• Simon Reilly

A busman holiday in Baden part 1 - Weingut Danner

I was skimming through my little black tasting book this week and realised I'd been a bit lazy over the summer and had not written up a lot of stuff I tasted when in Germany on holiday.

I did write an article for Jancis Robinson about the 1782 Club of Durbach, which talked about the excellent Mosel cloned Riesling I tasted at Schloss Staufenberg. But before I got to Schloss Staufenberg I dropped in on Alexander Danner to taste through his excellent and extensive range of wines.

The town of Durbach about 40 minutes drive from Baden Baden. It is a lovely town with lots of good quality producers, an excellent co-operative and a posh hotel with Michelin starred restaurant attached. Had I more than a few hours I imagine it would be a pretty good place for a gourmet wine tasting weekend. It is certainly logged in my memory bank for a future trip.

My first stop in Durbach was Weingut Danner, a smallish family estate run by Alexander Danner. They have 6.5 hectares in total, which equates to about thirty thousand bottles a year. The estate has been in the family since the 1700s but before he took over in 2006 they didn't make wine on the estate, selling the grapes to the local co-operative instead.

Here are some pictures of the pretty estate, some pretty steep vineyards too..

When I arrived Alexander didn't hang about, we got straight down to tasting the wines, and what wines they were. The quality and consistency across the range was superb. A good sign is that I bought a bottle of each of the thirteen wines I tried.

Here is Alexander showing the wines;

He makes three wine "types", which he notes on the label (see the Type 3 Pinot Noir above). These relate to the oak treatment. Type 1 is aged in steel vats, Type 2 in large German oak barrels and Type 3 in small old French oak barriques.

Here are my notes on the wines, all of which are highly recommended. I'd say the stand outs were the rose and the chardonnay, just because they were a bit different.

1. Sekt (NV) - his sparkler is a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Muller. He makes about 3000 bottles a year. Really fine mousse and aromas of orange peel and peaches. Flavours of apple and spiceon the full-ish palate. Delicious. €15.

2. Riesling Type 1, 2014 - Peach nose, really fine with a full on mineral kick and a dry finish of lemon and grapefruit. Amazing value at €9

3. Riesling Type 2, 2013 - Oak obvious on the nose and the palate is clearly fuller than the Type 1. Flavours of straw, minerals and grapefruit. You can sense the granite soild on the minerally finish. €14

4. Riesling Type 3, 2014 - Really refined wine. Smooth throughout and the minerals shine through again. A heady combination of tropical fruit on the nose salty minerals in the middle and lemon and grapefruit on the finish. €26

5. Froh Natur, 2014 - meaning "happy nature" in German this is his nod to the natural wine movement I think but he does use a touch of sulphur on bottling. A cuvee of Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay. Lychees on the nose, balanced with fresh limes on the palate. At only 11% alcohol this would be perfect for a summer lunch. €10

6. Grauburgunder Type 1, 2014 - Pinot Gris. This has nice sweetness on the palate but finishes with limey acidity. Quite serious for this level, much more rounded than the Riesling Type 1. €9

7. Grauburgunder Type 2, 2014 - Oak only really apparent on the long finish. Toasted notes on the nose with lemon curd flavours. Nicely balanced wine. €14

8. Weissburgunder Type 2, 2013 - Pinot Blanc. A bit more minerals and acidity than the Pinot Gris. More grapefruit on the finish as well as some lovely apricot flavours in the mid palate. €14

9. Exot Rose, 2015 - 100% Pinot Noir with 1 day of skin contact, this is what I'd call a serious rose. Really light in colour. Very subtle flavours of wild berries and lime, not a typical rose but absolutely delicious. €10

10. Chardonnay 2013 - Planted in 2001, the first year that the German government allowed Chardonnay to be grown in Germany. Sweet almost floral nose. Really pretty fruity pear flavour with a lovely light texture. Sweetness but balance on the long finish. I served the bottle I bought there at a dinner with friends back in London and it went down a storm. €16

11. Pinot Noir Type 2, 2012 - earthy nose, a little reticent now. FLavours of minerals and dark cherries. Nicely balanced acidity on the finish. Requires patience. €13

12. Pinot Noir Type 3, 2010 - A very good vintage according to Alexander, this is from his oldest vines which produce very small berries which gives greater concentration. This has flavours of slightly sweet cherries and polish and has a bit of forest floor whiff to it. Slightly drying finish. €26

13. Type 3 "Cuvee", 2010 - a blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Mitos and Acolon. If you haven't heard of the last two varieties, you are not alone, I hadn't either. Both were created in the 1970s at a grape breeding institute in Weinsberg in the Württemberg wine region of Germany. This has a porty nose and a hint of briney olives. Nice plumpness and a long sweet finish. The wine breeding school did well!

I am unsure about the availability of these wines in the UK. Petersfield Wines did import some of the Danner wines in the past but I am not sure if they still do as they did not answer my phone calls. I hope someone else picks them up soon because these are beautifully made, interesting wines which should be better known.