If I had to sum up the history of Silvaner, the ancient wine grape that probably originated in Transylvania but whose spirit now resides firmly in Germany’s Franken region, in as few words as possible, it would probably look something like this:
The problem is not that Silvaner isn’t any good. In fact, it can be pretty damn tasty, as last week’s Twitter Taste Live event, featuring some of the Silvaner-based wines from Franken producer Castell, clearly showed to those who participated.
The problem is that Silvaner, in the words of Jancis Robinson, “is not a wine for our times.”
This is because Silvaner does not exhibit bombastic flavors and aromas. Instead, it more subtly transmits the terroir in which it’s planted. It can achieve some downright haunting tropical fruit and spice characteristics, but in the wrong hands (and wrong soil) it becomes mindlessly bland. A darling of the first half of the 20th Century, most plantings of Silvaner started giving way to the even more bland and even less characterful Muller-Thurgau.
In a way, Silvaner’s lack of popularity and its decreasing hectares of plantings is a watermark for the wine world’s current fascination (or infatuation, or totally mad and unhealthy obsession) with wines that explode out of the glass immediately and bitch-slap you with fruit and oak. Which is a shame really, because it would suck to lose Silvaner forever. Thank goodness therefore for Franken, where Silvaner is still taken seriously, and where it still produces interesting, refreshing wines that can help make inspired food pairings if you’re up to the challenge.
Once again, I’ve captured most of the twitter chatter from the Twitter Taste Live event (available below). I’ve also added my mini-take on the three Castell selections that we tried during the event. I’d recommend seeking out these somewhat-haunting wines. I fear that, given our current trends towards the bombastic, wines like these may one day end up haunting only our memories… or haunting the fields of Muller-Thurgau that once that they once called home…
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Today, I’m closing the loop and following up on the contest to find the next German Wine Queen, who was officially crowned last week in a final gala event featuring the six finalists culled from Germany’s 13 wine regions. The winner was Sonja Christchurch from the Mosel, who is a recent business graduate and has a day job as a wine journalist (right on!).
It’s interesting to see what the Wine Queen contestants have to go through to get into the finals and then be chosen for the top 3 slots, which includes the following tests:
- A blind tasting
- Describing a wine region (presumably a German one) within 45 seconds (which can’t be easy using long German words that probably take 15 seconds each to pronounce)
- Identify six errors in a film about the Middle Rhine region (this one is my personal fave)
- Stand up to an 80-member jury of wine experts, politicians and journalists
80-member jury? Are you kidding me? Masters of Wine candidates don’t need to do something that difficult, for Pete’s sake…
Anyway, you can check out a (very roughly translated) summary of the event here.
Congrats to the Mosel, and to the new Queen. I may start a petition soon to implement the Wine Queen program in the U.S. In my spare time.
I was greeted by a very pleasant surprise today when I ventured over to the Foodbuzz.com Blog Awards to vote for a few friends of mine whose blogs were nominated in various award categories. That’s when I first noticed that the following category even existed, and did a super-fast-head-fake-double-take upon seeing the list of nominees:
Best Wine Blog
1. 1 Wine Dude
2. Another Wine Blog
3. Chateau Petrogasm
4. Dr. Vino
I’m humbled and amazed to have been included in the list of finalists, and to find myself among such good company (and such stiff competition!).
Against all logic (and good taste), 1WineDude seems to be gaining popularity and success, for which I am both eternally grateful and increasingly baffled.
Anyway, please head on over to the voting page and ‘Vote Dude’ today!
And good luck to all of the Foodbuzz.com Blog Award nominees – there are some fabulous foodie blogs in the list, so if you’re into the food and beverage scene you should head over to the list of finalists and check out their blogs, which are full of excellent reads.