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:
Schloss Proschwitz 2001 Scheurebe Trocken Kabinett.
I was excited, so much so in fact that I didn’t want to just devour it, I wanted to save it for a suitable time, so it went into one of my racks for 5 years. Chancing on it this March I immediately felt guilty that the wine was so old, surely past its best, so I decided to try it with that night’s fish and chips.
It was superb, crisp, elegant and lively with a lovely gentle orchard fruit character, hints of blossom and citrus and a fresh minerality as well as superb balance. I was hooked and determined straightaway to get some more to show at an upcoming German wine tasting.
They have no UK agent, which amazes me as they appear to be the major estate of the region and have a hotel and restaurant of some renown. So I contacted the estate direct and they agreed to send me a dozen of the newly released 2008 Schloss Proschwitz Scheurebe Kabinet, the price was €11.50 a bottle plus some €20 for transport. Astonishingly with almost stereotypical German efficiency the case arrived on my doorstep the following day!
Now I was nervous for the opposite reason, the wine might be too young and not be as good without the 5 years in my rack! I need not have worried, it was superb and stole the show from some more famous wines, producers and more widely appreciated grape varieties too.
Schloss Proschwitz 2008 Scheurebe Kabinet Trocken was thrilling from the moment I opened the bottle.
The nose was almost scented with notes of almond and citrus blossom and touches of ripe apricot.
The palate was soft and lightly textured with delicate pear and apricot fruit, steely minerality and acidity giving backbone while touches of spice on the long and balanced finish were reminiscent of a fine Grüner Veltliner.
The estate is the largest privately owned winery on former DDR territory. In those days, of course the grapes from the estate went to the local co-op, but in 1991 the current Prinz zur Lippe bought the schloss and large portions of the historic Proschwitzer Katzensprung vineyard near Meißen on the banks of the Elbe. They grow Riesling, Pinot Gris, Elbling, Pinot Blanc, Dornfelder and Frühburgunder/Pinot Noir, but it is the Scheurebe that is their speciality.
Scheurebe is named after Georg Scheu who crossed Riesling with Silvaner in 1916, what I had always understood Müller-Thurgau to be in the past; so many things that we used to be taught are wrong – have you noticed that? With German wines I awlays expect to be unimpressed by these crossed grapes, but on this showing Scheurebe really does have the finesse of a Riesling.
This is a good wine and deserves to be more widely known. I am determined to get to the winery before too long and try more from their wide range. What’s more, if you are male and of a certain age there is another attraction in a visit to Schloss Proschwitz; look at the map and measure out about 35 km due west of Proschwitz – now there’s a name to stir the blood, surely worth a detour, or a quick ride in a glider. The only question is, when can I escape from work to get there?
Weingut Schloss Proschwitz
Prinz zur Lippe
01665 Zadel über Meißen
Tel (03521) 76760