Shopping for wine in Beijing – Cheers near People’s University

April 17, 2013

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Cheers at Renmin University

The other day, when I took a stroll from the Friendship Hotel in Beijing where I stayed during my recent visit, I came also across the Cheers wine shop at Renmin University (People’s University). I knew this shop from earlier visits, and was curious to know what it had on offer.

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I was surprised to find even a few wines from Germany: Two off-dry Riesling wines from my native Mosel and a Pinot Noir from the Pfalz.

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2011 Peter & Peter Pinot Noir by Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller

I had never before heard about the “Peter & Peter” brand but could not resist to buy and later try this wine. I did not regret it. After my return from a business dinner with lovely Chinese food but without table wine, I opened the Pinot Noir and enjoyed it as a night cap.

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Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller is a wine company in Zell, Mosel with about 300 employees and vineyards and wineries in the Mosel and Pfalz wine regions.

Jancis Robinson awarded this wine a 15 out of 20 points. The sales price varies. I found websites where you could order it for 8 to 10 EURO/bottle; in Canada it is available for about 19-20 C$.

Before taxes one can have it in Thailand for 356 Bath. But remember that the luxury tax in Thailand is considerable (400%).

For me it was great to enjoy this fine specimen of German wine so far away from my native land.


Best Australian Riesling 2012 – I need to try harder

February 7, 2013

Dr. Loosen Riesling

Author with a Dr. Loosen Riesling from the Mosel

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.


Beautiful Reds from the Pfalz at Weinsinnig, Trier

January 13, 2013

The other day (actually it was about a month ago during my last visit in Trier, Mosel), I had some fabulous reds at “Weinsinnig”, my favourite wine bar in Trier.

Both wines come from the Pfalz (Palatinate) wine region in Germany. Markus Schneider Estate is located in Ellerstadt, and Rings Estate in Freinsheim. Both estates are led by young and innovative vintners and wine-makers.

W sinnig Black Prince

2010 Black Print by Schneider

I have written about the wines of Markus Schneider before. ‘Schneider Ursprung’ is a wonderful cuveé (blend) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Portugieser.

The ‘2010 Black Print’ is a blend of St. Laurent, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Mitos and Cabernet Dorsa (hold your breath). The last two grape varieties are new crossings (hybrids) produced in Germany.

The wine was matured in small oak barrels. It has an almost black colour, as the name suggests. The fruit aromas are very concentrated, some plum and cassis but also blackberry. The tannins are already soft enough and well balanced. This is a yummy wine at a very reasonable price (around 12 Euro/bottle). But you have to be quick to pick up the remaining bottles.

Markus Schneider is not only very innovative as the composition of his blends are concerned but also the labelling of his wines is new and against German traditions. The Wine Guy has done a portrait of the winery which might be of interest to you.

W sinnig Rings

2011 Das kleine Kreuz by Rings Estate

Also the second wine I tasted at Weinsinnig was a red cuveé from the Pfalz. The ‘2011 Das kleine Kreuz’ by Rings Estate is a blend of Merlot, St. Laurent, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The brothers Andreas and Steffen Rings appeared 2007 on the German wine scene. That was the year that the Gault & Millau wine guide included the winery for the first time. Last year the brothers won the German red wine award.

This wine is just wonderful, awesome, fabulous. The density of the fruit, the well balanced acidity, the soft tannins and the long finish are all very striking. I could not believe it, my vintners soul cried more, more, more.

If we only could have these wines in Bangkok.

Address:
WEINSINNIG
Weinbar & Verkauf
Palaststraße 12
54290 Trier
Tel.: +49-651-979 01 56
info@weinsinnig.com
www.weinsinnig.com

Weingut Markus Schneider
Am Hohen Weg 1
67158 Ellerstadt
Tel.: +49(0)6237 – 7288
Fax: +49(0)6237 – 977230
info@black-print.net

Weingut Rings
Duerkheimer Hohl 21
67251 Freisenheim
Te.: +49-6353-2231
info@weingut-rings.de
http://www.weingut-rings.de
www.black-print.net


Wild boar the German way – fine dining with fine wines and best friends

October 31, 2012

As you know, I like to eat game of all kind. The best wild boar I have eaten in a long time was served to me by my good old friend Ulrich Hillejan and his wife Elfriede when we visited them this summer near Muenster. The so called Muensterland is a very picturesque agricultural region right north of the former industrial heartland of the Ruhr.

Ulrich comes from a tranditional farming family which goes back a couple of hundred years (he keeps very impressive records). He inherited one of the traditional farm houses away from the manor house, just outside the nearby village.

His mother (I call her aunty Doris) prepared for us the leg of a young wild boar, shot by Ulrich’s younger brother Georg. Let me say from the outset that this was the best piece of game I have ever eaten. I asked her to tell me the secret of this delicacy. Her instructions were rather sketchy. I figured that mustard plays a central role. The meat needs to be rubbed carefully with a mustard-pepper-salt potion.

The following photos show what we had for dinner. Of course the side dish with the carbs consisted of good German potatoes.

The potatoes

The young wild boar’s leg

On the plate

And after….

Needless to say that we had various kinds of delicious wines with our meal. We started the extensive tasting with a white wine, a fresh Gruener Veltliner from Weingut Setzer, Austria. The Setzer winery was decoreated with the “winery of the year 2013” award.

The estate has about 30 ha under vines and produces a wide variety of wines. Main grape variety are Gruener Veltliner, and red Veltliner. Recently, Hans Setzer, owner-operater of the estate, was awarded with the “Vinter of the year award” for 2013. With its low (11%) alcohol content, this wine is wonderful for warm summer days. It is refreshing and shows great temperament.

Gruener Veltliner Vesper, Austria

Knipser Riesling, Pfalz

We followed up with a German dry Riesling by the well-known Knipser Estate in Laumersheim, Pfalz.In 2009 the winery was awarded the “vintner-of-the-year” award by Gault Millau.

The ‘2001 Laumersheimer Kapellenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken’ was just the right wine to complement the meal. I like the minerally note and the tropical fruit aromas.

Barbera and Nebbiolo blend by Villa Contessa Rosa

Mid-term through the meal, we changed colour and switched to a red wine from Italy. Villa Contessa Rosa has currently about 70 ha under vines. The blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo, produced in the wine region Langhe, was also a good accompliment to the wild boar.

The meat from the forest animal and the red and Forest berry aromas from the wine went well together. Below you see the colour of the drop from heaven.

From here on I lost track of the wines we sampled in the course of the evening. There were a few more red wines, but honestly I cannot recall what they were and where they came from.

The generosity of our hosts knew no bounds, I might say (thank you again Ulrich and Elfriede). It was a terrific evening of reminiscing about the past and making plans for the future.


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: Weintor, Palatinate, Germany

May 12, 2012

My parents in front of the German “Weintor”

My parents came to see me when I was in Karlsruhe for a business meeting a couple of weeks ago. They took me for a drive around the southern Pfalz region, which is a major wine producing area in Germany.

It was a beautiful day in spring with mild temperatures and fast moving clouds. After a short rain, the sun came out for a while.

We ended up at a small village called Schweigen-Rechtenbach to have a look at the German “Weintor”, literally translated as the “German wine gate”.

It was built in 1936 and marks the starts of the German wine route which ends in about 85 km further north in a village called Bockenheim.

The terrace

We planned to have lunch in the restaurant at the “Weintor”. The large terrace was very inviting but it was still too cold to sit outside.

The foyer

The stone building looks very traditional from the outside. However, the foyer of the restaurant has a kind of post-modern funky look, “retro” one could also call it.

The entrance to the restaurant

The inside of the restaurant

We sat near the fire place. The staff was very friendly, and convinced us to get started with a sparkling Pinot Meunier, or in German “Schwarzriesling”.

Sparkling Schwarzriesling – Pinot Meunier

This was followed by “greetings from the cook”: a delicious pate, which was just the right starter. It wetted our appetite.

Courtesy of the cook

I could not resist and ordered the house Riesling, a dry wine from the Pfalz region.

Dry Riesling from the Pfalz

My main dish was a trout with almonds, with potatoes and salad. Just wonderfully delicious. It was the right hearty meal which made me forget my jet-lag. I had arrived the very same morning from Bangkok and needed some stimulation to stay awake. That’s why I could not resist the ice cream either.

Trout with almonds

Dessert

Espresso

We had a jolly good time. The food was delicious, the staff extremely friendly, the spring outside inspiring and the company just great. I could not imagine a better welcome to Germany.

On our way out, I noticed the table with the informations about wine events and other local festivities. It was a pity that I could not stay a couple of days longer. The wine route through the Pfalz/Palatinate has so much to offer.

Address:
Deutsches Weintor Restaurant
Weinstraße 4
D-76889 Schweigen-Rechtenbach
T +49 (0) 6342 – 922 788 8
F +49 (0) 6342 – 922 788 9
www.weintor.de/restaurant.html