Where I am it is definitely German wine weather. Decidedly sticky and yet surrounded by blooms and pollen. What’s needed is a cooling liquid that fights back with its own powerful aroma and no shortage of refreshing acidity.
I have already reported on one of Stefan Winter’s 2004s in Undiscovered gold in the Rheinhessen, but last week had the chance to taste five of his 2005s and was even more struck by this young turk in a region of young turks. Dittelsheim is just north of Westhofen where the now-famous Wittmann and Keller are based (you can imagine what fun we are having bringing coverage of the Rheinhessen in the next World Atlas of Wine up to date…). With 20 ha the family estate is not impossibly small (Keller has precisely 12.5 ha) and I can thoroughly recommend at least three of his wines for drinking in sultry weather.
As an aperitif or for that near-mythical activity ‘sipping the garden’ I’d suggest either Winter, Riesling trocken 2005 Rheinhessen, just four euros at the cellar door. It has a low key nose for now but is wonderfully racy and stuffed with lime fruit offering real excitement for the price. A step up is Winter, Riesling Kalkstein trocken 2005 Rheinhessen which is also ‘yet to develop its full aromatic potentia’l (i e is still a little closed on the nose) but is wonderfully minerally and interesting – and very persistent. This, I noted, is 12.8% alcohol.
The wine for drinking with food is Winter, Dittelsheimer Leckerberg Riesling trocken 2005 Rheinhessen made from 48 year-old vines and 13.2%. It is very rich and dense – almost opulent, and certainly broad. This seems to me to be a very fine dry wine of any sort, the sort of wine to serve blind to white burgundy enthusiasts who doubt that Germany can produce fine dry wine.
Incidentally, in the light of Martin Kössler’s interesting observations about the taste-able effects of using ambient rather than cultured yeasts, Stefan Winter (of whom I see Stuart Pigott is a fan) says he is making the transition, “but you can’t do it all in one year”.
Alas, such wines are yet to make a big splash internationally (as witness that base price of four euros) so you may well have to buy them direct from www.weingut-winter.de.
I know it would be much more convenient if I suggested a wine that’s easier to find. So, in the light of this, let me volunteer Framingham Classic Riesling 2005 Marlborough, one of the new generation of finer, drier New Zealand Rieslings (though please don’t interpret my enthusiasm for this style and some of the best dry German Rieslings for any lack of enthusiasm for great, light, fruity Riesling, especially in the Mosel). This brand is owned by Pernod Ricard for heaven’s sake [2014 - now Sogrape] so it should become much easier to locate but at present winesearcher.com lists only NZ stockists, at around NZ$11 a bottle. In the UK it jumps to £9.99 a bottle and should be stocked by Carrington of Cholton and Wilmslow (0161 446 2546), Ex Cellar of London (020 7736 2038), Caves de Pyrene of Guildford (01463 538853), Bedales of Borough Market (020 7403 8853), Pont de la Tour of London (020 7940 1840), Wimbledon Wine Cellar of Wimbledon and Chiswick (020 8540 9979 and 020 8994 7989).