty things, Münchner Schnitzel.  This was my favorite dish when I lived in Munich!  I thought it had perhaps been the specialty of the local restaurant (no longer in existence) where I had first discovered it.  Imagine my elation to accidentally rediscover it and be able to share it as well.

With memories of our trip still dancing in my head, it was no surprise that I was drawn toward a German label when considering options for “bubbly” to help celebrate this past holiday season.

oenophilogical_schlossbiebrichsektWinemaker:  Schloss Biebrich
Varietal:  Sekt
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Germany
Price:  $5.49 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This effervescent wine was a “barely there” straw with a very apple-y nose which held some citrus notes.  It was light-bodied and had good acidity.  Alcohol was at 11%.  On the flavor side it held what the nose portended – sweet apple with a touch of citrus.  I know this is very inexpensive wine, but I was disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong: I will drink it again if someone hands me a glass.  On the other hand, I probably won’t be buying another bottle.

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Cupcake Vineyards Riesling 2011 Pfalz

This German import is sold under the Cupcake label but is bottled in Germany by a company given the designation D-RP – 907 009.   That’s a sexy name for a winery, isn’t it?  After some digging, it appears to me that the responsible party is likely one J.F. Brems GmbH in Zell.  A small town of roughly 4,300 residents situated on the Mosel River, Zell is best known for another wine.  One I remember my mother buying and sipping when I was just a little tyke.  Zell is the home of the Zeller Schwarze Katz.  But this particular bottle is not a Schwarze Katz selection, it is a Qualitätswein Riesling from Pfalz.

Winemaker:  Cupcake Vineyards
Varietal:  Riesling
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Pfalz
Price:  $10.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  The color was bright golden yellow.  The bouquet held scents of tart apple and fragrant peach.  Alcohol was at 10.5% in this Pfalz white that was light-bodied and somewhat low in acidity.  Flavors I tasted centered around a core of tart apple.  Not green apple, but more of a Braeburn type sweet and tart.   I also caught hints of peach and a touch of lemongrass on the finish.  Clearly, given the flavor profile I’ve listed, this wine is not devoid of acidity.  I just think that a tad more would have given it the play-on-the-tongue quality that I enjoy in my favorite Rieslings.  If your preference is for something a little more mannerly … well, here you go!   It isn’t overly complex and the price is reasonable, so it’s a decent candidate to pair with a relaxed meal – maybe a lightly spicy vegetable stir fry or a quick pan-fried pork chop.

Zell on the Mosel

Divino Nordheim Müller Thurgau Trocken 2009

Thurgau2009What a nice surprise to find a decent-sized section of German wines available at one of the wine stores in my area.  I’ve mentioned before that this shop – Arrowine – is not as close and convenient for me as are any number of others.  Clearly, though, I will have to make an effort to get there from time to time!

I’d never had a Müller Thurgau before.  Well, let’s say “as far as I can remember” I hadn’t.  When I was a little kid my family lived in Germany.  My parents did give me a taste of one or two wines during that time, but I only remember them talking about Liebfraumilch.  I’ve always assumed that was what I’d sipped.  It’s funny looking back now, because they had to make me try the wines.  I didn’t want to!!   Anyway, this Müller Thurgau was a new experience for me.

Winemaker:   Divino Nordheim
Wine:  Müller Thurgau Trocken
Varietal:  Müller Thurgau
Vintage:  2009
Appellation:  Franken, Germany
Price:  $9.99

Notes:   You may know that trocken means dry in German, and this wine is dry at 13% alcohol.  In the glass it was a pale yellow.  On the nose I caught lively citrus and peach.  This was a light and crisp wine.  Acidity is bright, giving it a very slight feeling of effervescence when it hits the tongue.  Flavors for me were citrus and star fruit with hints of peach and honey.  I also found plentiful grass on the palate that lingers in the fairly long finish.  Seems like this would be a good all-purpose summer white for sipping or enjoying with light summery dishes like a crisp salad, some fresh seafood, or even grilled chicken.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Hans Lang Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir 2009

inotNoir2009A German red at Trader Joe’s!  In fact, when I picked this one up, I also saw a Dornfelder from Joseph Händler there, too.  I had tasted the 2012 Händler Riesling not too long ago, so I thought it would be better to try something from a different wine house now.  I’ll go back for the Dornfelder, to be sure.

Winemaker: Weinhaus Hans Lang
Wine: Edition Maximilian, Pinot Noir
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2009
Appellation: Rheingau, Germany
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s*

Notes:  Well, this was an interesting selection!  First, it had quite a pungent bouquet of strawberry with little hints of earth and spice.  In the glass it was a light ruby color.  On the palate is where it got interesting.  I might even say unusual for a Pinot Noir.  In this light German red I found a core of ripe strawberry with a cranberry accompaniment.  There was also a very present tartness that surrounded but didn’t completely obscure the other flavors.  On the mid-palate came the sweetness (alcohol is at 11.5%) along with some suggestions of spice.  As the wine approached it’s finish, the tart returned and was joined by the modest tannins which – while bringing a very pleasant fuzzy-tongue feeling – added just another touch of tart.  I was not sure if I liked this wine.  And remember: cranberry sauce is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.

After tasting it, I certainly didn’t imagine the 2009 Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir was going to be a wine I’d like to just sip and savor.  Still, I thought it had it’s good points for a cheap table red.  And I suspected it might stand up to light spicy dishes.  So I took the whole grain pasta I was going to have for dinner, added a little more fire (red pepper flakes), and tried them together.  Indeed, the light sweetness of the wine moderated the pepper a bit while the pepper reduced the tart quotient of the wine considerably.  So, for me, I could drink this wine to accompany a light and spicy pasta or pizza, but I wouldn’t serve it to guests whose tolerance for tartness I don’t know well.  Because if you don’t like tart flavors, you will definitely not like this wine.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur. See “About” for the full disclaimer.

* Initially, I mistakenly posted a price of $4.99.  But somehow it just didn’t seem right.  So upon rechecking my receipts, I have updated this post to reflect the correct price.

Franz Wilhelm Langguth Erben Spätlese 2010

Here we go!  Another German wine in my current trio of German tastings.

Winemaker: Franz Wilhelm Langguth
Wine: Erben Spätlese (White Wine)
Vintage: 2010
Appellation: Rheinhessen, Germany
Price: $8.99

Notes:  This had what I would describe as lively ripe peach and honey on the nose.  When it hits the palate, you get an immediate effervescence that plays on the tongue.  The flavors for me were primarily a nice sweet nectarine core with a zip of rhubarb on the finish where it lingers.  On the very, very end the wine leaves just the slightest hint of spice.   As you know, eating a nectarine is a natural sweet & sour experience.  And this wine is that – a playful dance between the sweet and the sour.  In fact, drinking this wine reminded me a little of when I was ten years old and had a temporary fixation on Sweet Tarts.  I was in a Saturday bowling league and they sold the candies at the register.  But back to the wine!  Acidity is pretty vibrant and alcohol is at 10%.  Given it’s sweetness, this selection might be served as a dessert wine (although the tartness may be too much for some to consider it dessert).  While I’m no foodie expert, I think this wine could pair nicely with some hearty cheeses or even a spicy Asian dish.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer. 

A Little Riesling At The Pub

Following up on my intent to broaden my wine horizons and in the interest of internationalism, I’m going to be tasting 3 wines from Germany in the next few days.  This is the first.  You may remember that I wrote a post not too long ago about a nice red I’d tasted at a local watering hole where they have good live music, too.  Anyway, things went so well with the red that I thought I’d give one of their whites a try.

Winemaker:  Lucashof
Wine:  Riesling
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  Pfalz
Price:  Not Available

Notes:  It was simple, light bodied and for me light on flavor.  What I tasted was lime and peach (with the fuzz on the quick finish).   Dry – Sweet?  This Riesling comes in at 11.5% alcohol.   It wasn’t bad at all, but I  just didn’t think it brought that much to the table.  I almost didn’t post this review because I couldn’t find this wine at retail anywhere in my area – or even online for that matter – for this vintage.   But then I thought maybe others would run into it at their local haunt/restaurant/etc., so I went ahead.  I’m thinking maybe this pub doesn’t go through much Riesling and they should’ve served this a year ago.  I see that Lucashof gets good reviews for their wines, so I am going to give another of their selections a try in the future.