Not a punishment wine

When you see on the label of an Austrian wine that it has Cabernet in it (even if diluted with Zweigelt and Merlot) and it is 14.5% you think “Jesus Christ! This is going to punish me and punish me hard!” Add in that it is a 2006 so eight years old at this point I would normally expect it to be drier than Saudi Arabia. Let me be totally honest, I thought I would hate and despise this wine with a furious, passionate intensity.

However, it was a birthday gift and I thought I could not just pour it in the fuel tank of the vile man from flat number sixteen. Unbounded proteins, that is what I thought would work best, tie up some of those dry, harsh tannins. So The Editor and I popped it with one of the truly excellent steak and ale pies from Hampshire’s Mud Foods. They are jam-packed full of slow cooked, high-quality beef and a rich, protein-infused sauce which I thought might make this at least a tiny bit more pleasurable than being wrapped in piano wire and shot. Naturally, I was totally wrong, my chum Gernot has taste, and for (roughly) Bordeaux-styled wine this was delightfully toothsome.

Grassel Barnreiser 2006

Barnreiser 2006, Grassl

Fruit! Fruit! Glorious, lovely, berry fruit with a hint of plumminess. No sign of tiredness and even the alcohol does not stand out too much. Bugger me if it does not actually smell reasonably elegant. I am staggered!

There is no new oak on the nose of this Barnreiser, the loathsome Cabernet is a background hint, and is is a pleasant, quite complex entity of fruit and stone. Mainly fruit – but that is a good thing. I am distinctly taken with it. As I have swirled it more, the Merlot plumminess comes out more over the berry characters, but it remains a lovely, attractive nose that would please anyone.

2006 Barnreiser’s palate is reasonably elegant too. I’m staggered. There is a hint of rigour to the tannins, but they are mainly soft and supportive of the main component of the palate.

The main component is lovely, svelte, silky fruit, that asks nicely if you will please enjoy it. It is fresh fruit, too, no hint of drying out or losing intensity. I am surprised! No, I am shocked! Also terribly pleased. I like attractive, elegant, fruity wines. I hate harsh, dry, lean, miserable thing wines with shit-loads of alcohol.

Barnreiser’s alcohol does not stand out at all, which pleases the socks off me. I am also pleased there is no pissing about with silliness like 250% new oak which is the kind of thing I semi-expected – I had never heard of this wine before Gernot gave it to me (after I have finished my untainted review I will look up what the world tells me about it). Barnreiser’s tannins were present enough to make it an excellent match with our pies, but nowhere near so hard they utterly denatured the pie sauce and meat to ash.

So, it is very far from the punishment wine I expected and, if I may pun-ish you, had I taken it to last year’s outdoor ox-roast it would have been quite the barn-raiser! Hooray!


One Comment

  • Gernot wrote:

    Hi David,

    I am very pleased that you are writing tasting notes again. Grassel’s reds are really worth trying. Had recently a Sankt Laurent Reserve 2003 and 2004, both very good examples. Personally I am not at all convinced about the agability of Austrian reds, so it is a pleasure to have some good examples as Grassl, Moric, Uwe Schiefer, Fritz Wieninger, ET …