The last word in festive wines – part three


A Blaufränkisch vine at Moric, Austria.

A Blaufränkisch vine at Moric, Austria.

Laura Atkinson, Private Account Manager in our Fine Wine team, discovers a wealth of potential new faces for the Christmas table from Alsace, Austria and Germany

Despite its diminutive size, Alsace is home to many of the world’s finest white wines; from the majestic and ancient Riesling grape, the exuberant Pinot Gris or the richly-flavoured Gewürztraminer. I love the wines from the house of Trimbach. Established in 1626, the 12th and 13th generations of the family are making quintessential dry Riesling which balances vibrant, concentrated fruit with intense mineral precision. We are starting to see people understand this great white grape with somewhat of a Riesling resurgence of late. If you want to taste the best, treat yourself to the 2009 Clos St Hune which will reward you over the next 20 years thanks to its exceptional capacity to age. No other Riesling tastes quite like it.

Austria boasts wonderful indigenous grape varieties such as the fashionable and versatile aromatic white Grüner Veltliner, top class Chardonnays, notable Riesling and the surprisingly ripe and concentrated dessert wines from Neusiedlersee. This mountainous, landlocked country has everything, including an historic winemaking history. Recently we have seen a fashionable revival, mainly thanks to sommeliers who admire the versatility and affinity with food that Austrian wines offer. I very much enjoy the dark-skinned Blaufränkisch grape used in Moric’s fantastic, graceful wines – they are fine examples to get you started.

Germany also produces some of the greatest white wines anywhere, from the racy Riesling to the ever-impressive Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). For every acre of white grapes, there are now five acres of red, which has created a real Spätburgunder buzz, with dynamic winemakers broadening all known quality boundaries in the region. My favourite wine from the Berry Bros. & Rudd Own Selection range also happens to be a German wine; a Riesling chock-full of honeyed apples, fresh lime juice, white flowers and ripe, racy fruits. This great value wine, made for us by Selbach-Oster on the Mosel, has a screw cap, making it convenient both for picnics and parties. It also happens to be the white wine I served at my wedding earlier this year.

In yesterday’s instalment Adam Holden examined the inspiring wines from the South of France. Tomorrow members of our Fine Wine team will make festive recommendations from Italy and Spain.