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Brian Elliott: Exciting times for German wine

Energetic young winemakers are making the most of German vineyards, writes Brian Elliott

Published: January 13, 2016
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Anyone still holding 1970s prejudices about German wine urgently needs to read on. Not only is Germany now one of the world leaders in organic wines, but almost 40 per cent of all of its wine is now red – and there are more hectares of pinot noir there than in Burgundy.

Energetic young German winemakers abound nowadays. Many will have been inspired by folk like Ernst Loosen – and the trail he has blazed on the slatey slopes of the Mosel. But Loosen also has wine-related ventures elsewhere in the world, including the metamorphosis of Villa Wolf in the Pfalz region.

"There are more hectares of pinot noir in Germany than there are in Burgundy"

That estate’s bold and juicy 2012 JL Wolf Phaia (£12.99 at Laithwaite’s) is actually an excellent cabernet sauvignon-led blend with contributions from cabernet dorsa and the little known dunkelfelder. There is real – and hugely impressive – depth to its rounded black cherry and bramble fruit, spicy graphite edge, firm acidity, but shrewdly controlled tannin.

Similarly impressive is the floral but mineral influenced 2014 My Merlot Is Not The Answer (£16.99 at Red Squirrel Wines) which zanily extends the name by adding “it just makes you forget the question”! The bottle’s content, however, is serious stuff.
Star bright and aromatic, the wine has attractive raspberry and sour plum fruit, sharp acidity, very soft tannin and an unusual mineral backdrop. Further embellishment comes from its supplementary suggestions of vanilla, clove and star anise.

To prove that Germany’s wine transformation is not restricted to red wines and double-digit price labels, along comes 2013 Primus Pinot Grigio (£6.49 at Waitrose – although some stores have now moved to 2014). With its assertive, pithy grapefruit acidity this is the perfect antidote to accusations that PG is only ever bland and flabby. Its tangerine centred texture and crisp, minty green apple flavours add further evidence that this well priced wine is indeed anything but conventional.


2014 Leyda Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
Chile, 12.5 per cent

Oddbins Leyda Reserve Sauvignon Best Buy 10 Jan
Tastes change, and nowadays any sauvignon beyond entry point fare seems to demand complexity and depth.
This crisp and aromatic Chilean white meets that challenge well with ripe peach and orange centred texture and touches of savoury herbs to supplement its vibrant lime based acidity and hints of green pepper.
£9.50 at Oddbins

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2013 Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Malbec
Famatina Valley, Argentina, 13 per cent

Co-op Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Malbec Best Buy 10 Jan
The Co-op sells a third of the world’s Fairtrade wine and this one is as tasty as it is virtuous. Full, smooth and juicy with limited tannin, it has bold, bright cassis and loganberry fruit that quickly reveals liquorice and cinnamon roundedness and firm acidity.
£6.99 – a permanent reduction from £8.49 – at The Co-op


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