Tag Archives: wine travel

Salwey in Grauburgunder Heaven

High, high up in the beautiful Grauburgunder heaven hovers Salwey. Super dry wines light as the most slender summer clouds. Unfortunately they rise almost out of reach for us Swedish consumers, but everyone who fancy a trip to Baden (and who doesn’t?) can fill the boot with Grauburgunder from the winery in Oberrotweil.

With origin in the slopes of Kaiserstuhl, Konrad Salwey’s vines can almost look across the river Rhen to Alsace where their relatives carry the name Pinot Gris. Those are the ones we see as the lower clouds in this grape heaven. Not that we don’t like Alsace Pinot Gris. We are happy to let well chosen wines refresh our palates. But as they often are heavy of residual sugar, it is not that strange that they descend to lower height. It is another World. In Sweden, the monopoly feeds us with a range of wines that, although marketed as dry, normally have around 10 grams/litre.

Weingut Salwey is one of the bigger producers around Kaiserstuhl. Big, but also a member of VDP with Grand Cru-plots  in the vineyard portfolio. Renowed for his Grauburgunder that comes in three qualities.  The entry level, “gutswein”, is the bestseller with around 40.000 bottles per year. Uncomplicated, lightly perfumed and of course dry. Salwey is known to make the driest wines in the area around the old vulcano Kaiserstuhl. Needing to be careful with the car boot space for the road back home, we however prefered to raise the level of quality for our purchase. RS, Reserve Salwey, gets our liking. A QbA wine that gets a dose of grapes from the very best plots.

“2013 is perhaps our very best vintage ever,” said Philipp Hettich about the Grauburgunder RS when we visited Salwey earlier this spring. Delicious of very good quality we thought already back then, but Philipp emphasized that some more months in bottle should be beneficial. Thus we uncork now and cannot resist to pour the top quality in glass number two. We enjoy to compare them again already now, even if Salwey considers the wines to have a beautiful life ahead up till 2025-2030.

Salwey Grauburgunder

The grapes for Salwey Grauburgunder RS 2013 come from clones giving small grapes. Philipp underlines this, they strive for small grapes. 80% comes from loess soils in Käsleberg. The remaining 20% has the origin in the grand cru plots in Henkenberg and Eichberg where the roots bury themselves in old vulcanic soil.

The grapes get 24 hours maceration before pressing and fermentation, without sedimentation. Then raised on its lees in large 1200 liters barrels made of oak from Kaiserstuhl. The malo is also made in the barrels. Regular battonage increase the body of this slender, very dry wine. Bottled without filtration. Residual sugar stops at low 1,5 grams/litre.

The RS is  slim, aiming for elegance. Beautiful golden yellow hue with hints of well polished coppar. Very smokey, champignons, forest and barque. It is dry, so dry, the fine acidity almost attacks. Fruity towards butter-pear and a slice of apricot. Gentle floral notes and light minerality. Spreads in the palate and stays so long.  

Easy drinking delicious, a bit straight forward. That is the sum up of the RS. More dimensions are offered by the grand cru quality. Grosses Gewächs Henkenberg is even drier and is showing itself in layer upon layer.

The vineyard in Henkenberg, on the road from Oberrotweil to Burkheim, is Salwey’s most important for Grauburgunder. The vulcanic soil dominates but is complemented with loess and calcareous clay on the top. The vinification is almost the same as for RS, but added stems during maceration give more texture and even a touch of tannin. This is even drier than RS.

Salwey Henkenberg Grauburgunder 2012 Grosses Gewächs is a bit more shy today and wants to aerate its copper golden body to release the aromas of smoke and apricot. Enjoyable fine sandpaper texture on the palate. Dry, dry, dry and at the same time rich palate filling fruitiness against a backdrop of smokeyness, champignon cream and minerality. The complexity is revealed in the glass, layer by layer, as time goes. The aftertaste is long and fruity with a vaxy feeling in the end. Complex, integrated, strict and soft at the same time. Delicious, so, so lovely.

Complex, light and fresh, that is what we find among the upper white clouds in the Grauburgunder/Pinot Gris heaven.

Weingut Salwey

Link to home page: Weingut Salwey


Holiday wine camp?

What about spending a week or two at a winery or with a grape grower? Wouldn’t that be heaven for a wine geek? To live and learn wine in practice. An ultimate solution to enhance the knowledge of wine. And probably a very good one when it comes to remember the learnings.

The interest in food and wine seems to increase for each year. Thus not surprising that so many are attracted to wine tastings, wine classes and other events with knowledge replenishment as the common denominator. Wine can be so much more than just an enjoyable beverage. There are so much to learn. The history of wine, geography, grapes, chemistry, and so on. When the knowledge grows, presumably will also the ability to appreciate the wine even more do so too. And, not least, my experience is that knowledge nourishes friendship and pleasant social events around wine, and vice verse.

If I want to increase my knowledge, what are then my options? I want sustainable knowledge. I want to remember when I need it. For example when in a store and spontaneously want to buy a bottle. That name on the label in front of me, is it a wine from a renowned einzellage or is it from a large grosslage and thus probably a much more simple alternative? Or when at a tasting I want to through myself into the discussion about the wines and the effects of different winemaking techniques.

20%, so much (or little!) is considered to be remembered when we see and hear something, i.e. the usual situation when we listen to someone holding a lecture illustrated by some power points. Also a common situation when theoretical knowledge is imparted in wine class. At home, when distractedly reading a wine book, the risk is high that even less will be remembered.

What about multiplying the chance to remember with four? To achieve 80%, we need to make practical use of what we have learnt. Thus, in a wine class about winemaking, we ought to make some wine. Perhaps not that easy, but there could be other ways for the genuinely interested. (Now you can guess where I am heading, don’t you? Yes, yes – the wine camp. It is coming, soon. Just let me develop my thinking.)

Myself, I prefer learning in a context of enjoyable experiences together with friends and wine enthusiasts. What are then the alternatives? My simplified learning/social experience matrix proposes four levels; grey, blue, green and golden yellow. What do we find on each level?

Both learning and the enjoyable experience tends to be low when sitting home, alone with the wine book. Grey, grey… inevitably down in the grey swamp in the bottom of the matrix. Just lifted up a tiny bit by a glass of good wine, poured to illustrate what I am trying to learn.

If I attend a wine class, or some other ordinary tasting held together with a lecture, I hopefully climb up into the blue field. Nice to be among other wine friends and a little bit more stays in my brain. Especially if the presenter speaks vividly and pedagogically and really ties the theoretical theme to the practical tasting. Can she/he season with personal experiences and anecdotes, the event will be even more informative. If the presentation is made by the winemaker her/himself, and there are opportunities for questions and discussion, then it can be really awarding.

To reach the green cloud, then I have to get out in the world of wine. To travel and visit producers. To see with my own eyes, talk, absorb the atmosphere. If I travel with an expert guide, especially if it is my first visit to the area, then the experience becomes even better. Informed visits and discussions with winemakers and growers increase learning even more. And the enjoyable experience will usually be great when spending time with like-minded.

How can I then reach the golden yellow sun in the upper right-hand corner? Where learning and enjoyable experience will be at the highest by making things. Out in the wide world of wine not just to see, meet and discuss. But also to try in practice. And at the same time get a wonderful experience for life.

Well, imagine if you could be an intern a week or two at a winery where the people love to share their knowledge. To be able to live and learn wine in practice. A kind of wine camp for grown ups. I would love it.

When will I see the first agency for “holiday wine internships” to wine geeks on the internet? A new business idea? Or is there already someone working with such a concept out there?