Does this look like a German wine to you?
Doesn’t look like the pale, watery German reds I’ve met in the past but this was no ordinary red, it was a German syrah. The Wine Rambler had done it again, surprising me with a German red the likes of which I had never encountered before, a lovely syrah from the Pfalz, better known for their flinty rieslings then supple reds.
The Knipser brothers have been experimenting with syrah since 1994 when they decided to plant the vine in their vineyards in the Rhineland-Palatinate. The wine is considered experimental because German wine laws are even more dictatorial and martinet about what types of grapes grow where and, since syrah is not considered an indigenous varietal, it falls outside of the wine laws of Germany. Hence the term experimental, although if this is an experimental wine. I can’t even imagine what a non-experimental wine would taste like.
The Knipsers have been using barriques since the 1980’s so they know a thing or two about oak and it is clearly evident in the Knipser 2003 syrah. The oak is so finely integrated that it’s difficult to know where the oak ends and the fruit begins. The wine was decanted for about half an hour before we tried it but it was starting to open up nicely and got progressively livelier as the night wore on.
The syrah was matured in French oak barrels for 20months and it was apparent on the nose, a toasty vanilla scent with a black fruit profile slowly revealing itself with each sniff. After a bit of time, caramel, cocoa, green peppers and licorice also started to show thru the toasty mist. On the palate, supple and smooooooth….full bodied, which despite the colour was still a surprise. I just couldn’t get over the fact that this was a German red wine. I’ve had Austrian reds before but nothing prepared me for the depth of this wine. Tasting it, baked fruit at first, followed by more cocoa powder and hints of aniseed on a long finish. A fabulous Big Red from the Knipser brothers.
Unfortunately, this came from the WineRambler’s private stash so there’s not much left, even in Germany, which is too bad because honestly, that was a red to be had.