Ashley Ragovin

Hi I'm great. 

Free to Ride

We need to talk about German wine.

If you don’t immediately picture a badass Ian Morris-type floating a tailwhip across the most famous BMX skate park in all of Europe when I say German wine, then keep reading.

For this piece, I consulted my rally-racing, street bike racing homie – code name: The Deal. I dubbed him this because he is the real deal (and he’s last name is ArDEALean but then I realized I’d been spelling his name wrong for a few months, it’s actually ArdeLEAN). I’ve since revised his moniker to The Lean. Because he keeps it tight.

Anyway, when I say German wine, I’d imagine you land somewhere on the spectrum between totally uninterested or unsure, and totally sure that it’s too serious or too foreign to enjoy. WRONG. If you’re imagining a tiny man sitting in a giant leather throne, swirling a glass of wine and yelling at you IT’S WHITE you fool! you’re missing out. And that’s not actually happening here, so we’ll address the psychological issues later (I’m qualified, my mom’s a therapist; pretty sure it’s got something to do with childhood trauma).

But let’s talk about wine: German wine is some of THE most drinkable, food friendly glou-glou on the planet. Yes, I mean the whole world, and I’m not even being hyperbolic.

We can use the pretzel to ease into this. Firstly, it’s a food I feel pretty strongly about, for its versatility and simplicity. Think about it: Pretzels handle mustard, chocolate, cheese, entire sandwiches, caramel, horseradish, beer, the list goes on. It’s carbohydrate slam poetry.

German wine is as adaptable as it gets, too. Beurer’s Riesling and Trollinger are individually impressive, balanced creatures full of freshness and energy. Together, there is nothing on the table they can’t make friends with. And that’s impressive for something so …German, no?

This duo is straight from the Swabian hillside, made at the deft hand of a former BMX champion who is a sincerely badass winemaker. So far I’ve used the term badass twice, and it won’t be the last before this little discussion is over.

The Riesling walks a firm tightrope held taught by a firm acidity and full of leafy and petal-y things, subtle accents of green and yellow fruit – it’s like running through a meadow where the Alpine air is so fresh it shocks your lungs. The Trollinger conjures up loads of blue and red fruits twirling about a single, alluring Iris at the center of it all. It reminds me of that kind of brisk summer night where you think you want a sweater but then realize you don’t need one. It’s got a drinkability that rivals some of the best cool-climate Pinot Noirs and reminds me of the softer, Suditrol reds from northern Italy.

Jochen Beurer was THE European BMX champion in the 90s. I needed to understand what that meant, because I’m mostly a novice in bike-anything, even though I do have a Brooks saddle and a nice yellow road bike at home (with flat tires).

I talked to The Deal, and we agreed that it’d be totally permissible to hang your hat on a BMX championship and just kind of ride out on that (see what I did there?). But not Jochen Beurer.  

He settled down in an area where his family had some vines in southwest Germany, just east of the upper Rhine (the Rhine River is the geographical crux of German winemaking – everything draws its reference from this point).

Beurer’s dad had been selling the family grapes to a co-op, but Beurer decided to have a go at making wine himself. I don’t know much about being a BMX champ, or being German, but I imagine there is a level of invincibility that goes along with both.

And while you or I would have sat in the local pub buying rounds of Krombacher for people, reliving glory tales of closing gaps and setting jump records, this guy went for perfection – again. Only this time, he took to vineyard practices and winemaking excellence. In 2003, Beurer began experimenting with organic viticulture and spontaneous fermentations, and then transitioned to biodynamic practices entirely – a super rare and completely badass move (#3).

BMX riding sounds wild, reckless, even crazy, daredevil stuff. But it’s not. It’s precise, intentional, and full of split-second decision-making. It requires balance and being in tune with not just your bike but also the whole environment around you. You don’t just jump down 10 stair rails and nail 360-bunnyhops without some calculation. And yet, you have to stay open so you don’t stifle the freedom and spirit of the ride.

His wines are some of the cleanest, purest expressions of the area I have ever tasted. They are so elegant, precise, and unbelievably continuous. Imagine the accuracy you need to land a tabletop – flying through the air, weightless but totally in control of the gears and wheels beneath you. You gotta be light as a feather, relaxed, connected to your surroundings, but powerful, too. 

I couldn’t apply a better analogy to these two wines if I tried. As a BMX champion, Beurer carved air as his art; he sliced through space and defied gravity. He’s still defying the elements, he’s just creating with another medium. These wines are the liquid equivalent of a 360-Turndown. Google it.

THE CHEAT SHEET

THE WINE:  Beurer Trollinger ‘Trocken’ Swabia, Germany 2014 AND Beurer Riesling ‘Trocken’ Swabia, Germany 2014

THE GRAPE: Riesling (white) and Trollinger (red). Two wines!

HOMETOWN: Swabia, Southern Germany which includes Baden and Württemberg

TASTES LIKE: Riesling: More minerals than fruit; fresh and weightless, but with a bright, firm core and delicate salinity that never ends. Clean lines, pure and straightforward Riesling; far from simple. Trollinger: light-bodied, cool and effortlessly chuggable and loveable.

GOES DOWN EASY WITH: Let’s ease into this with the pretzel. Pretzels go with mustard, chocolate, cheese, entire sandwiches, caramel, horseradish, beer, the list goes on forever. It’s carbohydrate slam poetry! 

German wine is just as versatile and this duo is no exception. Beurer’s Riesling and Trollinger are individually impressive, balanced creatures full of freshness and energy. Together, there is nothing on the table they can’t make friends with. And that’s impressive for something so German, no?

IF YOU LIKE: Crisp, cool, mineral-driven wines. Riesling nay-sayers, this is the wine that wins you over. Cool-climate Pinot lovers, rejoice.

WINE HACK: In a twist of irony, I prefer the red chilled and the white closer to room temp. 

**BONUS BMX ACTION***

Secret Garden, Magic Wine.

Come on Down to Flavor Town

Come on Down to Flavor Town

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