What a weekend this was. After my delightful tour along the Mosel River I finally reached my destination Trier, the 2,000 years old Roman town which I also call home. Saturday I should meet Thomas Weber, an old school friend from high school times at Hindenburg Gymnasium. It was about 33 years ago that we met last time. We were brought back together by another school friend, Juergen Olk who lives in Eitelsbach near Trier. Juergen told Thomas about our vineyard in Australia and through the shared love for wine we should be reunited. Thomas is a wine aficionado. He has written two wonderful books (wine as a gift) about wine (www.wein-als-geschenk.de). He had promised to organise a wine tasting for me (more about the tasting in my next entry). We met at the Porta Nigra, a Roman city gate and landmark of Trier. He introduced me to Birgit and the three of us had a cappuccino and later a “Viez” (a local variety of an apple and pear cider, very sour normally). It was a lively reunification and Thomas proposed to have dinner together at his parents place.
And dinner we had, the five of us. It was a culinary tour through many varieties of bread, cheese and olives. The wines were all from the Mosel region. We started with a dry 2005 Riesling from Staatliche Weinbaudomaene Trier, Rotliegender Schiefer (vines planted on red coloured slate), 12 Vol%. Nice and fruity wine, with typical Mosel Riesling character, citrus aromas, crisp and minerally. Then we moved to an off-dry wine from the Saar River, a 2002 Ayler Kupp, Riesling Auslese produced by Weingut Weber, Margarethenhof. The wine has only 8.5 Vol% alcohol; I guess 15 g/l sugar, a wine of great elegance and balance. From here we moved to a kind of new cult wine. The young vintner Andreas J. Adam (not related to my family) who took over some neglected vineyards from his grandfather, has recently become a new star in wine circles along the Mosel. We tasted a 2006 Dhroner Hofberg Riesling, a dry wine of great finesse. This locations is one of the best along the Mosel but was somehow forgotten until recently. The Weingut (winery) Andreas Adam is a boutique vineyard with about 1 ha under vines and a production of about 1500 bottles a year located in the small town of Neumagen. The German wine critics are full of praise for the young vintner and his excellent Riesling wines. German web entries give some idea about the character of the wines. Interesting is also the winerys own webpage which has the following web address: www.aj-adam.com.
Ayler Kupp in the background, Schoden in the foreground seen from the hights
To an Australian vintner wine prices for these excellent Mosel wines are a shocker. The “Weinbaudomaene” price list shows the dry Riesling (Staatliche Weinbaudomaene Trier, Avelsbacher Hammerstein, 2005 Riesling Kabinet, dry, 11 Vol%) for 3.20 € (!) per 0.75 l bottles. Other Rieslings do not cost more than 5.50 € which corresponds to 5 until 8 A$ cellar door prices. What heaven on earth the Mosel is for wine consumers. Even the Andreas Adam Riesling is available for about 12 € only. In Jakarta the minimum one has to pay for a reasonable Australian Riesling is about 10 €/bottle and these wines are hardly equivalent to the simplest of the Mosel Rieslings. In order to compete with those wines, we Australian vintners have to dig deep and improve wine quality and our cost structures considerably.
The shock of my life should soon follow when we tasted some Mosel reds. Yes, there are more and more red wines from the Mosel to be found, unbelievable. Over the last couple of years the acreage for Pinot Noir and Dornfelder is increasing continuously, reaching almost 10% of the total acreage under vines. We started with a Pinot Noir from Mehring, producer Alfons Sebastiani. Great drop displaying all the varietal characters of a good and earthy Pinot Noir. I remembered the many vineyards in the flats from my trip along the Mosel the other day but did not expect such beautiful wines. The Dornfelder we drank after the Pinot was not to my taste. I was also not impressed by the Acolon, a kind of “hybrid” variety (cross between Helfenstein x Heroldsrebe – Blauer Lemberger and Dornfelder) which produces deep red wines of a rather “tarty” character. But the Pinot was wonderful and so the evening ended with delight. Thanks to the hosts, the Weber family for their great hospitality and the good company.
Furthermore, Thomas informed me that the Mosel used to be a prime producer of red wines (I did not know this and can you believe this!) until the times of Kurfuerst (elector) Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxonia (1739-1812) who became archbishop of Trier in 1768. Wenzeslaus issued on 30 October 1787 a new ordinance for the improvement of wine quality in his dominion along the Mosel River. The “bad” grape varieties, mainly reds and high acidity whites were to be replaced by “good” varieties, mainly Riesling vines. This ordinance was rigorously enforced by his administration and it was the kiss of death for most red varieties along the Mosel for many decades to come. The recent revival of red wine production is therefore not something completely new but rather a reminiscent of older days. I will have to try more of the Mosel Pinot Noir to see how they compare to Pinot Noirs from the Yarra Valley and the Upper Goulburn Wine Region (www.uppergoulburnwine.org.au) and of course my own.
On Sunday we had our usual lunch at the “Landgasthof Kopp” in Hentern (www.landgasthofkopp.com) near the Saar where we enjoyed good German country style food and local wines. Dinner was scheduled to be had at a gourmet restaurant in Trier called “Bagatelle” in “Zur Lauben”, a famous location in Trier next to the Mosel River with a beautiful view of the river and the red sandstone cliffs at the opposite side. Learn more about this in my next entry.
The red sandstone cliff “Weisshaus” from the “Zur Lauben” side of the Mosel River