First published: 01st March 2016
Hi everyone, this is the first time; this wine blog writing about German wine, people and things. When chatting with friends about German wine in different occasions I have noticed that nine out of ten, regardless of origin raised their thumb or gave nods of approval and elaborated their experience of Riesling, on the other hand some others kept saying "Horace, I don't like sweet wine".
There are huge numbers of German grape varietals planted, there are also a number of mix-breeds. But this days they are focusing on the direction of improving existing varietals and improving yields, rather than the further introduction of new varietal. The quest for excellence is in their hearts.
Among the many white grape varieties, let me first write about a "faces changing master" "Gewurztraminer" and the absolute forest fairy, the refined "Muscat".
Gewürztraminer is a native varietal named Traminer from Tramin; a small village in Italy. It has travelled around the world and has been cultivated in many countries. For example; in France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and have their own names for this variety. In German, the name starts with "Gewürz" meaning "spicy and vanilla-like". Then German immigrants took it to Australia, New Zealand and so on. Australia and New Zealand vineyard both use the same name. Personally, I like Gewüerztraminer from New Zealand and Germany because of their mineral riches soil, which provides a full flavor and a little acidity to balance the sweetness. Conversely, I didn't like Gewüerztraminer wine from Alsace, France, it seems to always leave a bitter after-taste.
The grape performs unpredictably in the vineyard and is temperamental, sometimes walking side by side with nature and sometimes contrary. This could be disastrous for the winery because Germany takes its wine quality seriously. The quality of the grape is 90% of the quality of the wine, the other 10% is the skill of wine making at the end stage. If the vineyard fails to grow sufficient quality grapes in a year then there will be no wine from that year. Of course, the winery also feels pity, but the winery's reputation is the overriding concern. The temperament of this grape also affects the wine making process. it is among the very few white wine varieties, could give it a sufficient time for fermentation, resulting of reaching 14%~15% alcohol content.
But here is the key, if this grape had not been promoted to this level, there would be no wine of this "heroic" level. If you have a bottle of Gewüerztraminer from Germany with 13% alcohol content, you would have a memorable afternoon or evening whether you are alone or around friends.
Firstly, continuously floral, initial layers of this fragrance seem a distance away, but a short moment later show a "deja vu". Every minute more bouquet released, charm like in full bloom of safflowers on HK's Wood cotten tree during the year. Sometimes it elegant and veiled as roses, chrysanthemums. When you start to feel a surge of continued gradual exudes as lychee scent when you may have unconsciously think this wine is sweet melon flavor and enjoy as a fill. Then his real ability of "face-changing magic" has kicked off.
If you are one of the local and has been living in the south, you may have tasted a boiled five flowers herbal tea. Interestingly, this herbal tea with dried flowers accompanied by two names mentioned above. Does anyone know the origin of the Chinese name"瓊瑤漿" translated from "Gewürztraminer"?
The style of this wine may not suitable accompaniment for ordinary seafood, unless you can find a restaurant serving fresh oysters, more likely go with some blue cheese !
Common point of Gewüerztraminer and Muscat in that both have fragrant of floralness and sense of honey taste. the varietal; Muscat in English or Musketeller in German, can be said to be the oldest cultivated grape vine in the world, and so far there are nearly 200 varietals. Archaeologists believe that Muscat was grown in Germany as early as 1546. German varieties include red and yellow Muscat, and Muscat Alexandia. Other varieties are cultivated in the Southern Hemisphere vineyards.
One of the largest wine regions growing Muscat is "Pfalz" and "Winery Weingut Karl-Ludwig Scherr KG". They offer Sekt; a German sparkling wine name "Tausendundeinenacht (1001 nights) Muskateller" which was particularly popular among ladies. Imagine, after just a few mouthfuls this wine let you indulge in the tastes of an orange flower in full bloom , a touch of honey, a little mango fruitiness, everyday worries could have been sent thousands of miles away, like next to your lover; enjoy a romantic afternoon together.