Summer is, intermittently, here and so my thoughts are increasingly turning to beer. Nothing is quite as refreshing or cleansing on a hot day as a cool beer, so I tend to think about it a great deal at this time of year.
In truth I am a bit of a beer wuss. Because I like beer to refresh I am normally drawn to lighter, criper brews, especially Pilsner type lagers. However such beers can be quite wonderful and I object to the lazy, but widely held belief that all lagers taste the same. Mass market lagers brewed in the UK do, but that is not the same thing at all. Try a König, a Paulaner and a Warsteiner side by side and compare them with an Urquell or an Alhambra Reserva 1925. In fact pop over to the Netherlands and taste all the different types of Grolsch, including seasonal versions – they are all still lagers though. In fact this does raise the question as to why all the big name lagers do become completely bland once they are brewed in the UK, when they have become famous enough to be brewed over here precisely because of their flavour and character!
Riesling growing on the banks of the Moselle in Luxembourg
Riesling is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. Most of us in the wine business love Riesling, indeed many of us would class it as one of our favourite grapes, right up there with Pinot Noir.
Ask most consumers to list their favourite grapes, however and it is pretty unusual for Riesling to feature at all.
Personally I love Riesling, I find it a grape that I can get passionate about. What is more I seem to like all styles of Riesling, whether steely dry, off-dry, medium-dry or richly sweet – all can be wonderful in their place and make refreshing Summer wines. Continue reading →
I had always been aware that eastern Germany made wine, even that the old DDR had a couple of wine regions, but had never been in a position to try any until recently. There was a lovely young German couple attending one of my courses, he was from Bavaria and she was from the countryside near Dresden in the east. I had never before met anyone from the German Democratic Republic, so it was very interesting hearing her talk of Trabants, the Communist Young Pioneers and holidays in Hungary and Bulgaria. Interestingly her husband was quite dismissive of her past life in the east, which angered her, so I hope they are still together.
One week she mentioned the wine of her region and when I said that I had never had any she immediately said that she would bring me a bottle back the next time she visited her mother. She was as good as her word and a couple of weeks later handed me an elegantly tall fluted bottle of:
This trip to Germany contained many great visits, I enjoyed them all and learnt something from each. At Tesch I really felt that I, at last, began to understand terroir.
Tesch is a small winery with a 300 year past, but a very modern present under the leadership of Dr Martin Tesch. His excitement and enthusiasm is infectious and must in part explain why I so enjoyed the visit.
We arrived at his beautiful vineyards overlooking the Nahe River, it felt peaceful and the vine covered hills seemed gentle, until we climbed them anyway. Martin said that all wineries are the same, so we were only going to see his vineyards, which was music to my ears and the walk was a true delight, a trip highlight indeed. Surrounded by his vines Martin told us that he had taken over the winery in 2000 and quickly constituted changes. Continue reading →