German wine: Four picks to enjoy this summer

Peter & Ulrich Dry Riesling German wine

I don’t need a reason to try German wine, but I’m giving myself two reasons. The team from Wines of Germany (it promotes wines from Germany) has had a busy few weeks.

The winners in its annual Top 50 German wines competition have been announced and this month (July)  its  annual  31 Days of German riesling campaign  is underway. It encourages us all  to give German riesling a High Five.  And why not.

Here’s four German wine choices from me. 

German wine: Two from the Top 50

My choices both come from the Co-op and are under £6. How good is that.

The first,  Kleine Kapelle Pinot Grigio 2015 (12.5% abv, £5.79) was described by  judges as was “well made and excellent value”. It is indeed. For just over a fiver you get a wine  which fairly pops in the mouth with tropical fruit, but has clean lines, is upright, balanced and elegant.

Devil’s Rock Riesling 2015 (12.5% abv, £5.99) tangs with a bite of apple and flickers with a fleck of herb. Zesty grapefruit and lime say “hey we’re here too” which together makes for a perfect glass of zingy wine. I’d cooked Thai-style minced pork and this wine was ideal alongside (prawns or fish would be even better).

German wine: A couple of rieslings 

Peter & Ulrich Dry Riesling (12% abv, £11.99 or £9.99 if you buy six at Majestic) is a bone dry wine with aromas of  apple and peach; and then on the palate  flavours of  peach, apple and apricot giddy along to water your mouth, finishing off with a slight minerality.  Moreish.

Dr Loosen Extra Dry Riesling Sekt (12.5% abv, RRP £16.99 from various retailers including www.thesecretcellar.co.uk and www.southdownscellars.co.uk) It baffles me that people get panicky about prosecco shortages when there’s other lovely sparklies to be had. Elderflower aromas from this sparkling German wine fluttered from the glass, together with fresh green apples, herbs and hedgerows. So much in a nose! Then to taste, flavours of crisp apples played happily in a clean refreshing, satisfying fizz.
(This wine was also included in the Top 50 winning German wines.) 

Read more about the Top 50 German wines at www.winesofgermany.co.uk/top-50.  To find out if a restaurant or wine merchant near you is holding any 31 Days of Riesling events click on www.31daysofgermanriesling.co.uk You can follow @WinesofGermany on Twitter.
First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals July 2016

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Prosecco isn’t the only sparkling wine to get you through the summer

McGuigan Frizzante sparkling wine in a glass

There’s supposed to be a Prosecco shortage heading our way this summer. Girlies everywhere are buying in bulk in a blitz mentality as their favourite sparkling wine could disappear from shelves.

But never mind Prosecco, cast your thoughts beyond its pretty, simple flavours.

There’s another Italian fizz I love much, much more than Prosecco … Franciacorta.

The wines are made in the heart of Lombardy and are produced in exactly the same way as champagne, and that’s the bit that makes it so much sexier than Prosecco.

If this was an Italian flavour footie penalty shoot-out, it would be Franciacorta 5; Prosecco nil.

Here’s one… DOCG Franciacorta Brut’Animante’ Barone Pizzini (£19.99, www.vintageroots.co.uk).

It won a gold medal at the Sommelier Wine Awards 2015 and is blended from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot bianco. It has a delightful freshness, but in surprising contrast has extra layers of complexity, a bit of toast, and a hover of honey.

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Also from Vintage Roots is another from the Barone Pizzini’s organic vineyard – DOCG Franciacorta Satèn (£23). Satèn wines must be made only from white grapes chardonnay or pinot bianco. This wine is 100% chardonnay.

It tinkled in my ear prettily (yes, I listen to wine) and brioche, hazelnuts, cut apples and a whimsy of stone fruit excited the senses.

Elsewhere, Marks & Spencer Franciacorta NV (£19.99) isn’t available in all stores, but if you see it, grab it to enjoy its green apple aromas, stone fruits and a crush of buttery biscuit base.

Have a mooch round independent wine merchants to spot a Franciacorta; one you may find is a delightful range from Bellavista (online, there are several to choose from at www.slurp.co.uk and www.thedrinkshop.com).  I’m a huge fan.

The night I drank Franciacorte with the CEO of Barone Pizzini
Silvano Brescianini from Barone Pizzini
Silvano Brescianini from Barone Pizzini

 

To a couple of sparkles new this summer. McGuigan Frizzante (on offer as I write – £19.99 for three bottles at amazon.co.uk) which  is from award-winning McGuigan Wines. The foil topper looks all set for a cork-popping … but when you remove it there’s a screwcap holding back the gentle little bubbles from south eastern Australia.

McGuigan Frizzante bottle
The McGuigan Frizzante bottle looks set to pop (or does it?)

Frizzante wines are shimmering sparklers – they’re not packed with bubbles, but they tickle and float away like a leaf on a stream. Flavour-wise, there’s soft lemon and fresh apple from the semillon grape which are very refreshing. This was a gentle first drink on a summery afternoon before I opened some cava …

… which was this one. Codorníu Cuvée Barcelona Brut (RRP £12.99, Sainsbury, Waitrose) is made in the same way as champagne but with native Spanish grapes. The bottle is as pretty as a picture (I’d like to pop a candle in it) with a golden “silk-screen printed design” which doffs a cork to Codorníu’s Art Nouveau-style winery in Barcelona.

The cava grapes have worked their magic to deliver a commended in Decanter’s 2015 awards. There’s tinned pear (you know, those really juicy ones with the syrupy juice) on the nose, with apples and cream dreaming along in the mouth.

Also in my glass …

The annual 31 Days of German Riesling promotion is in full swing this month  (www.31daysofgermanriesling.co.uk).  It is organised by Wines of Germany and is a much-deserved shop window for this wonderful German white wine.

I tried Cliffhanger Riesling 2013 (RRP £9.49, Tesco) from the steep slopes of Mosel. If it’s a barbecue you’re having then this flint-edged citrus bite of a lemon and lime wine will cut through the fattiness of a sausage.

I tried it with a “what have I got, what will I cook” mix of scrunched baked chicken, chilli and lemon-squeezed, coriander-laced couscous. Bloomin lovely.

Published in the saturday extra magazine July 11, 2015

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