The wines of Christoph Hammel first came to my attention through the coverage they were getting on the Facebook discussion group, Hauptsache Wein. This one appealed to me the most on account of its name (and the philosophy behind it).
Hammel & Cie, Riesling ‘Gegen Gerade’ 2015, Pfalz
Not to be confused with ‘Gegengerade’, the backstraight on an athletics track, ‘Gegen Gerade’ translates literally as ‘against straight’ and roughly as the opposite of ‘straight down the middle’ or ‘straight as a die’ – or, in this case, as the antithesis of the generic and the banal (think ‘run of the mill’ or ‘same old’), a rebellion against the straightjacket or received wisdom of modern winemaking. In practice, Hammel used hand-harvested grapes from his oldest Riesling vines, letting them ferment spontaneously in a 100-year-old wooden cask before leaving the wine to rest a while sur lie. The result is a dry-tasting wine with a very light touch of natural residual sweetness. Wines like this were, by all accounts, much more commonplace a hundred years ago as natural yeast floras are not necessarily as efficient as a cultured yeasts. Though I seem to recall that a debate raged on Facebook not so long ago as to how much residual sweetness the Rieslings of yesteryear actually used to have. The trockenistas insist that Rieslings used to be really quite dry way back when – though the question is how dry. Then again, who cares?
It is safe to say that this wine isn’t bone-dry, but neither does it taste that sweet to my palate. Admittedly, some trockenistas may be a little more ‘RS-sensitive’ than I am.
This wine shows spiciness on the nose, with lime and pineapple expressiveness the order of the day. More spice on the palate. This is highly drinkable. Pineapple again, along with peaches and a slight creaminess that belies the non-bone-dry style. This wine has a good acidic backbone, and is generous but not overly so. To borrow a steak-related phrase, the fruit is still very much à point as opposed to overripe. It might not necessarily be that complex, but it demands attention on account of its naturally pure Riesling personality on the one hand and lip-smacking succulence on the other.