HALBTROCKEN. 1980. SICHEL
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | November 1982
When wine is blended to doctor up mistakes, or to mask unpleasant characteristics of a wine, the end result is usually mediocre. That is why blended wine has become a negative in the minds of many. Yet, as I have mentioned before, there are other goals of blending wine that make it a necessity, and in fact desirable. One of these goals is to create a style of wine that the consumer seeks.
A major effort in this direction was launched by the house of Sichel Soehne of Mainz, Germany, along with their American importer. The goal was to create a wine with all the traditional flower and fruit that German wines are noted for, but without noticeable sweetness. Four years and thousands of blends later, a wine was chosen with just a touch of residual sugar to enrich the natural fruity flavors, but with only enough sugar to be barely discernible to the palate.
Thus, Sichel Halbtrocken was born. (Halbtrocken in German literally means half dry. It is an official designation and type in the wine laws of the country. Other firms have their own versions but I found this brand outstanding). It is a blend of Silvaner for body, Riesling for backbone structure and elegance, and Morio-Muskat for aroma and fruitiness so difficult to achieve in a drier wine. (It is interesting to note that while Muskat appears in the name, Morio-Muskat is a cross between Silvaner and Pinot Blanc, with no Muskat in its parentage.)
The grapes are grown in the southern section of the Rheinpfalz wine growing region of Germany. The percentage of each variety and exact vineyard location may vary from year to year,but the overall style of wine will remain the skill of the winemaker as a blender.
Sichel is a giant in the wine business. They have many important French, Italian and German representations. Their champion wine is Blue Nun Liebfraumilch. Despite the jokes about it, one must give credit where credit is due. It is not necessarily the best Liebfraumilch, but it is the most consistent and reliable in flavor.
This Halbtrocken is light yellow in color. It has a mellow fruity aroma, with overtones of Riesling showing through. The taste is fruity, yet subdued due to the 2 years of age. It has a medium body, balanced acid crispness and hardly sweet. Serve chilled with chicken or seafood salads or as an apperitif wine.
Cellaring Notes: Drink young.Not over 3 years old.