BLOGS/CORRESPONDENTS FINE WINE Fine Wine GUIDE Wine and Food Diary of Giles MacDonogh

A Little Taste of Germany

Written by Giles MacDonogh

A Little Taste of Germany

Posted: 1st September 2021

I haven’t been this immobile since 1985, when I had just returned from six-and-a-half years in Paris. In this poor, dull, summer month of August (where the sun has been absent, scorching vines and flesh in the Mediterranean Basin) I have attended a pleasant family lunch in the Thames Valley and been on two short excursions to Ely and Norwich. Although I have been to Cambridge many, many times, I have never gone the full ten miles to Ely, a pretty little city in the shadow of a massive cathedral. At last we had a good reason to do this.

Norwich is another kettle of fish. There is a cathedral in its close like Ely, certainly, but also thirty-five mediaeval churches lying within the city’s largely extant walls and lots and lots of ancient buildings in between.  Our initial reaction to Norwich was anger, however. We were denied access to the cathedral nave because that plaster cast of a diplodocus that used to be in the Natural History Museum in South Ken had been fetched up for the amusement of little Norvicians. I had stupidly put the helter-skelter and miniature golf courses out of my mind, together with all the other extraordinarily desperate schemes the Church of England has dreamed up to make people spend money in its cathedrals. When I was told that the only way I would be able to see the nave was to join the gaggle of ‘Dippy’ worshippers. I bit my lip, but my thoughts were less than Christian.

I recovered. Norwich is mostly a lovely city. The purpose of our going had nothing to do with wine or food, but we did find first rate pork pies in the great market square, and bacon rolls; and we stopped for a pint at the sixteenth century Mischief pub and even had a Chinese meal at a friendly place in an otherwise bleak corner in the north of the city, but significantly, still within the walls.

The great event as far as wine was concerned was the arrival of twenty-four 50cl bottles from the VDP in Mainz: my chance to taste the latest GGs or Grosse Gewächse (grand crus) from Germany. It should be borne in mind that the big tasting in Wiesbaden provides tasters with the chance to review around 450 wines over two days, and that twenty-four wines is nothing more than a snapshot; but these are hard times, and many of us would find it difficult to get to Wiesbaden, so the mountain was obliged to go to Mohammed.

So, what were the highlights? The following are all Riesling wines, mostly from the 2019 harvest, but with a few 2018s. All received my top rating of three stars.

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Giles MacDonogh

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