The packed floor of London’s Hospital Club and the over-subscribed masterclasses at G-String, the name given to Wines of Germany’s annual trade tasting, proved that interest in German wine from the premium on-trade is increasing at a steady level. Although we cannot ever forget the incredible quality-to-price ratio that German Riesling delivers, G-String was also about the Other Grapes of Germany, wines that similarly offer unbelievable value. Peter Dean and Roger Jones report.
On show were stunning Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer even a white Merlot for God’s sake. Scroll down for Roger Jones’s pick of the non-Riesling German wine at G-String.
It is generally accepted by sommeliers, press, importers and many producers that Riesling is a grape that produces many of the world’s greatest wines. At every level of residual sugar and style, Riesling has the ability to deliver aromas and tastes totally unique to the varietal.
And at what a price. German Riesling, for example, unquestionably delivers one of the best quality-to-price ratios of any wine. Pound for pound it offers benchmark quality for value up against the other wines of the world.
It is just convincing the wine consumer that is often the issue.
But, there are signs that German Riesling and German wine as a whole are recovering from the after-effects of the 1970s and 1980s when mass imports of low quality sweet wine flooded these shores and gave the varietal and category a bad name.
Value of German wine is going steadily up in the UK and the good news is that it is at the quality end of the scale.
Key ‘influencers’ and members of the UK on-trade proved as much at the two Masterclasses at G-String, the name given to Wines of Germany‘s annual trade tasting that was held this week in London, and also on the tasting floor.
Some of the many superb Rieslings that were on show
Tasting the many superb Rieslings on show confirmed once again that even at entry level, German Riesling delivers unbelievable quality.
Two of the many entry level Rieslings that got my attention were Grey Slate Riesling 2015, Dr Loosen (importer: Awin Barratt Siegel) and Böcking Riesling 2015, Richard Böcking (importer: SWiG) which, put simply, were delicious – lovely layers of fruity flavours, great minerality, nervy acidity and a zippy almost spritzy finish.
At the £10-£20 level there’s an embarrassment of riches. For those that over-deliver look at 50 Degrees Riesling 2015, JWG Johannisberger Weinvertrieb (importer: Copestick Murray) which has a retail price of £11, Beetle Riesling 2015, Zur Römerkelter (importer: Vintage Roots) which is an attractive semi-dry style and Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett, Dönnhoff (importer: Awin Barratt Siegel) which, like most of his wines, is evidence of pure genius at work.
The Other Grapes of Germany
But G-String also proved, once again, how German wine is much more than Riesling.
On show were stunning Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, even a white Merlot for God’s sake.
A Masterclass chaired by Anne Krebiehl MW at G-String also opened eyes where eyes needed to be opened on the vast array of varietals and levels of quality in German wine. I was shown this array of quality varietals first hand on a press trip called The Other Grapes of Germany which you can read about here, and a list of the major ‘other’ varietals with food pairing suggestions you can read about here.
On the tasting floor it was great to catch up with the latest vintages of Dautel (who earned his chops at Comtes Lafon, importer: Delibo), Winter (importer: SWiG) and Thörle (importer: Carte Blanche Wines), winemakers I visited on this trip and whose Pinot Noir, amongst other wines, you should seek out and try. Thorle’s Pinots have famously been picked in the past by the Queen for a banquet at the Palace.
Also roaming the floor at G-String was Roger Jones, Michelin-starred chef, and a contributing editor of The Buyer, who was on the Wines of Germany panel to pick the Top 50 German Wines 2017.
Here are the Other Grapes of Germany that caught his eye this year.
Roger Jones: A few highlights away from Riesling
Oliver Zeter – Pfalz
(importer Delibo fronted by David Wright ex ABS)
Sauvignon Blanc Fume 2015, Oliver Zeter
Funky Sauvignon Blanc in the Californian Fume Blanc style, plenty of texture, fabulous layered full style that has plenty of spice and layers of clean pure fruit which lingers on the palate, there is a gentle floral background with an underlying lemon peel freshness.
Sauvignon Blanc Sweetheart 2015, Oliver Zeter
A sweet version of Sauvignon Blanc from specific vineyards, fruity and spiced, late harvest, luscious but dry, ripe flavoured Sauvignon that carries it well, an exciting style.
Goldshatz, Oliver Zeter
This is a Trockenbeerenauslese made from not only Sauvignon Blanc but also Ortega, Huxelrebe and Rieslaner full delicious intensity of exotic nougatine, cocoa, tropical fruit that lingers an age.
Besides these Sauvignon-based wines he also makes Chenin as well as other wines including a lovely Pinot Noir Reserve 2014, with a delicate perfume, lovely purity and a luscious finish.
(imported by Lea & Sandeman)
Ute Bamberger was at the event, a wonderful lady who was passionate about promoting her wine in such a lovely friendly way. Her highlights included two Weissburgunder
Weissburgunder 2015, Bamberger
Lovely purity, clean precise stone fruit, vibrant, focused clean and fresh with a retail price of £12 highlighting its quality and value
Weissburgunder Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg 2015 Bamberger
Purity, perfumed, elegance, depth, delicate touch of oak, this is a superb example of Pinot `Blanc at its best and retailing below £15 a bottle a bargain, evolves superbly on the palate and a star wine.
Claus Schneider, Baden
(imported by SWiG)
And a Pinot, there were many great Pinot Noirs on show but this was my highlight for value, sex appeal and the way it has aged gracefully.
Spätburgunder CS*** Weiler Schlipf, 2012
Haunting beautiful perfumed nose, gentle luxurious palate that has the berries dancing, fresh silky, long and lingering – a fabulous Pinot Noir
Ok go on, just one Riesling
Riesling Spätlese Oberhäuser Brücke 2013, Dönnhoff
(importer: Awin Barratt Siegel)
Full flavoured, multi-layered, sublime rich Riesling that oozes with charm, sweet perfect ripe apricots, great purity, long luscious, sweet but a lovely controlled style with a defined complexity and balance.