Sven Nieger

More (b20170728_072510one) dry Riesling like this, please.

Sven Nieger, Riesling trocken 2014, Landwein, Baden
Understated straw/light yellow. After decent airing, this smells unerringly of the type of fine lemony salt crust that chefs use to season fish. We’re talking top-quality salt and lemons. It’s a beguiling aroma. Utterly dry on the palate, with heaps of salt as well as lemon, lime, herbs and not a single ounce of fat. The wine’s medium body is at once lithe, steely and electrifying. The acidity is keen but not sharp.

(A slight element of organisational chaos still reigns chez Jones since we moved back to the UK, the upshot of which I have been writing all my wine notes on small pieces of scrap paper. I may have accidently put my scribblings for this wine out with the paper recycling, so these tasting notes are missing something at the end. Suffice to say though that this is exceedingly good for an estate wine.)

Incidentally, Sven Nieger repeatedly fell foul of the tasting panel in Freiburg who are responsible for ensuring that the local wines are ‘typical’ representatives of the Qualitätswein label. They kept rejecting his wines, so he decided to bottle them as Landwein (the equivalent of vin du pays) instead. Earlier this year, he and other colleagues including Hanspeter Ziereisen helped to inaugurate the first-ever Badischer Landweinmarkt in Müllheim.

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Vintage matters

001As I learned while tasting a lot of the wines that were the subject of two books I translated in 2013/14, vintages really do matter in deciding the quality of the resultant wine. Ironically though, it seems to me that years that were written off from the outset produce the best wines in the long run. Take German Riesling, for instance. Seasons such as 2013, 2010, 2008 and 2004 were cooler than normal. Many thought they were years to forget. One certain Austrian journalist memorably referred to 2010 as an Arschjahr – “bum year” is the respectable translation. Yet, nearly all the most scintillating wines in the vertical flights I went through in preparation for one of the books were children of 2010 – thanks to the electrifying acidity. Meanwhile, the 2008 vintage – not written off quite as much as 2010, but still on the naughty step – should be coming into its own now. I thought the following wine might offer a good synopsis of where things were at.

Markus Molitor, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese trocken ** 2008, Mosel
The stars relate to Molitor’s internal rating system. One star means the wine is pretty fine already. Two and we’re talking even finer. Three means the finest.

Gold leaf with green tinges. Initial notes of beeswax on the nose which dissipate after a while. Floral notes. Heaps of slate (this is the Mosel after all). Again, waxy on the palate with a slightly viscous texture. Nonetheless, bitingly dry. The acidity is refreshing but not as prominent as I would have expected for 2008. Creamy, juicy and very moreish. I sense a fair degree of exoticism still below the surface, so I think it’s probably best to drink the wine a bit more chilled than normal and let it warm up in the glass. The finish is prolonged and slatey. Overall, this has plenty of legs on it to last a good few more years.

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