Sunday, May 22, 2016

Blue Nun.

I cannot recall going to a 'cheese and wine' evening in the 1980s and there not being at least one bottle of Blue Nun present (with the odd bottle of Black Tower thrown in for good measure, of course).  Yum, cubed-cheddar on cocktail sticks and Liebfraumilch, tasty.  Yes, the Blue Nun of my youth was labelled as Liebfraumilch (or beloved Lady's Milk), and was usually a blend of Riesling, Silvaner and Müller-Thurgau.
Blue Nun is no longer labelled as such, now the producers value their reputation.  These days, calling anything a Liebfraumilch is considered a negative when it comes to marketing.  (Think cubed-cheddar on cocktail sticks.)  The bottle of Blue Nun in the photograph is simply labelled "Authentic White" (as opposed to...?) and is now made from Rivaner (so says the back label), a.k.a. Müller-Thurgau.  At only 10% alcohol, this sweet white wine, in its oddly blue-hued hock bottle, actually tasted better than I remembered. The wine had a wonderful nose, truly deep snort-worthy, and although the palate was well balanced it was cloyingly sweet. And what possessed me to purchase a bottle of The Nun after all these years? (And may I add, this wine was not easy to find, it took some effort.)
I was inspired to once again taste Blue Nun because I have just finished reading The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy by Peter M. F. Sichel.  Herr Sichel is the man credited with making Blue Nun a runaway international wine-brand success story.  What an interesting life this man has led; escaping Nazi Germany, schooling in England, spying for the Central Intelligence Agency and creating one of the most recognisable wine brands on the planet.  It was a great book, written in an easy conversational tone that almost felt like I was sitting with Peter Sichel in his living room. Sharing a bottle of Blue Nun, perhaps.


Dennis Tsiorbas said...

VG: Great book review even though it's obviously a great story, and I loved this expression:"truly deep snort-worthy", as I can think of several times I've felt that way!

Thud said...

Escaped from the Germans and made blue nun......sometimes the bad guys should win.

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Thanks, and cheers to you too!

Thud: Escaped from the Germans and made (lots of) greenbacks...I think Mr. Sichel did OK.

Thomas said...

Did he create Blue Nun or did he take the brand over from relatives and create a market for it?

In any case, I don't think it was ever infused with much Riesling. Why would anyone have wasted that variety on that wine? Still, because we equated German wine with Riesling, Blue Nun of the 1970s gave Riesling a bad reputation in the U.S., and one that persists.

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Thomas: Interesting comments, and as one old enough to remember Blue Nun (as a 'yout' I drank once or twice), it sort of had that Boone's Farm connotation; my thoughts as to its persistence: all I can say is my local wine store has over one hundred offerings of Rieslings, some of which are from Chile and Italy. I suppose that the 'bad' of Blue Nun is waning to almost nil except for Blue Nun itself, while Rieslings as a whole are gaining mucho respect, e.g., the Finger-lakes wineries are producing excellent Rieslings, and with the 2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling scoring WE 94 points (I know, you guy hate 100 points), I'll go with Riesling wine now sits on its own throne.

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: He grew the brand from the 1960s forwards (Blue Nun originally appeared in 1920-21). In 1985 they sold 1.3 million 9 litre cases of the stuff in the US alone.

NHW: Blue Nun was originally a Riesling blend (made to taste more Riesling-ish). They used many value-priced bulk wines, from different regions, for cost effectiveness, but also to blend for brand-consistency year to year.
Have had a couple of Finger Lake Rieslings which were very nice.