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German wines

by Tom Cannavan, 12/05

Kurt Hain (M-S-R) Riesling Sekt 2003
I haven't always been impressed by German Riesling Sekts, but whether it is the extra richness endowed by the sunny 2003 vintage, or just excellent winemaking by Kurt Hain, this is an absolute winner. The tiny bubbles rise steadily across the glass, and the nose offers delightfully fruity aromas of peaches and lemon zest. On the palate there is real leesy richness to this, and a great sweet-edged core to the fruit that fills the mouth. The acidity is precise and reminiscent of green apples, in a very fine sparkling wine. £10.00

Gregor Messmer (Pfalz) Portugieser Weissherbst 2003
Weissherbst is a German rosé wine, in this case made from the Portugieser grape. This wine is big and generous in every way - it comes as a full litre, not 75cls, and from the hot and sunny 2003 vintage the aromas of strawberry and gently herbal, redcurrant fruit leap from the glass. The palate has a sweetness to it, but a lovely fruity quality and long finish with enough acidity to counteract the sweetness. Not a complex wine, but delicious and very easy to drink. £6.00

Kees Kieren (M-S-R) Graacher Domprobst Selection 2003
A gold medal wine from one of my favourite producers in the Mosel, this off-dry wine has a fine nose of waxy, lemony fruit and intense minerality. There's a tiny nuance of toffee, suggesting real richness and ripeness. On the palate this wine has tremendous presence: a real welter-weight of fruit floods over the tongue, with a nectarine skin waxy presence and a big, powerful finish where acidity, fruit and minerality are in perfect balance. Superb. £13.00

Kurt Hain (M-S-R) Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett 2004
2004 is a great, classic Mosel vintage, and from top producer Kurt Hain, wines like this are just perfect models of balance and precision. The nose has gently floral and talcum notes mixed with lemon peel and a suggestion of ripe nectarine. On the palate a beautiful fruit sweetness of downy peaches and ripe, yet elegant fruit, all braced by a slaty acidity. Terrific stuff this, and will age gracefully. £7.00

Kurt Hain (M-S-R) Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese 2004
And a step up is this gold medal-winning Spätlese from the same vineyard and vintage, which makes a fascinating contrast. The aromas here are of mangos, juicy guava and tropical fruits, and that background reminder that this is something special coming in the shape of a slaty, mineral character. On the palate it floods the mouth with limpidly pure, sweet fruit, but the whole picture is shot through with lovely acidity into a long, shimmering finish. £9.00

Kees Kieren (M-S-R) Kestener Herrenberg Kerner Auslese ** 2001
Yet another gold medal-winning wine, this nicely maturing Auslese ** is in the dessert wine category: the two stars indicates that this was the second, late picking of the vineyard. The nose on this wine is an unctuous melange of pineapple and tropical fruits, with a hint of honey and a big lick of beeswax. The palate brims with sweet, juicy nectarine and ripe white peach fruit, but all the time that delicacy of fine mineral acidity and a gentle, sherbetty edge adds precision and tension. Another beautiful wine from Kees Kieren. I had a glass of this with some Thai fishcakes in a sweet chilli dipping sauce, and it was delicious. £18.00

Kees Kieren (M-S-R) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett * 2004
This wine from Kees Kieren is late-picked and has more weight and more unctuousness than might be expected from a Kabinett designation. There's a lovely juicy red apple quality on the nose, with hints of downy peach and apricot skins, and a freshness of wet stones and minerals. On the palate there's a lovely clarity and freshness of sweet, ripe melon and peach fruit with a zesty lemon edge. Lovely acidity pushes through in a long, and sublime wine. £10

Gregor Messmer (Pfalz) Spätburgunder Weissherbst Auslese 2001
This very unusual wine from Messmer is 100 per cent Pinot Noir, fermented as a rosé in a sweet Auslese style. It has a delicate copper colour, with a nose of ripe, creamy, very pure strawberry and summer berries. There's a hint of something earthy, like truffle or damp undergrowth, but it is delicate and pure. On the palate there is plenty of weight and rich, rolling texture, with a hint of honey-roasted figs, nuts, and then plenty of that sweet, mouthfilling peach and strawberry fruit. Though it stays rich and sweet into the finish, there is enough acidity there to keep this fresh and very, very moreish. £12, 37.5cl

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