German Wine

Screwtop Wine Bar: Every Rosé Has Its Thorn

It’s hot which is perfect Rosé weather as it’s light, crisp and refreshing wine, and a pretty pink shade. Over the last few weeks I’ve tried several new Rosés at local wine bars.

Last night I finally visited Screwtop Wine Bar in Clarendon, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. Their motto…drink what you like. So I had Rosé from the Every Rosé Has Its Thorn line up…one from Germany, France and Austria.

  • Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2011, Pfalz, Germany
  • Mittelbach Zweitgeit 2011, Burgenland-Austria: Round strawberry taste
  • Chinon Rosé Cabernet Franc 2011, Loire Valley, France: Heaviest in body of the three with a tart cranberry taste

My favorite of the bunch…

Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2011

  • Variety: Pinot Noir from Pfalz, Germany
  • Aroma: Crisp berty
  • Taste: Bright zippy cranberry and raspberry
  • Price: $12.99
  • My thoughts: This was my favorite Rosé because of its fruit forward taste with a truly zippy finish. The wine is a J.L. Wolf, part of the Dr. Loosen wine family. Ernst Loose’ s goal at J.L. Wolf is to make powerful, traditionally crafted Pfalz wines (drier and more full bodied Rieslings as well as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Silvaner. ) to complement his lighter Dr. Loosen wines from the Mosel (Rieslings that are higher alcohol and ripe flavors of fruit and stone).

Screwtop is featuring German wines throughout August including this one. I really enjoyed our time at Screwtop. More to come on it in an upcoming series, What Makes a Great Wine Bar?

Prost to Rosé!

Colorful Easter Wine

Out biking Saturday, we popped into two of our local wine shops, both doing Easter Wine Pairing tastings.

First stop was UNWINED…they were tasting a colorful line-up of pink Rosé (German and Spanish), white Gewürztraminer (Oregon) and red Pinot Noir (French Bourgogne).

My personal favorite and we picked up a bottle to pair with Easter dinner…

Schloss Schönborn PINK 2011

  • Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Very berry
  • Taste: Red berries like raspberry with vanilla, hints of citrus
  • Price: $19.99
  • My Thoughts: I’ve had very few, if any, Rosés from Germany. This was a lovely wine from the Rheingau Valley. Located right in the heart of the valley, many of their vineyards on the slope of the river have been part of the family estate since 1349. They grow 90% Riesling and 10% Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. This is a fabulous use of their Pinot Noir. It looked beautiful on the Easter dinner table and its fresh light fruit taste was perfect for the warm day and glazed ham with roasted veggies meal.

Also worth checking out is the Gewüztraminer from Oregon. I haven’t seen many of that wine coming out of Oregon … this one from Brandborg Winery & Vineyard is yummy!

Cheers to pink wine for Easter!

Germany, China & Portugal Wine Discoveries

Epcot Food & Wine Festival is a great opportunity to discover new wines. Among the 28 wines and champagnes I sampled last week, here are three new interesting discoveries from Germany, China and Portugal.

Germany’s Kloster Pinot Grigio

You don’t see many Pinot Grigio’s from Germany. This one was served at Epcot’s Germany Weinkeller and comes from the Rheinhessen, the largest of Germany’s 13 wine producing regions. It’s 100% Pinot Grigio grapes fermented in stainless steel and stored in stainless.

  • Aroma: Clean and fruity.
  • Taste: Crisp citrus with hint of nut. Soft yet medium bodied (more so than your usual Italian Pinot Grigio).
  • My thoughts: I really enjoyed this wine. I’m a Pinot Grigio fan so was fun to find one from Germany.

China’s Dragon Hollow Chardonnay

We’re hearing a lot these days about China’s growing consumption of wine. Well here’s a wine made in China. This was the wine served at the China International Marketplace. Their website says they are the first premium wines produced in China. No pesticides, clean water and modern winemaking technology are used. And the Ningxia Helan Mountain Eastern region where the wine comes from is same parallel as Napa and Bordeaux.

  • Aroma: Granny Smith apple and alchol.
  • Taste: Clean tart apple with hint of almond.
  • My thoughts: It was exciting to try this wine and while it has potential, particularly as an un-0aked Chardonnay, it doesn’t yet fully live up the the websites description. I found it overall flat after the first sip and pretty high in alcohol yet its only 12.9%.
This is a fun one! Port is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Duoro Valley in northern Portugal. Croft has been making Port for four centuries and now created something totally new..a rose style. Typically Port is thought of as a heavy after dinner drink. Croft Pink is best served chilled or over ice AND perfect for cocktails. This was served at the Intermission Café hosted by Kobrand.
  • Aroma: Berry and floral.
  • Taste:  Raspberry and cherry with some heat, due to the almost 20% alcohol content.
  • My thoughts: WOW! This a great new spin on the classic Port which I don’t usually drink. I preferred Croft Pink with bubbles…soda water or Prosecco. Try adding a lime too.

 More to come on Champagne and additional Italian wine discoveries. Cheers!


Glühwein, my favorite Christmas Market Tradition

I’d tried Glühwein, or mulled wine, during the holiday season in the U.S. but mostly the cheap bad stuff. So when in Hamburg 2007 my group said we needed to stop by the Christmas Market for Glühwein, I wasn’t too excited. Then I tasted the real thing … I was hooked!

Glüwein is very popular in Germany as the traditional Weihnacthmarkt beverage everyone’s toasting & warming up to. The oldest Glühwein tankard is documented by the high noble German and first Riesling grower of the world, Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen (Rhineland-Palatinate region) around 1420. Usually made from red wine (although there are white varieties), its heated and spiced with cloves, cinnamon sticks, citrus and sugar. Depending on the recipe ,it can be either more heavy on citrus or nutty flavors. At the Christmas Markets you can also drink it “mitt schuss,”  with a shot of rum or liqueur for an extra bit of warmth. And don’t forget your souvenir mug to take home.

The historical Bavarian city of Nuremberg and its famous Christkindlmarkt has bottled their own Christkindl’s Glühwein and you can buy it in the U.S. Our local grocer in Amsterdam, Albert Heijn, produced one last year that was delicious (we moved with a bottle and looking forward to opening it soon). Or you can make your own…

Glühwein Recipe

  • 1 bottle (normal size, 0.75 liter) of dry red wine (e.g. Merlot or Burgundy)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 thin slices of orange peel
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sugar (about 60 grams)
  • Directions: Pour the wine into a large pot, add all spices and begin heating over low heat. Heat to 170 degrees F … do not allow to boil! Steep for about 10 minutes over low heat. Add more sugar or spices, if desired, stirring well so it dissolves. serve with half a slice of orange for garnish

My favorite Glühwein moment is standing in the snow at the Regensburg, Germany Romantischer Weihnacthsmarkt gathered around a blazing fire mulling the piping hot wein before its ladled right into your cup.

You’ll also find mulled wine in many other countries under different names like vin chaud in France, vin brulé in Italy or Glögg in the Nordic countries.

Share your favorite recipe or memory too. Prost!

Sparkler Sampler

An ‘around Europe’ sampling of sparkling wines, my favorites, was a great opportunity at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. With the start of the holiday season this week, its the perfect time to share more about bubbles and some to try during the upcoming festivities.

Let’s start with a little about how sparkling wine is made. As yeast ferments the sugar in grape juice to produce alcohol and wine, it produces carbon dioxide gas as the by-product. To make sparkling wines, the winemaker puts the wine through a second fermentation, adding sugar and yeast to the wine to create carbon dioxide bubbles (either in the bottle which is the Traditional/ Champagne method and most expensive OR the Charmat method in stainless steel fermentation tanks).

* France’s Champagne

  • First stop is the best known sparkling wine… Champagne. According to legend, Dom Pérignon, the Benedictine monk and cellar-master of the Abbey of Hautvillers, is the father of champagne. Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France (only 45 minutes via fast train from Paris). The region, the most northern and coolest vineyards in France, is perfect for the grapes that are used in Champagne … Red Pinot Noir, Red Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay. The famous Champagne ‘houses’ buy most of the grapes from the growers in the region and each house has its own style of producing Champagne (like Blanc de Blanc means white from whites only using Chardonnay grapes).
  • Möet & Chandon is the most popular producer/house (they also produces Dom Perignon…created only on years that the harvest is precisely suitable and aged 7 years before released) and were featured at the Festival. They were serving up their 4 champagnes: White Star Impérial (their flagship), Rosé Impérial (the Glamoruous Champagne), Nectar Impérial (the Daring Champagne) and Nectar Impérial Rosé (the Extravagant Champagne). Each stop had great signage describing and mapping your tasting.
  • I enjoyed had a glass of their flagship White Star Impérial. It represents all of Champagne’s nuances as its made of Chardonnay to give it freshness, elegance and citrus; Pinot Meunier to give it white fresh fruit flavor and roundness; and Pinot Noir to give it structure and spiciness. Its a lively bright glass for all occasions (but a little drier than I like). Approx retail $35.

* Spain’s Cava

  • Next stop on our walk around the world… Spain for Cava. First introduced in 1872, the sparkling wine is produced mainly in the Penedès region in Catalonia, south west of Barcelona. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Montserrat mountains make it ideal for cultivating the Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada grapes (the most common grapes for Cava). Its made using the Traditional Method thus very similar to champagne.
  • Giró Ribot, Spain’s pre-eminent producer of Cava, was serving their Cava Paul Cheneau Lady of Spain.  An elegant sparkling Cava with the French influence of styling, aged for 9 months it has green tints, tiny bubbles like champagne with a honey and herbal taste. Approx retail $10.

* Italy’s Prosecco

  • Next country Italy for my personal favorite… Prosecco. This dry sparkling wine comes from the Veneto Region of Italy (north of Venice) and the Glera grape. Prosecco is produced in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene regions which became DOC in 2009. Not to be confused with Asti Spumante, the sweet sparkling wine produced in the Piedmont region of Italy, this is the sparkler also traditionally used inthe Bellini cocktail. Prosecco is produced using the Charmat method making the wine less expensive to produce.
  • I sipped a juicy glass of Caposaldo Prosecco…with a nose and taste of citrus, green apple & acacia notes, it has good body and signature medium to larger bubbles of Prosecco. Approx retail $13.

* Germany’s Sekt

  • Last stop on the bubbles tour… Sekt in Germany. German production of sparkling wines dates back to 1826 when Georg Christian Kessler founded G. C. Kessler & Co. to produce the wine after previously working for the French Champagne house Veuve Clicquot. Sekt uses Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Grapes. The majority is produced using the Charmat method.
  • In Germany I enjoyed a nice glass of P.J. Valckenberg Madonna Sekt, a fruity sparkling full body wine made in the Rheinhessen region of Germany. Approx retail $11.

Cheers to the bubbles of Europe! May you enjoy many glasses this holiday season!