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Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm a Master of Wine (MW) having passed in 1997. I am about to open a wine shop in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library and this is my wine blog. There should be no conflict of interest between my work with The Wine Library and the opinions expressed herein but I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy. From June 2013 until May 2017 I was the Retail Manager for The Wicklow Wine Company. I was a member of the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events, Trips and Governance Committees Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Germany and Austria

As a long-standing fan of German riesling, I love the Germany lecture, as it gives me a chance to taste some pretty good German wines, even if it isn't all that easy to get these in Ireland. By combining this lecture with Austria, I also have to chance to taste some pretty good Austrian wines, the range of which is improving. So, Monday 1st March was a "mittel-Europa" day; stockists in parentheses with details below.
We started with three wines to show a rough idea of what Germany offers (all the German wines are WWC). First, Wagner Stempel Sylvaner Trocken Rheinhessen 2006, €18.15, a lovely ripe but earthy wine, from one of the great misunderstood grapes in Europe. Then the Max Ferd. Richter Mülheimer Sonnenlay (Zeppelin) Riesling QbA Mosel 2008, €14.75, fresh and zingy, with a lovely intensity - really good. Then a more serious wine, Von Bassermann-Jordan Deidesheimer Leinhöhle Riesling Kabinett Pfalz 2006, €21.65, classic ripe Pfalz fruit, with a medium body and lovely fresh acidity on the finish.
The next three were served blind in order to give the students a chance to see the styke variations between kabinett, spatlese and auslese. They were Max Ferd. Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Kabinett Mosel 2006, €18.95,  Max Ferd. Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Spätlese Mosel 2006, €21.15, and Max Ferd. Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Auslese Mosel 2005, €37.45. When I was an MW student, Monika Christmann of FAG showed us two wines from the same vineyard picked about 4 weeks apart. Analytically the wines were identical but the extra time in the sun gave the late picked wine a beter flavour depth. This is, essentially, the difference between kabinett and spatlese. Of course, auslese is made with riper bunches again and is sweeter in style. These three wines showed these variations very well with the kabinett having classic green apple flavours, the spatlese riper, cooked aple and the auslese honeyed apple.
Then two red wines, both from pinot noir. First, the light and fruity Geil Pinot Noir Rheinhessen 2007, €15.45, nice but unremarkable, followed by the excellent Meyer-Näkel Spätburgunder Ahr 2006, €23.50 which is a much better wine with excellent fruit character.
Overall, a lovely set of wines to start the day - finesse and quality with elegance.

In the afternoon we covered Austria - a country many assume is similar to Germany but which, in real terms, is very different. The climate is warmer and drier, riesling is not that important, and the general style of wine is very different, even if they apparently share the same labelling terms for wines. However, it's fairly rare to see kabinett, spatlese etc. on an Austrian label, although there are some terms which you will see that the Germans don't have e.g. Strohwein, Schilcher and the much sought-after Ausbruch.
First up, the Fritsch Riesling Reserve Wagram 2006, (OB) €18.45, classy Austrian riesling - dry and mineral but with warm, ripe fruit. Then a pair of gruner veltliner - Austria's really classic grape. We started with the Fritsch Grüner Veltliner Steingberg Wagram 2007, (OB) €15.95 - light peppery notes and warm apple fruits - then the Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Lamm Kamptal 2007, (WWC) €33.95, a much firmer style, with a greater level of depth on the mid-palate. Really good!
Two reds to showcase Austrian reds - a fruity Glatzer Zweigelt Riedencuvée Carnuntum 2006, (OB) €13.45, nice dark fruits, with a fresh acid structure, then a classy, if slighlt over-oaky Glatzer St Laurent Altenberg Carnuntum 2006, (OB) €21.45 - very ripe, firm fruits, rich mid-palate and a lovely finish.
The Austrian flight was a little shy, in some was, but I hope to have more Austrian wines next time around. I think they're among the best in the world and well worth seeking out.
The stockists are WWC = Wicklow Wine Company, OB = O'Brien's.

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