Pinot Noir from the Ahr

October 28, 2012

2009 Spaetburgunder Auslese Trocken

The Ahr wine region is well known for producing outstanding Pinot Noir wines in Germany. During a visit this summer we bought a bottle of ‘2009 Spaetburgunder Auslese dry’ from the Mayschoss Vintner Co-operative.

The co-operative is the oldest in Germany. In 2012 one of it’s wines was awarded the best “Blanc de Noir of Germany” title by the food magazine „Der Feinschmecker“ (5/2012 edition). We visited the cellar door in August and had a guided tour which was very lovely.

Recently I tasted the Mayschoss Pinot Noir together with my friend Juergen. The wine has a beautiful dark red colour. The black fruit aromas with a tiny hint of peach are lovely. The wine is medium-bodied, smooth and shows a fine balance. We drank it on a Sunday morning, just like that without food, what we call in Germany a “Fruehschoppen”, a drink (glass of wine or beer) taken after church, and before going home for lunch.

Thanks Juergen and Elisabeth for the excellent company.

Steep slopes at the Ahr river


German wine tradition: the wine queen and wine princess

October 2, 2012

German wine tradition

I do not think that Australia has already embarked on this path, but Germany certainly has a long tradition of wine queens and wine princesses (since about the 1930s).

The German wine queen is the elected representative of German wine for the duration of one year. The candidates are the 13 regionally elected wine queens from the officially recognized 13 wine regions.

It is tradition that the new wine queen will be crowned in Neustadt, Pfalz. The 64th German wine queen is Julia Bertram from the Ahr win region. She was inaugurated on September 29.

The German wine princesses (allowed are up to three) are the deputies of the German wine queen. Usually the runner-up in the election is appointed wine princess. Currently there are two, Anna Hochdörffer, Pfalz, and Natalie Henninger, Baden.

The electoral college consists of about 70 members. I could neither find out how the selection committee is composed nor how these jury members are selected, though. From the 13 regional wine queens, normally six are nominated as finalists for the contest. The jury elects one as queen and two as her princesses. Of the 64 queens, 11 came from my native Mosel.

The candidates do not need to come from a winery or vineyard but need solid knowledge about German wine and the wine industry, oenology and wine-making. The wine queen and the princesses are representing the wine industry for a year at all major wine festival, fairs, exhibitions, wine tastings, including international events. They need to be eloquent and good ambassadors for the German wine industry.


Big summer wine tasting at Weingut Karthäuserhof, Eitelsbach II

September 26, 2012

Wine tasting

Let us come back to the Karthäuserhof estate tasting on August 11, 2012. It was a splendid summer’s day with blue sky and ample sunshine when we walked into the estate.

We paid our entrance fee of 15 Euro/person. It was all very confusing for a first time visitor. Many of the other guests, it seemed, knew their way around. Lot’s of people had showed up.

The wine tasting was conducted in two seperate locations. The first was a rather crammed barn with four tasting stations. I can only recall three of the wineries represented. The barn was packed with people, pushing and shoving along.

The vintners behind their tables were equally, let’s call it – stressed. I immediately felt some regret. Why did I give up a perfectly spacious table elsewhere and a bottle of wine in a quite atmoshere, I aske myself.

The tasting station of Knipser Estate

The three wineries were:

Weingut Knipser (Knipser Estate), Laumersheim, Pfalz
My first wine from Knipser I had tasted in Beijing, China, about 24 years ago, when my friend Norbert who is a native of the Pfalz, presented me with some dry Riesling from this estate. The family tradition of wine production in the Pfalz goes back to 1615 (an incredible long time in an Australian context).

Weingut Meyer-Näkel (Meyer-Näkel Estate), Dernau, Ahr
The Meyer-Näkel family, now in the fifth generation, has about 15 ha under vines, 75% of which are Pinot Noir, 12% early Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Blanc, 5% Riesling and 3% others. One of the two daughters presented the wines when we were there. The Ahr is the northernmost (and the smallest) wine region of Germany and produces some stunning Pinot Noir wines.

Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht or The Vintage Vineyard as it is called on the webpage, Kallstadt, Pfalz
The vineyard is about 10.5 ha in size. The mainly white varieties (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Scheurebe and Pinot Gris) are planted on a calcerous soil in four locations in Kallstadt (Saumagen, Annaberg, Steinacker, Kreidkeller).

The first two wineries I know quite well. I have tasted wines from these producers at various occasions. The Koehler-Ruprecht estate was new to me. I admit that I do not know the village of Kallstadt near Bad Dürkheim. The webpage of Koehler-Ruprecht, however, is presenting the estate in five languages (German, English, Chinese, Norwegian and French)!

The Meyer-Näkel tasting table

And now the bad news: the crowded conditions did not lend themselves to note taking. Anyway, I was not in the mood while being pushed and shoved to think about anything, except: let’s get our of here as quick as possible.

But then I also thought, Rainer, you should taste some of the wines. Which I did. I remember nothing, except that the grand cru Meyer-Näkel Pinot Noir was wonderful, and that the daughter behind the counter was very kind and friendly.

We went to search for the second wine tasting station thereby recovering a bit from our claustrophobia.

More about this later.
Stay tuned.


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


The other day in Germany 1: 2009 J.J. Adeneuer No. 2 Spaetburgunder dry

November 16, 2011

2009 Adeneuer No. 2 Spaetburgunder dry

At a recent business dinner a dry Pinot Noir from the Ahr was served. It was a ‘2009 Adeneuer No.2 Spaetburgunder dry’ by Weingut J.J. Adeneuer in Ahrweiler, Ahr.

The ‘2009 Adeneuer No.2’ costs about Euro 16.- to 17.-, and is a ripper of a German Pinot Noir.

Since my main course was a fish dish, I had chosen the Riesling wine (more about this later), not a difficult choice for a Riesling aficionado like me.

But later in the evening when the dinner dragged on, I also had a good look at the red wine served with the food. I love the Pinot Noir wines from the Ahr, the smallest wine region in West Germany, therefore I had to taste it.

When I was a student at Bonn University we would sometimes skip some lectures and go on a spontaneous trip to the Ahr river. The Ahr valley is a very romantic place, a little jewel for a young student in love with life and everything.

Because of the darkness of the dining room, I could not verify the expected pale red colour of the Pinot Noir. The aromas were dense and fresh, strawberries and other red berries came to mind. The wine is medium bodied with fine tannins, a very good structure and a long finish. I found ratings on the internet between 17 and 18 points (on the 20-point scale).

I wished I had ordered some red meat as well…..

Address:
Weingut J.J. Adeneuer
Max-Planck-Str. 8
53474 Ahrweiler
Tel.: +49-2641-34473
Fax.: +49-2641-37379
web: http://adeneuer.de
Opening hours:
Mo. – Fr. 9.00 – 12.00 h and 13.30 – 18.00 h
Saturday 10.00 – 15.00 h
Sunday and holidays only with appointment


Anniversary of Thai-German relations celebrated in style with German wine

December 3, 2009

The other day Lufthansa celebrated it’s 50 years of scheduled flight services to Bangkok, Thailand. I was invited to a function at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel which provided not only a splendid backdrop to the event but also supplied the guests with very jummy culinary delights.

Also the wines, a red and a white, both from Germany, were first class. Lufthansa served a 2008 Spätburgunder from Meyer-Näkel, Ahr and a 2008 Riesling from Hermann Dönnhoff, Nahe. What a treat. I could not believe my luck.

When I was a student of agriculture at Bonn University, one of my fellow students, came from the nahe wine region. She had a sticker on her car reading: “Nahewein ein Edelstein”, freely translated as “Wine from the Nahe a gemstone” (unfortunately this does not rhyme as the German slogan). Both wines were gemstones, indeed.

In the end the Riesling somehow blended better with the food, a mix of Thai, German, and other cuisines served in small portions in a snack-type fashion. The anniversary was celebrated in style with beautiful visualizations (among them old photos from good old Bangkok), street food, a twist dancing group, sepia photo taking, a choir and other singers. I wish Lufthansa many more successful years with their venture in Thailand.

PS: I did not bring a camera and therefore do not possess any photos. I also somehow forgot to study the labels of the bottles carefully. That’s a cumbersome affair for me if waiters are serving.


The best German vintners and wine makers

June 1, 2009

Threewinegods

The wine gods (photo taken from a building in Berlin)

Its certainly a great honour to be called “vintner of the year”. Since 1994 Gault Millau, Germany’s wine guide and major authority regarding wine, wine business and the wine sector, is awarding the “vintner of the year” award.

Today the total number of vintners of the year is 16, seven of which come from the Mosel wine region. The current one, however, comes from the Pfalz (Knipser brothers).

But in the years 2007 (Theo Haart, Mosel), 2005 (Kartaeuserhof, Ruwer), 2001 (Loosen, Mosel), 1998 (Mueller-Scharzhof, Saar), 1996 (Joh. Jos. Pruem, Mosel), 1995 (von Schubert, Ruwer) and 1994 (Fritz Haag, Mosel) the vintner of the year came from my home, the Mosel river and its tributaries.

(Remark: the Mosel wine region was originally called: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer)

No other German wine region has provided that many “champions”. So far the Nahe and Pfalz wine regions had two vintners of the year; and Rheinhessen, Rheingau, Frankonia, Ahr and Baden had one each (for the names of the vintners of the year: Gault Millau).

I came about this fact only by accident while researching a story, I was going to write. I have to find more Mosel wines here in Bangkok, I guess. Wish me luck.


Row spacing and trellis systems in Germany

May 10, 2008

While traveling in Germany last year, I took quite a few photos of vineyards and the way vines were grown there. While visiting the Ahr, Rhine, Mosel and Saar I notices that row spacing and trellising could showed a wide variety of different spaces and systems.

This slope on the Ahr shows “planting with the slope” and planting “parallel to the slope”, and also the width between rows shows variations.

Here (photo above from the Ahr) sticks have been put between the individual vines in order to make it easier to move in the vineyards and to prevent stones and earth to be washed down the rows. Every vine has its own individual post and no wires are required. One finds this system also along the Mosel and the Saar.

Individual vines and the post after pruning (Saar)

After pruning, two canes are bound to the post on the individual post system. I wonder if spur pruning can be applied to it too?

Usually movable fruit wires, as we have them in Australia (VSP = vertical shoot positioning), are not a feature of these trellis systems. This is not surprising. On the steep slopes of the Mosel, Ahr and Rhine rivers moving fruit wires would be suicidal.

In my own vineyard in Glenburn, we use a simple VSP-trellis system. The move of the fruit wires is usually not a difficult job, especially along the gentle slopes as we have them. However, when the rows are long, the wire gets heavier and heavier the longer the day lasts.

Three fixed wires on vines in Olewig, Trier/Mosel

One finds also more and more metal posts, here also with three wires (Olewig)

In some of the locations, even if they are steep, caterpillar tractors are used to work the land. These tractors are small but still need narrow rows between the vines in order to operate.

Below, two rows have been planted close to each other (and no vehicle can work between them), but the next rows a planted at a wider distance so that the caterpillar tractor can be used.

Even cabbage is grown between the rows (Olewig/Trier, Mosel)

In my blog entry titled “Along the Mosel River”, of September 12th, 2007 I showed some of the elevators used on steep slopes to carry material up and down the vineyard. Have a look and check it out; it’s an interesting system, one can observe on many steep vineyard slopes on the Mosel.


The next big thing: German Pinot Noir

October 10, 2007

d1000110pinot.JPG

Pinot Noir grape

It seems that I’ve been drinking the right stuff: “Blauer Spätburgunder” as the Germans call it, Pinot Noir is all the vogue in “the German lands”. Traditionally, Germany has always been considered a white wine producer. The recent rediscovery of Riesling and the boom in worldwide Riesling demand supports this view.

Now it seems domestic attention has shifted to the colour red. In particular the Pinot Noir wines show a tremendous rise in quality and consumer demand. Wine experts in Germany praise the progress made and estimate that an increase in demand for German Pinot Noir is going to follow the Riesling boom.

But red varieties are no strangers to Germany, as I have pointed out in one of my recent blog entries (“Old friends, wine from the Mosel and other culinary delights”, 16. September 2007). Where would German red wines be if politicians had not meddled in the vintners’ affairs in the 18th century, as elector Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxonia did along the Mosel?

d1000133pinot2.JPG

Vintage time for Pinot Noir 2007

My recent explorations of German wines made from the Pinot Noir grape can only confirm the wine writers’ opinions, though they mainly point to the wine regions of Ahr, Baden, Rheingau and Rheinhessen and seem to forget the next big thing, Pinot Noir from the Mosel.

I argue that the quality of Mosel Pinot Noir wines is as good as wines from the other regions and you will get a good drop at much less expense. The Ahr, pioneering Pinot Noir grapes for many decades, has always been considered a high-price red wine region. However, you do not have to spend €12 to 20 per bottle.

My favourite Mosel Pinot Noir wine producer, the winery of Alfons Sebastiani in Mehring offers a beautiful Pinot Noir for €5,40 the 0.75 litres bottle.

Another great Pinot Noir producer on the Mosel is Weingut Markus Molitor in Wehlen. I tasted his 2004 Molitor Spätburgunder at the Weinhaus in Trier (opposite the Karl Marx Haus in Brückenstrasse 7); it is very drinkable.

Less affordable are the Molitor 2004 Pinot Noir wines from the locations Graacher Himmelreich and Brauneberger Klostergarten (€35 to 49 /075 l bottle). These prices are an indicator for the general trend; Mosel Pinot Noir wines seem to be becoming the new cult wines. Wine producers and consumers will benefit from it.

As for the average wine drinker like myself, I do not worry about high prices as long as there are plenty of new wines to find, explore, and taste. My recommendation is to try some German Pinot Noir wines.