Wine of the month!

Posted on: 02 August 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring

Pieter Rosenthal talks aromatics...

Aromatic, don’t you just love that word? Conjures up images of heady aromas more often associated with perfume. Actually wine and perfume are not as far apart as you may first think.

In fact the perfume industry probably does a better job at selling the brand to you than many wines. With perfume the image is all-important. What does it say about you? Is it aspirational? You make your decision based on the bottle shape, the alluring picture in the advert, the feeling of achievement this scent is going to give you. Perhaps you just make your decision based on smelling the perfume in the first place, but for many this is an afterthought.

Wine is predominantly sold in a bottle and a bag-in-box and that’s it. Bottle shapes tend to be pretty standard although the weight of the bottle seems to convince some people they are dealing with a better quality wine. This isn’t always the case though, so you can’t fully rely on that premise. 

Labels are pretty much what sets the wines apart in the shops, so design is crucial. Still I don’t believe the wine world is anywhere near brave enough to take a leaf out of the perfumer’s book and embrace a new way of thinking. Many in the wine trade believe the consumer would not accept a wine in a carton for example. But is that really so? I don’t know the answer but perhaps you could tell me.

Making clearer distinctions between packaging of wines at the low end of the market versus those further up the scale would surely help you understand the differences. In the same way that an elaborately designed perfume bottle says something about its value and complexity.

So, let get back to the aromatics. The term is used to indicate grape varieties that have a very pungent aroma and are associated more with white wines. Grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer are referred to as aromatic for example and once you smell them, you can understand why. 

The fragrance is so bold, it makes a real statement. This month’s wine is of the aromatic type and was quite a hit at a recent tasting. This is despite the fact it comes from the Mosel region in Germany. I hear you gasp and your first thought will be ‘sweet’, followed by ‘Liebfraumilch’. Granted, Mosel wines are not exactly fashionable but they are perfect for this time of year. 

The Riesling grape, particularly when it is grown in cool-climate Germany is known for its razor sharp acidity and the sweetness helps to balance this out, making it taste fresh rather than sharp. The wines also have lower alcohol levels than most, averaging about 8 or 9% so there’s no need for a guilt trip afterwards.


Joh. Jos. Prüm

Riesling Kabinett 2007

Mosel, Germany

Around £15 - widely available in independents and on line.

Arguably the top producer in the Mosel region, the grapes for this wine are all harvested from the steep, slatey slopes overlooking the river Mosel. It is this location that makes all the difference. In their youth these wines are fresh, easy drinking and expressive with overriding fruity characters like citrus and peach, with age they will develop a more characteristic and heady perfume often described as petrol or kerosene. 

This is only just starting to appear in the 2007, together with the scent of honey and peach blossom, yet it remains fresh and beautifully balanced. ‘Kabinett’ indicates this is the driest and lightest style and this is often drunk as an aperitif. I had it with some whitebait recently which worked a treat!

Pieter Rosenthal for

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