Wine of the week

Wine of the Week: Deutschland über alles

I love German whites above all others but I can understand why they are not more popular. There’s the long baffling labels to put off the average buyer and then it is hard to think of the right time to drink them. They tend to be too sweet to go with savoury food but not sweet enough to have with puddings. In fact the wines of the Moselle (the ones in the green bottles) can be so ethereal that they are best consumed on their own. The Germans, perhaps looking at the success of their cousins in Austria, have started making their wines drier and drier. In a bad vintage, I am not sure that this is a good idea as the wines can end up raspingly sour but in a good year like 03, 05 and now 09 they are amazing.

My wine of the week is just such a wine. Schieferberg by Ernst Loosen Dry Riesling 2009. Note the un-Teutonically concise name (relatively concise that is). That’s a clue that this is going to be a bit different. Schieferberg refers to a specific vineyard.  The second clue is the high alcohol (again relatively – 12% is a lot in Germany). This means that all the sugar has turned into alcohol. It still has all the fragrance and beauty you would expect from the region but with the body that brings to mind Austria or Alsace. I’d love to try it with something fatty like pork or duck. Like many German Rieslings it will probably age into something quite wonderful. If I had the money and the patience, I would buy two cases: one to drink this year and one to keep for ten.

It is only available from Laithwaite’s. They are the biggest supplier of mail order wine in the country and I’ve always found their wines to be dull and overpriced. Well this year their German range is spectacular and this wine at £9.49 is a steal. You would never get a wine this good from Alsace or Austria let only Burgundy for so little money. All I can say is buy and then buy some more

You can buy the standard Dr Loosen Riesling 2009 from Oddbins for £8.49. It’s a little sweeter and a little more classically German. I like both these wines very much and love that Dr Loosen is producing the old and the new alongside each other.

Books Wine articles

Further reading and drinking

The post on booze in books sparked so many suggestions that I was going to do a new post on the same subject. There is, however, already a rather good blog devoted to just this topic called 120units so I’ll have to think of something else to write about. Maybe I’ll resurrect the moribund Wine of the Week slot. Watch this space.


Beer Film and TV

Good beer, bad adverts

The quality of a beer is in inverse proportion to the quality of its advertising. This is the first rule of brewing marketing. I was reminded of it after seeing the new Adnams campaign. It’s an unfocused blend of mateyness, eco platitudes and cringe-worthy diffidence. With its clunky attempts to be interactive, it looks like the sort of thing that was knocked up by a couple of yokels over a few pints in the pub (see here.) Just the kind of thing that a Soho advertising agency who had never drunk Adnams would think that an Adnams drinker would like. Or maybe I’m doing them a disservice. Perhaps it’s a clever nod to rule number one. Are Adnams’ target drinkers so sophisticated that they will notice the bad ads and think mmmmmm good beer?

Do you remember the 80s heyday of of television beer advertising? The Hoffmeister bear, the Skol vikings, I bet he drinks Carling Black Label.  They were all terrible lagers. The only bitter that got adverts anywhere near as good was bland, creamy Boddingtons. Today the big English bitters, London Pride, Spitfire and Bombadier, rely on tired little Englander cliches to sell their products. I feel that their success is based more on intrinsic quality and good distribution that on their advertising.

Happily like these other English classics, Adnams will continue to sell great beer in spite of their dreary marketing. Or is the equation in drinkers’ minds of bad advertising and good beer now so strong, that Adnams sales will go through the roof? I will watch with interest. I only hope quality doesn’t dip in the rush to keep up with demand.

Wine articles

How easily corrupted am I?

When I started this blog I was told that I would be inundated with invitations to tastings and free samples. I have been to few tastings and one lunch but sadly the deluge of corporate largesse never materialised.  My heart leapt a couple of weeks ago when I received a press release about a new campaign to promote British beer being launched with a celebrity party at Hix in Soho. I was looking forward to discussing the relative merits of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord versus Adnams’ Broadside as a session beer with Nicola from Girls Aloud. On closer inspection, however, it turned out that the party had already happened. The PR girl had sent me some information telling me about party to which I had not been invited.

It’s not like I even want to go to parties or tastings where I won’t know anyone, I’d just like to be invited.  Some fellow wine writers across the ocean have a more rigorous attitude to such blandishments. The always interesting saignée blog from America has the following disclaimer:

saignée no longer accepts PR, samples, press junkets or freebies of any kind. Please don’t contact me about them because I won’t pay them any mind.’

Mmmm press junkets. They’d be hard to resist. Imagine being flown off to Southern Italy by a well-known Campanian wine company. I bet it’s warm there at the moment. I can see why saignée would want to nip such temptations in the bud. It would be very hard not to write glowingly about a company that gave you such a pleasurable trip.

I, however, am made of sterner stuff. My critical objectivity cannot be swayed by first class airline tickets, fine wine, warm weather and sultry Italian ladies. After all the lavish hospitality I would still be able to judge the wines on their own merits and they will only be written about on this blog if they are any good (or unusually bad.)

So PR people and large Campanian wine companies, do your worst, send me your freebies, invite me to parties, book me on an all-expenses paid trip to Amalfi. My readers (hullo Pippa) know that I am incorruptible.