The recent Fabulous Favourites Festival has had one peculiar side-effect on me and this blog. I had not written about wine for ages, but after a little warm-up exercise and my event entry, I noticed I wanted to go on and have an excuse to write about wine again. Actually, why should I need an excuse on my own blog? My tasting notes are not going to be as good as those of the dedicated wine bloggers out there, but having had the proper wine tasting training I think I could still manage to put together something that is not completely meaningless.
This is also the chance to launch a new category dedicated to Jena and surroundings. Although the area around here is not the centre of gastronomic life I would like it to be, it still has quite a bit to offer. I used to have the occasional local post some time ago, but that slowed to a halt way back. Time to pick up that thread again.
Back to wine for a little introduction on east German wine: after the fall of the Berlin Wall the eastern German wine industry has somewhat struggle to meet the standard of its western colleagues, catching up with modern oenological advances and marketing, yet things are changing. The best producers of the area are slowly being recognised nationally and local wine is finally earning some due respect. There are two protected Denominations of Origin areas (Anbaugebiete in German) in the east, Sachsen, located around Dresden, and the Saale Unstrut region, starting only a few kilometres north of Jena and centred around Naumburg and Freyburg.
Living so close to the latter, I have had quite a few chances to taste a number of the local wines, predominantly the dry ones produced as Qualitätswein or Kabinett according to the German wine classification. Many of these are perfectly fine wines, in a simple and immediate way, but none has ever particularly rocked my world. Talking to another wine-aficionado in a local shop a few months ago, I was told to try the wines made by Weingut Pawis, hinting that these might chance my opinion of the local tipple. Pawis is by far the producer with the best reputation around here, getting good press and prizes with every vintage. The winery itself is pretty young: it opened in 1990 with only half an hectare of vineyard and has since then slowly expanded: the cellar that is used today only became operative in 1999.
Finding those wines took forever. In Italy or France it is quite customary for wine shops to have a special section dedicated to local productions, usually containing both the well known names and a few rarer gems. Here instead, for reasons I find unfathomable, you will be lucky if you find a shop selling more than five different local wines. It is really a missed chance for promoting local wine; furthermore, no one seemed to carry the wines I was looking for among those few bottles. I hit luck in a small shop in Gotha a few weeks back and so finally I managed to find a bottle of one of Pawis' whites.
(While writing this post I found out that Pawis sells its wine on location,not only during the week,but also on week-ends, meaning I would have saved a lot of wait simply by buying there directly. If you are around the area buying from the source is definitely the best option.)
Tasting notes: Naumburger Sonneneck 2004 Saale Unstrut Riesling trocken QbA, Weingut Pawis.
This 2004 Naumburger Sonneneck dry QbA Riesling is one of the "basic" wines in Pawis' line, which has in the Freyburger Edelacker wines its cru of excellence. Still, it is a very pleasant and typical Riesling, pale lemon in colour, with aromas of grapefruit, green apple and a little peach followed by a slate note. It has a fresh and mineral taste with a meduim-long finish and a pleasant lemony aftertaste.
The Naumburger Sonneneck 2004 QbA Riesling might lack the complexity of the best wines from this producers (as soon as I taste them, I'll let you know if this is the case), but it is still a wine with some class and finesse, which puts it well above the other Saale Unstrut wines I had tried till now. I am looking forward to tasting more of the Weingut Pawis collection.