After about two months in Germany, we move on to our new posting in Sofia, Bulgaria. It has been an exciting time. We enjoyed the climate, the greenness, the clean air and foremost: wonderful wines.
Coming from Bangkok, one is used to a 400% luxury tax on wine, which makes the heavenly drop very, very expensive. I used to say: a 5€ bottle of German Riesling wine, a solid but basic version of it, goes for 25-30 € equivalent in Thailand.
This has a devastating effect on my finances if not carefully targeted. Well, you might argue, there is wine produced by Thai vintners in Thailand itself. Are these wines not cheaper? The answer is “no”, because domestically produced wines are also subject to the luxury tax in the kingdom.
Germany, in comparison, is wine heaven. One can consume a wine from one of the primary producers for a pittance. Say 12 – 16 € for a Riesling from one of the top producers from Mosel, Saar, Pfalz and Rheingau.
It was no surprise that I dived into it, like a fish. I tried many different wines, from Germany and many European countries. I found out that there is lots of good quality wine in the market. But, apart from the famous VPD wineries, it is hard to find the really good stuff to drink, meaning a lot of tasting is required.
Concluding I might say that the two months in Germany was not sufficient time to find my favourite “every day wines”. I console myself with the fact that in my next destination, Bulgaria, there are many excellent wines to discover. Bulgaria is a wine region I know almost nothing about, which is a good start.
Recently, the supply with German Riesling wines in Bangkok has improved considerably. A fine specimen is the ‘2011 Selbach Riesling Classic’ by the Selbach Winery in Zeltingen, Mosel.
The family enterprise has vineyards in Zeltingen, Wehlen, Graach and Bernkastel and is currently working 20 ha of vines, many of them in very steep locations along the Mosel river. 98% of the area is under Riesling, the rest is planted to Pinot Blanc. As is customary with many German wine producers, the Selbach Riesling assortment includes dry, semi-dry and sweet wines, plus late harvest and ice wine.
In Bangkok only the classic dry Riesling variety from the Selbach winery is available (88 Parker Points). In order to get your hands on terroir specific and single vineyard wines you might have to identify a specific importer. Although ever since the new It’s Riesling initiative has started operating, one has a much better chance as a consumer to find more exotic Riesling wines of the highest quality.
The Selbach Riesling Classic shows all the qualities of a good German Riesling. It is not bone dry, has a good acidity and citrus notes. Riesling is a perfect compliment with Asian cuisine, especially Thai and Chinese food. I paired it with the shrimps (in the picture above) and some spicy chicken (as in the picture below) and it worked very well.
As a lover of Riesling wines, I am always on the lookout for new initiatves promoting my favourite white wine grape. The other day I came across the facebook page of It’s Riesling.
I assume they are working from Thailand but I am not entirely sure about this. However, many of the pictures they posted on facebook show scenes and people from Bangkok. Also the telephone number seems to be a local one.
The motto of It’s Riesling is: “Wine is our passion; Riesling is our life”. I sincerely hope that this is true. Then I will have access to top German Riesling wines which would be fantastic.
They have some interesting wines on offer. I will keep you informed about my progress.
As a man from the Mosel, I love the Riesling wines grown on the steep slopes of the valley. This is not to say that there are no other good Riesling wines elsewhere.
I also love the Rieslings from Rheinhessen, the Rheingau, the Pfalz and Alsace of course. When it comes to Riesling wines from my adopted home Australia, I still had not the necessary exposure which I very much regret.
Recently two Australian Rieslings won the top awards at two major wine shows in Australia. The ‘2012 Ravensworth Riesling’ a single vineyard wine produced by Ravensworth Wines, was the best wine of the 2012 Canberra International Riesling Challenge.
And the ‘2012 The Lodge Hill dry Riesling’ by Jim Barry Wines was awarded the honor of best table wine at the National Wine Show of Australia.
This is something. This is big. But what is even better is the pricing of these wines. The Ravensworth Riesling retails for A$ 20 and the Lodge Hill Dry Riesling for A$ 22. This is quality for money, I assume, and you need to buy now, because who knows how long this will last.
It has been a while since my last blog entry. Somehow my work does not allow regular blog entries any longer. You will have guessed right: I was on an extended business trip to Germany.
After my official program was completed I also visited my mother in my home town Trier, just for a short weekend only. It was a cold and rainy day when I arrived late in the evening. My beloved Mosel lay in the dark.
Fortunately, a splendid meal was waiting for me. My friend Heinz had prepared roast venison for me. It was the last piece of meat he had left over from his hunting days in Schoden, Saar. In spring 2010 Heinz and his friends had lost their hunting rights to a group of hunters from Luxemburg.
Fortunately, he had the freezer full of delicious meat: venison, wild boar, wild sheep among others. The last piece of a young deer was just the right stuff to make me happy. As you can see from the two pictures below, the meal was awesome.
Roast venison with noodles and vegetables
What a fine consistency
What wine would go with this meal? Well, since the meat came from the Saar, the wine had to come from the Mosel. Fortunately, we had a bottle of ‘1999 Neumagener Rosengaertchen Riesling Spaetlese’ by Rainer Krebs, a winery in Neumagen-Drohn, Mosel.
1999 Neumagener Rosengaertchen Riesling Spaetlese
The wine was amazing. It had the nose of petrol fumes, was full and buttery. Despite its age, the wine still displayed its great character. I do not know how many more year it would have lasted.
It complemented our meal in a perfect way. We were reminiscing about the glorious hunting days in Schoden, the nights we spent together sitting in the cold and waiting for deer or wild pigs to show themselves. It was a wonderful time, and I am sad that the hunting rights could not be retained. But such is life, good things come, and go.
I salute all the hunters who treasured their time in this fabulous place.
My readers know that I adore Riesling wines. Here is another one which we had with a delicious pasta (see photo above) the other day. The intensity of the tomatoe sauce was matched by the vivid citrus aromas, the fine balance of the acids and the mineral character of the Riesling from the Rheingau, Germany.
The ‘2011 Steinberger Riesling trocken (dry)’ by the famous estate of Kloster Eberbach is a great drop for every day consumption. It is their basic wine, and at the cost of 8.90 Euro it is quite affordable. The wine has all what it takes to be an excellent Riesling.
As the name “Steinberger” suggests, the vineyard is a kind of “stone hill” and just located nearby the monastry. For centuries fine wines were produced from this terroir. The short video below gives you an idea about it.
Reminiscing about the past is one of the privileges of the not so young. A Sunday lends itself to such action, especially when considering the traditional German Sunday lunch.
Roe deer on noddles
While in my mothers house a few weeks back during our summer vacation, we were treated to roe deer goulash with noddles and salad. My friend Heinz, a passionate hunter, had reserved this particular piece of meat for me. He knows that I love game, especially meat of young animals.
Needless to say that this piece of roe deer was super delicious. When asked how they cook it, I can never quite figure out the recipe. Just simmering for a long time in a pot with some onions, is all what I could extract from the uttering of my mum. Well, I will have to prepare such a dish myself, one day and see.
The choice of wine was a foregone conclusion. Just a couple of days earlier we had visited the winery of the Schäfer-Fröhlich family in the village of Bockenau, Nahe.
In 1995 Tim Fröhlich took over the management of the vineyards and winery from his father. Today the estate has 16 ha under vines, some in the best locations in the vicinity (for instance Monzinger Halenberg, Monzinger Fruehlingsplaetzchen and Bockenauer Felseneck). His fine Riesling wines have won wide acclaim in the world of German wine. In 2010 Gault&Millau selected Tim for its “vintner-of-the-year award”.
The ‘2011 Bockenauer Riesling dry’ is a young wine. It comes from the hill just behind the winery. On the label it says “Schiefergestein” which means the the vines grow on blue and grey slate. I loved the lime and citrus aromas. The wine has great character, is fresh and exuberant. Its fine acidity shows great balance. This elegant Riesling has a long finish and might gain even more complexity when aged. No chance to age for this bottle, though. We needed it with the deer dish on that Sunday to bring absolute enjoyment to the Adam family.
PS: If you want to know where the grapes for this were grown, please visit Weinlagen-Info.de. My wine blogger friend, the winegetter, made me aware of this handy tool to find the vineyards and places where the grapes come from.
During the month of July, we spend some glorious days in my home town Trier. On a splendid Sunday, wen went to have brunch with music at a country inn called Altenhof, at the edge of the forest surrounding the city.
A leisurly walk through a lovely forest (mainly sweet chestnut trees) of about one or one and a half hours will get you there.
Signpost in the forest
So what is the place like, you might ask? Well, it is a former forester’s lodge cum country inn, which was built in 1874 on the site of an old farm going back to 1406.
Country inn – Forthaus Altenhof
In my youth the place was a popular destination for family outings to enjoy a drink or two in the company of family and friends.
We went there for a breakfast brunch with music. The duo Wollmann and Brauner was playing blues and jazz.
We got there quite early, and the garden of the Altenhof was still empty. But it should fill up fast. Many families made the pilgrimage and brought their young children as well as their old parents along. In the early afternoon, it was difficult to find an empty table.
Wollmann and Brauner Duo
We were craving for some blues our most favourite music, reminiscing about lovely live music events in Yarra Glen and Healesville, Victoria. The two musicians did not disappoint us. They played among others some of the classic songs from Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton; so just the right stuff. It was great music and we had great fun.
Viez – local apple & pear cider
One of the specialities is the apple and pear cider called Viez in the local German dialect. I love it. It is usually very dry (one could say sour), and so it should be.
Riesling by Weingut Linden
My wife preferred the Rieslnig wine on offer by Weingut Linden, Mosel. The ‘2010 Riesling Spaetlese dry’ is a very solid wine, and displays the wonderful character of the Mosel terroir and climate.
We also had food, hearty German delicacies. Unfortunately, I have no photo of the various dishes we consumed from morning to afternoon. But rest assured you get value for money. These were the best prices offered to me while I was in Germany.
It was such a pleasant day. The ambience was just wonderful. Everybody was relaxed. Because of the spatious surroundings, children could play ball, horse rider could tether their horses, people could walk around etc. If you have the time and opportunity visit this extraordinary place.
Address: Forsthaus Altenhof
Aacher Weg 86
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.
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.