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Booze: Sense of adventure in taste of Germany.

Byline: Tim Cowin

NO matter how many wine experts claim that Riesling, the mainstay of German wines, is their favourite white grape or how many awards are heaped upon Austrian wines, volume sales for these two countries remain in the doldrums. With Germany this is due to the self-inflicted image problem caused by mass export of poor wine such as Liebfraumilch as well as the current fad for higher-alcohol wines. Austrian wines are also dismissed as Germanic in style and lingering memories of the anti-freeze scare still cast a shadow.

But if you feel like bucking the trend and being adventurous, here are three great refreshing and food-friendly wines to try.

Schloss Vollrads Riesling 1999, Rheingau

THE history of Schloss Vollrads stretches back over 800 years. By the middle of this century it had acquired the reputation of one of Germany's leading estates at a time when great German wines fetched higher prices than top Bordeaux wines. Now that quality is once again the prime driving force, the wines produced are world-class and this wine, the estate's basic Riesling, is superb. It is quite dry but fragrant with good weight and balance and a perfect introduction to great German Riesling. (pounds 7.49)

Erdener Treppchen

Riesling Kabinett 1997, Mosel

THIS is another estate that has been running for many years and wine-making methods are very traditional, even down to the use of old oak casks or 'Fuder' that are believed to impart their own individual characteristics to the wine. This 'Kabinett' wine, a term that indicates the ripeness of the grapes before fermentation, is very subtle yet full of flavour with hints of blackcurrant leaf and rose petals. (pounds 7.99)

Dr Unger Gruner Veltliner 1999, Kremstal, Austria

BETTER known for sweet wines, Austria makes superb dry whites and good reds as well. This wine, made from the indigenous Gruner Veltliner grape, dispels the myth that Austrian wines, like Germany's, are low in alcohol. It is a massive 15 per cent vol., a degree or so above those big Aussie Shiraz reds. This is because the climate is much warmer than we might believe, resulting in well-ripened grapes. Despite the alcohol, the wine is still well balanced, dry and spicy with considerable length. (pounds 8.99)
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 26, 2000
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