Elbling temptation – Open day at the Fuerst Winery in Metzdorf

September 30, 2013

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The Fuerst Winery in Metzdorf

My day job does not leave me much times these days. However, as promised, I wanted to share with you some of my wine experience during the last summer vacation in Europe. Today I want to inform you about our visit of the “Hoffest”, a kind of open day with all kinds of program for the guests including food and wine of the Fuerst winery in Metzdorf, a small village on the banks of the Sauer river.

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Elbling, one of the oldest vine varieties

The Fuerst family is know for their excellent Elbling wines. Elbling, a white grape, is one of the oldest grape varieties in Europe. It’s origins are not entirely clear. Some claim that the Romans brought the grape to Gallia and Germania, others say that is was an indigenous variety cultivated by Celtic communities long before the Romans arrived.

However that may be. It is very high in acidity, and therefore suitable for the production of sparkling. The total area under Elbling grapes has decreased over the years. Less than 600 ha are planted to Elbling grapes these days, most of it along the Mosel river. Luxembourg has about 120 ha of Elbling vineyards.

The wine is spritzy and fruity, in short a straight forward affair, a pleasant and down to earth experience. It should be drunk young.

It was a splendid day when the six of us visited on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately we had missed the breakfast and morning walk in the vineyards, which was offered as an culinary and educational experience for the guests.

Because everybody was in the vineyards, the seats and tables in the winery were rather empty when we arrived which left us with lost of choice. Just about 30 minutes later the place should fill up very quickly and we were lucky to have a comfortable place.

We were hungry. The photos below show the different dishes we ordered. Apart from various cold platters, even a simple sausage with fries could be ordered. The barbecue and grilled meat were the favourites with many guests.

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I was eager to taste the Elbling wines. They should not disappoint me. There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summers day, I must say. The relatively low alcohol of the wine also helps.

Before we left I searched for the vintner; and the young wine-maker sold me a few bottles. I was amazed. Here you get value for your money. Please check out the price list of the Fuerst winery. You will find many pleasing offers.

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The man from the Mosel with daughter Lucy

Concluding I will say that Elbling is an underrated grape variety but makes very pleasing wines. If you visit the Mosel river and its tributaries, please plan for an excursion along the Elbling wine route and visit some of the lesser known hamlets and villages and taste the wines of small family owned vineyards and wineries.


Back from paradise

August 13, 2013

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The Mosel river near Trittenheim

In the picture above you will see the wine village of Leiwen (left). Further around the bend of the river (to the right) is the wine village of Trittenheim. This is basically the view of the Mosel you will get when you drive though the Hunsrueck mountains.

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Trittenheim, Mosel

And this was also our first view of the Mosel when we arrived in Germany for our summer vacation this year. We were mesmerized. What a splendid view, what a splendid landscape, what a splendid river, how good to be home.

From the outset let me tell you we had a great time (only about 3 weeks), and despite our at best erratic planning and our lousy preparation, we were able to line up some unique, memorable and exquisite encounters with the wine and food world.

I intend to write in more detail about most of these encounters. But let me not be too optimistic as regards the time available for blogging.

So what were the highlights of our visit?

Well, we had the best pork-knuckle ever (!) after a two hour march through the forests near the Ammersee on our way to the monastery of Andechs, a famous location for catholic pilgrims. Bavaria is a fantastic place to visit especially if the weather gods are smiling on you, and smile they did. We had warm, at times even hot, weather during the whole time of our holidays.

Along the Mosel we visited three wineries – two along the Ruwer, one on the Sauer, both tributaries of the Mosel – and had one wine tasting in Trier city at Oechsle. Wonderful, exquisite, I can only rave about the many fresh and zesty wines we had the opportunity to sample.

The wineries we visited were:

Fuerst Winery, Metzdorf, Sauer
Karthaeuserhof Estate, Eitelsbach, Ruwer
Maximin Gruenhaus C. von Schubert Winery-Estate, Mertesdorf, Ruwer

Another highlight was the visit of one of the best restaurants in the Alsace region of France. For a family lunch we went to the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Lembach, Alsace near Wissembourg in the Vosges mountains.

Needless to say we spent many afternoon and evenings in wine bars and beer gardens, among them the wine bar Kesselstatt and the wine bar “Weinsinnig”, two of my favourite places to relax and enjoy a good glass of wine in Trier.

More soon. Stay tuned.

PS: I made some gorgeous pictures.


It’s Riesling time

June 17, 2013

Selbach

2011 Selbach Riesling Classic

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.

Selbach 1

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.

Selbach 2

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.

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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.

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Chicken on my Weber grill


Restaurant review: Lutter & Wegner, Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

March 25, 2013

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Lutter and Wegner, Genadarmenmarkt, Berlin

In was in the middle of the afternoon. I was on my way to a meeting when I passed by the Lutter and Wegner Restaurant at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. It was cold and windy. Snow covered the streets and sidewalks on this day in late March when everybody longed for spring.

Fortunately, I could not resist the temptation. I entered and asked a young waiter if I could just have a glass of wine. He nodded and I sat at a table opposite the entrance so that I had a good view of what was going on outside.

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My “Prosche” of a red wine

The waiter recommended an Austrian wine, a ‘2007 Imperial’ by Schloss Halbturn, Neusiedlersee. He said that this is the “Porsche” of the reds, and I decided to give it a try.

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufraenkisch and Merlot. It’s soft tannins and the delicate balance of fruit and acidity give it a exceptional elegance. It blew me away, and was indeed like a “Porsche”, fast, compact, elegant, the highest quality, just perfect.

This wine and this visit made my day. Go and check it out when you are in Berlin.

Greetings from:

Lutter&Wegner


Dream or nightmare? Wine prices in Thailand

January 17, 2013

California dreaming

Bangkok Post page on “California Dreaming”

I am always happy when I find essays and articles about wine and wineries in newspapers and magazines. So it was with the above piece, published on January 11, 2013 in the Bangkok Post.

“California Dreaming” is mainly about wine-maker Peter Vella and the wine empire of the Gallo family in California.

The author of this article tries to address the “angst” of people who are new to wine and wine drinking and first-time wine consumers. Fortunately, wine was never the drink of an elite only. This is only so in Thailand because the high taxes on imported and domestically produced wines which are taking wine out of the reach of the common person.

Fortunately, I come from a different tradition. In the Mosel valley where I grew up, it was the simple people, the famous “man on the street”, the villagers, the workers, who were wine drinkers and many of them are experts as far as the quality of the heavenly fermented juice is concerned.

Further down on the page some wines made by Peter Vella are mentioned. These wines are now available in Thailand it seems. Vella offers among others a “Fresh White” (Chardonnay), a “Smooth Red” (Cabernet Sauvignon) and a “Rich Red” (Shiraz).

And then it comes.

The retail price of these wines in Bangkok is 299 Thai Bath only, the equivalent of about 7.5 Euro per bottle. Don’t forget there is almost 400% taxes on these liquids. For this in a Thai context modest price, I would get a solid, hand-made (artisan) Riesling in my native land. Instead, what will I get for my 299 Bath? An industrial product of a mass produced grape by a giant winery in California.

When considering the level of wine prices in Thailand, tears are dropping from my eyes. We need to be happy that we do get wine at all. And that the variety and choice of wines in Bangkok wine shops and wine bars has improved over the almost 5 years that I live in the City of Angels.

How about the wines produced in Thailand? Thailand has a small but vibrant wine industry.

There are about 10 grape and wine-making ventures, some of them boutique family vineyards, others medium to large sized wineries. They have to strive for the premium segment of the market, not the mass-produced base-wines as the ones mentioned above.

I highly recommend you try some of the indigenous products the next time you order a bottle of wine in Thailand.


My new Wine Journal

January 3, 2013

My new journal

My daughter Lucy gave me the above new wine journal as a Christmas gift. Now I can again systematically record the wines I was tasting.

Often I displace my notes and when I want to write about a specific wine a frantic search stands at the beginning of a blog entry.

Alas, order has been restored. Now I only have to use the book for the intended purpose.

I am ready for the wines of 2013 it seems. Bring em on!


2012 in review

January 2, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 72,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


To blog or not to blog?

December 23, 2012

Mosel Bullay

Mosel in mid December near Bullay (shot taken from the train)

Is the retirement of the Man from Mosel River imminent?

Every December I ponder the very same question. Shall I continue this blog or not?

You might have noticed that I am struggling this year. The last three months were particularly painful. My day job is sucking up all my energies. I have been feeling drained and empty for a while. One could say that I am Gulliverized by my professional responsibilities, which have grown over the years and weigh more heavily on me now that I am getting older.

My stats show this too. I have been sliding a little, and continue to slide a little every month.

I started this blog in January 2007 and have posted a couple of hundred entries. At the end of this month I have six years of blogging under my belt. They say ‘people do not read blogs any more’; these days people are on Twitter and Facebook instead.

So why waste so much energy and time?

When I scroll though older posts I also notice that I am repeating myself. I eat the same food, visit the same places, and tend to drink (if possible) my favourite wines. Am I spent?

Not quite, I think.

Let me tell you what happened to me last weekend in my home town Trier. I had only about 43 hours available. I arrived late the first evening and was much too tired to do anything.

Saturday night, after a family meal, we watched some slides and family photos, before I could go on a stroll and check out the Christmas market. I also intended to have a glass of wine. My favourite wine bar, ‘Weinsinnig’ was my destination.

The place was crowded and I only found a table at the back. That table, however, was reserved and I was asked to swap with a place right across the “wine list”, a wall with about 20 or so wine bottles in metal holders and a description of the wine and the producer. I will tell you another time which wines I sampled that night.

When I went up to that wall with my phone to document what I had tasted (two reds) and returned to my table, a woman approached me and asked: “Are you the Man from Mosel River”? You cannot image how flabbergasted I was. How could she know?

It turned out the the woman was Manuela Schewe, the owner and initiator of ‘Weinsinnig’. She had seen my last post about the wine bar. After the introduction, we had a good chat about wine, wine bars, the vagaries of life and so on.

Well, and when I was leaving I thought that I should think it over again before giving up my blog and retiring the Man from Mosel River.


Roast venison from Schoden and a Riesling from the Mosel

December 20, 2012

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.

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Roast venison with noodles and vegetables

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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.

MSR 1999 1

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.

MSR 1999 2

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.

Address:
Rainer Krebs
Weingut in Neumagen Dhron
Hinterburg 14
54347 Neumagen Dhron
Tel.:+49-6507 / 5934


Mosel wine in the EVA Air lounge in Taipei

November 22, 2012

The other day, while I was waiting for my flight home to Bangkok, I discovered to my great amazement in the business class airline lounge of EVA Air, that a wine from my native Mosel was on offer.

What a pleasant surprise, I thought, when I spotted the label in the wine cooler. It was a ‘2011 Bockstein Kabinett Grand Cru’ by St. Urbans-Hof in Leiwen, Mosel. The wine village of Leiwen is only a couple of kilometers away from my home town Trier.

I have visited the winery and love their crisp-dry Rieslings. For the first time I had the opportunity to taste one of their off-dry wines. The terroir, “Bockstein” in Ockfen, a small village at the Saar river, a tributary to the Mosel, is also a place very dear to me.

From the raised hides in the hunting territory of Schoden (another village at the banks of the Saar river) one could have a glimpse of the “Bockstein”, a rock formation towering over the Saar valley. It’s vineyards are very steep and the Riesling grapes grown are famous for their high quality.

Off-dry whites are not my favourites, but of course this wine showed it’s outstanding quality. It was full and lush, smooth as silk in the mouth, with intensive and mellow Riesling aromas. It had also a long finish, and I loved the balance of sugar and acidity.

Moreover, I found my beloved Mosel (Saar) here, thousands of miles away in a place of Asia where I least expected it.