Mosella – home of the best Riesling wines in the world

February 5, 2012

The Mosel valley with the hamlets Riol and Longuich

Maybe because it is Sunday, maybe because that lends itself to some introspection, maybe because I am abstaining from consuming wine for a couple of days, maybe because I have not been to my beloved Mosel for such a long time, maybe…who knows.

Anyway, on this beautiful tropical Sunday in Bangkok and while my Thai vintner friends in Khao Yai, about two-three hours north-east of Bangkok, are busy harvesting their grapes, I am exploring the writings of Decimus Magnus Ausonius (310-393 AD), a Gallic-Roman government official, educator of princes and poet who lived for some years in my home-town Trier.

The Mosel, photo taken from Nittel, the Luxembourg side to the left

Have you heard about Ausonius? No? Well, let me tell you that he was born in Buldigana, which it called Bordeaux today, and where he also died. He had studied rhetoric in Toulouse.

In 365 Valentinian I, emperor of the West-Roman empire, called Ausonius to Trier (yes, my home-town which was the capital of the West-Roman empire for a while) or Augusta Treverorum, as it was called in those days, to educate his eldest son, Gratian, the heir-apparent.

The wine village of Alken, Mosel river and castle

In 371 Ausonius published his impressions (early travel writing) from a trip in 368 which brought him from Mogontiacum (Mainz) through Bingium (Bingen) and Noviomagnus (Neumagen) to Augusta Treverorum (Trier). This work is know as “Mosella” and consists of 483 hexameters describing the land and its people along the road which now carries the name of the poet: Via Ausonius.

The “Mosella” is the only known poem from antiquity describing a single German river: the Mosel. In his poem Ausonius praised the beauty of the river, the lands surrounding it, the fertility of its soils and the industriousness of its people.

The poem has inspired endless other poets, writers and bards until the present times. I like for instance the CD “Mosella” with songs praising the Mosel region by the folk music group “Woltaehr”.

The Mosel river, photo taken from the train near Puenderich

So far so good, you might say, but what about the wine, the famous Riesling you adore so much?

Unfortunately, I did not drink that many Riesling wines from my native Mosel in 2011. I do not know how it happened. I must have explored other wines more often than usual.

However, the ones I tasted where really special and of the highest quality. I fondly remember my visits to Leiwen where I visited Grans-Fassian and St. Urbans Hof in November 2010.

Both wineries produce beautiful Riesling and other wines of the finest quality. Both belong to the association of the top German wine producers (Called VDP). Both win regularly awards. Usually the top wines are in the range of 88 to 96 Parker points, just so that you have a general idea.

Most of the wines I brought with me then, were consumed in 2011, either here in Bangkok or at my mum’s home in Trier. I admit they were the 2009 and 2010 vintages only.

I have written about the two wineries which you can find in earlier blog entries (Grans-Fassian, St. Urbans Hof).

Feel free to explore Riesling wines from the Mosel. It’s worth it.


Progressive dining experience – do we need culinary art?

May 6, 2011

In today’s Bangkok Post a novel cuisine was described which is currently offered at the “Plaza Athenee Bangkok and Fin”, a place I have never heard of. According to the paper “Progressive dining experience” is a new gastronomic concept involving pop-up venues and somthing called “molecular cuisine”.

It promises an inventive, novel culinary adventure, something unique in Bangkok. The originators, Daniel Bucher and Axel Herz, are two young award winning chefs from Le Meridien in Hamburg.

But what is “molecular cusine”, “molecular cooking” or “molecular gastronomy”? Well, of course any cooking is “molecular” so to speak. According to Daniel Bucher it is “avant-gard culinary art combined with hard-core food science” presented in pop-up (impromptu) venues.

It is supposed to be what modern city dwellers want: sustainable, environment friendly, highest quality food for a competitive price in an environment with low overheads. It is supposed to provide creative freedom, fun and laughing and even “to make you love” food, I suppose.

The newspaer article does not provde any information about the price of the five course menu and the five wines which were part of the dinner.

Well, for an Epicurean like myself that should be the ultimate, should’nt it? If you eat for pleasure alone and not for nurishment, isn’t that the good life we are all striving for?

Despite the fact that I spent more time dwelling in big Asian cities than in rural areas, I am a country boy, and thanks god that. My type of food is not the deigner stuff you get in those modern restaurants. I want real food and not art.

You can find many of the meals I treasure here on my blog. But I am afraid that I have to go and taste for myself otherwise my criticism lacks a certain edge and the profoundness necessry to be credible.

As compensation, let me invite you to a glass of wine instead. My recommendation is, surprise surprise, a German Riesling, a ‘2009 Grans-Fassian Laurentiuslay GG’ by Grans-Fassian Estate in Leiwen, Mosel.

This is the best Riesling wine I tasted this year.


Mother’s cooking: Venison with a Grans-Fassian Riesling, Leiwen, Mosel

April 13, 2011

I love nothing more than when my mother cooks venison or other game meat for me. She does not eat it herself because she does not like game meat at all. But my friend Heinz, a passionate hunter, and me, we just love it.

Mushrooms, Swabian “Spaezle” and venison from a ‘red deer’

In his freezer Heinz has stored all kinds of beautiful pieces of hare, roe deer, red deer, moufflon and wild boar from his hunting expeditions. And when I am home in Trier, we have a feast. This time they prepared a fillet from red deer for me.

And that’s the meal

No better wine with this al of game than a wine from the Saar river, I thought. Because the red deer was shot in Schoden, Saar where Heinz used to hunt. “Used to” because he lost his hunting territory. From the first of April other tenants has taken possession of it. The association of landowners, ‘Gehoeferschaft’ called in German, has decided to award the six year lease contract to another group of hunters.

But I had no wine from the Saar at hand. So what to drink with the delicious venison?

Well, there are plenty of good Riesling wines around. My choice then was a ‘2009 Laurentiuslay GG (grand cru) Riesling’ by Grans-Fassian a top Riesling producer from from Leiwen, Mosel.

Though I am not a “point drinker”, and this wine scores in the mid 90ies, is a ripper of a Riesling. As expected, it did not disappoint me. This is a “must buy” wine. I just love it. I even got a bottle here in my wine fridge in Bangkok.

So if you are traveling along the Mosel, visit Leiwen and buy a couple of cases from Grans-Fassian Estate. You will not regret it.

2009 Laurentiuslay Riesling GG by Grans-Fassian Estate

Address:
Weingut Grans-Fassian
Römerstraße 28
54340 Leiwen, Mosel

Tel.: +49- 6507 -3170
Fax: +49-6507 – 8167
E-Mail: weingut@grans-fassian.de

Monday-Friday
8.00-12.00 und 13.30-16.30 Uhr
or on prior appointment


Grand Cru from the Mosel: 2009 Dhron Hofberg Riesling GG by Grans-Fassian

January 30, 2011

Beautiful fish

Pomfret, or Bawal Putih, as we call it in Indonesia, is a wonderful fish; in fact it is one of my favourites. I also love “fish-Sundays” which always lends itself to a beautiful white wine. Mind you, I also drink red wine with fish, but if I have some Riesling in my fridge….

Pomfret

With the chilli-garlic-ginger sauce, the pomfret was just wonderful.

From the outset, I was clear about the wine. Well, actually our wine fridge is quite empty. But from my last trip to Germany in November last year, I brought with me two bottles of precious liquid: Riesling wines from my beloved Mosel river.

You might guess it, yes. I opened a bottle of ‘2009 Dhron Hofberg GG Riesling’ by Grans-Fassian Estate in Leiwen, Mosel. This grand cru (or Grosses Gewaechs as the German call it) is just wonderful.

2009 Dhroner Hofberg Riesling GG by Grans-Fassian Estate

Wine tastings last year by Weinwelt, a German wine magazine, awarded it with 95 Parker points. The wine is luscious and complex, with beautiful peach and citrus aromas. It has the minerality of the Mosel Riesling. The fine acids and the balance of the wine are just mind blowing.

Wine prices in Bangkok are astronomical. For a 5 EURO wine in Germany one has to fork out about 20-30 EURO here. You can have the Dhron Hofberg Riesling for a price below 20 EURO from the cellar door. The trip is worth it. Leiwen is a treasure trove for wine lovers and Riesling geeks.

I wrote about the Grans-Fassian Estate in an earlier blog entry. The winery is also member in the prestigious VDP (the Association of German Quality Wine Estates).

Cheers and “zum Wohl”

Address:
Weingut Grans-Fassian
Römerstraße 28
54340 Leiwen, Mosel
Tel.: +49-6507-3170
Fax: +49-6507-8167
E-Mail: weingut@grans-fassian.de
Openng hours: Mon. to Fri.
8.00-12.00 und 13.30-16.30 h
www.grans-fassian.de


Grans-Fassian Estate in Leiwen, Mosel

January 22, 2011

Grans-Fassian Estate in Leiwen

When I drove along the Mosel on a grey Saturday morning last November, I was heading to Leiwen to buy some good Riesling wines.

There were three reasons for this trip. It all started at Frankfurt airport when I bought the December issue of “Weinwelt” (World of Wine), the German wine magazine.

1. I had looked at the results of a wine tasting of grand cru (GG = Grosses Gewaechs) Rieslings: two of the top wines from the Mosel came from Leiwen; one of them was a ‘2009 Dhroner Hofberg’ by Grans-Fassian Estate.

2. Leiwen is just a 30 minutes drive from my mothers home in Trier at one of the most beautiful bights of my beloved Mosel.

3. I love German Riesling especially if it comes from the Mosel river and I wanted to know what a 95 point wine would taste like.

The original Grans-Fassian Estate manor house with the cellar door

So off I went by car and cruised along down the Mosel. I was lucky, the cellar door was open. Here I met Catherina, one of the two daughters of the owner, Gerhard Grans who had taken over the estate from his father Matthias in 1982.

We had a bit of a chat about wine, life and the universe. Catherina is a charming young lady. She is going to be an oenology student at Geisenheim soon.

Catherina Grans showing me the top wines

I tasted two of the wines (the ones mentioned in the magazine): the ‘2009 Riesling Dhroner Hofberg’ (95 points) and the ‘2009 Riesling Leiwener Laurentiuslay’ (92 points). I tell you these are Rieslings how I like them. Wonderful wines indeed. Tropical fruit the first wine, and a kind of a citrus bomb the second. Both with a good structure, young, minerally, powerful with a long finish.

The treasure box with Grans-Fassian wines

Furthermore, I learned that the estate has about 10 ha under vines. Some of the vineyards are lokated in the best terroir of the region, for instance Dhroner Hofberg, Leiwener Laurentiuslay, Piesporter Goldtroepfchen, and Trittenheimer Apotheke.

About 88% of the vines are Riesling, 10% Pinot Blanc and 2% Pinot Gris. The brochure shows the steep slopes of some of the vineyards, most of them with a southern or western aspect. The micro climate is ideal for Riesling. The soils consisting of red, grey and blue slate.

I bought a couple of the two wines I had tasted. By the way for someone like me who pays obscene prices for wine in Bangkok, these top wines were very reasonably priced, in fact they were a true bargain. It’s a pity that wine bottles are so heavy. I knew that I could only take one, maximum two of them with me on my long journey back to Thailand. What a pity, I thought.

The wine bloggers delight

Here is another hot “secret” for your next trip to the Mosel river: Grans-Fassian Estate in Leiwen should be your destination. Trust me, you will not regret it.