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Germany – noble wines

The most important grape in Germany by far (though not the most prolific) is Riesling, a grape capable of yielding white wines with astonishing longevity, indeed some of the greatest white wines in the world. The dry wines are referred to as `Trocken` and the sweeter ones range from the delicate, floral-scented and ripe-tasting Kabinett (medium-dry), to Spatlese (medium-sweet) and Auslese (sweet) wines of Mosel or Rheingau, for example, to the much sweeter wines known as Eiswein, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Eiswein is produced from over-ripe grapes picked frozen on their vines and wines described as Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese are produced from botrytis mould- affected, shrivelled-up grapes left barely hanging on their vines . The mould, known as `noble rot` (good rot) also imparts a distinctive and desirable marmalade-like flavour to these sweet wines, which sets them apart. They are affectionately called `stickies` in the trade, but due to Germany`s northern climate they have plenty of acidity to balance their high concentration of sugars. These expensive gems tend to be served with sweet desserts, but they also contrast magnificently with savouries such as the cheeses. The German love of sweet-and-savoury (example pork and apple) and sweet-and-sour (sauerkraut), give to vast amounts of their fine Kabinett and Spatlese wines the ideal outlet. The high acid and mineral-tasting sweet Riesling copes wonderfully well with the flavour contrasts. High Society in Germany, some fifty and sixty years ago, would serve their finest Spatlese and Auslese white wines with duck, goose, venison and even wild boar; nowadays they would be as likely to opt for a Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), reserving their Spatlese and Auslese to accompany desserts of fruit tarts and fresh fruit salads. Incidentally, I am a big fan of their Spatburgunder wines, pale, vibrant, fragrant and ever so slightly tart (in a good way) they are our choice for fish stew above almost any other. Try our Domaine Assmannhausen, Spatburgunder Trocken, Hollenburg 2014, at £28.99 per bottle it`s a rare treat, comparable to fine red burgundy.

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