Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sunday read: 800 years Schloss Vollrads in the Rheingau

This weekend, I want to direct you to Schloss Vollrads, a winery in the German region Rheingau. Within Germany, the Rhine flows rather straightforwardly north, with a slight northwestern bent. But at one point in its course, for about 50 kilometers, the Rhine takes a southwestern bend, from Mainz (I grew up just south of it) to Bingen. This is the only time in Germany, that vineyards on the Rhine in Germany get full southern exposure facing the Rhine. This map is focused on all the castles along the Rhine, which is just one of the reasons why it is so beautiful there…but it also shows you how the Rhine flows and how the northern bank is fully exposed to the south.

The Rhine Valley between Mainz and Bingen (Photo Credit: www.planetware.com)

Why is that important? Germany is one of the most northern wine countries. Historically, our grapes need as much sun as they get, because it does not get warm enough for them to fully ripen. That is one of the reasons why most prime vineyards are fully south exposed, to get as much sunlight as possible, and even better, get the sun reflected from the river.

But back to Schloss Vollrads. The winery celebrates its 800th consecutive wine harvest this year, and that makes it the oldest running winery on the planet. Just mind-boggling.

Chris Kassel over at Intoxicology Report, wrote a piece in his inimitable style to celebrate their birthday! I had tremendous fun reading it, and I hope you will enjoy it, too!

Happy Sunday!

A Bit of Gloss for The Schloss Sauce: 800 Vintages and Going Strong!

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2007 Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva

(This is a review of the 2007 vintage. The current vintage on sale is 2009, which I reviewed over here.)

Epicuro’s wines have been my go to Italian reds since I moved to Ann Arbor. They are reasonably priced ($5.99, I believe) and easily available at Trader Joe’s. I actually had my first sip of an Epicuro during my last weeks in Germany, when  my friend who gave me the Scharzhofberger, brought this wine for a dinner I had cooked. I had seen the bottles before, but it being such a mass label, I never tried it. They have a row of wines, differentiated by the color of their labels:

Red is a primitivo; blue is a nero d’avola; silver is an aglianico; and gold a salice salentino. They also produce a white, a vermentino.

I am not fond of their aglianico and nero d’avola, but I thought the 2008 vintage of their primitivo was great. A nice table wine, chewy and interesting, we had it for many BBQs and other evenings of just drinking wine. The currently available 2010 vintage, however, does not fit my taste. It is quite sweet, something that 2008 did not have to that degree. I don’t think I will keep buying that wine. But there still is the 2007 Salice Salentino Riserva…

Salice Salentino is a red wine from Southern Italy and has had DOC (denominanzione di origine controllata) status since 1976. The village it is named after is in the heel of the Italian boot. The main grape in a salice salentino is negroamaro, which is generally described as a rustic and earthy grape.

This red has 80% negroamaro and 20% malvasia nera in it. It has 13% ABV.

It poured as a medium to dark red. The nose was alcoholic and perfumy, with hints of leather. On the palate, I first noticed how nicely chewy this wine was. I then got cherries and herbal tastes, as well as rather strong leather and tobacco notes, which gave the wine depth. It had good acidity and the tannins came through well. A long finish made it a really enjoyable wine on a later evening. To me, this is definitely the star of the Epicuros.

As I indicated in Wednesday’s post, I had never had red wine with my risotto, so I gave it a try. And oh man, this really worked very well with the earthy flavors of the mushroom risotto. I wish I had paired them to begin with, but by the time we opened this one, I was already stuffed…

I will definitely be stocking up on this wine. Who knows how long it will be around, being a 2007 vintage? At $5.99, there is hardly anything wrong with it. It definitely tasted like a more expensive wine.

Photo taken from leftovers the next day. That said, I do like my risotto less creamy than most American chefs.

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2011 Be Bright Pinot Grigio (by Beringer)

Be Bright Pinot Grigio by Beringer

I think I mentioned it before, I am not the biggest fan of the white pinots, be it pinot gris/grigio/Grauburgunder or pinot blanc/bianco/Weissburgunder. Both often fail to impress me when I try the wines by themselves. I think they can be decent food companions in that they can complement certain types of food. For me, one of these foods is risotto. I usually use a pinot grigio or soave or orvieto for the risottos I cook, and the pairing for dinner works.

So, when I decided to make risotto for friends, it seemed natural to give this bottle a try. Nina had picked it up a couple of weeks back when Kroger had marked it down from an astonishing $18 to $8 in a special sale. She bought it to take to a party, but then that never happened, so we figured why not for the risotto dinner. A rather expensive pinot grigio could be nice with the risotto…

When I first saw the bottle I was skeptical. A California pinot grigio made by Beringer. Hmmm. Also, the label is way too fancy for my taste. And then, I saw the back label and it has this ingenuity printed on it:

Be. Bright.

Be sunny. Be Breezy. Be Bright!

This effortless Pinot Grigio keeps things light, with sun-ripened citrus flavors and a crisp, fresh finish. An instant taste of optimism, perfect for setting a carefree mood at any occasion. Serve chilled for total deliciousness.

I can’t tell you how much I dislike this marketing agency kind of talk on labels. This is all gibberish meant to entice the unsure to spend loads of money on this “oh so cool” product. Ugh. An “effortless” pinot grigio? Did you not put any effort into making it, Mr Beringer or whoever runs the shop? An “instant taste of optimism”? How so? From the citrus flavors? Or because you know it can only get better once you tried the wine? This is all just so pathetic …

Well, we tried the wine and here is what I think. It was light in color. The nose was dominated by very prominent bosc pear aromas, which made it hard for me to detect other aromas. On the palate, pear dominated again with some hints of peach coming in later. I did not get any of the claimed citrus flavors that could actually have helped this wine a lot. The finish was short, which is okay for a pinot grigio. However, there were also slight bitter notes which I did not fancy.

All in all, I guess this is an okay wine. It just did not do much for me, because it felt too heavy and lacked interesting notes. It also did not pair too well with the risotto I had made, a mushroom-porcini risotto, probably because of the strong pear flavor. However, I always have that risotto with white wine and never really had a problem. I don’t know. I will definitely not go and buy another bottle, it was just not my taste.

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