Wine from Franconia: Weingut Juliusspital, Würzburg

October 12, 2010

During a recent visit to Berlin, I bought also some bottles of fine wine. I treated myself to a ‘grand cru’ or ‘Grosses Gewaechs’ as the Germans call it. The ‘2006 Juliusspital GG dry Silvaner’ was just the stuff which makes my wine lovers heart jump. The winery is one of the best in Franconia and ever since my late grand father took me there as a 16 year old boy I am in love with its wines. Franconian Silvaner is one of my favorites. The wine comes in the ‘Bocksbeutel’ bottle typical for Franconia.

2006 GG Silvaner Juliusspital dry

Nothing is better suited to wine enjoyment than the presence of a wine expert. When Timo Mayer, owner and wine maker of The Mayer Vineyard from the Yarra Valley, Victoria visited us recently in Bangkok, I could not resist to open this treasure of a wine from Franconia.

It has a golden colour, and is quite oily with a beautiful bouquet. The structure is good and it finishes with a tender bitter note due to the fine tannins. In short: a wonderful wine.

The wine is ready for tasting

Weingut Juliusspital
Klinikstr. 1
97070 Würzburg

Tel.: +49-931393-1400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49-931393-1400      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49-931393-1400      end_of_the_skype_highlighting 
Fax: +49-931393-1414

Effervescent Silvaner

August 19, 2010

Great Franconian wines in the bocksbeutel bottle

I just love the wines from the Silvaner grape. Most of Silvaner is grown in Alsace and Franconia, one of my favourite German wine regions. Many of the wines from Franconia come in the famous “Bocksbeutel” bottle.

What I did not know is that some Silvaner producers also make the grape into sparkling wine. One of these essences was served to me during a recent family gathering in Reichenberg near Wuerzburg.

2008 Wertheimer Tauberklinge Silvaner extra dry

The ‘2008 Wertheimer Tauberklinge Silvaner sparkling extra dry’ (12.% alc. vol., 3.6 g. acid/litre and 14.7. g. sugar/litre) was a wonderful effervescent experience.

I think this wine from “Tauberfranken” technically belongs to the Baden wine region and not Franconia. However, nice Silvaner are produced their that’s for sure, and it’s just right at the border of these two outstanding German wine regions.

Effervescent Silvaner

This wine was very refreshing, spritzy with zest and round fruityness, very pleasurable indeed. I will have more of it in the future. Thanks go to my folks in Reichenberg for introducing me to this excellent sparkling wine.

Restaurant review: Weinhaus Spielberg, Randersacker/Franconia

May 13, 2010


The settlement of Randersacker, Franconia

One of my favourite wine regions in Germany is Franconia. My maternal grandparents came from this part of the country. My grandfather, Hans Heinrich Schuessler, was the man who introduce me to the pleasures and the mystery of grape wine. He was a native of Reichenberg, a small hamlet just south of the city Wuerzburg, the capital of the region. Randersacker is situated at the opposite side (from Reichenberg) of the Main river. We visited the place while touring Germany some time ago.


The inscription on the Bocksbeutel bottle reads: In vino veritas

The market town of Randersacker was first mentioned in a historical record in 779 AC. The historical centre of the town, though small, is quite nice and worth visiting. We were on our way back to Wuerzburg but wanted to have dinner at Weinhaus Spielberg.

Franconia produces outstanding wines, mostly Sylvaner/Silvaner but I like also the Riesling wines. It’s speciality is the Bocksbeutel, a wine bottle in the form of an ellipsoid. This is what we came for when we selected Weinhaus Spielberg as our target.


A coaster of Weinhaus Spielberg

Weinhaus Spielberg is a traditional country inn where solid German food and good local wines are served. We ordered some local specialities, especially typical Franconian dishes. The two pictures below might give you an idea what food I have in mind. We had the house wine with the food, a very refreshing, young and delicious Silvaner.



The service is very efficient, the waiters are friendly and very helpful. At times the Weinhaus is very busy. However, there is no need to fret, you will highly satisfied with what you will get. My credo: visit the place yourself, and see with your own eyes, taste with your own taste buds and have fun in Franconia.

Weinhaus Spielberg
Stefanie Sokoll
Lurzengasse 3
97236 Randersacker

Tel.: +49-931 / 708391
Fax: +49-931 / 709957

Opening hours:
Monday – Sunday: 11 – 24 h
Friday: open from 17.00 h
closed: Thursday

Restaurant review: Schlosshotel Cecilienhof, Potsdam

October 1, 2009


Schlosshotel Cecilienhof

I had the great pleasure to participate in a formal dinner at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof in Potsdam. This hotel is part of a historic castle of great significance: it was the site for the Potsdam Conference which brought peace to Europe at the end of World War II. It was in this building that Truman, Churchill and Stalin (among others) negotiated the fate of Germany in 1945. But I will not bore you with too much history today.

The dinner was a very enjoyable affair: I had great company, the food was excellent, the wines were very, very drinkable and the service was eminently suitable. I went for the seafood choice below: first a salmon starter followed by a “Zander” (pike perch) fillet.


The starter made of salmon


“Zander”/pike perch fillet for main course

I also tried both wines on offer. The choice for white consisted of a ‘2007 Weingut Schloss Sommerhausen Riesling dry’ from Frankonia in Germany and was an excellent pairing with the starter. Schloss Sommerhausen is located between Ochsenfurt and Wuerzburg, the home of my maternal grandfather who introduced me to the wines from Frankonia.

I just love Riesling and Silvaner wines from Frankonia, but they also produce excellent Spaetburgunder and many other wines. The shape of the Frankonian wine bottles is unique (only the sweet Meteus wines from Portugal can also be found in such bottles), they are called “Bocksbeutel”.

Sommerhausen Riesling

But I also wanted to taste the Pinot Noir, a young wine from 2008, ‘Alde Gott Spaetburgunder dry’ from Baden. This was my second Pinot Noir from Baden since I arrived in Germany and I must say, both wines (the other one was from Affental) were excellent.

Both are produced by wine co-operatives. “Alde Gott” is located in Sasbachwalden, a village near the cities of Buehl and Baden-Baden were also the wine co-operative of Affental can be found.


Weingut Schloss Sommerhausen
Familie Steinmann
Ochsenfurter Straße 17–19
97286 Sommerhausen
Tel. 0 93 33/2 60
Fax 0 93 33/14 88

Wine sales at Schloss Sommerhausen
Steinmann family
Hauptstraße 25
97286 Sommerhausen
Tel. +49 – 93 33/2 60
Fax +49 – 93 33/14 88

Opening hours:
Mo. – Fr. von 9.00 – 18.00 Uhr
Sa. von 10.00 – 16.00 Uhr
Public holidays 10.00 – 14.00 Uhr

Wine Co-operative Sasbachwalden
Talstraße 2
D-77887 Sasbachwalden
Tel.: +49-07841 – 20 29 – 0
Fax: +49-7841 – 20 29 18

Dorfprozelten – at the fringes of the Franconian wine region

October 13, 2008

The first part of our family reunion last July brought us to the village where my mother grew up: Dorfprozelten, a small hamlet at the banks of the Main river in Lower Franconia as the region is called. The village is situated between the small towns of Miltenberg and Wertheim.

Dorfprozelten in the morning (photo taken from the meadows at the river banks). In the back one can see the location ‘Predigtstuhl’ where vines are cultivated.

I spent most of my childhood summer vacations in Dorfprozelten, lodged at my maternal great-grandmothers house in the middle of the village. Since my family could hardly afford to go on holidays as we do today, we spent our time with relatives and explored the beautiful surroundings between Spessart and Odenwald, two hilly, forested regions sanwiching the Main river.

Many of the village inhabitants were fishermen; many others were barge owners transporting goods from port to port in the inland river and canal systems which link many German lands with its neighbours. My uncle owned and operated a 1,000 tonne ship (river barge) together with two of his sons. My father often joined them during his holidays as a kind of occasional sailor.

In July this year, we arrived on a Friday two days before the fishermen would celebrate their annual local fishing festival. We should miss it all together since we stayed only for one day and one night. But on a rainy Saturday morning walk, I took the picture of this poster stuck to a tree near the river.

The billboard introduced the various fish varieties which call the river Main their home. Their numbers are on the increase ever since river pollution was reduced by the introduction of waste water treatment plants in the 1970s and 1980.

When on holidays we swam in the river as little kids until it was forbidden because of the rising pollution. My father used to swim out into the stream to greet barges, at times go on board and jump back into the rapid river waters. He was a very good swimmer. Today, swimming is again allowed because of the improved water quality.

The wine produced in Dorfprozelten does not come from “premier cru” terroir but rather belongs to the “Landwein” category (table wine or ‘vin de pays’). Among others Bacchus vines are cultivated. I am personally not a lover of Bacchus grapes and wines, but I drink “local” as much as I can.

Franconian wines are often filled in traditional bottles, called “Bocksbeutel” with a rounded, big belly shape. Sylvaner is the dominant grape variety, much liked by the locals and of outstanding quality only in this part of Germany. Apart from Riesling, Sylvaner is my most preferred variety of the German white wines.

We stayed in a typical country inn, named “Gasthaus Krone”.

Country inns in Germany offer home style cooking and local German cuisine which is not easy to find these days. Most Germans eat home style dishes at home and when they go out, they are looking for some more exotic cuisines. Moreover, these days many Germans try to avoid the restaurant business because of the long working hours. Therefore, today many country inns are operated by non-Germans offering everything from Turkish, Chinese, Thai, Italian Greek and other foods. But not so in Dorfprozelten.

The rooms were furnished in a typical Southern German country style. They were clean and spacious. Ideal for two families with children. The breakfast was a delight, offering many local cheeses, eggs cold cuts, sausages, and other meats.

The menu was a typical ‘country inn’s menu with a lot of local dishes. I loved the richly decorated hard cover in thick leather.

The wine list, here the section with local white wines only, was dominated by local wines from Franconia. Unfortunately, we could not taste them all. I guess we have to come back for some more sampling.

Sauerbraten with Knoedel, a hearty German country meal.

If you plan to visit Lower Franconia, I recommend you stay in this village of my ancestors for a night or two. It’s worth it, I promise.

German wine regions: Franconia- a visit to Würzburg

November 16, 2007

Together with my mother and my brother Wolfgang, we visited the hometown of my maternal grandfather for a family reunion. The small village of Reichenberg, near the city of Würzburg was our destination. My mothers father, Hans Heinrich Schüssler, was the one who introduced me to wine and wine drinking. When I was about 16 years old he took me to the Juliusspital (one of the three big wineries in the city and winner of this years ‘Riesling of the World’ Challenge in Canberra) in Würzburg where I had my first ‘official’ glas of Franconian wine.

Würzburg is another ancient city where the Catholic church and its archbishops reigned. Needless to say that vineyards and wine production are an old and beloved feature of the local culture and the economy influencing its specific social habits and customs. The castle of Würzburg is one of the main features. On its slopes vines are grown as well.


The castle in Würzburg, with the historic bridge and the vineyards on the castle slopes

Franconia is the name of the wine region. It currently has about 6,000 ha under vines. The proportion of red varieties is low (19 %). Main varieties are white grape varieties such as Müller-Thurgau (32 %), Silvaner (21 %) and Bacchus (12 %). But, as along the Mosel river, red varieties are on the increase. ‘Franken’ (Franconia) produces some excellent Pinot Noir wines as well. Nowhere in Germany does Silvaner produce such stunning wines as in Franconia.

The shape of the local wine bottles ‘Franconian style’ is very special too. It’s called “Bocksbeutel” in German and usually reserved for higher quality Franconian wines.


The “Bocksbeutel” bottle, trademark of Franconia

The above bottle from “Staatlicher Hofkeller”, the second of the three big wineries in Würzburg (the third one is “Bürgerspital”), was the first I drank with a glas enclosure in my life. It was a “2005 Hammelburg Trautlestal, Silvaner Kabinett, dry” which displayed all the characteristics of an excellent Franconian Silvaner wine. For newcomers to Franconian wine I can highly recommend this drop.

The next day after the family reunion, we visited Würzburg and had lunch at ‘Juliusspital’ ( ‘Juliusspital’ does not only own vineyards, a winery, a historic cellar door and restaurants but also a hospital, a retirement home, an academy, a conference centre and other facilities. “Spital” also means ‘hospital’.

Juliusspital Foundation was founded in 1576 by the prince bishop Julius Echter of Mespelbrunn (a wonderful little castle in the Spessart, a beautiful region full of forests nearby). Today Juliusspital is a modern service company providing mainly health care and related services to the public but traditionally is also involved in agriculture, forestry and wine making. the Juliusspital Wine Estate is as old as the hospice.

The Franconian wine region covered in the 16th century more than 40,000 ha of vineyards and was the largest coherent wine-growing area in Europe. The decline of Franconian viticulture started with the ‘thirty Years” War which destroyed most of the vineyards in Upper and Central Franconia. After a short revival in the 18th century a second decline reduced the region to about 10,000 ha and the thrid decline was accompanied by peronospera and phyloxera outbreaks at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. After World War II only about 2,300 ha under vines remained. Today, about 7,000 vintners cultivate the 6,000 ha under vines which produce roughly 50 million bottles and an annual turnover of about 200 million EUROs.

The soils in Franconia consist either of soils based on red sandstone, shell limestone and what the Germans call ‘Keuper’ (clay rocks), all emerging during different geological epochs some going back more than 200 million years.

Today Juliusspital Wine Estate cultivates about 168 ha of vineyards and produces more than 85,000 cases of wine. The composition of its vine varieties is about 35 % Silvaner, 22 % Riesling, 20 % Müller-Thurgau and 5 % Pinot Noir. the rest (18 %) includes Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Baccus, Scheurebe, Traminer, Muskateller, and Rieslaner (a regional variety). the average yield is given with 60 hl/ha. the top locations (terroir) are ‘Würzbuger Stein’, ‘Iphoefer Julius-Echter-Berg’, ‘Randersackerer Pfülben’ and ‘Eschendorfer Lump’.

At the recently held 2007 Canberra International Riesling Challenge, the Juliusspital Wine Estate won the overall award for best Riesling of the World with its “2006 Julius-Echter-Berger Beerenauslese”. By the way, the webpage of Juliusspital shows this wine with a price tag of 47.60 EURO only.

According to the October-November issue of ‘Weinwelt’ (World of wine), a German wine magazine, the top producers in Franconia are:

♦♦♦♦ (four stars)
– Fürstlich Castellisches Domaenenamt, Castell
– Rudolf Fürst, Bürgstadt
– Horst Sauer, Eschendorf

Horst Sauer also participated in the 2007 Canberra International Riesling Challenge and won a gold medal in the ‘current vintage 2006 sweet category’ for his “2006 Eschendorfer Lump Riesling TBA” and a bronze medal for “2006 Eschendorfer Lump Riesling dry”.

♦♦♦ (three stars)
– Juliusspital, Würzburg
– Fürst Löwenstein, Kreuzwertheim
– Hans Wirsching, Iphofen
– Brennfleck, Sulzfeld (significantly improved in 2006 and newly listed with three stars)
– Hofmann, Röttingen (as above)

♦♦ (two stars)
– Walter Erhard, Volkach (improved in 2006 and newly listed as two stars)
– Rudolf Max, Retzstadt (as above)
– Max Müller I, Volkach (as above)
– Trockene Schmitts, Randersacker (as above)
– Graf Schoenborn, Volkach (as above)

♦ (one star for discoveries of the year)
– Burrlein, Mainstockheim
– Felshof. Sommershausen
– Gebr. Geiger Jun., Thüngersheim
– Max Merkert, Eibelstadt
– Reiss, Würzburg
– Markus Schneider, Volkach

Unfortunately, I have only one bottle of Bocksbeutel left in my wine fridge. Empty bottles I have in abundance (for instance “2002 Würzburger Stein, Silvaner, Kabinett, dry” of Staatlicher Hofkeller which won a gold medal, “2003 Baccus, dry” of Schloss Castell and “2003 Würzburger Stein Sivaner, dry” of Juliusspital). The bottle to be enjoyed soon is a “2005 Kitzinger Hofrat, Silvaner, dry” of Bernhard Völker. What a pity that Franconian wines are not available in my local duty free shop in Jakarta.

The red wine “pope” of Franconia is Paul Fürst (Winery Rudolp Fürst in Bürgstadt. He won “German vintner of the year” award in 2003 and “best vintner of Franconia” in 2004. His webpage is very interesting too (
At the wine webpage you will find an interesting interview with Paul Fürst in English. His “2003 Spätburgunder” (Pinot Noir) is a well acclaimed and award winning wine. I will introduce you to the winery at another time.

While in Würzburg we lunched at Juliusspital Restaurant which is what Germans call “gut bürgerliche Küche”, which I freely translate as “good quality, local food” (robust and harty in nature but also with delicate and fragrant elements). We drank from the open wine list (we had to drive home). My brother had a “2006 Juliusspital Schwarzriesling (Pinot meunier), dry” and I drank a “2006 Würzburger Abtsleite, Silvaner, Kabinett, dry”, both solid wines. It was unfortunate that we could not participate in any tasting since we had to get home the same day.

The design of the restaurant, by the way, is typical for historic German country inns. When I visited the restrooms I found to my great suprise wonderful cartoons on tiles. I had to take pictures, one of which you see below.


The texts freely translates as “Guess darling whom I am holding in my arm”.

Unfortunately, I do not have good photos of the family reunion. Needless to say that the three of us were overwhelmed by the hospitaly extende to us. Tables were bending under the food and wine on offer. We were talking and talking. It was so exciting that I forgot to take “intelligent” pictures with the result that I have some good ones of some of the participants but not of others. This is the reason why I will not show any of them because it would be unfair vis-a-vis the people whom I did not catch in a good enough pose. Since I have planned to take my wife and children there when we visit Germany next year, I promise to be more careful and present you with some good shots in the future.

The address of the restaurant cum wine bar is

Weinstuben Juliusspital
Familie Frank & Edith Kulinna
Juliuspromenade 19
97070 Würzburg
Tel.: 0931-54080