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German Wine is Sehr Gut!

I was recently at an impromptu tasting at Hipping Hall restaurant and rooms. Hipping Hall is in the top one hundred best restaurants in the UK, beautiful place, fabulous food, exemplary wine list and impeccable service, highly recommended!)

The wine in the glass was German, brought into the UK by a charming lady called Ute.  It was my first taste of Germany for a while despite it being a real favourite.  The Producer was called Darting, a 25 hectare estate based in the Pfalz, a lesser known region but one that nevertheless produces delicious wines from a myriad of different grape varieties, some common (Chardonnay and Sauvignon) , some less so (Dornfelder and Scheurebe).

The tasting was excellent, fascinating and a breath a fresh air (and acidity) compared to the non descript wines we tasted after from Australia and Burgundy.

I had to stock them and have taken the full range. The wines are great value for money compared to the Mosel and offer intriguing flavours and aromas, mouth watering acidity, vibrancy and low alcohol, so you can safely have a couple of bottles at lunch.  The Spätburger, that’s Pinot Noit to me and you, is a fantastic example, soft and elegant yet with intense fruit and mega richness, something akin to an old World Pinot with Central Otago intensity.  The whites are superb too. The stand out wines for me being the Sauvignon Blanc and Rieslander Beerenauslese dessert wine made from Botrysized grapes.

Here’s the full list……


Sauvignon Blanc Kabinett Trocken 09 Darting £13.95

Very clean, tropical fruit, a slight spritz of vivacious acidity, long citrus finish.


Gewürztraminer Kabinett 2010 Darting £12.95

Light body (for Gewürz) medium acidity and sweetness, a delicate, restrained style, very approachable with classic lychee and tropical notes, liquorices and rose.  Great for duck liver Paté or Gorgonzola.


Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2009 Darting       £11.95

Off dry, high acidity, cool minerality, loads of fresh fruit and floral nuance.


Riesling Spätlese Halb Trocken 2009 Darting        £14.95

Utterly charming wine, fruit, acid and sugar singing in perfect harmony, perfect for the garden!


Muskateller Kabinett Trocken 2009 Darting          £14.95

Intense grapey, spicy and floral aromas, layers of exotic fruit, full bodied and off dry, very good!


Chardonnay Spätlese Trocken 2010 Darting          £12.95

Atypical Chardonnay in a very positive sense.  Quite rich but fresh nose, notes of papaya (according to Andrew Wildsmith at Hipping!) and Gewurz character.  Slightly buttery with green banana, very slightly off dry, extremely fresh yet rich palate, excellent.


Scheurebe Spätlese Trocken 2009 Darting           £14.95

Incredibly interesting wine, unique variety offering aromas of gooseberry pie, cinnamon and spice, herbaceous, slightly vegetal, (in a good way), medium sweetness, round and medium acidity on the fruity palate.  Excellent and fascinating.



Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Trocken 09 Darting     £14.95

Rich velvety Pinot, big and round, voluptuous, the nose is deep with well balanced oak, crushed forest fruits and cranberry with spice, palate is soft and velvety, makes you carry on sipping, very moreish.  In Burgundy or Central Otago the same wine would be £25!

Dornfelder Trocken 09 Darting  £10.95

Interesting red wine delivers youthful fresh red fruit on the nose and a crunchy juicy yet savoury palate.

Cabernet Cubin Trocken 08 Darting    £19.95

Cabernet Cubin is a cross breed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Blauer Limberger developed by Dr Bernard Hill in 1970 but not officially recognized in Germany until 2006.  There are only 68.5 hectares planted.  It is a superb wine with a rich medoc claret character, ripe blackberry and cassis, mint with smokey oak, pencil and cinders.  The fruit is impressive and the weight on the palate is of a wine that will age majestically.  Excellent for Claret lovers.

St. Laurent Trocken 07 Darting        £13.95

Sankt Laurent is a highly aromatic dark-skinned wine grape variety of the same family as Pinot Noir, originating in France.  The aromas are of strawberry and cassis, with vanilla and hints of tobacco.  On the palate the wine is medium bodied, with medium tannins and acid and a long fruity finish, a great alternative to Burgundy.


Rieslaner Beerenauslese 98 Darting (500ml)          £27.00

Rieslaner is a cross breed of the Silvaner and Riesling grape.  This wine is made from grapes that have undergone noble rot and have shriveled to produce a golden rich sweet yet refreshing dessert wine.  The alcohol is quite low and the acidity high so this is an extremely drinkable sticky despite the high sugar level.  Candied fruit, honey, white raisins, caramel and toffee aromas lead to a ‘tarte tatin’ palate with a lovely long opulent finish.

Help with German terminology!

Trocken – Dry, no residual sugar in the wine

Halb Trocken – Off Dry (in other words it has a little sweetness from natural sugar but not as much as a medium or dessert wine)

Kabinett – (literal meaning: cabinet), or sometimes Kabinettwein (literal meaning: a wine set aside in a cabinet), is a German language wine term for a wine which is made from fully ripened grapes of the main harvest, typically picked in September, and are usually made in a light style. In the German wine classification system, Kabinett is the lowest level of Prädikatswein, lower in ripeness than Spätlese. A German Kabinett is semi-sweet (lieblich) by default, but may be dry (trocken) or off-dry (halbtrocken) if designated so.

Spätlese – (literal meaning: "late harvest") is a German language wine term for a wine from fully ripe grapes, the lightest of the late harvest wines. Spätlese is a riper category than Kabinett in the Prädikatswein category of the German wine classification and is the lowest level of Prädikatswein in Austria, where Kabinett is classified in another way. In both cases, Spätlese is below Auslese in terms of ripeness. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper and have a higher must weight.

The wines may be either sweet or dry (trocken); it is a level of ripeness that particularly suits rich dry wines from Riesling, Weißer Burgunder and Grauer Burgunder grapes for example, as at Auslese levels the alcohol levels may become very high in a dry wine leaving the wine unbalanced.  Spätlese is often also made in a Halb Trocken or medium style with some residual sugar and lower alcohol.

Many Spätlese wines will age well, especially those made from the Riesling grape.

Beerenauslese – (literal meaning: "selected harvest of berries") is a German language wine term for a dessert wine-style late harvest wine. Beerenauslese is a category in the Prädikatswein category of the Austrian and German wine classifications, and is a category above Auslese. Beerenauslese wines, often called "BA" for short, are usually made from grapes affected by noble rot, i.e. "botrytized" grapes.

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