Heinzelcheese lost it, you might be tempted to think. Gorgeous red wine from Denmark? Come on… No, seriously. But – ah, you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you. Alright: The 2012 Nielstrupmark from Frederiksdal isn’t made from grapes, but from cherries.
Stevnsbær cherries are an indigenous variety that is super dark and rich and acidity-driven – and, very important for winemaking, full of phenolic antioxidants. Jon Krabbe, then owner of the imposing Frederiksdal estate in southern Lolland in the very south of Denmark, planted the first cherry orchard back in 1996. Ten years later, his son Harald together with two friends came up with the somewhat crazy idea to make a real wine from those little puckers. Not a liqueur (for which there is an old and by now a little dusty tradition with Danish grandmothers, not unrelated to the Peter Heering story and the Raffles’ hotel Singapore Sling), but a real wine: wild ferment, skin contact, maturing on the lees in wooden barrels, unfiltered…
Looking for inspiration Harald tasted his way through all of Europe (life is hard!). His wine, which he makes with the help and guidance of German oenologist Jens Heinemeyer (who also produces very sophisticated Pinot Noir in Assmannshausen/Rheingau – but that’s another story), metaphorically speaking is a mix of Banyuls and a powerful southern red wine, just as really good Australian sparkling Shiraz is a cross between Port and Champagne.
Out of the big shed that used to house 160 dairy cows and now serves as winery, come five different styles. My very favorite (besides the extraordinary Rancio) is the Nielstrupmark from Jon’s old trees, a single orchard wine, so to say. Of the darkest, blackest ruby red and at 14% alcohol (a touch chaptalized and some sweetness preserved through the addition of their own cherry brandy), it has a lot of power, is deep and mysterious in its aromatic complexity, but combines this with a totally addictive, amazing lightness. It surfs on a wave of acidity like one of Egon Müller’s Riesling ice wines… In case you’re wondering: yes, I love the stuff. And yes, you can just drink it on its own. And with great blue cheese such as Roquefort, Stichelton or Chiriboga Blue. Or serve it with dry-aged beef, smoked duck breast and the finest, darkest chocolate. Enjoy the new north.
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