Handmade wines created by wine makers with passion

For everyone that expects more in their glass


Jamie Christie and Petar Mladenovic ( restaurant manager and sommelier of ION-The Harbour, Michelin star restaurant)
Here at ION-The Harbour we aim to give our guests an excellent experience. Through our wine program we aim to do that with smaller suppliers focusing more on quality rather than quantity wine making, which is why we have a strong relationship with Wine Merchants. Not only do they have a selection of smaller producers from slightly unfamiliar regions but they also offer us the opportunity to taste any new wines, in order to portray them to our guests and they have never been disappointed.

Petar Mladenovic and Jamie Christie
Sommelier and Restaurant manager ION-The Harbour
I like cooperating with Wine Merchants because they focus on two very undiscovered wine countries (South Africa and Germany) here in Malta. This is what makes this wine shop unique.
Wines are always available and this helps us to be consistent with our clients. All our staff have the opportunity to learn about these particular wineries and of course taste  their wines. Passionate people and a very cosy shop in the hearth of Sliema.
Charlot Borg
shop manager at HANSA

Wine Merchants is a must when it comes to German and South African wines. Speak to Thomas and Mili and you will feel the passion and knowledge they have about the carefully selected wines they are offering.

Fabien Etienne
(sommelier and wine consultant)
My love for wine brought me to the position of Sommelier at Caviar and Bull, so exploring new wines is my every day mission .
When I met Thomas and Mili a couple of years ago, they introduced me to a wide selection of wines from Germany and South Africa and I was very happy to include them on our wine list. Caviar and Bull is one of the leading restaurants in Malta and our customers expect a wine list that matches this position. So their range of well known brands and hidden wine Champions fits very well to our approach of hospitality.
Buying at Wine Merchants is not just a simple exchange between the merchant and the consumer but a great opportunity to learn, discuss and taste wine with passionate people in a lovely environment.
Ognjen Samardzic
Sommelier of Caviar and Bull Restaurant



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Our New Entry - Mosel Wines

“ we are proud to introduce two of the world’s most known Mosel Wine Producers to our portfolio” 
Dr. Loosen and Selbach Oster. 

To familiarise you with the new additions we have put together a tasting box consisting of 4 bottles from Dr Loosen – the blue slate Riesling, Dr. L a special easy drinking Riesling typical of the region and the Kabinett Wine “wehlener Sonnenuhr” one of the oldest wine growing sites in the Mosel region.
From Selbach Oster we would like to introduce the Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder) a wonderful wine to sip on your terrace with friends or a light lunch in the sun.
We are especially impressed with the Pinot Noir from Selbach Oster and I think we have discovered a real gem. The Mosel is not renown for their reds so it was even more surprising to discover this wonderful red wine.  

Visit our Shop in Sliema

Visit our Shop in Sliema


Jamie Christie and Petar Mladenovic ( restaurant manager and sommelier of ION-The Harbour, Michelin star restaurant)
Here at ION-The Harbour we aim to give our guests an excellent experience. Through our wine program we aim to do that with smaller suppliers focusing more on quality rather than quantity wine making, which is why we have a strong relationship with Wine Merchants. Not only do they have a selection of smaller producers from slightly unfamiliar regions but they also offer us the opportunity to taste any new wines, in order to portray them to our guests and they have never been disappointed.

Petar Mladenovic and Jamie Christie
Sommelier and Restaurant manager ION-The Harbour
I like cooperating with Wine Merchants because they focus on two very undiscovered wine countries (South Africa and Germany) here in Malta. This is what makes this wine shop unique.
Wines are always available and this helps us to be consistent with our clients. All our staff have the opportunity to learn about these particular wineries and of course taste  their wines. Passionate people and a very cosy shop in the hearth of Sliema.
Charlot Borg
shop manager at HANSA

Wine Merchants is a must when it comes to German and South African wines. Speak to Thomas and Mili and you will feel the passion and knowledge they have about the carefully selected wines they are offering.

Fabien Etienne
(sommelier and wine consultant)
My love for wine brought me to the position of Sommelier at Caviar and Bull, so exploring new wines is my every day mission .
When I met Thomas and Mili a couple of years ago, they introduced me to a wide selection of wines from Germany and South Africa and I was very happy to include them on our wine list. Caviar and Bull is one of the leading restaurants in Malta and our customers expect a wine list that matches this position. So their range of well known brands and hidden wine Champions fits very well to our approach of hospitality.
Buying at Wine Merchants is not just a simple exchange between the merchant and the consumer but a great opportunity to learn, discuss and taste wine with passionate people in a lovely environment.
Ognjen Samardzic
Sommelier of Caviar and Bull Restaurant

It is French and means hook and used in many areas. It can be part of a piano or the closure of a brooch but it is also the locking element of a champagne bottle. The cork is fixed in the bottle but the CO2 builds up to more pressure than you have in your cars tires so it need an extra lock. The Agaffe has 4 wire pairs that is held together at the bottom by a separate round wire that is twisted at the bottles neck to hold everything together.

Never heard of it? Well with over 400.000 ha planted this is the most cultivated grape in Spain. The farmers love it as it withstands the heat very well but I have yet to taste a decent wine made from it. So most of this grape is used for brandy production.

No this is not your favourite sommelier. It is a 50 year old new varietal mainly grown in Czech republic and Eastern Germany. André is a cross between Blaufränkisch and Saint Laurent both German red wine grapes. It never took off as a wine but when grown and harvested with care some nice wines can be produced if the acidity can be tamed.

Native to the soil. It means that the plant has been in the particular wine region for a long time and has not be brought in from somewhere else. Seeing that wine bars become more and more like high streets – wherever you go Zara was there before you – autochthonous vines can give a distinct profile top regions and bars/resellers that can create a clear distinction. Spain has over 600 different grape varietal, Portugal over 250 of which many have never exported.

You might find this written on a German Wine Bottle It means that the vines from which the grapes were harvested are more than 25 years old. Vines produce less grapes the older they get and the juice from such vines can have more aroma and extracts. As it is not a legal term I normally pay no attention to it, it is not an indicator for quality.

It means where does the plant come from, how does it look like what kind of berries does the plant produce. How many clones exist. I find it interesting to read about the ancestry of the vines who was the mother who the father, and how did it come to its current place. Especially as we learn still today and sometimes the experts get it all wrong.

The acids in wine are an important component in both winemaking and the finished product of wine. They are present in both grapes and wine, having direct influences on the colour, balance and taste of the wine as well as the growth and vitality of yeast during fermentation and protecting the wine from bacteria. The measure of the amount of acidity in wine is known as the “titratable acidity” or “total acidity”, which refers to the test that yields the total of all acids present, while strength of acidity is measured according to pH, with most wines having a pH between 2.9 and 3.9. Generally, the lower the pH, the higher the acidity in the wine. However, there is no direct connection between total acidity and pH.

In wine tasting, the term “acidity” refers to the fresh, tart and sour attributes of the wine which are evaluated in relation to how well the acidity balances out the sweetness and bitter components of the wine such as tannins. Three primary acids are found in wine grapes: tartaric, malic, and citric acids

From the wine makers perspective this is the most important one as it gives the wine stability and colour and finally has great influence on the taste. Tataric acid is found in all vines but the concentration differs from varietal to varietal and depends also on the soil of the vineyard. During the flowering high levels of tartaric acid are concentrated in the flowers and passed on to the young grapes. Through the ripening process the levels of tartaric acid remain stable keeping the same level throughout the process. As the acid is soluble you can taste but not see it unless the winemaker cools the wine to quickly after fermentation, then the tartaric acid crystallises and you find a sediment at the bottom of the bottle that looks like finely broken glass. Its not harmful when you swallow it it just leaves a gritty feeling in your mouth.

The second important acid in wine is Malic acid sometimes also called apple acid. It is actually Malic Acid (malum, latin for apple) Malic acid is one of the principal acids in a berry and essential for making good wine. The less ripe the berry the higher the malic acid content. In over ripe berries the malic acid is very low and as a result wine makers have to add acid in the cellar. This is often the case in hot growing areas where in cold growing areas the acidity levels are too high and the sugar levels too low. So in the old days sugar was added or very sweet grape juice. – Same result- to get fermentation going.

Especially in summer many vines don’t get enough air and catch fungicides because rain and dew don’t evaporate fast enough. Mass producers use herbicides and fungicides, quality producers’ plant fewer plants in a row and cut leaves during the growing period to secure good airing.

One of the many autochthonous Portuguese white vines. The wines that are produced from Antao Vaz are big bodied wines with high acidity and aromas of Grapefruit and Lime it is often used in a Cuvée with Arinto and Roupeiro and best served with Fish.

ppelation d´ Origine Controllée specifies an area and the production methods of certain food products in France and Switzerland, like wine, Champagne, calvados but also butter cheese and olive oil. The history of the AOC seal dates back to the 16th century.

1905 the first law governing the AOC seal was passed in France and many other countries followed the French example to administrate their wine production like Italy (DOP = Denominatione d´Origine Protetta) Spain with the Denominicatión de Origen, Austria with the DAC ( Districtus Austriae Controllatus) nobody knows why they used Latin, and South Africa with “Wine of Origin”.

Since 2009 the seal was changed to AOP (Appellation d´Origine Proteégée) same thing as AOC, and since 2014 the only official seal.


The art of bringing different varietals vineyards and years into one bottle. The result is called a Cuvée, assemblage of lesser quality wines is called Coupage. The main use of this technique is in the production of champagne.

One of these new German varietals created for winemakers who don’t have good vineyards. This white grape ripens early but still has high sugar levels in the juice. Normally wines have a floral bouquet, but they often lack acidity. In combination with Müller -Thurgau it builds the foundation of the greatest German wine abomination the infamous Liebfrauenmilch. Some English Winegrowers have planted Bacchus as a base for their champagne.

Balling is a density scale, named for its developer Karl Balling and used for measuring sugar content in water-based solutions. Grape juice consists primarily of sugar and water and thus the Balling scale is a quick and fairly simple way to do ‘sugar analysis’. However, it was later discovered that the Balling scale contained a slight inaccuracy which in due time was corrected by Dr. Brix. Today the Brix scale is in actual use, but the terms Balling and Brix are used interchangeably. As mentioned above the Balling scale is extremely simple: each degree on the scale is equivalent to 1 percent of sugar in the juice. For example, grape juice which measures 10 degrees on the Balling or Brix scale contains about 10% sugar which might give 10% of Alcohol in the wine

The term barrique stands for more than just the storage of wine and the barrel itself: Producing wine in wooden oak barrels, provides the wine with a distinct characteristic barrique flavor.

It was in Bordeaux that in 1866 the size of barrique barrels was set at exactly 225 liters – a measurement that still applies today. Thanks to their size, barrique barrel could be rolled by one man alone.  And it only took two men to carry it. Back then, the wines were taken from the châteaux to the merchants on the quays of the Gironde to be loaded and sent to Bordeaux. Only after arriving there were they blended into salable wines and stored until they were later sold. Because Bordeaux wine merchants’ customers were largely situated in London and the rich colonies of the British Empire, barrique barrels were especially well-suited for sea transport. On the return journey, the expensive barrels were taken back to France as empty containers.  Aging and storage in barrique barrels not only alters the taste of wines, but also their shelf life. Through the interaction with the oak, wines are exposed to more oxygen and become more stable and mature compared to other wines that are aged in otherwise standard stainless steel tanks. 

Selecting and finding suitable wood is, however, no easy task. High-quality barrique barrels can easily cost anywhere upward of a thousand euros – but it’s a worthwhile expense for many wineries and winemakers who place value on the quality and marketing of their wine. The “Barrique Aged” label, according to the German Wine Institute, is only to be used for special quality wines. This includes the stipulation that at least 75 percent of the wine must have been fermented or aged in a barrique barrel.

But many cheap wine producers find a way to trick the costumers by producing wines in steel tanks of 20.000 ltrs and more putting some wood panels in the tank to simulate the barrique flavors others throw in wood chips the likes you use on your barbeque and the real cheap goats just add flavor from a bottle. 

During the fermentation of wine yeast are created. At the end of the fermentation these “dead” yeasts slowly settle at the bottom of the fermenter and get removed (racked). Some winemakers keep some of that yeast in the wine. Batonage is the process in which this yeast is stirred around. That clears the wine and it also gives the wine a creamy note and enhancing the fruit flavours. Batonage is also a process to increase the quality of a wine during storage. Very often used in Chardonnay.

“A great winemaker is recognised by his smallest wine” is a common saying in the wine crowd. We should not forget that some of the Grand Crus or GG´s are only a small part of the overall production and too expensive for every day consumption. Under this aspect the base wines are the true performance indicators of the wine maker. The base wine should represent the grapes of the region, be without fault and a very drinkable every day wine.

Sounds a bit like Kryptonite the only stuff that absorbed Superman’s superhuman powers. This is a special clay that has a negative charge. Bentonite absorbs any free-floating proteins in the wine in a process that is called fining. It is used as a granulate that settles on the bottom of the tank and can be removed completely from the wine by filtration or racking. When put in the wine it attracts all floating sediments, catches them and then slowly descends to the bottom where it forms a layer of sediment that can be removed (racking) leaving the rest clean and clear. Only disadvantage is that these fining agents also extract aromas so winemakers who concentrate on the authenticity of their wines don’t use it. This is a special clay that has a negative charge. When put in the wine it attracts all floating sediments, catches them and then slowly descends to the bottom where it forms a layer of sediment that cam be removed (racking) leaving the rest clean and clear.

In the Eu the Bio label for wine was related to the ecological growing of the grapes.

Now there are also rules that include what happens in the cellar. Bio winemakers have to dispense of synthetic sprays and artificial fertilizers they are only allowed to use copper based products to fight Mildew as there is no ecological solution to get rid of it.

During the fermentation and the following aging the usual oenological procedures to fine the wine are permitted but with reduced quantities. Most bio wines are fined with Bentonite and not with galantine or egg white which gives them also a Vegan certificate.

Absolutely prohibits is the use of gene manipulated yeasts or other ingrediencies. 

But the criteria’s vary, some Eco Organizations like Ecovin have much more restrictive guidelines than the EU.

Is the red grape in Austria, in Germany also known as Lemberger the Hungarians call it Kékefrankos. The reds that are produced from this grape are among the best you can get especially the ones from the Burgenland in Austria and Würtemberg in Germany. In the vineyard, Blaufrankisch buds early, ripens late and delivers generous yields. It needs a warm environment to fully mature, which explains its distribution in wine regions close to the heat of the Pannonian Plain.

The bouquet of Blueberries and Blackberries and the pronounced taste of dark cherries is accompanied by a stony minerality or by dried herbs and mint, depending on the terroir the grapes came from. The dark red colour adds to the overall impression of this wine. Because of these characteristics Blaufränkisch is often added to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir as it improves their fruitiness and increases their complexity. On its own Blaufränkisch goes very well with game, vegetable dishes with strong herbs or well-aged strong cheeses and my favorite, Roast beef with gravy. 

This is not a cheap Bordeaux Wine. In 1878, after phylloxera and mildew, the fungal disease “downy mildew” was introduced from America. The professor of botany at the University of Bordeaux Alexis Millardet (1838-1902) developed the “Bordelaise pulpe”, as he called it, and recommended it in 1885 as a successful remedy against this new and hitherto unknown fungal disease. The discovery is more or less a coincidence. Millardet noticed that the vines of one vineyard were infected with this disease, but the neighbouring vineyard was not – although the grapes of these healthy vines were covered by a light blue layer. He interviewed the winegrower, who said that he had sprayed the grapes with a mixture of lime and copper sulphate to deter thieves (a common practice at the time that still goes on today). Millardet then began to experiment and created the light blue mixture of copper sulphate, lime and water. The product is still used today to combat many vine diseases caused by fungi and bacteria. However, prolonged use can lead to an accumulation of copper in the soil, which can be counteracted by introducing lime into the soil. The Bordeaux broth is one of the few chemical preparations that are also approved for organic viticulture.

Botrytis or noble Rot

How can rot be noble?

‘Noble Rot’ or botrytis is a type of fungus that shrivels and decays wine grapes. Normaly a bad thing  with wine, it’s considered a good thing. The funfus basically sucks water out of the grape at the same time leaving the sugar untouched. So you harvest smaller grapes with little juice which is therefore highly concentrated.  Wines such as Sauternes from Bordeaux; Tokaji Aszu from Hungary, and Beerenausleese level German Riesling all are made from ‘Noble Rot’ grapes.

‘Noble Rot’ basically does two things to wine: it intensifies the sweetness level and adds flavor complexity making wines that can be stored for decades.

Intensifies Sweetness ‘Noble Rot’ causes grapes to dehydrate while maintaining the sugar levels. More wine grapes are needed to make the same amount of juice and thus the juice has higher sugar content. Dessert wines made from Noble Rot grapes are more viscous and sweeter, some even have higher alcohol content. 

Adds Flavor Sommeliers often use the words “honey,” “beeswax” and “ginger” to describe the flavors that botrytis adds to wine. This could be because Noble Rot wines often have higher levels of a special aroma compound called phenylacetaldehyde. This compound is also commonly found in buckwheat and milk chocolate.

Letting a wine breathe’, or ‘aerating’ it, is as simple as opening it before serving, pouring it from the bottle into a decanter or (less often) a carafe, and letting it reach room temperature. It is not simply enough to open the bottle and leave it undisturbed, or put it near a fire or radiator to warm it up. Using a proper decanting method means that more of the wine can get to the air thanks to the larger surface area of the decanter. Think of the width of a wine bottle neck compared to a decanter – there is a reason why funnels or sieves are a wine lover’s friend. Also many decanters pair a wide neck with a squat design, which increases the liquid’s surface area even more. The act of pouring the wine from the bottle into the decanter also mixes the liquid as well as adding air to it. Letting a wine breathe brings out its flavour – some wines simply taste better with aeration. By mixing air with the liquid, the aroma of the wine can be fully appreciated. It has been said that wine tastes smoother after being left to breathe, but it’s important to get the length of breathing time right. Any red wine under eight years old will only need an hour to breathe before being enjoyed. Reds over eight years old will need longer to breathe, mainly because they’ve been in the bottle longer so need longer to wake up. Vintage reds often do not need to breathe at all; their flavour comes from their age. They will still need to be decanted though, in order to separate the sediment from the wine. Many white wines, champagne, rose/blush/pink and sparkling wines do not need to be aerated either. Typically, they need to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before being opened. Heavier bodied whites should be treated as honorary reds, and decanted shortly before drinking. Wine connoisseurs often liken letting a wine breathe to someone who needs to walk around after a long car journey. Once they’ve stretched their legs and restored their sluggish circulation, they feel much better. Wine is the same. It’s much more alive once it’s had a chance to breathe. This period of aeration can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours depending on the wine. It’s best not to leave it too long or the taste could degrade, though. Many white wines will need refrigeration rather than aeration, while decanting a red serves both the purpose of aerating it and separating the sediment from the wine. Rule of Thumb: the younger the wine the longer it should breathe. Be careful with well-aged wines too long in the decanter and it can “turn” tasting more like Sherry.

This is one of the most traditional bottles in the wine trade. With its pronounced shoulders under the neck it is also an example of timeless elegance. The content of 0,75 Litres was a standard that started in 1866 as a lot of the Bordeaux wine was sold into England and 6 bottles make up one Gallon.

The Burgundy Bottle is the equivalent to its sister from Bordeaux. She is wider and without any shoulders grows into the neck. Originally the bottles were light or dark green but today one finds also clear glass varietals. The reason why most bottles are green, or brown is that the coloured glass protects the wine from UV light better than with clear glass, making it possible to store the wine longer. The form is used all over the world mostly for wines made from Burgundy grapes

Cabernet Cubin Cabernet Cubin is a rare German red wine grape variety, bred in 1970 by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon with Blaufränkisch. The variety has the strong tannic characteristics of its Cabernet parent and also shares its dark fruit flavor spectrum. Like Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Cubin has good resistance to cold and is suitable for growing in regions prone to snowy winters.

Cabernet Cubin takes a long time to develop its full flavor profile once it has been vinified; barrel maturation is recommended to help coax out its potential character.

This wine goes well with Spezzatino di vitello (Italian-style veal stew), Braised bison short ribs or strip steak with fries.

Cabernet Dorsa is a red wine grape variety most often found in cool-climate winegrowing areas, performing particularly well in Germany and Switzerland. It was described as a crossing of Dornfelder and Cabernet Sauvignon when created in 1971 at the National Institute for Education and Research for Wine and Fruit Farming in Weinsberg, Baden-Wurttemburg.
Several other grape varieties with a Cabernet parent were crossed around the same time, including Cabernet Dorio and Cabernet Mitos. Cabernet Dorsa is considered one of the best of these crossings, giving full-bodied, tannic wines with slightly spicy aromas.
This wine is best paired with Corned beef,Grilled bratwurst sausages with mustard or Braised beef short ribs.

This is one of the world’s most widely recognised red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Australia Okanagan Valley to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognised through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation—the grapes have thick skins and the vines are hardy and naturally low yielding, budding late to avoid frost and resistant to viticultural hazards such as rot and insects. For many years, the origin of Cabernet Sauvignon was not clearly understood and many myths and conjectures surrounded it. The word “Sauvignon” is believed to be derived from the French sauvage meaning “wild” and to refer to the grape being a wild Vitis vinifera vine native to France. Until recently the grape was rumoured to have ancient origins, perhaps even being the Biturica grape used to make ancient Roman wine and referenced by Pliny the Elder. 

It’s a rather rough fellow, which is grown in the. South of France and in some regions in Spain. Along with Aramon, it was considered one of the main grapes responsible for France’s wine lake and was a substantial producer in jug wine production in California’s Central Valley but in recent years, it has been reborn as a flagship wine for many cellars in the south of France as well as in Catalonia. 

The variety was historically a component of Rioja’s red wine blend.

In South Africa, there were 80 hectares (200 acres) of the grape planted in 2012 with the majority found on the shale vineyard soils of the Paardeberg region in Swartland. 

In winemaking, the grape is often used as a deep coloring component in blends, rather than being made in a varietal form with some exceptions. Carignan can be a difficult variety for winemakers to work due to its naturally high acidity, tannins, and astringency which requires a lot of skill to produce a wine of finesse and elegance. Some winemakers have experimented with carbonic maceration and adding small amounts of Cinsault and Grenachewith some positive results.[3] Syrah and Grenache are considered its best blending partners being capable of yielding a softer wine with rustic fruit and perfume.

Carignan wine is almost always dry and tends to pack a bigger flavoric punch on the opening palate than on the close.  It tends to have bright acid, gritty tannins, bitter spice and dry herb notes over red and black fruit.  Because of its tannic content, expect to get a nice astringent mouth-feelwith this grape so its not for everyones taste. My tip is to shy away from younger wines after 10 years you might take the chance.

Carmenère is an offspring of Cabernet Sauvignon and a real world traveler. After the  Phylloxera desaster in the mid 1800 this varietal lost its importance in the Bordelais where it came from.

But it made a real comeback in Chili where it was mistakenly planted in the 1960 as Merlot. Only since 1996 Carmenère wines are filled under it real name. The wines are heavy but low on Tannins so they can be drunken young They often have aromas of red berries. If they stay too long in oak the can develop some kind of a sticky texture that is irritating. But as a young wine it’s very drinkable.

Carnuntum is a historic wine-producing area along the southern banks of the Danube River in far eastern Austria.It gained DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) status in 2019. Carnuntum’s official winegrowing area stretches from Austria’s border with Slovakia to the eastern outskirts of Vienna.There are around 900 hectares (just over 2,200 acres) of vineyards. 

Archeology, along with wine, is one of Carnuntum’s key tourist attractions. A bustling Roman army camp ( hence its name) became an important center in Upper Pannonia as the region was once known and its inhabitants became the first to plant vines.

For red wines, the designation focuses on the Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt grape varieties.The rolling hills and warm continental climate suit these varieties and give rise to modern, elegant red wines.

The counterparts for the area’s red wines are Chardonnay, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Grüner Veltliner.

For both colors, the above-mentioned varieties must account for at least two-thirds of any Carnuntum blend. The wines must be dry and reach at least 12 percent alcohol by volume. Other grape varieties and blends will be labeled with the state-wide designation, Niederösterreich.

Zweigelt is Carnuntum’s particular specialty, but it has often found blended with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Blaufrankisch. Percentages may or may not have to be adjusted to gain the DAC title. Sauvignon Blanc is perhaps the main omission from the permitted varieties.

The climate here offers Carnuntum a point of difference: the influence of the wide, sunny Pannonian Plain that covers much of Hungary. This gives a much warmer temperature than is usually associated with Austria.

Warming easterly breezes and high sunshine hours provide plenty of ripening opportunities for the grapes. However, the climate is still moderated by the presence of the Danube and the Neusiedlersee lake to the south (around which Neusiedlersee and Leithaberg DAC wines are made). Ripening happens slowly and evenly here, creating a balance between sugar and acidity in the grapes and, in turn, making balanced wines. 

Chenin blanc (known also as Pineau de la Loire among other names) is a white wine grape variety from the Loire Valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines, but only if the winemaker knows what he is doing, otherwise it can produce very bland, neutral wines .Outside the Loire it is found in most of the New World wine regions; it is the most widely planted variety in South Africa, where it was historically also known as Steen. The grape may have been one of the first to be grown in South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck in 1655, or it may have come to that country with Huguenots fleeing France after the Bartholomy massacre in 1685. In 1999, DNA analysis has shown that Chenin blanc has a parent-offspring relationship with the Jura wine grape Savagnin. Additional DNA evidence shows that Chenin blanc shares a sibling relationship with Trousseau and Sauvignon blanc (both grapes the likely offspring of Savagnin) which strongly suggest that it is Chenin blanc that is the offspring and Savagnin is the parent variety. Through Chenin’s half-sibling relationship with Sauvignon blanc, the grape is related as an aunt/uncle variety to the Bordeaux wine grape Cabernet Sauvignon which is the offspring of Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet Franc. Chenin Blanc provides a fairly neutral palate for the expression of terroir, vintage variation and the winemaker’s treatment. In cool areas the juice is sweet but high in acid with a full-bodied fruity palate. In the unreliable summers of northern France, the acidity of under ripened grapes was often masked with chaptalisation with unsatisfactory results, whereas now the less ripe grapes are made into popular sparkling wines such as Crémant de Loire. But it is South Africa which has put Chenin Blanc on the map again. The hot weather is ideal for Chenin and the varying climatic conditions produce anything from fat and bold wines in Stellenbosch and the Swartland to fine and elegant wines that originate from higher altitude areas like Elgin or close vicinity to the coast near Cape Agulhas. In the best vintages the grapes can be left on the vines to develop noble rot, producing an intense, viscous dessert wine which may improve considerably with age.

Nice and fattening as snacks but not welcomed as part of wine production. To produce red wine in mass and cheap the wine is not stored in wooden barrels that cost up to 1000 euros each but wooden chips that cost a couple of cents are thrown into the tank to simulate the typical barrique taste. You think that’s the cheapest way? No the real cheap-goats use an artificial flavouring oil that is poured into the “wine”. The result you can buy it at 5 € or cheaper in the supermarket. None of our wines is produced with chips.

For much of its history, a connection was assumed between Chardonnay and Pinot noir or Pinot blanc.  Pierre Galet who was the main expert in determining the origin of vines before DNA Testing, disagreed with this assessment, believing that Chardonnay was unrelated to any other major grape variety. Chardonnay’s true origins were further obscured by vineyard owners in Lebanon and Syria, who claimed that the grape’s ancestry could be traced to the Middle East, from where it was introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders. Another theory stated that it originated from an ancient indigenous vine found in Cyprus. The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavours. In cool climates such as Chablis, Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Costal Region in South Africa  the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations like Stellenbosch, more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavours with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes. This is further enhanced by storage in Barrique barrels that add tannins and vanilla flavours to the wine. Nowadays the peak of using oak in the production of Chardonnay has passed and one finds more and more unoaked Chardonnays that present their natural flavour spectrum.

A real Frenchman which copes well with heat and dry conditions Today it is mostly grown in Languedoc-Rousillion and is part of the famous Chateauneuf du Pape. In South Africa the grape was called Hermitage and when crossed with Pinot Noir, Voilà Pinotage was born.

But also lot of Cinsault is grown in South Africa, much of which is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. Of all the grape varieties planted in the Cape, Cinsault has claimed a significant “Cinderella” turnaround in recent history. Historically, it was favored for its heat tolerance and productivity to be used in bulk blends but winemakers of late have been experimenting with the grape. Many new labels can be found on the market offering crunchy red berry flavors at low alcohols, it is still a very useful blending component with other Rhone varietals, while also adding some fruity brightness to Cabernet Sauvignon.

When bottled on its own, Cinsault typically produces fruity and fresh wines meant to be drunk young. Bright red berry fruits like cherry, ripe strawberry, and red currant dominate, complimented by black pepper, violets, and mulling spices.

Colombard  is a white French wine grape variety that is the offspring of Chenin blanc and Gouais blanc. Colombard is also planted in South Africa, where it is known as Colombar. A lot of this is used in the production of brandy, but it is also used to make bulk wine. Just recently French producers mix it with Sauvignon Blanc to produce aromatic fresh terrace wines with strong acidity .

Cortese is a white Italian wine grape variety predominantly grown in the southeastern regions of Piedmont in the provinces of Alessandriaand Asti. 

One of the earliest documentation of the Cortese grape dates back to a 1659 report to the Marchesa Doria from the estate manager of the family’s villa in Montaldeo that states that all the vineyards were planted with Cortese and Vermentino. 

Wines made from Cortese have long been favored by restaurants in the southern neighboring port of Genoa, known best as Gavi di Gavi, as a wine pairing with the local seafood caught off the Ligurian coast. The Gavi di Gavi from La Solca made this grape famous. The wine’s moderate acidity and light, crisp flavors pair well with the delicate flavors of some fish. Cortese wines tend to be medium bodied with notes of limes and greengage. In vintages that are particularly cool, the wines can be aggressively acidic and lean, but winemaking techniques such as malolactic fermentation and oak barrel fermentation can temper that. Today it has become a base for industrial wines and one has to be careful and know what you are doing when you buy it. 

Crianza is the youngster of barrel stored Spanish wines. It is not a grape rather a quality indicator that is below the reserve.

A Crianza has to have a minimum of one year in casks and a few months in the bottle. For white wines, the minimum cask aging period is 6 months.

Crianza is perhaps the most accessible level of Rioja wines, At the Crianza level, the wines are most commonly aged in used oak, so the oak flavors are not as strong. The goal of Crianza is a high-quality daily drinking wine. 

It’s not too rich, but with Tempranillo’s natural high tannin it has quite a bit more body than Merlot

(Denominicatión de Origen) Is a Spanish declaration of quality. Today there are 54 regions in Spain that produce D.O. wines. D.O. wines have a seal on the bottle. D.O. regulates which grapes can be grown in that region, caps the yield of harvest and determines the methods in the making of the wine, and most important the amount of time the wine has to rest before it goes to market.

Not so long ago one would decanter only to separate the wine from a Sediment that deposited at the bottom of the bottle. Today this is done long before drinking to add oxygen to the wine to “open it up”. This is a tricky thing many wines don’t need that kind of airing and old wines can even turn bad when exposed to oxygen. We only decanter younger wines of very good quality as they respond favourably to the exposure of air. What do you do if you don’t have a decanter? Just fill the wine into a suitable vessel and fill it back into the bottle, that should be enough.

Also wine drinkers have their patron saints. One of the most famous ones is Dionysos a son of Zeus who was able to do what every wine drinker dreams of . Turning water into wine and that in huge quantities. But the klegend says that he was also producing wine in the traditional way and was known to consum fair amounts himself. By the way the well known roman god Bacchus is a synonym of dionysos

No this is not the lady with the wip but a red grape that was created in 1927 by crossing Pinot Noir and Portugieser. The Silvaner dominated region of Frankonia wanted to produce also some red wine and so this varietal was found. The varietal is  pest resistant and can overcome frost much better that the more sensitive Pinot Noir. Wines made from Domina are full in body with strong Tannins and dominat acidity. Well made wines produce dense aromas of Blackberries and Cherries and have gained their polace in grape heaven.

Plasmopara viticola is known as the grape downy mildew which is the most devastating fungus in the vineyard. It was identified by Mr. Schweinlitz in 1834 in the southeastern part of the US. How it came to Europe is not clear but its arrival had a devastating effect on wine growers all over Europe as the European plants didn’t have a resistance against the downy mildew as their American counterparts. The farmers lost 505 of their crops and started to graft American wines on their old roots as the fungus effects the foliage and the fruit rather then the wooden parts of the plant.

(Ice wine) is one of these interesting sweet specialties that one can find in the northern areas of wine production, depending on weather conditions. Unlike other sweet wines the sweetness is not a reaction of Botrytis but on the harvest conditions. By law the outside temperature during the harvest has to be below minus 7 degrees C, the colder the better. The frozen grapes are gently pressed and the ice stays with the marc ( skins) and only the highly concentrated juice will undergo fermentation. This high concentration of sugar is a real challenge for the yeasts. You often get only alcohol contents of 7 to 8 % with high remaining residual sugar, often more than 200g/litre which makes Coca Cola look like a diet drink in comparison. Important is the high acidity as that gives this wine unlimited storage time so often Riesling or Scheurebe are the preferred vines used for Eiswein.

Sounds a bit brutal and reminds of the last visit at the Dentist. But here it describes the separation of phenols and tannins from the grape skins into the wine during fermentation. During the fermentation the skins stay in the wine until the maker finds that enough colour and tannins are extracted and he separates the skins from the fermenting wine. This may takes weeks but is the natural way. As the grape skins swim on top of the fermenter he just lets the wine flow from the bottom of the tank into either another steel tank or wooden barrel for further processing. In the production of industrial wine this process is shortend by heating the must up to 85degrees and add lots of enzymes that do the job much quicker. But you will taste that short cut later.

In wine speech earthy is one of the most used terms to describe the sensorial characteristic of strong red wines. It associates flavours of Artichokes, Mushrooms, Truffles ,Potatoes, beetroot or newly plowed fields. Fantasy has no limits.

Is used as a fining agent, basically the same way as bentonite.

What you might first associate with an unpleasant visit to the dentist describes in the world of wine the process during fermentation when colour and flavours are transferred from the grape skin into the wine/ juice. This can last sometimes for month. In the production of industrial wine time is money and so enzymes are added and the wine is heated up to 85degrees C to speed up the process. Unfortunately you will taste that in the finished product. This is why we add the information of fermenting temperature in many of our wine descriptions.

Extract means in wine the non vaporising ingredients in wine like Minerals, wine-, apple- and lactic acids colour and tannins. But careful sometimes wines with high extract levels that suggest increased richness fool you as the sensation derives from sugars that have been left unfermented. Therefore the amount of the sugar free extracts should be the yardstick. But how should we know?

This is way to get all non liquid particles out of a wine before bottling so that the wine has a clear appearance. There are two ways to do this:

Bentonite and egg white

Fermentation is the process in which sugar is changed into alcohol and CO2 under the absence of oxygen.

This is the name of an approx.. 1000 litre oak barrel that is used in the Mosel region for hundreds of years to ferment wine. When you have the chance to visit a cellar in this region you find some which are 200 years and older the front sides beautifully decorated by wooden carvings. Inside there is often a coating of naturally formed minerals which only let minute amounts of air through the strives and no extraction of any kind of wooden flavours you find from Barrique barrels. This was the way to produce wine before stainless steel was invented.

Not everybody will lick at the lighter to get a more precise understanding of a flint stone aroma. In wine speech the term flinty notes describes smoky or stony notes in mainly dry wines that have been grown on volcanic terroir which might also include flint stone.

Fractionated pressing describes the separation of unfermented grape juice according to the pressure that was used during pressing. Generally one can say the less pressure was used the better the juice hence the wine. The first part is the “free run” no pressure is used only the weight of the grapes extracts the juice normally the first 100 to 150 litres. The wine has later more finesse and acidity and therefore increases the ageing potential of the wine. Most common in the production of champagne. The “free run” is used for the vintage Champagnes and is called the Coeur de Cuvée or a bit later Cuvée.The rest is called the Taille. Our Champagne is only produced from the Coeur de Cuvée or Cuvée. The Taille is then often sold under a second label or private label that you may find in the shelfs of supermarkets at prices that make you scratch your head.

Not every sugar is alike. In the juice you find fructose and glucose evenly. As Yeast can work better with glucose the fructose content in semi sweet and sweet wines is over proportionally high. Many people suffer from fructose intolerance and should avoid these wines. Unless the sweetness was created by adding unfermented juice to the wine after fermentation. Meanwhile more and more winemakers give an indication on the label or you ask your wine merchant.

Frühburgunder is a dark-red grape variety, found planted in the Ahr and Franken regions of Germany. A typical Frühburgunder red wine is low in acidity with soft tannins, a medium body and flavors of red berries and dried herbs. 

It is unclear as to exactly how Frühburgunder is related to Pinot Noir but it is likely that it is a natural mutation.

Frühburgunder ripens two-to-three weeks before Pinot Noir, which explains its name; Früh is German for “early”. Early ripening means the variety’s berries escape the onset of the harsh German winter.

The variety is particularly tempramental in the vineyard, yielding relatively low and with a high susceptibility to various pests and diseases. Wines made from Frühburgunder share a majority of Pinot Noir’s characteristics, sometimes to a point of indistinguishability. Therefore, the more recent, modest revival of Frühburgunder wine is credited to growers dedicated to the legacy of the variety. Especially as the cultivation of Pinot Noir less challenging. 

In taste and appearance it is very close to Pinot Noir.

Simple cuvées. Doesn’t have the best reputation, as it is the grape that creates the (in)- famous “Beaujolais Nouveau” that floods the market every November. This tasteless or even worse, Banana violet tasting wine is the main grape in the Beaujolais. In certain parts of Burgundy it was prohibited to grow because of its questionable quality but nowadays it is again used for simple cuvées. If you are lucky you might find a fresh young everyday wine with raspberry and cherry aromas. Some ambitious makers are trying to reduce yield and age in wood so the Gamy looses its sharpness and develops earthy notes with cherry flavours. Not a wine for us.

You cant take this literally, as none of the so called garage wineries are actually situated in a garage. Garage or Boutique wines are produced mainly manually in small quantities or from limited volumes of grapes. Some are even fermented in clay containers often no sulphur or filtration is used to differentiate the product from the mainstream. But more and more the term is just a marketing gimmick to create a certain image and justify higher prices.

This is a very controversial grape. You either love it or hate it. For some this opulent combination of Rose, marzipan litchi is just too much for others it is synonymous for a sensual wine. The spread of wines from this grape is very wide and ranges from light airy wines with high acidity to complex and alcohol rich wines with earthy nutty flavours as well as some sweet wines with intense aromas of tropical fruits and caramel. Alsace and the neighbouring Palatine in Germany are known for their Gewürztraminer wines and they are exported all move the world

In Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace in Luxemburg and even in parts of Switzerland Grand Cru Wines are the top of the quality scale. Unfortunately the quality scales differ from region to region. In Burgundy and Alsace the classification is ionly based on the location of the vineyard and its potential to bring out big wines. In Bordeaux single wine producers get the Grand Cru status and in some regions they are even spread from 1, the best to 5. In Champagne Grand Cru is awarded to single communities same as in Switzerland. 

Only in Luxemburg it is different. Here single wines are given the honor year by year after they undergo a stringent testing. So one year the wine is a Grand Cru but next time it might be middle of the range.

Grenache is the 4th most planted varietal in the world mainly around the Mediterranean Sea, especially in the south of France and in Spain. On its own Grenache produces youthful rosés and deep heavy reds and even big desert wines. The wines have a potential for high alcohol and are low in tannins which gives them a smooth Character. Therefore Grenache is often used in Cuvées in Rioja with Temparillo in the southern Rhône with Syrah Mourvèdre and Cinsault and is, with often over 80% a key grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In Sardinia where some say it originates from Grenache is called Cannonau Furore, in Catalunya’s Priorat Garnatxa.

This is not from the James Bond recipe of a martini but describes one of the most important steps in the production of Champagne. The wine that has been spiked with sugar and yeast is stored during the second fermentation in special racks. (When you come to our shop you will see these Champagne racks as we made our shelfs and tables from them). The bottles are turned methodically stirring up the yeast deposit in the bottle. For centuries this was done by hand. Nowadays computerised machines are used for this process with is called “Méthode Champenoise”. This label is banned in the EU as the French wine makers in Champagne fight tooth and nail to protect anything with the name Champagne in it.

There are many reasons why drinking wine can lead to headache, upset tummies and shin swelling. One of the main reasons is the intolerance to Histamines. This natural ingredient that acts as a skin building hormone and neurotransmitter. People that have a low tolerance for this hormone have to hold back on wine consumption. Best thing is to ask your winemaker or wine seller if the wine is controlled histamine free. Thankfully there are more and more of such wines available. But careful, you have to also cutdown on mold cheese while savouring wine as these cheeses are real Histamine bombs.

When we last visited Switzerland we had a local grown wine in Wallis which we didn’t even heard of. The area in which it is grown is very small so basically all of it is drunk locally. This strong red has high tannins and intensive aromas of black currants blackberries and some juniper. We tasted a lot of wood but were told that this didn’t come from new barriques but that this is the god given flavour. That was a big wine and needs aged meat with mushrooms.

If this phrase is even only uttered during a wine inspection the eyes of the controller will become slits and the mouth small lipped. The reason is that in the 70´s a huge fraud scheme was discovered mainly in Germany and Austria. A special government task force was

A wine bottle that holds 6 Litres of wine

Irrigation in viticulture is the process of applying extra water in the cultivation of grapevines. It is considered both controversial and essential to wine production. In the physiology of the grapevine, the amount of available water affects photosynthesis and hence growth, as well as the development of grape berries. While climate and humidity play important roles, a typical grape vine needs 25-35 inches (635-890 millimetres) of water a year, occurring during the spring and summer months of the growing season, to avoid stress. A vine that does not receive the necessary amount of water will have its growth altered in a number of ways; some effects of water stress (particularly, smaller berry size and somewhat higher sugar content) are considered desirable by wine grape growers. Irrigation in viticulture is the process of applying extra water in the cultivation of grapevines. It is considered both controversial and essential to wine production. In the physiology of the grapevine, the amount of available water affects photosynthesis and hence growth, as well as the development of grape berries. In many Old World wine regions, natural rainfall is considered the only source for water that will still allow the vineyard to maintain its terroir characteristics. The practice of irrigation is viewed by some critics as unduly manipulative with the potential for detrimental wine quality due to high yields that can be artificially increased with irrigation. It has been historically banned by the European Union’s wine laws, though in recent years individual countries (such as Spain) have been loosening their regulations and France’s wine governing body, the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO), has also been reviewing the issue.

If this phrase is even only uttered during a wine inspection the eyes of the controller will become slits and the mouth small lipped. The reason is that in the 70’s a huge fraud scheme was discovered mainly in Germany and Austria.

A special government task force was investigating what happened with the enormous amounts of liquid sugar that was bought by winemakers all over Germany. “This liquid sugar is for the bees” was the common explanation but it was mainly used to “improve” wine. By adding liquid sugar sour Table Wine was brought up to the heights of Spätlese or Auslese and then sold at these prices levels. 5,7 million litres of sugar were used in 1979 alone in this scheme. When all this came out it ruined the image of the German and Austrian wine industry for decades.

Thankfully today one can trace this by simple analytics so that scheme doesn’t exist anymore.


What sound really exotic is a very reasonable thing. The name doesn’t only stand for a well known Jewish King in the 10th century but also for the family friendly bottle of 5 litres wine. For decades this environmentally friendly package and waste reducing way of wine consumption has been tested mainly in Bordeaux. Who says that the French are behind in environmental protection?

The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the Judgment of Paris, was a wine competition organised in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant and his colleague, Patricia Gallagher, in which French judges carried out two blind tasting comparisons: one of top-quality Chardonnays and another of red wines (Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California). 

A Californian wine rated best in each category, which caused surprise and uproar in France as the French regarding themselves as being the foremost producers of the world’s best wines. Spurrier sold only French wine and believed that the California wines would not win.

Afterwards the judges tried to talk down the results but the French domination of the Burgundy and Bordeaux wines were broken. A 30th anniversary re-tasting on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean was organised by Steven Spurrier in 2006. As The Times reported “Despite the French tasters, many of whom had taken part in the original tasting, ‘expecting the downfall’ of the American vineyards, they had to admit that the harmony of the Californian cabernets had beaten them again.

Judges on both continents gave top honours to a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello cabernet. Four Californian reds occupied the next placings before the highest-ranked Bordeaux, a 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, came in at sixth.”

Here we don’t mean the protestant counterpart of the Maltese order but a new varietal that is very resistant against fungi and frost which right now becomes more and more important in the Biodynamic wine making. It has a variety of fruit aromas like Grapefruit and Pineapple. Even though it has a strong relation to Riesling the acidity is lower. Right now only a few clones are in use but this grape may have a future

Lowest level of quality-wines (Prädikatsweine) in Germany. The sugar levels have to be around 80 Oechsle that is approx. 160 grams of sugar in the non fermented juice. If totally converted the wine will have 10,6% alcohol.

Another grape that bis ruined by mass production. In student times Kadarka was sweet and gave a lot of bang for the buck. As this stuff came mainly from Bulgaria some thought that this was the socialist revenge for capitalism. But Kadarka is a serious grape variety and nowadays makers in Hungary and Serbia produce excellent full bodied high tannin reds that show nice cherry and plum aromas especially when stored in small barriques.

Only in 1969 Kerner got its approval as a registered grape variety in Germany. It is a cross between Riesling and Trollinger and was in great demand as it doesn’t need much in form of terroir to produce high yields. The wines are characterised by floral and stone fruit aromas, the quality improves a lot if yield reduction has taken place in the vineyard. During the last 10 years Kerner has lost ground to other varietals like Sauvignon Blanc but the dessert wines with pineapple and caramel notes are still in high demand.

Limestone can produce great wines, but it’s not the only choice. Limestone offers beneficial nutrients to grapes that make them grow better and produce sweeter grapes. It’s special because it retains moisture in dry weather, but also offers good drainage in cool weather.

Lipids play an important role in membrane structure, adaptation to stress, or as signalling molecules. They are also essential nutrients whose availability can vary depending on winemaking technology, with major effects on yeast and alcoholic fermentation.

The older readers might remember with horror the 2 litre straw mantled bottles of this cheap red with sight bubbles when spontaneous second fermentation occurred in the bottle wine which was the cornerstone of parties in the 70’s and therefore discarded when income and wine knowledge increased by it consumers. It was replaced by Prosecco but one can still Lambrusco in parts of Emiglia Romagna were it is the base for fruity seccos with berry aromas and sometimes one can even find reds with structured tannins and vibrant acidity.

Is the term for a wine bottle that holds 2 normal bottles i.e. 1,5 Litres. One size bigger is called Double Magnum i.e. 3 Litres

Also called second fermentation or biological Acid reduction. After the wine has gone through its fermentation and sits in the barrel to ripen, bacterias are still around. They feed on the malolactic acid and therefore transform it to lactic acid, same you have in milk. This is very often used in the production of red wine. It changes the taste profile away from a green apple taste and softens the harshness of a young wine. Next time you notice a buttery or „breadish“ taste the wine has probably gone through Malo. Malo is also used in some white wines like chardonnay were in others like Riesling or Chenin Blanc it can produce off flavours so many winemakers avoid Malo.

Malbec is a purple grape variety used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark colour and robust tannins, and are known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal. A popular but unconfirmed theory claims that Malbec is named after a Hungarian peasant who first spread the grape variety throughout France. French ampelographer and viticulturist Pierre Galet notes, however, that most evidence suggests that Côt was the variety’s original name and that it probably originated in northern Burgundy. The Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. It ripens mid-season and can bring very deep colour ample tannin, and a particular plum-like flavour component which adds complexity to claret blends. Sometimes, especially in its traditional growing regions, it is not trellised but is instead cultivated as bush vines (the goblet system). In such cases, it is sometimes kept to a relatively low yield of about 6 tons per hectare. Wines produced using this growing method are rich, dark, and juicy. As a varietal, Malbec creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. The grape is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay in some regions such as the Loire Valley. Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends. The varietal is sensitive to frost and has a propensity for shattering or colure. The grape’s true origins were discovered in 1996 with the use of DNA typing at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, by a team led by Dr. Carole Meredith. The DNA evidence determined that Cabernet Sauvignon was the offspring of Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc and was most likely a chance crossing that occurred in the 17th century. Prior to this discovery, this origin had been suspected from the similarity of the grapes’ names and the fact that Cabernet Sauvignon shares similar aromas with both grapes—such as the blackcurrant and pencil box aromas of Cabernet franc and the grassiness of Sauvignon blanc.

Merlot is a dark blue–coloured wine grape variety, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird, probably a reference to the colour of the grape. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. While Merlot is made across the globe, there tend to be two main styles. The “International style” favoured by many New World wine regions tends to emphasise late harvesting to gain physiological ripeness and produce inky, purple coloured wines that are full in body with high alcohol and lush, velvety tannins with intense, plum and blackberry fruit. While this international style is practiced by many Bordeaux wine producers, the traditional “Bordeaux style” of Merlot involves harvesting Merlot earlier to maintain acidity and producing more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh, red fruit flavours (raspberries, strawberries) and potentially leafy, vegetal notes. Researchers at University of California, Davis showed that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a half-sibling of Carménère, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The identity of the second parent of Merlot wouldn’t be discovered till the late 2000s when an obscure and unnamed variety, first sampled in 1996 from vines growing in an abandoned vineyard in Saint-Suliac in Brittany, was shown by DNA analysis to be the mother of Merlot. This grape, later discovered in front of houses as a decorative vine in the villages of Figers, Mainxe, Saint-Savinien and Tanzac in the Poitou-Charentes was colloquially known as Madeleina or Raisin de La Madeleine due to its propensity to be fully ripe and ready for harvest around the July 22nd feast day of Mary Magdalene. As the connection to Merlot became known, the grape was formally registered under the name Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. Through its relationship with Magdeleine Noire des Charentes, Merlot is related to the Southwest France wine grape Abouriou, though the exact nature of that relationship (with Abouriou potentially being either a parent of Magdeleine Noire or an offspring) is not yet known.

Powdery mildew is the most severe problem in todays wine growing. All green tissues of the grapevine are susceptible to powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator (Schw.) Burr.) infection. The disease appears as a whitish-grey powdery coating on the leaves or fruit caused by fungal mycelium and conidia on the surface of the plant. On leaves, initial symptoms appear as chlorotic spots on the upper leaf surface that soon become whitish lesions. Late in the season, small black round structures (chasmothecia) begin to appear on the white powdery lesions. On shoots, infected areas have the appearance of brown/black diffuse patches; on dormant canes, these patches are reddish brown. Severe leaf infections can cause distortion, drying, and premature drop. Infected berries can become covered with the fungus, may turn dark brown, shrivel, and split, and/or may not ripen properly. Berry infection may lead to further infection by spoilage microorganisms that reduce the quality of wine, even if the powdery mildew infection is mild.

Mourvèdre (also known as Mataro or Monastrell) is a red wine grape variety grown in many regions around the world originating in the Rhône and Provence regions of France,Today more and more Mourvèdre is planted in South Africa. In addition to making red varietal wines, Mourvèdre is a prominent component in “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blends. The variety is also used to make rosé and port-style fortified wines. Mourvèdre tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol. The style of wine produced from the grapes varies greatly according to where it is produced, but according to wine expert Jancis Robinson Mourvèdre wines often have wild game, or earthy notes to them, with soft red fruit flavours. According to wine expert Oz Clarke, young Mourvèdre can come across as faulted due to the reductive, sulphur notes and “farmyard-y” flavours that some wines can exhibit before those flavours mellow with age. The variety can be a difficult grape to grow, preferring “its face in the hot sun and its feet in the water” meaning that it needs very warm weather, a low leaf-to-fruit ratio but adequate water or irrigation to produce intensely flavoured fruit that is not overly jammy or herbaceous. The vines’ susceptibility to many viticultural hazards such as powdery and downy mildew as well as overly vigorous foliage can present additional problems for vine growers.

The Black Grape of Avola” appears to have been selected by growers near Avola (a small town in south east Sicily) several hundred years ago. Initially, it was confined to the southern tip of the island but more recently has spread throughout the island. Today Nero D’Avola is the most important red wine grape in Sicily and is one of Italy’s most important indigenous varieties. Its wines are compared to New World Shirazes, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavours. It also contributes to Marsala Rubino blends. The vine likes hot and relatively dry climates. The districts around Noto (above all Buonivini) and Pachino in the south of the province of Siracusa are reputed for the quality of their Nero d’Avola wines. The variety is also found here in Malta, and recently in South Africa too.

Well this is a tricky field. On one hand oxygen is kept away from wine as it destroys it on the other hand it enhances the flavours and breaks down the tannins just before we want to drink the wine because Oxygen allows the aromas in wine to become more present, making it easier to identify what exactly you’re smelling. This controlled oxidisation takes place when the wine ages in wooden barrels as some oxygen defunds through the staves into the wine. If, on the other side, the wine is exposed too long to oxygen while its being made or if too much oxygen gets into the bottle because of a faulty closure, the  wine’s flavours and aromas will flatten, and those nutty, Sherry-like notes replace the fresh flavours of the wine had and it becomes undrinkable.

When determining how much sugar is in the grape in Germany measure in Oechsel in the rest of the world in Brix. In the 1820s Oechsle produced the first single copies of the must balance (hydrometer) with a scale in degrees. He realised that if it would be possible to measure the sugar content of the must, it should be possible to better predict the development of the resulting wine. From the 1830s, Oechsle must balances were mass-produced. Later the degree of Oechsle became a quality measure and found entry into the german classification law. To be either a Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese or Beerenauslese the grapes have to have a certain amount of sugar in the pressed juice for Kabinett a minimum of 80 Oechsle. Every year at harvest times a commission is measuring the Oechsle in the vineyards to determine the start of the harvests.

White grapes are fermented with their skins like in red wine production. So all the good stuff that is in the skins stays and is not fed to the pigs. These phenols and tannins give the white wine a yellow orange color and they stabilize the wine so that no or only little Sulphur needs to be added. Now more and more conventual winemakers start to produce orange wine as this color has become a category by itself. They realize that all the color, yeast particles and other turbid substances give the wine character. Filtering them out means for these makers that the best lands on the cellar floor.

But be careful not every orange wine is a bio wine and not every bio wine is an orange wine as orange wine is just a different way of winemaking. So orange wines have their own style which is definitely not polished and but it sharpens your senses as it messes everything um that you learned about wine, maybe that’s why many of the so called “Wine Experts” are so critical towards orange wine. 

Perlage is a typical feature of sparkling wines with the formation of so many small bubbles ranging from the base of the glass upwards. Perlage is caused by the release of carbon dioxide formed in the second fermentation that takes place inside the bottle. The carbon dioxide present inside the bottle is dissolved due to the high pressure present. Once the bottle is opened, the carbon dioxide, undergoing instantaneous drop in atmospheric pressure, returns to the gaseous state, releasing itself through the formation of bubbles. The finer the sparkling wine , the more we see small, numerous and persistent bubbles that, rising, form the so-called chains, transmitting the perception of small and precious pearl necklaces, from which the name “Perlage” comes from. The careful observation of perlage is one of the criteria with which the sommelier evaluates the quality of a sparkling wine: if the bubbles are numerous, small, quick to rise on the surface in a straight and persistent way over time, it means that we are in the presence of a fine wine.

The old saying that putting a spoon into the open Champagne bottle will keep the Perlage in the bottle and the Champagne doesn’t turn flat is a myth. So drink up!

(Poly-)Phenols are made up from hundreds of chemical components that make the wine as the white wine wouldn’t be white and the red wine not red without them. Phenols are these things in the skin and pulp of the grape that determine the colour, mouthfeel and taste of the wine. Phenols are made up of flavonoids that include the anthocyanin and tannins which contribute to the colour and mouthfeel of the wine and the non-flavonoids that include the stilbenoids (anti fungal stuff that some claim improves your health)  and  acids.  

Also called push down. During fermentation of red wines the skins floating in the fermenters and swim to the top were they build a layer that is pushed down ever 4 hours so that the skins don’t dry out and extract more of the colour phenols, lipids and all that other good stuff that makes a good red wine. If you stand on a 30 com wide plank on top of a 3000 litre open fermentor and do the pigeage you realise it takes tough guys to produce soft wines.

Pinot Blanc is the least recognised grape of the burgundy vine family. In Germany it is called Weissburgunder and is often mistaken as Chardonnay. The wine grows best I. the northern parts of the Mosel, Ahr as too hotter climate reduces the acidity and makes the wine flat. A well-made Weissburgunder has aromas of melon, pear and yellow fruits combined with fine almond notes. When grown on limestone the profile shifts more to citrusy notes with slightly higher acidity. Then it is the companion of white asparagus which is traditionally served with liquid butter or the infamous Sauce Hollandaise both need a wine that cuts the fat with his high acidity. Even though it originated from France Pinot blanc is sometimes found in Alsace but even there it didn’t made the highest classification “Grand cru”. What a shame.

In Germany this grape was not very popular. A lot of mass wine was produced from this grape and gave it a bad name only with the invasion of Italian restaurants the Italian variant Pinot Grigio conquered the easy drinking restaurant market. Very few German producers like Phillip Kuhn know how to bring the best out of this grape creating aromas of ripe apples and almonds. Also the grapes have a redish grey colour the wine tis classified as white. Today this wine has some importance in Alsace where dry and sweet wines are made from the grape. Even tough it doesn’t have a great importance anymore it has an interesting history that helped to shape the wine industry in central Europe. Pinot Gris has been known since the Middle Ages in the Burgundy region, where it was probably called Fromenteau. It spread from Burgundy, along with Pinot noir, arriving in Switzerland by 1300. The grape was reportedly a favourite of the Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings imported to Hungary by Cistercian monks: the brothers planted the vines on the slopes of Badacsony bordering Lake Balaton in 1375. The vine soon after developed the name Szürkebarát meaning “grey monk.” In 1711, a German merchant, named Johann Seger Ruland (re)discovered a grape growing wild in the fields of the Palatinate. The subsequent wine he produced became known as Ruländer and the vine was later discovered to be Pinot Gris. Until the 18th and 19th century, the grape was a popular planting in Burgundy and Champagne but poor yields and unreliable crops caused the grape to fall out of favour in those areas. The same fate nearly occurred in Germany, but vine breeders in the early 20th century were able to develop clonal varieties that would produce a more consistent and reliable crop.

One of the truly noble wines and THE red grape in Burgundy. One winemaker told me that for him the Pinot Noir is like a “fickle woman, doesn’t want it too hot too cold too, wet too dry, but when you get it right there is no better one.” I don’t know about that but the aromas of cherries and strawberries are convincing. Most Pinot Noirs are produced in Barrique which adds herbal and earthy notes and makes a glass of Romanée-Conti an outstanding experience. In the last 10 years German winemakers have gained confidence in producing Pinot Noir called Spätburgunder in German. Because of richer soil compared to Burgundy their PN mis more opulent and less mineral especially the ones from the southern Palatine like the Pinot Times or the Petri Heiligenberg.

This is the indigenous grape of South Africa. In 1924 Pinot Noir was crossed with Hermitage, the old name of Cincault to create a vine that would withstand heat and drought( Hermitage) but deliver strong fruit aromas and complex tannins ( Pinot Noir). Today you find a wide range of Pinotages in South Africa, ranging from soft filigree wines like the Pinotage form Weathered Hands to strong bold Pinotages like the Tokara Reserve.

Primitivo is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. The variety is grown in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA analysis has revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag, as well as to the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Apulia (the “heel” of Italy), where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, where it became known by variations of a name applied to a different grape, likely “Zinfandel” from Austria. The grapes typically produce a robust red wine. The grape’s high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent. The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruit flavours like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone. The first documented use of the term Primitivo appears in Italian governmental publications of the 1870s. The name derives from the terms primativus or primaticcio, which refer to the grape’s tendency to ripen earlier than other varieties. This name’s appearance, 40 years after the first documented use of the term Zinfandel, was previously thought to suggest that Primitivo was introduced to Italy from across the Atlantic; however, this hypothesis has become unlikely since the discovery of the vine’s Croatian origin. We stock a range of Primitivo from Puglia, with the flagship Barbatto from Gioa di Colle which won 2017 “Best Red Wine from Italy “ by Gamberto Rosso. 16,5% without noticing it on the palate.

The amount of books that have been written about wine and quality can fill libraries.The German wine law defines quality by the amount of sugar the grapes have at harvesting. The lowest level is TABLEWINE Stay away from it, liquid juice can be added and it is mostly industrial wine. How else can you sell something like that for 2.99 € at the supermarket when the bottle cost you already 40 cents, the VAT has to be paid and the retailer wants his cut as well. Quality wine (Qualitätswein) begins with Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Icewine

On one hand this is self explaining but in most wine producing counties one must undergo government checks that the information on the label are complete and correct. Especially that the grapes come from the indicated region – remember last year the amount of Spanish grapes that converted overnight into French rosé?- Only after the government issues the certificate the wine gets a official number. Is it after that a good wine? Ou will still have to try out yourself.

Qvevri are large clay vessels used for the fermentation, storage and ageing of traditional Georgian wine. Resembling large, egg-shaped amphorae without handles, they are either buried below ground or set into the floors of large wine cellars. Qvevris vary in size: volumes range from 20 litres to around 10,000 litres; 800 litres is typical. 

Archaeological excavations in the southern Georgia uncovered evidence of grape pips and qvevris dating back to the 6th millennium B.C.. 

Artisanal families have passed down the knowledge of this ancient handicraft through the generations. The clay used to manufacture a Qvevri must be carefully chosen, as its characteristics will influence the wine’s mineral content. The process of making wine in Qvevri involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice, grape skins, stalks and pips into the Qvevri, which is then sealed. The juice is then left to ferment into wine for at least five to six months before being decanted and bottled. The pomace (mash of pips, skins and stalks) which remains is called chacha in Georgian. It is distilled into brandy which is also called chacha. The empty Qvevri is then washed, sterilized with lime and re-coated with beeswax, ready to be filled again.

Sounds better than “pump over “but means the same. Red berries are fermented whole with the skins, seeds and the juice to extract color and taste. During this process the skins form a layer on top of the fermenter as the co2 that is created during fermentation is pushing the skins to the top of the vessel. Therefore this layer of skins has to be flooded with the juice several times a day so that it does not dry up which would change the taste of the wine. Industrial wine is pumped over mechanically, quality producers do this at least 4 times a day by hand which gives less stress to the fermenting wine. Therefore these winemakers the process push down. 

This is THE grape that most associate with Germany. Unfortunately the successful introduction of Liebfrauenmilch and Blue Nun have made many people in Malta believe that Riesling is sweet. 

Riesling is the grape that like no other represents the terroir on which it is grown in the taste. As it is ripening late it is grown mostly in the northern part of the worlds wine belt around the 52 degree parallel. Rieslings that are grown on sandstone, slate or limestone will have distinctive different flavor profiles.

What characterizes Riesling the most is the fascinating balance between sweetness and acidity but within different regions the taste will differ enormously. Rieslings grown on poor are characterized by strong minerality, residual sweetness with fine Aromas of green apple, peach and petrol whereas late harvested dry Rieslings develop a virtual cocktail of fruit flavors like Pineapple, Maracuja Litchi and other exotic fruits.

As Rieslings attract Botrytis many dessert wines are produced from that grape with extremely baroque flavors and a nearly unlimited storage life. 

100 years ago German Rieslings were the most valued wines in the world. We got hold of the Wine list of the Walldorf Astoria from 1894. Châteaux Yquem 4$ per bottle, Forster Ungeheuer Riesling 6$ per bottle. 2 lost world wars and the positioning of German Wine as mass producers of industrial wine ruined that reputation. Since the 90´s this has changed, more and more producers reduce yield in the vineyards and concentrate on the old production methods to produce world class wines again.

Still today Germany is the most important region for Riesling but impressive wines are also produced in Austrian and the Alsace.

Roupeiro also known as Siria is one of the longest grown autochthonous white wine grapes in Portugal. Originally it was grown in the north of Portugal and around 1500 also in Castile and Andalusia where it has nowadays vanished. Growers appreciate the variance of the bouquet but fear the danger of fast oxidation. Roupeiro also looses its acidity early which doesn’t give wine a long storage life. Roupeiro is mainly used in Portuguese Cuvées

Roussanne is a white wine grape grown originally in the Rhône wine region in France, where it is often blended with Marsanne. It is the only other white variety, besides Marsanne, allowed in the northern Rhône appellations of Crozes-Hermitage AOC, Hermitage AOC and Saint-Joseph AOC. In the southern Rhône appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC it is one of six white grapes allowed, where it may be blended into red wines. Roussanne is also planted in various wine-growing regions of the New World, such as California, Washington, Texas, South Africa and Australia as well as European regions such as Crete, Tuscany and Spain. The berries are distinguished by their russet colour when ripe—roux is French for the reddish-brown colour russet, and is probably the root for the variety’s name. The aroma of Roussanne is often reminiscent of a flowery herbal tea. In warm climates, it produces wines of richness, with flavours of honey and pear, and full body. In cooler climates it is more floral and more delicate, with higher acidity. In many regions, it is a difficult variety to grow, with vulnerability to mildew, poor resistance to drought and wind, late and/or uneven ripening, and irregular yields. Wines made from Roussanne are characterised by their intense aromatics which can include notes of herbal tea. In its youth it shows more floral, herbal and fruit notes, such as pear, which become more nutty as the wine ages.

A wine bottle that holds 9 Litres

Frankonias pride and joy. It is thought that the grape came to Germany after the Thirty Years War as there is a record of Sylvaner from Austria being planted at County of Castell in Franconia on 5 April 1659. So Germany celebrated the 350th anniversary of Silvaner in 2009. Its name has been taken to be associated with either Latin silva (meaning woods) or saevum (meaning wild), and before modern ampelography it was sometimes assumed that this variety had a close relationship with wild vines. After the war Silvaner was produced in huge quantities and was the backbone of the infamous Liebfrauenmilch a product that gave the German wine industry the rest. With that demise also Silvaner went done and no one was touching it. Only in recent years young winemakers rediscovered this grape and show that excellent wines con be produced when yields are kept low and special care is given during the process. Today I find that new exciting wines are produced from this grape. These new wines are more elegant with soft citrus and stone fruit notes with hints of melons. The prominent acidity leaves sometimes the feeling of a slight fizz on the tongue which adds to the fresh. Appearance.

Sauvignon Blancs origin lies in the loire valley where it is still today the dominant grape but internationally it is dominated by New Zealand were it has a share of over 85% of the total wine production. These wines are cold fermented that gives the wine exotic fruit aromas which have almost become synonymous for Sauvignon Blanc. The classic Sauvignon Blanc is not good for sensitive olfactory nerves. It can be quite sharp and penetrant and is even in the official “wine language” described as cat piss. But this Aroma shock give way to an extraordinary array of aromas of gooseberries, red currents pepper asparagus and herbs to freshly cut grass. Also in South Africa Sauvignon Blanc has grown a lot in production and style. The SA Sauvignon Blanc cover the full range from more Loire style, minerality driven Life from Stone from Springfield to a full bodied Saronsberg SB from the Swartland to the cold climate New Zealand style like the Tokara Elgin SB or the Ghost Corner from Cederberg.

This cross of Riesling and Bukett was first done by Georg Scheu in the early 1919’s. The reason was that one wanted to get a more early ripening grape that had the characteristic and the finesse of a Riesling and the sugar content of a Bukett vine as German winemakers always struggled with the low sugar content and high acidity in their grapes. Harvesting later to give the grapes more time to ripen was dangerous as a change in weather could ruin the whole crop. Nowadays Scheurebe has a place on its own as a recognised varietal that produces complex wines with subtle aromas of black currant and grapefruit. It is also used in the production of dessert wines or ice wines

This is one of the big grapes t for the production of desert wines in the Bordelaise and other French regions. Its thin skins make it receptive to Botrytis the base of great sweet wine. Very often Semillon is used in a cuvée with Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadelle to add sweetness and a thicker structure as well as complexity. Some producers in South Africa produce 100% Semillons that are dry very complex with herbal and Vegetable notes like Groote Post or Boekenhoutskloof with acacia, linden blossom some honey and a touch of oak and very dry.

Shiraz, is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world. There were lots of stories of where Syrah came from (some believed It originated in Iran in the city of Syrah) but in 1999, Syrah was found to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880. The style and flavour profile of wines made from Syrah are influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown with moderate climates (such as the northern Rhone Valley and parts of the higher altitude Areas in South Africa) tending to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of liquorice, anise and earthy leather. This is the case of many of the South African Shiraz. In many regions the acidity and tannin levels of Syrah allow the wines produced to have favourable ageing potential. Since the Swartland Revolution in the 90’s South African Shiraz have internationally become great contenders for the best wines. In 2008 The Gravel Hill from Hartenberg won Best Shiraz Du Monde as the first foreign wine in this prestigious competition. The 2015 Porceleinberg from Boekenhoutskloof followed suit and we are happy to secure some bottles.

Slate comes in different colors, mostly red, blue and gray, and it plays a huge part in the flavors of the wine, especially in Riesling

Being a continental climate, the Mosel is subject to light or heavy, spontaneous rains at all times of the year.  Being one of the most northern growing regions in the world, the Mosel is one of the coolest.  Vineyards here depend greatly on the slate to capture the heat of the sunlight during the day, and transfer the heat energy into the soil long after the sun has gone down.  The reflection of the river also plays a supporting role in heat capturing.

Since the river twists and turns almost backward on itself, the vineyards all face different directions, north, south, east, west.  It has been said that the south facing vineyards get the most sunlight and the fruit ripens the best here.  The other vineyards will more heavily depend on the Mosel reflection and the warm slate to ripen as slate stores the warm of the sun during daytime and gives it off at night. That allows the grapes to stay longer in autumn so that they can benefit from the late September sun.

In addition, the slate coverage also prevents water from slipping between the cracks and reaching the soil, so as much as it rains there, the soil can stay relatively dry.  This also forces the vines to dig through the slate soil, tapping into all the minerality the soil has to offer.  The vines’ roots wind themselves around the rocky subsoil, literally curling wrapping themselves around the slate rocks buried beneath the surface when the rocks get in the pathway of growth.

So, different slate, like different types of soil, must contribute different flavor profiles to the wines right?

Blue slate typically have a reserved and refined aroma, presenting a structured and noble wine, but with no lack of finesse. Sometime it is also refered to as grey slate.

Red Slate
is a softer slate  and contains much more loam than the blue slate, and have far less rocky density. It is also often found in the Mosel Valley making it the second most common soil type in the area . Its ability to hold water is better for older vines. Red slate soil are also slightly less nutritious and vine roots have a much easier time finding the water supply as the soils are soft and easy to navigate without the dense rocky substance you find in blue slate. With it’s dark color, red slate soils are also able to attract heat well.  The iron-infused slate leads to distinct aromas and minerality but also yellow fruit like peaches and exotic fruits like pineapple.  The Ürziger Würzgarten vineyard is a famous example of red slate and the GG (Grand Cru) from Dr. Loosen is stocked at Winemerchants.

No not a wine creation from Yves but a grape named after St. Laurentius who died as a Martyr and was the first CFO of the roman catholic church in 250 A.D. DNA profiling indicates that St. Laurent is an offspring of Pinot Noir conceived with an anonymous second parent, but this remains unconfirmed. 

But why is the generally acceted country of origin Austria given all the geographic and historic references indicating that it originates from Bordeaux? One theory is that an earlier conception of St. Laurent developed in Bordeaux and made its way from France via Alsace and Germany into Austria and the Czech Republic. It is certain, however, that Saint-Laurent is a parent of Zweigelt the most grown red grape in Austria.

But let’s talk about the wine.

Saint-Laurent  is traditionally produced as a dry red wine, although there are sparkling, dry rosé and sweet styles. In the glass, its color can range from having a pale red berry or garnet to dark purple or ruby color. The wine is intensely aromatic, developing an extraordinary bouquet of roses, violets, cherries, raspberry, cardamom, tar, sweet cigar tobacco, graphite, and bramble.

In terms of taste, St. Laurent presents flavors of Morello cherry, raspberries, anise, leather, and clay with a harmonic ratio of acid and tannins and a balanced mouthfeel. It ends with lush dark fruit, a bit on the tangy side, and a perceivably structured, yet silky length, resulting in a wine that is savory, intense, and toes a fine line between delicate and savage.

Thanks to the success of the variety for producers in Germany’s Pfalz region and in terms of wine quality and financial return, Saint-Laurent’s reputation is on the rise, as are plantings. While it remains a fairly obscure variety, producers in cooler winegrowing regions in the New World are also beginning to experiment with this grape like Canada and New Zealand. 

Saint Laurent wines pair well with baked pickled horse or beef marinated with juniper berries, cloves and nutmeg in Germany called “Sauerbraten”, Blackened pork with apple sauce or barbecued beef ribs with caramelized onions.

This grape grows in the south of France and is a real tannin monster. You rarely find a wine that is made only from Tannat as its astringency makes it nearly undrinkable. It is mainly used in Cuvées with Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec as it adds flavours of eucalyptus, herbs and forest berries. Outside France some Tannat is grown in South African but more in Uruguay where it is called Harriague.

Tonneau is a wooden barrel that has double the size of a Barrique. Both barrels can be made from different woods but most common is oak. In the inside the barrels are toasted that means inside the barrel a fire is lit so that the surface is blackened. The thickness of the staves depends on what kind of wine you want to produce. For longer ripening wines one takes thicker staves . Barriques can hold 225 litres and the stave thickness varies between 25 and 30 Millimetre. In a Barrique the ration surface and contact with the wine is higher than in a Tonneau which holds between 500 and 700 Litres of wine. The thickness of the staves in a Tonneau is also thicker than those of a Barriques and they vary between 35 and 40 Millimetre. Tonneau are used for wines with a longer ripening period as the oxygen flow is slower ( thicker staves) and the release of wood tannins is slower.

Trebbiano is a name applied to a confusing group of white wine grape varieties originating in Italy. Current DNA research suggests that many are distinct varieties with distant or unproven relationships to other grapes in the group. Hence “family” is not the best way to describe them.

They do share some traits; the most basic one being that they are all white varieties. Bunches tend to be long and large, the berries are usually late ripening, and the vines are vigorous and adaptable to a range of terroirs.

The origin of the Trebbiano name itself is unclear. Pliny writes of vini tribulanum in what is now Campania in the south of Italy, though in his time wines with the same name were also known in Tuscany and Umbria. Others point to the Trebbia river in Emilia-Romagna (where one of the Trebbianos is still grown) or various villages around Italy with similar-sounding names.

Primary flavours are : White peach, Lemon, green apple seashell and apple

Ugni blanc is an Italian wine grape, better known as Trebbiano one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. It gives good yields, but tends to yield undistinguished wine. It can be fresh and fruity, but does not keep long. It has many other names reflecting a family of local subtypes, particularly in Italy and France. Its high acidity makes it important in Cognac and Armagnac productions.

The varietal may have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, and was known in Italy in Roman times. A subtype was recognized in Bologna in the thirteenth century, and as Ugni blanc made its way to France, possibly during the Papal retreat to Avignon in the fourteenth century.

We’ve always been told that there are four basic tastes: salty, sweet, bitter and sour. However, there is a fifth taste, umami (pronounced oo-MOM-ee). It sounds more exotic and mysterious than the other four, and in a way, it is. Umami has been variously described as tasty, meaty, savoury or just plain „delicious.” Umami was isolated by Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda in 1907. Ikeda wondered if the seaweed that gave flavour to a common Japanese broth could do the same for other foods. He discovered that the active ingredient in the seaweed was glutamic acid. Glutamic acid, or glutamate, had a taste that was distinctive from sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Ikeda named it “umami” (from the Japanese words umai or “delicious” and mi or “essence”). Ikeda then created monosodium glutamate (MSG), which could provide umami as a seasoning.

VDP The Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter e. V. (VDP) is an association of around 200 German wine producers, whose members produce their wines according to stricter requirements than the German Wine Act stipulates. It was founded in 1907 The members undertake to allow regular inspections to ensure full compliance for that they can use the logo, a stylistic eagle with grapes on the neck of their bottles. The classification of the VDP is based on a private law statute for the Prädikat wine estates of Germany. This statute defines the quality of a wine according to the “terroir”, meaning that the origin is connected to the quality. The terms “Erste Lage” and ” Grosses Gewächs” are private labels of the VDP and not authorised under wine law, except for the classification “Grosses Gewächs” in the Rheingau region. The vineyard is the definitive quality criterion for the VDP wine estates. The aim of the VDP classification is to highlight the value of the best sites in Germany, to ensure the preservation of a unique cultural landscape, to strengthen the profile of Germany’s best dry wines and to emphasise the importance of the traditional naturally and nobly sweet Prädikat wines. It follows the motto “the narrower the origin, the higher the quality”.

Vigonier is a white wine grape variety. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhône Valley. It can be found also in Cape Winelands in South Africa. In some wine regions, the variety is co-fermented with the red wine grape Syrah where it can contribute to the colour and aroma of the wine. Like Chardonnay, Viognier has the potential to produce full-bodied wines with a lush, soft character. In contrast to Chardonnay, the Viognier varietal has more natural aromatics that include notes of peach, pears, violets and minerality. However, these aromatic notes can be easily destroyed by too much exposure to oxygen, which makes barrel fermentation a winemaking technique that requires a high level of skill on the part of any winemaker working with this variety. The potential quality of Viognier is also highly dependent on viticultural practices and climate, with the grape requiring a long, warm growing season in order to fully ripen but not a climate that is so hot that the grape develops high levels of sugars and potential alcohol before its aromatic notes can develop. The grape is naturally a low-yielding variety, which can make it a less economically viable planting for some vineyards. Some Vigonier’s, especially those from old vines and the late-harvest wines, are suitable for ageing, most are intended to be consumed young. Viognier’s more than three years old tend to lose many of the floral aromas that make this wine unique. Young and well made Vigonier’s have strong aromas of peach and dried apricots and the highly aromatic and fruit forward nature of the grape allows Viognier to pair well with spicy foods such as Thai cuisine.

Vinho Verde, means green wine and when I should name a classic summer wine this would be it. Vinho Verde is produced in Portugal in the DOC area that also carries its name. The green doesn’t refer to the colour of the wine, Vinho Verde is produced as a white red and rosé but to the colour of the grapes at harvest as they are not fully ripened but green in the meaning of not ripe. The grapes have therefore still a high acidity and produce dry fresh zesty wines which are low on alcohol and should be drunk before the year has ended.

winery is situated in Burgenland in the wine growing area ‘Burgenland’. The location has many advantages. Our vineyards are protected from harsh winds by the nearby ‘Leithagebirge’ and enjoy a high amount of sunshine due to the pannonian climate. In addition, the composition of the local soil makes the cultivation of many different grape varieties possible.

The Kaiser family has been producing top quality wines for four generations. The historic vaulted cellar, which dates back to 1492 and once belonged to Prince Esterházy, has recently been lovingly restored by Rudolf and Judith. It is a reflection of our family’s long history.
The winery and vineyards cover an area of 28 hectares. Around 80% of our vineyards are planted with rustic red grape varieties such as Blaufränkisch and Burgundian varieties. The entire winemaking process is carried out in a traditional vaulted cellar which was built in the 15thcentury and has recently been lovingly restored and equipped with modern winemaking technology. The original vaults have been preserved and create a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere for both wine and taster. Recent developments in winemaking methods and equipment have made winemaking a gentler and more controlled process.
Our commitment to quality, flair for winemaking and passion is the perfect recipe for high quality white and red wines that meet organic standards. It is our respect for traditional methods combined with the use of modern winemaking technology which enable us to produce wines which show expressiveness, finesse and elegance.

See Pinot Blanc

is a new Austrian grape created in 1922 by Fiedrich Zweigelt (1888–1964), who later became Director of the Federal Institute and Experimental Station of Viticulture, Fruit Production and Horticulture (1938–1945). Zweigelt is a crossing between St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. After the war there was quite a controversy around this varietal as Friedrich Zweigelt had strong Nazi ties. Widely planted in Austria, in the Czech Republic it is known as Zweigeltrebe and is the third-most widely planted red-grape variety, comprising approximately 4.7% of total vineyards. It grows in most of the wine regions in Slovakia. Zweigelt tends to ripen 1–2 weeks earlier than Pinot Noir, and has very large heavy clusters of dark blue-almost-black grapes. The wine tends to be darker in colour than Pinot Noir grown in the same area, and produces a larger crop than Pinot Noir. It has cherry aromas with spicy undertones and a vivid acidity and it is mostly drunk young. Produced and stored in barrique it can develop great ageing potential and can hold up to strong foods like oxtail stew.

See Primitivo, this is how the Americans call the Primitivo grape