Tuesday, 2 June 2009

I Love German Wine and Food - A Riesling Kabinett From Nahe

If you are hankering for fine German wine and food, you
should really consider the Nahe region of southwestern
Germany. You might find a bargain, and I hope that you'll
have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which
we review a local Riesling Kabinett, a wine made from
grapes that aren't fully ripened.

The Nahe wine region is a relatively small area that runs
along the Nahe River, a tributary of the famous Rhine
River. This region, a neighbor of many other German wine
regions, lies at the other end of Germany from the capital
of Berlin. Nahe ranks seventh in total wine production and
vineyard acreage among the thirteen German wine regions.
While about 90% of its production is white wine, its red
wine production is on the upswing. Its three most important
white grapes are Riesling, Mueller-Thurgau, and Silvaner. A
mere 2% of Nahe wine is the bottom of the line Landwein.
Approximately three quarters of the local wine is medium
quality QbA wine, wine that permits chaptalization, which
is adding sugar to the fermenting mix. The remainder is
higher quality QmP wine which interdicts this somewhat
controversial process.

Bingen is a city of some twenty five thousand people in the
Rhine castle country. It developed largely because the
local Nahe-Rhine river intersection was unnavigable. It was
also the crossroads of Roman trade routes. Bingen has been
and still is a commercial wine center. If you are in the
neighborhood check out the annual Winzerfest in late August
and early September. Other attractions include the Basilika
St. Martin built at the end of the Eighth Century replacing
a Roman temple and the Rochuskapelle (St. Roch chapel). You
may want to stay at the luxurious Johann Lafer's Stromburg
hotel and eat at its restaurants, one of which has a wine
list featuring some 200 Nahe wines. To get there you drive
through the beautiful Binger Wald (Bingen Forest).

Before reviewing the Nahe wine and imported cheeses that we
were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a
local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of
what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this
beautiful region. Start with Ochsenschwanzsuppe (Ox-Tail
Soup). For your second course enjoy Spansau (Roast Suckling
Pig), an autumn dish. For dessert indulge yourself with
Frittierter Vanille-Pudding mit Nougat und Mangosauce
(Fried Vanilla Pudding with Nougat and Mango Sauce).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review
are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Prinz Salm Schloss Wallhausen Riesling
Kabinett 2006 9.5% alcohol about $18.50

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Here is an
excellent opportunity to discover the Rieslings of Nahe.
The first mention of this acclaimed winery was in the year
1200! It has remained in the Salm family's hands to this
day, making it the oldest, continuously family-owned estate
in Germany. The estate produces vibrant Rieslings with
lovely aromas of lime, tangerine, and mineral tones.
Terrific with pan-seared scallops.

My first pairing was with breaded turkey cutlets, brown
rice, and Turkish salad. The wine was slightly sweet,
pleasantly acidic, and quite round. This was one fine wine.
Frankly, I was tempted to finish the bottle then and there.
I didn't mind the sugar at all, even though this meal did
not call for sweet wine. With slightly sweet, homemade
plain cookies the wine became more acidic and lost its
sweetness.

The next meal consisted of fried chicken liver with green
beans. The Riesling was applely and very pleasant. It was
lightly acidic but a bit short.

The final meal was a commercial barbecued chicken breast,
potato salad, and Caponata, an Italian eggplant dish
including tomatoes, onions, celery, and green olives. This
wine was light and in fact feathery, delicate, and subtle.
Personally, I am happy to drink a low-alcohol wine. Its
acidity increased when paired with the acidic Caponata. It
became somewhat sweeter when facing the potato salad.

The first cheese pairing was with an Italian Mozzarella di
Bufala, a Mozzarella made from the milk of Water Buffalo.
This cheese brought out the wine's sweetness and feathery
quality. This was a rare wine and cheese pairing that I
actually liked. The second pairing was with a French
Morbier that was starting to smell. The cheese had an
aftertaste but the wine remained fine.

Final verdict. This is my second Riesling from the
relatively unknown Nahe wine region and the second winner.
I'll be looking for more.


About the Author:

In his younger days Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten
computer and Internet books, but he prefers drinking fine
German or other wine with the right foods and the right
people. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario
French-language community college. Check out his global
wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly
column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about
(theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.