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The WineBarn

Since moving back to the UK, I have been so happy to discover the fantastically varied food and drink scene we have in Hampshire. Not just in terms of local food producers, but also local vineyards making waves in the English wine scene, to specialist wine merchants importing amazing stuff from further afield. We really do have it all on our doorstep...

Given where we lived before moving home, I was happy to recently discover we have an award-wining German wine merchant just up the road in Sutton Scotney. The WineBarn specialises in German imports, has offices in both the UK and Germany and offers a vast portfolio of carefully selected wines. Managing Director Iris Ellman is on hand to advise you (no matter the occasion from special to summer fridge must-haves) on what you might like to/should try. And should you want something out of the ordinary, The WineBarn also offers a rare and antique wine service, sourcing elusive investment wines from hidden cellars in Germany.

Iris started her import business 20 years ago. She wanted to introduce England to the best of German wine, and for the country to get over the dated association we had/sometimes-still-have with German wines. Come on admit it, if you haven't tried that much German wine then you might automatically think of the eighties classics that were the height of fashion back then. They were typically overly sweet and often served in wine glasses with green stems if my memory serves me correctly. My parents owned a popular Hampshire village pub, and believe me, Liebfraumilch (Favourite Women's Milk is the literal translation) was indeed a big favourite with a lot of the female clientele...

Why didn't we know more about German wine back then? Did we really know all that much about other wines full stop it has to be asked (thinking back, the only other wine my parents stocked at the time was called "French Red" and it came in a box - my sisters and I would fight over the empty silver bags to kick around the garden)? Plus, many of these wine-producing lands kept the best stuff for themselves (Hungary for example where you immediately think only of sweet Tokaji wines - wonderful of course, but trust me, they have some incredible reds). Happily though, Germany's ancient wine production (it really is centuries old, taught to them by the Romans - we have a lot to thank them for don't we?) has expanded so much over the years and they are producing some beautiful elegant wines from 13 wine growing regions up and down the land. Nowadays you can find way more than the more well-known Rieslings and Gerwurtztraminers, with fantastic rosés and some very decent reds (yay) mostly thanks to warmer weather and climate change (boo)...

Having lived in the southern part of Germany for several years, I will admit to knowing very little about the wine at first, living in more of a Bier appreciating state (the area, not me personally), but we could get in the car and drive around three hours and find vineyard after vineyard stitched into the scenery. Gradually we became friends with people from such brilliant wine-producing areas, and were educated a little bit in such matters, so it has been a pleasure to discover we are able to get our hands on a few of our new-found favourites.

Many of The WineBarn's wines hail from vintners handpicked by Iris herself; ranging from small family-run producers that have handed on the batten down the years, to brand new producers making the most of the warmer climate. Iris gifted us a bottle of Allendorf Sekt Brut which was light and crisp and summery. The Allendorf family have worked in the Rheingau for over 700 years and in the last 60 years have expanded their vineyard dramatically to make it one of the largest in the region. I am personally very pleased about this, as it means that they are producing much more of this delicious stuff. This particular bottle of German "Champagne" makes such a nice change and it's definitely worth stocking up on a few bottles.

Iris also gifted us a bottle of Dr Heger's Weissburgunder Sonett Dry 2018 from a smaller vineyard in Baden. Weissburgunder is pinot blanc and this example is beautifully balanced and full of fresh citrus flavours rounded out with honey tones. The Wine Barn notes on this particular wine vineyard divulge that the land is steeply terraced so the vines are all tended by hand, and that is evident in the quality.

Up until March, The WineBarn mostly supplied high-end hotels and restaurants across the UK, and has won several prestigious wine awards over the years. Thanks to the strange times that we currently live in and the fact that most of those places have been closed, those wines are now available to us the general public too and that can only be a good thing...

We enjoyed our wine so much we went on to buy a case ourselves and that should tell you everything you need to know...


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