Thursday, 28 May 2009

Basler Staatswein

The high season for asparagus will soon be drawing to a close in these climes, I imagine. Germans just love their Spargel. Unlike their foreign counterparts, German growers cover their asparagus in plastic before the tips break through. This enforced light deprivation results in white asparagus and not the green variety seen elsewhere. I like both variations, but you can't beat the white variety with Sauce Hollandaise, smoked ham and Kratzede (that's Alemannisch for pancake cut into small slices). From mid-April to June, I can see from my kitchen window the Spargel woman from Weingut Fritz Wassmer (he also grows asparagus) standing outside the Apotheke every morning selling her produce to (mostly) pensioners who queue up from the crack of dawn.

According to general consensus, the best wine with Spargel tends to be light and white. In Gutedel, we therefore have a local grape here that's tailor-made for asparagus. This particular specimen, an Isteiner Kirchberg "Exklusiv" trocken QbA, goes down a treat. I do like it when white wines such as this one still exhibit small bubbles in the glass after pouring. If nothing else, the bubbles gives the wine a fresh appearance. On the nose, nutty and grapey as per Gutedel par excellence. On the palate, you can tell that the grapes must have been immaculate when picked. Lovely and refreshing - uncomplicated, but in a good way. And the price? An absolute bargain at just under 5 euro. Available at all good stockists in the Basel area, or alternatively direct from the Bezirkskellerei Markgräflerland in Efringen-Kirchen.

So far so good, you may say. However, this wine has a certain claim to fame: in the 2005, the government of the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt named it the Basler Staatswein, i.e. the wine to be poured at official functions and such like in the red-coloured city hall on Basel's Marktplatz. Here is the official media release (in German) to prove my point. And here are two photos:

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