Where next for Carol?

Aerial view of the river Rhine in Germany at sunset

First published 1st July 2016

Visiting wine regions is both a professional and personal pastime and is definitely a perk of the job! Even though the methodology of winemaking has similarities everywhere you go, it’s the details from every region and every winemaker that generates unique character in wines, even from the same grape varietal.  Its what I find so fascinating about touring wine regions and meeting winemakers.

These days, I find myself frequently choosing a cool climate wine, like Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir or Gewurztraminer, as I love their aromatic character, freshness and minerality. So when I think about where I want to visit next, it’s the cool climes of the Alsace in France, the Rheingau in Germany, the Kamptal in Austria and the Central Otago in New Zealand that come to mind.

The Alsace is known for its Riesling, Sylvaner and Gewurztraminer. What I find so interesting about the Alsatian wines is their range from dry to sweet and their incredible compatibility with food. I really like the 2013 Julien Schaal Sommerberg Dry Riesling, which I love with a lean bit of roast pork or a pan-roasted fillet of firm white fish.

I am fascinated by the Rieslings of the Rheingau and the Rheinhessen in Germany, which come from vines planted along the steep banks of the Rhine. I've also become enamored with the innovations Johannes Hasselbach has been bringing to the Gunderloch Estate - he's literally fermenting Riesling in the earth among the vines to fully test the importance of the terroir!  I tasted it and was blown away by the purity. Johannes also makes mighty fine wine in their traditional winery - my current favorite is the 2014 Gunderloch Als War's Ein Stuck Von Mir Riesling. The name means 'as if it were a piece of me' and the wine is the successful biodynamic experiment from Gunderloch. What's not to like - great name, great tropical and stone fruit flavours, great balance, depth and length - great aperitif!

Grüner Veltliner is Austria's unique contribution to the wine world. I like Grüner Veltliners from the Kamptal region because they are really accessible. Kamptal is a hotter and drier region than most, so the wines are fleshier and spicier.  One of my favorites is the 2013 Jurtschitsch Loiserberg Grüner Veltliner, a beautifully crafted wine of stunning minerality and fruit concentration. There's lots to think about when its in your mouth!

It's no secret that Pinot Noir is my guilty pleasure! While I am partial to a Burgundy, the Pinots from New Zealand's Central Otago have certainly been turning my head. I love the deep red and black cherry fruitiness on top of the earthiness that comes with the Pinot Noir grape. And you can drink them earlier than any Burgundy! A particular head-turner for me is the 2014 Burn Cottage Pinot Noir, a modern, fuller-bodied Pinot full of juicy red fruits and fresh acidity.  When I am hankering for a pepper-crusted fillet steak, this is my go-to wine match.

Choices, choices, choices!  Where to go next? First up, its Germany. I'll be dragging myself away from the Surrey summer heat for a few days touring the vineyards along the Rhine - can't wait!