My Favourite Wine – Adrian Lancer


Adrian LancerWhen I was asked to write about my favourite wine, I thought about all the many once in a lifetime wines I have had the pleasure of trying throughout almost a decade in the wine trade. However, I am a great believer in the fact that a wine is only as good as the context it is enjoyed in and so chose a more “everyday” bottle, but one that was so special due to the occasion.

For my most recent birthday, a friend and I took our annual trip to Germany and after taking in the morning session of the first World Ranking Snooker event to take place in the country for many years, we took a six hour train ride from Berlin to Munich, by far my favourite German city.

After such a long day, we needed to find somewhere suitable to eat and after much deliberation, and seeing as it was my birthday, we decided to see if we could get into one of the best restaurants in Munich without making a reservation first! Always a risky move, but this being a cold February night, the restaurant wasn’t full and we even managed to grab a window seat for two overlooking the public square outside.

Dallmayr in Munich is classed as a luxury deli/food store and is Germany’s equivalent to Fortnum & Mason, with a two Michelin starred restaurant above, run by renowned chef Diethard Urbansky.

The food choice was simple enough – there is a set menu and you just choose how many of the seven courses you would like! Being late in the evening and us being fairly tired after a long day, we chose the four course menu, but the real decision was what wine to accompany such great food. This was made more difficult when we asked for the wine list and received a 50 page book!

After about 15 minutes, we were still deliberating and had narrowed it down to a few possibilities. However, something then caught our eye; a mature German Riesling at a reasonable price – 1999 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese ** Trocken, Markus Molitor. It was not only the maturity that interested us, but the quality level; dry Auslese wines are very rare, with the vast majority being medium sweet at least, due to the high level of sugar in the ripe grapes when they are picked.

A few moments later, the bottle reached our table and then came the customary pour for me to check it was in good condition. Almost gold in colour, one smell of the glass and I knew it had the making of being something special. For me, it had just the right mix of mature petrol/kerosene notes, but with a good amount of tropical fruit still there too. The wine just exploded in the mouth, not only was it one of the most complex Rieslings I had ever tasted, but I’d be hard pressed to find many wines full stop that were more intellectually challenging than this. There was a richness that I’d not come across in a German Riesling, coupled with such an array of flavours, we kept finding something new with every sip.

It matched the menu faultlessly. The complexity meant there was a flavour we could find to complement every course – the lobster, salmon, chicken and indeed the richness even suited itself to the sweetness of the white peach dessert, though it was hard to leave some until the end of the evening and, knowing it would be hard to find a second wine that would please us as much as this, we opted for a traditional Apfelkorn (Apple Schnapps) to end the meal.

The Mosel region of Germany, and the village of Zeltingen in particular are both close to my heart, not just for being in my favourite country and home to my favourite wines, but also as it is the only place I have ever worked a wine harvest. It is truly amazing that these great wines can come from such steep slopes which require so much hard work to get the grapes ripe and all for such a relatively low price on the shelf, due to being unfashionable at the present time. Some may say that the wines are too sweet, but there are many fantastic dry wines now coming out of Germany and their generally lower alcohol levels mean they are perfect for drinking with or without food.  Indeed one could say that the wines are perfectly suited to their homeland, as Germans tend to drink wine on its own, preferring to drink beer with food – the opposite of, say, Italy where the wines are heavier and made to match the local cuisine.

All in all, this is by far the most enjoyable complete wine experience I have ever had. The fact that the wine almost overshadowed the food in a two Michelin starred establishment says it all, but this was no ordinary wine. I wonder whether anything will ever come close, but then I’m definitely going back next year and will be sure to endeavour to find out.

**The 2 star designation indicates that the grapes were harvested at a higher ripeness than the minimum legal level for an Auslese and that the wine can be expected to be richer in style because of this.

Adrian Lancer – salesman, Berrys’ Bin End Shop.

Adrian is based in Berrys’ Bin End Shop in Basingstoke and can usually be found chatting to customers or number crunching in the office.

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