Saturday, September 18, 2004

Wine note # 1

My boss at one of the restaurants I work at - and have been working at for quite some time now - convinced me that we have to make a wine geek out of me... Hence the formal title of the entry. Well, that and the fact that WWWBW is closing in on me, I thought I'd make an extra gesture and taste some other wine!

It has to be said that boss-man is SERIOUS about wines - he's the kind of guy that'll make your head spin talking about terroir, this or that fields, merchants etc. etc. - at the same time he's the type of guy that will open a bottle of 1969 wine at 2.30 in the morning "just because this is excactly what we need now!" As you might imagine I consider myself lucky indeed for having a teacher like this.

We started out in Franken, Germany. Some place to start, eih? The thing is, we do a wine menu at the restaurant and naturally, I'd have to learn about those first - the star tonight being a "2002 ’Sommerhäuser Reifenstein’, Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken, Schloss Sommerhausen".

And now, a word of warning: I am NOT, and I stress, NOT a wine-knowing woman. Believe me, I love a nice wine as much as the next guy, and having sampled a bit here and there (an evil you can hardly avoid working in the restaurant business for 4 years) I have an idea of how I'd describe a wine - I've just never actually done it in public. I know that Bourgogne is a region in France, that Germany is making it's way in the whites these years and that you should use a clean glass when sampling - but I'm doing this to learn more. Please correct me if I make serious mistakes!

Anyway: My breath was almost gone from just saying the name, but it dissects down to: vintage: 2002 ( I bet you got that one right?) Sommerhaüser - the city (cool name!); Reifenstein - that's the field; Riesling - the grape - and then it got tricky.

Kabinett halbtrocken - okay, so there are different classifications according to when you harvest the grapes - kabinett is the early harvest, then comes spätlese, then auslese - what it tells you is how much sugar is in the grapes, hence (supposedly) something about how sweet the wine may be. Kabinett is the drier version, auslese (or to be excact, Berenauslese, but we'll return to that in another session) the sweetest. That said, there are different sub-groups: trocken (dry) and halbtrocken (half-dry), so if you have, say, a Spätlese halbtrocken, it might be just as dry as a Kabinett. Well, at least I think that's how it was?

Schloss Sommerhausen - that's the producer. This is what the bottle tells you - and this is what boss-man told me - as Clotilde so cleverly said in her WWWBW-intro the other day, this is probably what is going to make you REMEMBER the wine: the story:

Schloss Sommerhausen is a family-run business, that for the last decade or so relied more on the improving and making of new vines, rather than actually selling wine. Martin Steinman, the son, grew up and took an interest in the wine and all of a sudden started sending out these amazing Rieslings - in the words of boss-man he's an up and coming star, and that at the tender age of 29.

As for the wine itself - there's no mistaking it, it's a riesling. It's slightly acidic, balanced by a alcohol content of (I think?) about 11%, and a quince-lemon taste. The minerally thing you might find in some (French, Alsace) rieslings is not really present here, because the terroir of Franken does not matter that much to the vines - it's just not distinctive enough to impart a flavor.

I'm really looking forward to doing this - I've never actually sat down and tried to put the words that sprang to mind when drinking a wine on paper - or should I say screen - but I think it works! Can't believe I missed the first wine-blogging event... ah well! I'll be there for the next!

picture of bottle to come...

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