Summer wine – Merlot Rosé from the Mosel River

August 31, 2012

The sun in a glass of rosé

When we arrived in germany the temperatures were not excactly summer like. However, that changed over the course of the four weeks. Luckily there is plenty of “summer wine” available, young wines with low alcohol levels which excite the palate also of the non-wine drinker.

Nothing is better fitting a barbecue than a nice and clean rosé wine. My friend Josef’s main house wine producer is the winery of Rudolf Hoffmann in Detzem, Mosel. This is partly because vintner Hoffmann has leased some of his vineyards from the Arnoldi family, and my friend Josef is married to an Arnoldi girl. Both love to drink wines made from the vineyards which were once cultived by the parents and grand-parents.

Lovely Merlot Rosé by Rudolf Hoffmann, Detzem

And here we are with a ‘2010 Esprit Merlot Rosé’ by Rudolf Hoffmann from Detzem, Mosel. This is exactly how you want a rosé to be. The Merlot’s fruitiness is here a bonus as well as the alcohol of only 11%. I suggest: drink more of this type of Mosel wine.

If German summers would just be a bit warmer…..

Address:
Weingut Rudolf Hoffmann
Neustraße 19
54340 Detzem, Germany
Tel.: +49-173 3573982
www.weingut-hoffmann.de


Assmannshausen Hoellenberg Spaetlese – Best Pinot Noir of my summer holidays

August 28, 2012

View of the Rhine from Bingen looking downstream

Well, if you could just see around the bend in the river, you could see Assmannshausen and its steep vineyards. The vineyards you see in the distance on the other side of the Rhine river here in the photo above are in fact the ones of Ruedesheim. However, you will get a good idea how steep these terroirs are and what a hell of a lot of work it is to cultivate the grapes on these steep slopes.

‘Hoellenberg’is the name of the location (terroir) which means in English (freely translated) ‘mountain of hell’, a quite common name for steep slopes in the Rheingau wine region.

In short, the best Pinot Noir (spaetlese, late harvest) I tasted during my five weeks in Germany was a ‘2010 Hoellenberg Pinot Noir Spaetlese’ from Assmannshausen produced by Kloster Eberbach in the Rheingau.

2010 Assmannshausen Hoellenberg Spaetlese – Pinot Noir

I bought the bottle in the wine shop at Kloster Eberbach for about 17-18 Euro, I think and it turned out to be a treasure. Pinot Noir of the finest kind. Pinot Noir the way I like it, full of flavours but well balanced, earthy with a vibrant acidity, a good body, structure and a long finish. A wine with character.

At 12.5. % alcohol, this wine is not overpowering but elegant, regal I would even say. I immediately regretted that I had not bought more bottles. I was to fast, as always, impatient. At the time I did not want to stand in line for the tasting on this busy Sunday afternoon when we had dropped in the cellar door at the monastery in Eberbach.

A selection of cheeses and salads

We had the wine in a very casual way with some summer dishes, salads and typical German dinner cold cuts and an insalata caprese. The wine would have matched almost any food except some spicy Asian dishes. but it is worth being enjoyed as stand alone drink.

My rating: four and a half out of five stars, 19 of 20 points, 90 Parker points. I could not be more subjective, I guess. In hindsight and given my memory lapses, I consider this the best wine I drank during my summer vacation.

The only one exception maybe was the wine tasting at Karthaeuserhof in Eitelsbach which I attended at the last day of the holiday, but then we merely tasted (small amounts of excellent wines in big glasses and without food) and did not drink a bottle of wine.

More about this event, another time. Stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.


Roman Villa Urbana in Longuich, Mosel

August 27, 2012

Vineyards near Longuich – Opposite the steep slopes of the Mosel

The cultivation of grapes along the Mosel river and its tributaries Saar and Ruwer is more than 2,000 years old. For the Romans wine was an important commodity. All along the Mosel river one can find traces of the Roman wine industry, among them wine presses and fermentation tanks, vineyard implements, residues of grapes, statues of gods and godesses etc.

Among the treasures are the ruins and foundations of many Roman rural villas. One of them can be found in Longuich-Kirsch, just a few kilometers downstream from my hometown Trier. Various types of these villas can be distinguished. Some of them contain large mosaics as the villa in Nennig.

The villa in Longuich is a “villa urbana”, the seat of a retired high official. It is very large (110 x 28 meters). It was built in the 2nd century after Christ and includes an extensive Roman bath consisting of a Caldarium (hot bath), Tepidarium (warm bath), Sudatorium (sauna), Frigidarium (cold bath) and Praefurnium (fire and heating system).

The foundations of the villa were accidentally discovered during land consolidation and reconstruction work in 1984. Next to the villa some agricultural buildings we found as well.

The villa urbana was restored and is today open to the public. Various billboards inform the casual visitor about various aspects of roman life including the two thousand years of grape and wine production.

Imagine that so long ago people were working in vineyards and wineries in the very same places where also todays wine is produced. Amazing. The work was even harder than today, I guess.

The production techniques of the Romans are well researched. The billbords explain todays challenges and how they were mastered recently. I loved the way ancient history was linked to contemporary modern life. I highly recommend visiting these villas. The view over the valley and its vineyards is another great experience.

Fortunately, the vineyards in the vicinity of the villa are still productive, and many wineries and vintners are happy to welcome visitors and introduce them to their excellent Riesling wines.


Von Othegraven Winery in Kanzem, Saar

August 25, 2012

Regular readers of my blog will have noticed that I usually abstain from writing negative comments about any wine experience. Today I will break with this tradition making a slight dent in my otherwise immaculate positivism.

Summertime in Germany is also the time of wine festivals and the time of visiting wineries and cellar doors. And keeping in the spirit of things, my family and I, we set out on a beautiful day in July to pay a visit to one of the wineries along the Saar river.

I needed a birthday gift for a dear friend of mine and I intended to honor him with a first class bottle of wine from a first class winery. Since my friend lives in the Ruwer valley, a location with excellent Riesling terroir, I wanted to contrast the Ruwer wines with a specimen from the Saar, the other tributary of the Mosel where excellent Riesling wines are produced.

My choice was the Von Othegraven winery in Kanzem, a small hamlet on the banks of the Saar river. This winery is quite well known in Germany because Guenther Jauch, a celebrity TV moderator and talk show host, is the owner of the place.

I could not have been more wrong in my choice.

We rocked up without an appointment (which we would regret), drove into the courtyard of the estate at the outskirts of Kanzem at the bottom of the steep vineyards of the Kanzemer Altenberg, the grand cru vineyard of the area.

We innocently rang the bell of the manor house but where greeted by a very grumpy vintner (it was the manager, not the wine-maker), who let us know immediately and in a very impolite way that we were not welcome, and should “buzz” off.

Uff, we were mentally not prepared for such a rude reception, and deeply regretted that we had bothered to come in the first place.

So my recommendation to the casual wine tourist is not to visit Von Othegraven. It is a waste of time. If you are still interested in their wines, go to my favourite wine bar, Weinsinnig in Trier, and buy a bottle of the outstanding Altenberg Riesling.


Weinhaus Gut Suelz revisited

August 22, 2012

Weinhaus Gut Suelz

When I was a student at Bonn Univerity and I lived at the right hand side of the Rhein river (they call it the “schael Sick”, the shoddy side of the river), I visited this place in Oberdollendorf regularly.

The building

Sometime we would just walk from Niederdollendorf through the forest to get there, sometimes we would cycle along the Rhain river. It was one of our preferred destinations. We would relax in the garden and enjoy some bottles of local wine.

The garden with the vineyards on the hillside

We came there recently to end our visit to Koeln and Bonn (including a visit to the house of german history). It was the highlight of the day so to speak because my wife and the children had never been there before. I wanted to share with them some of my past.

The weather was a bit cloudy, and it was a Thursday, consequently only young and not so young lovers and retirees where there when we arrived.

The vineyards in a theater facing the South

The Weinhaus Gut Suelz is located at the bottom of a kind of natural theater, sourrounded by vineyards with the forests on top of the hills, at the edge of the village. The vineyards, however, do not belong to the ‘Weinhaus’, Suelz does not have it’s own production. But I knew one of the vinteners of these vineyards, the Bloeser family. Indeed I have written about them years ago on the Man from Mosel River.

Blauer/Blue Portugieser by the Bloeser winery

I did not fancy a Riesling but instead wanted something special, something local. The Blauer Portugieser (in France known as Portugais bleu), a traditional grape variety from Austria (yes, Austria and not Portugal) wine seemed just the right stuff.

It is a light, but dark red wine, with a medium to light body, soft tannins and low acidity, an uncomplicated wine one could say. very good for a sensitive stomach. It meant home to me somehow, or as we Germans call it “Heimat”.

Apple juice from ‘Streuobstwiesen’, a traditional biotop under threat

The service was very good. We ordered “Flammkuchen” (a traditional dish from the German Southwest and the French East -Alsace) which seems to have gained the upper hand when it comes to dishes one orders together with wine these days.

Flammkuchen

You can see from the photo above that this was truly worth it.
My tip: if you are in the vicinity, drop in. There is a great choice of wines, not only local ones but many more from around Europe. And enjoy.

Address:
Weinhaus Gut Sülz GmbH.
Bachstraße 157
53639 Königswinter – Oberdollendorf.
Tel.: +49-22 23 – 30 10.


Mosel Riesling: Versuchungen (temptations)

August 21, 2012

What a beautiful Riesling: Versuchungen = temptations

The wine is made by Andreas Bender, a contrarian of the German wine scene, of Weingut Bender. It is a semi-dry Riesling, usually not a wine style I very much like. But it perfectly machted the spicy Asian soup we had it with. Lovely buquet, fine acidity and a sweetness which was round and compassionate, like a kiss.

The wine is named in allusion to two quotes by Oscar Wilde, who must have said that “I can resist everything, except temptation” and “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”.

I yielded to it as well. It was modestly priced at Euro 7.50 when I bought it at Weinsinnig, one of my preferred wine barS in My home town Trier.

Versuchungen and the spicy Asian soup

I have not made up my mind about this wine. I need to taste some of the dry wines Andreas Bender produces before I can come to a conclusion. But for the many off-dry wine lovers, this wine is a true temptation.


Restaurant review: Gasthof zur Saffenburg, Mayschoss, Ahr

August 20, 2012

Castle Saffenburg in Mayschoss, Ahr

All good things come to an end. That applied also to our family vacation. From the Ruhr we made our way back to the Mosel region. Since we had some spare time on our hands, we decided that a short visit to the Ahr wine region would just be the right distraction.

The Ahr wine region is one of the smaller wine region in Germany (about 600 ha under vines). Despite its northern location the Ahr wine region is dominated by red wine production (about 80%),and is most famous for its outstanding Pinot Noir wines.

Country Inn zur Saffenburg in Mayschoss, Ahr

Since we were also hungry we dropped in at a counrty inn called Saffenburg in Mayschoss at the banks of the Ahr river.

The courtyard of the inn

Mayschoss, a small settlement with about 1,000 inhabitants, is also home to the oldest wine co-operative in Germany (founded in 1868).

Today the Mayschoss-Altenahr Wine Co-operative as it is called, has about 400 members and covers 140 ha under vines. It’s cellar door is located opposite the country inn.

Gasthof zur Saffenburg

The first thing I did was oder a glass of Pinot Noir made by one of the famous Ahr producers: Jean Stodden.

Jean Stodden Pinot Noir

This is the “ordinary” Pinot Noir produced by Stodden but a good specimen of what the Ahr has to offer in Pinot Noir. Unfortunately, we had no time for a tasting at Jean Stodden. Instead we planned to pay a short visit to the wine co-operative across the street after our meal.

Nuernberger sausages with Kraut

German cuisine has a lot of very tasty dishes to offer. We went for Nuernberger sausages (photo above) and beef stew (photo below).

Beef stew

I love German cake

Irresistable were the cakes on offer, together with a coffee, they concluded our meal. Needless to say that the food was delicious. We sat on the terrace in the yard. The service at the country inn is exceptionally good. Five out of five, I would say. We had a jolly good time on our last day of our excusion in Germany.

The steep vineyards behind the inn on the other side of the Ahr river

I plan to also inform you about our visit to the wine co-operative in Mayschoss. Stay tuned.

The Ahr wine region is a very popular destination for day travellers but also suitable for longer excursions. I highly recommend the “Rotwein-Wanderweg”, the red wine hicking path crisscrossing the region with breathtaking views of the vineyards and the small settlements. Ideal is to explore the valley on a push bike.

Please also visit my blog entries from November 2007 regarding DAGERNOVA, another wine co-operative and vintage time along the Ahr.

Address:
Gasthof zur Saffenburg
Rotweinstrasse 43
53508 Mayschoss
Tel.: + 49 (0) 2643-8392
Handy + 49 (0) 171–9369257
Fax: + 49 (0) 2643-8100
E-Mail: info@gasthof-saffenburg.de
http://www.gasthof-saffenburg.de