Two Bottles Christopher Barth

We are drinking a bottle of Christopher Barth's Silvaner Alte Reben 2020 and a bottle of Zwei Zimmer, Küche, Barth from 2021. The best wine name in the world, if you speak german.

Chris Barth has mastered the wine naming game. What could possibly top “Zwei Zimmer, Küche, Barth”? At least if you speak german that is. It translates to Two Rooms, Kitchen and Ba(r)th. When I heard who would be at the next Karlsruhe wine event hosted by Schmelz, Perlage und Bodensatz, I first thought of the sparkling wine estate from the Rhine and then, after a quick clarification, “Ah, the Zwei Zimmer Barth.” By the way, Krämer will also be there. It’s going to be great. Anyway, since I first read the name somewhere, it has burned itself so strongly into my mind that it’s practically become a mental synonym for the winery. And yet, we’ve never had a wine from Christopher in our glasses. Time to change that, also as a preparatory educational measure for July, because we already know Krämer, and otherwise, it would somehow be unfair. The event is already sold out, but as far as I know, there’s a waiting list if someone cancels. So contacting the guys directly probably wouldn’t hurt. Christopher Barth initially had nothing to do with winemaking. When his uncle passed away, and his vineyard faced closure, Chris decided to continue the winemaking. Behind the green door, which also decorates the labels, grapes from about 7 hectares are turned into wine. The vines are farmed biodynamically in vineyards around Alzey and Weinheim. Knowledge from winemaking training and studies in Geisenheim helps with the controlled minimal intervention, as is typical for a lot of natural winemakers. The Zwei Zimmer 2021 is the entry-level wine. A blend, though I don’t know exactly what’s in it, and Google doesn’t agree either. Something between Huxelrebe, Scheurebe, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc, and Weissburgunder. I’ll ask in July. But this ignorance isn’t too tragic because I always tease my mom when she drinks her sweet Huxelrebe. Unthinkable if I had that in my glass. The second bottle is a 2020 Silvaner Alte Reben.

The Zwei Zimmer is more citrus soda than wine, but with a decent natural touch. There’s a bit of apple cider with oxidized peel, a bit of lemon balm, and a bit of Sour. Something like a Whisky Sour, but without the whisky, just what the lemon does in it and the spice it has in total. There’s a lot of lemon that pulls juicily on the tongue and cheeks. This is real Saufwein and will go splendidly on the rooftop terrace in summer.

Overnight, it gets wilder. Sometimes I like that, and today is one of those times. There’s less lemon now, and it feels quite different. Less zing, somehow softer, and what was charmingly funky in the background on the first evening is now noticeable in the taste when sipping. If today wasn’t one of those times, I would quietly push the glass across the table. Instead, I pour myself another big gulp. But I miss the lemon.

The Silvaner is a contrast program. At the first sniff, there’s a lot of toffee, which quickly disappears. Behind it comes orchard fruit and its seeds, some unripe fruits, some overripe and mushy fruits waiting for the next wasp. In between are herbs and structure. The fact that the wine drinks so juicily is somewhat unexpected. And again, there’s this mix of ripe and crisp fruit with all its texture. I can’t shake the feeling that it would like to sort itself out in the glass for a while longer, that something is still missing. And indeed slowly, it becomes more of a mouthfeel wine that makes you smack your lips. Very nice.

In stark contrast to the other wine, the Silvaner hardly changes. It remains a structure wine, slowly developing on its own. Maybe the oxygen in the bottle isn’t enough for that to happen over night, maybe it prefers to do that in the glass anyway. Who knows. There’s a touch of creaminess, but the defining feature is the texture that pulls the mouth together. It must be the sensation that does it, the memory of something, because there’s hardly any acidity, which usually causes this effect. And while observing this, a single glass of wine has become quite warm. Somehow, that has its own charm. It becomes even more intense but never broad or washed out. There’s a bit of yeast pastry in the wine, the orchard fruit remains faintly. Only the toffee never came back. A truly great Silvaner.

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