Last year on the first of January, we opened a magnum bottle of Rheingau Riesling – it was a First Growth – and realized how beautiful those wines can age in such big containers. Plus, it’s quite a festive manner to drink and a good way to start the new year with a big bang.
So I decided to repeat the experience this year, and I think this ritual has good chances to become a tradition for the years to come. As many friends were expected for a late brunch with pizza, quiche and lentil soup, I opened 4 magnums of German white wine. Of course, to variate pleasures, I opted for 4 different styles and 3 different varietals.
We started with a magnum-bottle from Franconia, the German wine region probably most known for its Silvaner wines (although in quantity, Rheinhessen produces most of this varietal). Silvaner used to have a reputation for being a simple and overly fruity wine that pleased grandmothers and should be drunk fast, but there are now more and more specimen that could be qualified as premium dry white wine, with traits only such wines can have.
Zehnthof Luckert is an estate I’ve read many times about on the Wine Rambler Blog, and when I found out there was a special magnum bottling for an online wine shop and that it was on sale, I didn’t hesitate. They’re located in Sulzfeld, a village along the river Main and biodynamically manage 15 hectares of vines, with the 2 most important single vineyards being Maustal and Cyriakusberg. The wines are fermented within the barrels and their most important varietal, how else could it be, is Silvaner.
This one is made with Blauer Silvaner, a blue-skinned variety of the grape and stems from the Sulzfelder Maustal site. At first, the wine seemed a bit shy, with a contained nose and a relatively neutral palate. My dad wasn’t impressed. But I believed in it, and having had some experience with magnums, I was confident that a little “airtime” could change things quickly.
And it happened. But mind you, this Silvaner will never be a “loud” wine. It plays on the chords of simplicity in a good way, like Bauhaus architecture, or a painting by Miró. The first aromatic layer consists of subtile pear notes, with redundancy on the palate. But then appears a beautiful smoky minerality, adding deepness to this (appealing) monocolored background. Also, despite the very ripe 2009 vintage, the wine shows a good-acidity which adds a certain light-hearted freshness. All the sudden this wine has transformed into a crowd-pleaser, complex enough to make geeks happy and as quaffable as anyone likes it.
I’ve had a few interesting bottles of Silvaner over the last months, mostly from Rheinhessen. This magnum is part of the most convincing specimen I had and Zehnthof Luckert for me now definitely ranks among wineries to remember. But one of the best things about it remains the price. This magnum bottling is still available at under 20 Euro.