I know – sorry, but I couldn’t resist it!
I remember being somewhat ambivalent about sex education when I was a testosterone charged (charging?) 14 yr old. On the one hand I wasn’t looking forward to the squirming embarrassment of school lessons on the subject, but on the other I knew I needed to know!
Sekt, is altogether different, though I do confess to becoming enamoured by it!
Regarding German Wine, Millennials who love the nectar of the gods have an advantage over us of the Baby Boom generation, of a similar persuasion. Unlike us who suffered, these youngsters are unencumbered by debilitating memories of names like Blue Nun, Black Tower, Liebfraumilch et al! They can innocently select a German Wine from the shelves without any preconceived worries about its quality, its level of sweetness, its inability to pair with food, in short, its nastiness!
Some of us of a certain age have a considerable hurdle to surmount – but we really shouldn’t, German Wines Rock! So let’s get over it!
On behalf of the Costa News Group, I was recently invited to attend the Wines of Germany Trade Tasting, coolly named, The Big G, in no lesser venue than London’s magnificent Somerset House. With a breeze and light rainfall coming off the Thames, the London Eye to right, the Shard to the left, I entered into a world of Riesling and, for me, practically unpronounceable other grape varieties, areas of production, styles and producers.
It wasn’t daunting at all – I have no German, but that didn’t matter at all, I’m fairly fluent (fluid?) in wine, and anyway, everybody I dealt with spoke English perfectly (including the English people present!). And, of course, there were the wonderful aromas emanating from all manner of different shaped wine bottles (including some beautiful magnums) as corks were pulled, and we all go to work!
Whilst I was on a mission to learn as much as I could about German Wine in general, I made a beeline first for Germany’s main Sparkling Wine, called, yes, you got it, Sekt! Indeed, I had been allocated a much sought after place at the ‘Sekt Education’ Presentation by Master of Wine, Michelle Cherutti-Kowal, which was packed to capacity, with even standing room fully taken! I wasn’t surprised, I’ve heard Michelle talk before, she’s an excellent presenter, and I really should acknowledge, that the title of this week’s column is more or less plagiarised from her! Thanks, Michelle!
Now, as regular readers will know, I’m a committed fan of Spanish Sparkling Wine, Cava yes, of course, but also others crafted here in Spain. I’ve written about the wealth of choice we have here with regards to fizz, many times – I love Spanish Sparklers! But let me tell you, friendly readers, that this tasting converted me to Sekt as well! Honestly, fine quality, almost always traditional method (that used for Champagne and Cava, for example) Sekt is outstanding, a wonderful match for Prestige Cava, which I continue to champion!
Germany is the world’s largest consumer of Sparkling Wine, drinking 32 million bottles of its own Sekt, every year. Like Cava, Sekt, has differing standards, and it’s not that easy to understand. Firstly, the least expensive (ok, cheap!) examples, labelled simply Sekt, can be made from any grape varieties grown in Europe. Hence its price, and lack of quality – clearly there can be no sense of place with Sekt at this level. It can be made by the traditional method but is almost universally made by the tank, or Charmat method, that employed in the making of the vast majority of Prosecco.
Like Cava, the better quality Sekt is now being referred to as Premium Sekt, and most of these, though not all, are made by the traditional method, where the second fermentation takes place in bottle. Within this Premium Sekt category, there are wines referred to as Winzersekt, which are always made by the traditional method and are usually from a single vineyard and vintage. Also, it’s these wines that usually exceed the minimum number of 9 months left on lees, often doubled to 18 months and more. Indeed we tasted one at 30 months and a few at 48 months – that’s four years sitting upside down in the cellar, resting on the sediment left after the second fermentation, thereby gaining complexity and mature aromas and flavours to add to those of the grape varieties used!
And what varieties! Riesling is big in Sekt – monovarietal as well as in blends, with, for example, Silvaner, Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. For me, those made with Riesling are the most easily identifiable. Even when aged for lengthy periods these wines speak of this variety’s aromatics – lime, minerality even a little petrol. And when these aromas are mixed with those of autolysis, that sparkling wine bready, yeasty, patisserie note and the mature aromas of wines that have been left to age for a good length, well it makes a heady, extremely attractive fizz.
Partner Sekt with Asian food, canapés, sweet and sour, Thai, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, sushi and so on! I’m so taken with Sekt, I’m off out now to buy some, here in London!
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