From Beer to There: Lieb Reserve Chardonnay & Blue Point’s Oktoberfest
Hallo meine Lieblingsleute! Translation: Hello my favorite people!
That’s right. It just so happens that “lieblings” means “favorite” in German. Boom.
And, this also happens to be my favorite time of year: the transition from summer to fall. The end of September brings us warm days, cool nights and the best reason to drink out of the biggest beer mug I own: Oktoberfest. This München, Germany tradition dates back to 1810 and is a 16-18 day beer festival leading up to the first week in October. In 2013, it is said that over 7.7 million liters of bier were served at Oktoberfest. That’s my kind of party! So, in the spirit of paying homage to this fantastic Bavarian tradition, we will be comparing Lieb Cellars’ 2016 Reserve Chardonnay to some of my favorite and most nostalgic Oktoberfest Märzen style biers.
The Märzen style comes from “a Bavarian brewing decree from 1553 that stated beer may only be brewed between the dates of September 29th and April 23rd.” (source: Wikipedia, haha). Brewed in März (March), this beer was built to last until September. It was often cellared until late summer so that it could be pulled back out during Oktoberfest and quickly consumed before brewing was allowed to start back up again. I love this style. Märzen biers typically boast a great malt backbone, rich body, subtle notes of apple and an almost creamy texture, especially within the head of the beer. For centuries, German brewers have adhered to strict purity laws (called “Reinheitsgebot”) that mandate only barley, hops, water, yeast and wheat may be used in the brewing of their beer. Thanks to these purity laws, I never once got a hangover during my summer abroad in Germany, and thanks to exports into the US, we’re all lucky enough to be able to experience these beautiful biers year after year.
Which wine, then, is worthy of being compared? Insert our Reserve Chardonnay. After being stirred on its lees (dead yeast cells) and going through a 2nd malolactic fermentation (which converts strong acid to softer acid, in a nutshell), this Chardonnay shows a creamy texture that reminds me of Märzen. It leads with notes of baked apple and pear on the nose followed by vanilla, apple and cream on the palate. It’s also partially barrel-fermented in French oak, which gives it a touch of spice early in the palate arc. Hands down it’s my pick for this wonderful time of year. It has enough fruit and acid to keep it crisp, which does well to satisfy my warm weather cravings, but also a heartiness to embrace the cooler nights that arrive at the end of September. Although Chardonnay is far from German, having originated in Burgundy, France, it does very well standing next to a Märzen in my humble opinion.
So, where to find them?
Some of my favorite Märzens are, in no particular order: Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest, Spaten Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada’s Faust Miltenberger Oktoberfest, Long Ireland Oktoberfest and last but not least, my nostalgic pick: Bluepoint Oktoberfest. I grew up not far from Bluepoint Brewery in Patchogue, spent many nights in their tasting room, traded beers with owner Mark Burford and fell in love with their Oktoberfest. While this beer’s body is a bit lighter than the others I mentioned, it was one of the first Oktoberfest beers I ever had the pleasure of imbibing. It offers subtle apple notes, a light creaminess and a trip down memory lane for me. It’s great by the fire on a brisk night, just like our Reserve Chardonnay.
So, come see me at Lieb’s tasting room to grab a bottle of Chard and pick up a sixer of any of these Oktoberfests at your local beer distributor, light up the fire pit and enjoy the Gemütlichkeit (general atmosphere of comfort). Summer is ending and fall is knocking at our gate. Prost!
Tasting Room Associate & Resident Craft Beer Guy