Country Inns in Germany: Asparagus and river perch

May 18, 2007

While travelling in Germany recently, I had a lot of fish and seafood dishes, the reason for this being that I accompanied a group of visiting Indonesians to a number of coastal towns on the East and the North Sea. Since Germany had a splendid spring, this was the more enjoyable.

Later, together with my brother and my old folks in Trier, I visited one of the traditional German country inns so prevalent in my home area, the Mosel River Valley, the Landgasthof Kopp (www.landgasthofkopp.com) in Hentern, a small village between the Mosel tributaries Ruwer and Saar.

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Landgasthof Kopp main entrance

Springtime in Germany is ‘asparagus time’. Everywhere the lush white sticks can be purchased or consumed. All four of us ordered some kind of an asparagus dish. I had asparagus with perch (German: Zander).

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River perch with asparagus

With this delicious meal, I drank the house wine, Ockfener Scharzberg Riesling, a local product from a small village on the Saar river called Ockfen (www.ockfen-home.de). Ockfen has about 700 inhabitants and of the agricultural used land of 246 ha about 90 ha are under vines on very steep slopes. The most famous terroir is ‘Ockfener Bockstein’ which is among the best wines from the Saar. The wines from this location are very dry, minerally and fruity with a good structure.

From the Middle Ages onwards it was the monasteries along the Saar river that cultivated vines and promoted the wine industry. The wealth and prosperity of Ockfen was almost exclusively based on its wine industry. The many small villages and towns along the Saar river are worth visiting (among them Saarburg, Ayl, Kanzem, Oberemmel, Serrig, Wiltingen to name only a few. I highly recommend this very beautiful part of Germany.

As regards the inn, the Landgasthof Kopp, this place is a must, not only because of the superb quality of the food and the service. The price too was a pleasant surprise, unbeatable, I must say. For the four of us, including drinks, we spent a total of only 60 Euro for a memorable family lunch.

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Wine Industry in Crisis

May 17, 2007

Today I received information from the Upper Goulburn Wine Growers Association, of whichTwo Hills Vineyard is also a member, about the current problems in the North-East Victorian wine industry. As you all know, the 2007 vintage was volumewise much smaller than earlier vintages. In fact the crushed tonnage was 65% less than average. Because of the adverse conditions (late frosts among them) in 2007, the tonnage projections for the 2008 vintage are about 50% of normal times. This has a far reaching impact on the region, the councils, growers, wineries, consumers, tourists and the people in rural Victoria’s North-East. The livelihood of many producers, wine grape growers as well as wine processors, is threatened.

The Victorian Wine Industry Association has come up with a hands-on training program for those affected. This modular program looks at four main areas:

1. Vineyard Management
2. Business Sustainability
3. Market Development
4. Winery Tourism

For a boutique vineyard such as Two Hills all of these are very important. I am particularly interested in the possibility of future wine grape sales online. As an absentee owner, I appreciate more information about potential sales, demand and prices. Of course this year we had no problem in selling our fruit. Just that we did not have enough of them, and that’s made 2007 a bad year so far, the volume was just no there. It was good news for the receiving wineries, they got first class fruit from Two Hills. The online sales mechanism is most likely to be housed atwww.winesofvictoria.com.au

I also expect that I will have good use for the planned benchmarking guide for small wine businesses and the standardised Gross Margin Calculator. Though we are already exporting some wine, I hope to benefit from the country specific export market guide kit. If anybody of my readers knows any reliable importer, for instance in Germany but also elsewhere, please let me know. Our volumes at Two Hills Vineyard are small. Our single site vineyard does not allow blending with other fruit, which makes the special character of our products. Moreover, ‘exciting to drink a wine every year, for instance Merlot, from the same location and it always tastes different: one tastes the specific year, its climate, the soil….

I am an unlikely beneficiary of the training itself. Have I told you that we have booked our flights to Australia and that we will be in Glenburn from 11 July till 15 August? Come and visit us and have a glass of Two Hills wine.

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Lunching together with family and friends


Mama’s kitchen: tender bighorn fillet with mushrooms

May 11, 2007

Because I am from a hunter’s family, we have from time to time dished with meat from wild animals at home. During my recent visit to Trier, my mother prepared a tender fillet of a young bighorn sheep (Mufflon in German). The young Mufflon was shot in Schoden at the Saar river by my friend Heinz. She served it with freshly collected wild mushrooms (Steinpilze also from Schoden), a cabbage salad and spaetzle (literally translated: little sparrow), a kind of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, salt and sometimes nutmeg mainly used in the South German (my mother comes from Franconia), Austrian, Alsace and Swiss cuisine. I took some photos of the delicacies so that one gets a better idea. It was such a wonderful meal.

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The bighorn fillet

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The mushrooms

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The old folks

When I raided my mother’s wine cellar, I found a bottle with the picture of Karl Marx, one of the most famous sons of my home town Trier. Agreed, the application (or the interpretation hereof) of his ideas has brought much misery to the world. However, now mankind knows for sure that planning economies do not work, but that market based economic co-ordination systems are much better for us all.

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This bottle was given to me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago. It contained a 2002 Eitelsbacher Marienholz Pinot Noir (Spaetburgunder) from the von Beulwitz Estate (www.von-Beulwitz.de), now owned by the Weis family in Mertesdorf, one of the villages at the Ruwer river, a small tributary to the Mosel (and part of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer denomination). The Ruwer terroir has about 300 ha under vines in various locations (Ruwer/Eitelsbach, Mertesdorf, Kasel, among others). Some of the best German Riesling is grow here since Roma time. In fact the earliest findings of vine cultivation date back to the 2nd century. A stone relief called “The vintner in his wokshop” is the one of the oldest historical relicts (the other one is the wine ship of Neumagen).

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Ruwer vineyards

The von Beulwitz estate goes back about 140 years and produces mainly Riesling wines, many of which have won international awards and trophies. The most recent one is the “Trophée d’excellence” “Riesling du monde”/Strassbourg for it’s 2003er Kasler Nies’chen, Riesling Auslese, “Alte Reben” (old vines). The 2005 Riesling Spaetlese from this location gained 97 points.

The estate grows vines on about 5 ha, mainly in steep locations in Kasel and Eitelsbach. Yields are kept low in order to produce wines of great elegance and finesse. Unfortunately, the Pinot Noir of 2002 did not fall into this superb category, it was a rather ordinary wine. But despite this, we enjoyed the meal and the wine and had a good time at home. I promised myself to try some of the award wines next time.


My hometown: Augusta Treverorum – a short visit to Trier

May 5, 2007

It was four busy days in Trier, running from appointment to appointment. Spring this year in Germany is most beautiful. Temperatures almost like in summer, sunshine, blue skies and very dry, no rains (bad for all the farmers and vintners). The four days included among others a family gathering with brother Wolf and my old folks, visits of old friends, meals in country pubs and at home, long walks in Trier, barbecues, afternoon coffee and cake, a Riesling wine tasting with the winemaker, a hunting trip in the forests of the Saar river, and a birthday party of my niece Adriane who turned 24!. When I finally had my train ticket to Frankfurt in my hands, I knew the time had come to say good bye. I payed a short visit to my favourite wine bar, Kesselstatt, opposite the cathedral (Trierer Dom) and had a last drink, a fine and dry 2005 Wiltinger Riesling. Then I went to an internet cafe near the train station but could not enter this text into my blog so I had to defer it to later. “Good byes” as always in the hope that you meet again and off I went on the train to catch my plane in Frankfurt for Jakarta.

Weinstube Kesselstatt

Weinstube Kesselstatt in Trier

The train trip makes the farewell easier. Along the Mosel river to Koblenz I could enjoy the beautiful Mosel valley with its steep vineyards, old castles, small settlements, and lovely countryside. After a change of trains follows the middle Rhine river valley with magnificent castles, stepp slopes covered in vines, the narrow valley, and the beautiful and winding river. When I had passed Bingen and entered Mainz, the long farewell had almost come to an end. From the familiar to the unfamiliar, the known to the unknown; the ancient, rural, pituresque and wine producing land gave way to industrial landscapes, big cities and finally the airport. My time in Germany had come to an end. So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, good bye and the promise to return in September with more time on my hands for family and friends and the tasting of fine wines from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.

Trierer Dom

Trierer Dom and Liebfrauenkirche