Eternal city: Augusta Treverorum – Trier

October 19, 2012

View of the cathedral and the vineyards towards Olewig

I just left my beloved Trier behind me. Now I am in Berlin, the capital of the Federal Republic which is far to the east from my native land. From Trier it is easier to reach Paris than Berlin. And the Mosel river comes from France before forming the frontier between Luxemburg and Germany.

It is a splendid town, small and beautiful. Traces of the Roman empire can be found everywhere. Come and visit.


Mosella – home of the best Riesling wines in the world

February 5, 2012

The Mosel valley with the hamlets Riol and Longuich

Maybe because it is Sunday, maybe because that lends itself to some introspection, maybe because I am abstaining from consuming wine for a couple of days, maybe because I have not been to my beloved Mosel for such a long time, maybe…who knows.

Anyway, on this beautiful tropical Sunday in Bangkok and while my Thai vintner friends in Khao Yai, about two-three hours north-east of Bangkok, are busy harvesting their grapes, I am exploring the writings of Decimus Magnus Ausonius (310-393 AD), a Gallic-Roman government official, educator of princes and poet who lived for some years in my home-town Trier.

The Mosel, photo taken from Nittel, the Luxembourg side to the left

Have you heard about Ausonius? No? Well, let me tell you that he was born in Buldigana, which it called Bordeaux today, and where he also died. He had studied rhetoric in Toulouse.

In 365 Valentinian I, emperor of the West-Roman empire, called Ausonius to Trier (yes, my home-town which was the capital of the West-Roman empire for a while) or Augusta Treverorum, as it was called in those days, to educate his eldest son, Gratian, the heir-apparent.

The wine village of Alken, Mosel river and castle

In 371 Ausonius published his impressions (early travel writing) from a trip in 368 which brought him from Mogontiacum (Mainz) through Bingium (Bingen) and Noviomagnus (Neumagen) to Augusta Treverorum (Trier). This work is know as “Mosella” and consists of 483 hexameters describing the land and its people along the road which now carries the name of the poet: Via Ausonius.

The “Mosella” is the only known poem from antiquity describing a single German river: the Mosel. In his poem Ausonius praised the beauty of the river, the lands surrounding it, the fertility of its soils and the industriousness of its people.

The poem has inspired endless other poets, writers and bards until the present times. I like for instance the CD “Mosella” with songs praising the Mosel region by the folk music group “Woltaehr”.

The Mosel river, photo taken from the train near Puenderich

So far so good, you might say, but what about the wine, the famous Riesling you adore so much?

Unfortunately, I did not drink that many Riesling wines from my native Mosel in 2011. I do not know how it happened. I must have explored other wines more often than usual.

However, the ones I tasted where really special and of the highest quality. I fondly remember my visits to Leiwen where I visited Grans-Fassian and St. Urbans Hof in November 2010.

Both wineries produce beautiful Riesling and other wines of the finest quality. Both belong to the association of the top German wine producers (Called VDP). Both win regularly awards. Usually the top wines are in the range of 88 to 96 Parker points, just so that you have a general idea.

Most of the wines I brought with me then, were consumed in 2011, either here in Bangkok or at my mum’s home in Trier. I admit they were the 2009 and 2010 vintages only.

I have written about the two wineries which you can find in earlier blog entries (Grans-Fassian, St. Urbans Hof).

Feel free to explore Riesling wines from the Mosel. It’s worth it.


Trier a love story: come on a walk with me

April 24, 2011

Let me take you on a walk through my home-town Trier today.

I am sure that if you follow this route on Easter Sunday or Monday it will be even lovelier since nature will be greener and the sun will shine on you.

Let us start with what I call the “public” city.

The public city

The “Porta Nigra”, English the Black Gate, is the landmark of Trier.

“Dreikoenigshaus”, please notice the door on the first floor

The “Steipe” and the red House, where the guilds used to congregate

The fountain of St Peter, the city patron

The market cross

The main market square

The cathedral or “Dom”

The “Domstein”, a column with a folk story attached to it

The Roman basilica of Emperor Constantine

Here I will end the public walk through the city and take you to some more “private” places, places I am attached to.

My private Trier

The “Maerklin-shop-Theisen” in Metzelstrasse, where we spent zillions of hours looking at the various miniature toys

Chinese restaurant, one of many catering to the needs of the more than 30,000 tourists from China visiting the birthplace of Karl Marx

Renovated patrician house in Nagelstrasse, formerly owned by friends of ours, the Fey family, where we spent many hours as little kids

My old watering whole: “Die Glocke”, a rather traditional tavern which attracted the young when I was young

Of course there is much more to see than that above. I could have uploaded many more pictures of my beautiful home town. Why don’t you come and visit?

This is actually a must-do for any Riesling lover. There are so many wine bars, and cellar doors to explore in Trier that you might need some time.

In the meantime please explore the virtual map which I like quite a bit.


The first signs of spring in the vineyards of Olewig, Trier

March 31, 2011

This is just a photo blog entry. One could sense spring when I visited my hometown Trier in March. I deliberately went to the hight at “Perisberg” and have a good look around the vineyards and the city. I love Olewig and its wine festival. Come to Trier, the oldest city in Germany, it’s worth a visit.

The village of Olewig

Steep slope vineyards

The vines are pruned and ready for another season

The main cathedral in Trier


The “wine map” of Trier

June 6, 2007

My friend Elisabeth from Berlin sent me an interesting article the other day. It was from the Brigitte magazine (www.brigitte.de/trier) and showed a map depicting some recommended wine bars, bistros, restaurants and country inns where fine wines and good food could be enjoyed in my home town Trier (Augusta Treverorum) at the Mosel river.

I must admit that I grew up as a beer drinker, from time to time also enjoying the local cider called “Viez” (very dry) and maybe a Schnaps called “Trester” and made from distilled pressed grapes. My maternal grandfather (Hans-Heinrich Schuessler), however, came from a small hamlet (Reichenberg) near Wuerzburg at the Main river, and was an enthusiastic wine connoisseur. In fact, it was he who introduced me at the tender age of 15-16 to the world of fine wines, mostly dry Silvaner (Bocksbeutel) from the Main region. But because he lived in Martinstein at the Nahe river, we also drank wines from this terroir. He did not like the Mosel wines much.

As you probably know, I usually patronize “Weinstube Kesselstatt” (a wine bistro) near the cathedral. During my recent visit to Trier, I found some of the wine drinking places described in the Brigitte magazine. Due to the shortage of time, however, I could not try them out. I found for instance the wine-restaurant “CUMVINO” which belongs to the diocese of Trier. The catholic church, monasteries and the clergy, were traditionally always lovers of fine wines and developers, promoters and masters of vineyards and wine production.

Other places mentioned in the magazine, I have never heard of, for instance the restaurant “Beckers” in the valley of Olewig at the outskirts of Trier in the middle of steep vineyards. I have to try some of these places. My plan for September and October, when I will be visiting Germany and Trier again, is getting fuller and fuller.

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The Treverer

February 4, 2007

The first time the river Mosel is mentioned in a written document is the account of Gajus Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico, IV in 55 B.C. where he describes his battle and the subsequent victory over two German tribes, the Usipeter and Tencterer. Around the same time we also learn about the original settlers in the Mosel river valley and around Trier, the Celtic Treverer.

“The Treverer are cleverer” sounds a line in a popular song of a local rock music group called “Leiendecker Bloas”. But not only that. The Treverer were feared by the Roman invaders as well.

Treviros vites censeo. Audio, “capitales” esse; mallem, auro, argento aeri essent.

This is what Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote to a friend during Caesar’s war against the Treverer in about 55 B.C. In a free translation that reads as “better avoid the Treverer; they go for your throat. I wish those guys would rather work as silver and gold smiths”. The Romans in fact had some troubles in controlling the Celtic population of the Mosel valley. In 69/70 A.D. the Treverer revolted against the imperialists from Rome but were defeated again. The Roman general Petilius Cerealis did not lose his composure in battle despite the fact that his cavalry was already wiped out, his camp fortification destroyed and the walls overrun by the fierce Celtic fighters from the Mosel.

But over the decades that followed the Celtic swineherds were transformed into vintners and the people thanked the god of wine – Sucellus – for this. The Treverer were known to be hungry for fame, quarrelsome and rowdy. They were also known to be big drinkers, more so than even the Germans. The many drinking competitions they held are ample proof of their favourite pastime. The ones who could not drink were despised as weaklings. That people could call themselves lucky if they got away alive from those fierce drinking competitions, was a common notion. That’s how it was: The good old days. These times have long gone and modern man does of course some drinking here and there but we are all more or less domesticated in some way or another. We go to work 5 days a week. We do sports in our free time, watch TV, send sms and e-mail, write blogs and so on.

Joseph Roth in “The Radetzky March” describes the changes at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century but his description can certainly also be applied to earlier times and ages.

Everything that grew took long to grow
and everything that ended took a long time to be forgotten.
Everything that existed left behind traces of itself
and people then lived by their memories,
just as we nowadays live by our capacity to forget,
quickly and comprehensively.

Schale

Terra Sigillata bowl found in Trier (Karl-Josef Gilles: Bacchus and Sucellus, Briedel 1999)

Vinum vires is what the Romans said, wine gives power! My suggestion for the day: open a bottle of your favourite wine and enjoy the Sunday.

Bene tibi sit “Wohl bekomms” or To your health, salute, cincin and so on

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Reading tip: Edgar Christoffel: “Mosel und Wein – Stimmen aus zwei Jahrtausenden”, Trier 2003


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