“The Wines of Germany, Austria and Hungary” – perhaps not the most popular choices for a wine course. But every place on a day course I ran recently at Bristol’s Stoke Lodge Centre was booked. We tasted samples right across the spectrum: white, red, rosé, dry, off-dry and various degrees of sweetness. And, as usual, I asked the group to vote for their favourites at the end of the day.
Their top choices were as diverse as the wines. The narrow winner was Schloss Lieser’s classy, intense dry Riesling from the Mosel in Germany (Wine Society, £12.50).
This showed the beautiful balance between fruit and acidity that all the best Rieslings have and was also beginning to develop interestingly in the glass – if only we could have lingered over it a little longer.
Just a single vote behind, there was a triple tie for 2nd place with one wine each from each of the 3 featured countries.
From Germany, Johann Wolf’s Pinot Noir Rosé (Waitrose Cellar, £9.99) was deliciously clean and fresh with subtle strawberry fruit flavours. Above all, it was perfectly dry making it an ideal accompaniment to light food dishes.
On the other hand, the group’s favourite red, A.Gere’s Kekfrankos from the volcanic Villany Hills region in southern Hungary (Wine Society, £11.25), needed to partner a really robust dish. Rich and with intense black fruits and a hint of spice, this is a bottle to leave under the stairs for a couple of years, as it will undoubtedly develop with time.
I might have guessed that the day’s final wine would have been the overall winner, but it, too, had to share 2nd place.
Feiler-Artinger’s Traminer Beerenauslese from Rust in Austria (Waitrose Cellar, £12.49 per half bottle) is a wonderful, focussed sweet wine made by specially selecting the ripest grapes from the bunches. Yet, alongside the sweetness, there is a crisp balancing acidity meaning that the wine is not cloying at all, just really enjoyable either on its own or with a pudding or blue cheese.
So, although these 3 countries might not be among the most popular for all wine lovers, they certainly provided plenty of discussion and real drinking pleasure for our group.