Wine Notes from our Trip to Germany (Part I)

With long-time friend Brigitte in Regensburg

Coming back from Germany, customers have asked me over and over what kind of wines we drank while we were there? What wines are hot right now in Germany? Naturally, I was curious to see what was up in the German wine market, so I spent a fair amount of time checking out wine shops and wine in grocery stores. Here’s what we drank and here are my observations about those wines:

First stop on the second day…
A local, relatively small grocery store with a great wine selection focusing on European wines, mainly Spain and Italy. I got in a conversation with another customer who insisted I had to buy two Spanish wines which were his favorites. I ended up with two wines from the Spain & two wines from Alsace which looked really good. Here are some tasting notes:

Valtier 2000 Reserva €2.79 (approx. $4)
An unbelievable value. The other customer was right. A fantastic Tempranillo/Bobal blend from Utiel-Requenea (Valencia). Smooth, medium-bodied, a little bit rustic. This wine has aged 12 months in American oak, but you don’t really taste it anymore. This red aged well & still shows good red & black fruit, with fine tannins on the finish. This wine was an excellent food companion with our “Abendbrot”, traditional German dinner of bread with charcuterie.

Bodegas Los Llanos 2000 Pata Negra Gran Reserva €6.49 (approx. $9)  From the Valdepañas appellation, this is a red with 100% Tempranillo. Surprisingly still lots of acidity which carries the dark fruit, black cherry and raspberry flavors. Well-balanced & silky texture with beautiful smooth oaky notes on the finish. It was a fantastic sipper.

Joseph Cattin 2008 Pinot Blanc €4.89
(approx. $9)  100% Pinot Blanc from Alsace. Wonderful balance & acidity. Round, soft & delicious. Beautiful flavors of apples & pears combined with citrus & lime notes with a hint of tartness. An excellent sipper.

Joseph Cattin 2008 Sylvaner €4.89
(approx. $7) 100% Sylvaner from Alsace. Light, fresh, with pleasant acidity. Flavors of lemon, lime with pink grapefruit notes. Wonderful fresh finish. This white was wonderful refreshing. A producer to look out for.

Two days later I went to one of my favorite wine shops, Jacques Wein-Depot. It’s a big chain (franchised) where you can taste lots of wine and educate yourself quite well. The coolest thing is the customer interaction. So off I went mid-afternoon, and I found the place rather crowded. I got offered a glass and was told to help myself because the patron was busy ringing people up. I tasted about 15 wines, conversed with several customers & finally left with a 6-pack of some very cool stuff:

Cave De Vignerons De Buxy 2008 Montagny Vielles Vignes €8.95 (approx. $12.50) 100% stainless steel Chardonnay made out of old vines. Beautiful bouquet of pears & melon. Excellent acidity, elegant & harmonious. Wonderful melon & bosch pear flavors with hints of citrus & lime. Good weight & length. Long, soft finish. We had it with Züricher Geschnetzeltes (Veal) & Rösti (cut-up fried potato cakes). A match made in heaven. A good Burgundy for a good price.

Reichsgraf von Plettenberg 2008 Königschaffhauser Vulkanfelsen Grauer Burgunder €9.80 (approx. $14)
Repeat after me … just kidding!  100% Pinot Gris from the Baden appellation. Delicate, elegant, smooth & soft. Wonderful acidity with a touch of pear & melon fruit & some citrus notes. Beautiful soft, long finish. I could drink that forever.

Hans Spohr 2008 Dornfelder €7.65 (approx. $11) 100% Dornfelder from the Rheinhessen appellation. It has been a long time since I have tried one of these reds. Delicate cherry & raspberry nose with some herbal notes. Medium-bodied, smooth, with excellent dark fruit, very fine tannins and a long finish.

Zantho 2007 St. Laurent €7.65
(approx. $11)  A female customer at Jacques’ insisted I had to try this, saying it was an “out of this world, unbelievable Austrian red”. My brother wanted to grill some Seebrich (similar to trout) with grilled vegetables & potatoes & I thought this could be a good match … and it was! A co-production of Joseph Umathum & Wolfgang Peck. This red is from the Burgenland appellation (outside of Vienna) and shows beautiful red berry fruit with fine spicy elements & ultra fine tannins. Smooth, medium-bodied & elegant. It went down way too fast.

So, we had to open another bottle(!). My brother loves Spanish & Italian wines. We flipped a coin & ended up with:

Bodegas De La Marques 2004 Valserrano Rioja Reserva €14 (approx. $20) Some of you might be familiar with this producer. We have sold and poured by the glass one of the lower-end Rioja from this producer. The 2004 Reserva was a delight: A blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, mainly from old vines. Intense & complex aromas of red berries, black tea & spicy & herbal notes. Long & good depth, elegant, round, with soft tannins on the long finish. Beautiful! We were sorry we only had one bottle, but we had to head up to Regensburg early the next morning to visit some other friends (and have more good food & wine), so it was probably a good thing!

Part II to follow …

As always, cheers!