Restaurant review: ‘Kirchstuebel’ in St Martin, Pfalz

November 23, 2011

The St Martin church, picture taken from the yard of ‘Kirchstuebel’

Just below the church of St Martin in the hamlet of St Martin, Pfalz, a very charming little restaurant is located, named ‘Kirchstuebel’, literally translated as ‘the little parlour of the church’.

The Adam brothers

My brother Wolfgang had taken me there for a reunion dinner, just the two of us, on a dark November night.

The wine village of St Martin, with about 200 ha under vines, is located right at the start of the foothills of the ‘Pfaelzer Wald’, the hilly forest of the Pfazl region.

What a jewel of a little place this is. The country inn ‘Kirchstuebel’ is a rustic, and very cozy family owned and operated restaurant which offers local and non-local food, and a wide variety of local wines.

I was hungry and chose tortellini with porcini mushrooms and parmesan cheese. My brother was less hungry and went for a plate of selected goats cheese which was served with local bread. Boy I tell you how delicious these two dishes were, incredible.

The goats cheese selection contained harder and softer cheeses, some were mellow and creamy, others burly and forceful.

My tortellini were just a dream. They used an excellent olive oil, and first quality parmesan cheese. I was in “Schlemmer”- (gourmet) heaven.

Tortellini ai funghi porcini

Selection of goats cheese

The bread basket

The wine selection is another treasure of the ‘Kirchstuebel’. The list includes many locally made wines from St. Martin and vicinity. There is lots of variety and lots of choice. I, of course, went for the truly local stuff. Where could I get a wine from St. Martin when living in Asia, I thought.

With my tortellini I had a ‘2010 Sauvignon Blanc’ by the Brothers Ziegler Estate (Weingut Gebrueder Ziegler). The Ziegler family looks back at 200 years of experience in grape growing and wine-making. Today, the family business is run be Ulrich (the viticulturalist) and Juergen Ziegler (the wine-maker).

The wine has 12% alcohol, residual sugar of 6.7 g and acidity of 6.8. I loved its freshness, with aromas of tropical fruit.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc by Weingut Ziegler

I somehow sensed that my brother would not finish the goats cheese, and therefore ordered after I had tasted the SB, a red wine. My choice was a ‘2008 Pinot Noir Spaetlese dry’ by Weingut Roessler-Schneider, a family winery also located in St Martin.

Also this wine was very fruity. Cherries and blackberries were the dominant tastes. The colour of the wine is dark red, not the murky red of other Pinot Noir wines. I found it a very feminine wine, round and soft, with a presence.

2008 Pinot Noir Spaetlese dry by Weingut Roessler-Schneider

Needless to say, we had a great time. I wish for some more of these reunions.

Anyway, I will have to come back to this place in the daytime. The village of St Martin seemed so charming in the night, with its narrow little lanes, the old stone and timber framed houses. One must have a great view over the flats of the Pfalz.

If you visit the Pfalz region, you should definitely make time for St Martin and explore its wineries and country inns.

Address:
Weinstube Kirchstuebel (wine bar and restaurant)
Kirchstrasse 9
67487 St Martin/Pfalz
Tel:+49-6323-949131
www.kirchstuebel.de
For opening hours, please visit the website!


Wine bars in Trier – “Weinsinnig”

August 14, 2011

That’s how it started

Near my mother’s place in Trier, there was a car parked on the street, which had caught my attention.

It advertised for a wine bar and shop of which I never had heard off before. “Weinsinnig” was the name of the place.

It took me a while until I had the opportunity to check it out myself. I learned that “Weinsinnig” had already opened in 2009. As a creature of habit I patronize the places I know since many years and somehow neglected the search for the new.

The brochure

We had seen the window of the bar in the daytime and knew it was opening only after 17h (Sunday closed). On our last evening in Trier, a warmish Tuesday night, we went to gain a first hand experience of it.

The wine list on the wall

“Weinsinnig” was a very pleasant surprise. Made for the young, with innovative ideas and concepts, it offers with a wine experience of a different kink. It starts with the absence of a wine list. Instead one can “walk the wine list”, which means along the wall the wines on offer by the glass (see photo above) are displayed (a bottle and a short description of the wine/winery). You walk along an select your wine.

A larger shelf displays the wines sold by the bottle either for home consumption or for enjoyment on thew premises.

Food is limited to “Flammkuchen”, the German-Alsatian equivalent to a simple pizza. Once a month a tasting with a wine-maker is scheduled in the form of a quiz, which seems to be a lot of fun.

Since we had sampled a lot of the local wines from the Mosel during the past couple of days, I went for a wine from the Pfalz (Palatinate). My choice was a ‘2007 Kalkmergel Pinot Noir’ by the Knipser winery, in Laumersheim.

The first Knipser wine was ‘credenced’ to me by my old friend Norbert in 1991 when we both worked in Beijing, China.

2007 Knipser Pinot Noir, Pfalz

2011 has been a ripper year for the Knipser family. Three of the most respected wine guides awarded the Knisper Estate the highest recognition level (5 stars/grapes, etc.). It’s white wine collection was awarded by the Eichelmann wie guide “the best collection of the year” for the Knipser Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay wines.

2007 “Kalkmergel” Pint Noir by Knipser, Pfalz

The wine is round and full with aromas of raspberries and cherries. It has fine tannins, a good balance of the acids and a good structure. I liked the long finish.

Trier at night

“Weinsinnig’ was a true find. The service is excellent, the wine prices moderate and if you need blankets or cushions because the temperature outside is a bit on the lower side, they will oblige and help to keep you warm.

If you visit Trier, I recommend you reserve an evening for a wine tasting at this young and modern wine bar.

Address:
Weinsinnig Weinbar und verkauf
Palaststr. 12
D-54290 Trier
Tel.: +49-651-9790156
www.weinsinnig.com

Weingut Knipser
Johannishof
Haupstraße 47
D-76229 Laumersheim/Pfalz
Tel.: +49-6238-742
Fax.: +49-62384-377
www.weingut-knipser.de


Restaurant Review: Capital M, Beijing, China

June 7, 2011

I am reading “Justice for hedgehogs” by Ronald Dworkin at the moment. The book makes the point that one of our cardinal interests, ambitions and responsibilities is to make our lives good lives.

“We must find the value of living – the meaning of life – in living well”, says Dworking. He also states that dignity and self-respect are “indispensable conditions of living well”.

So what does that mean if you are sitting in Beijing, China at a beautiful Sunday morning with time on your hands? Well get up early and go to the National Museum to see the German sponsored exhibition “The enlightenment”, a unique show of a selection of art pieces from that era of our history which mattered so much for the freedom of the individual and rationality.

After that it’s downhill all the way. More of Dworking’s good life is to come. After fine art, one needs fine food and drink.

I suggest you stroll down to the South end of the Tian-an-men Square and have lunch at Capital M, one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing.

Capital M in Beijing, view from the terrace

One has a wonderful view from the restaurant. It is located at the third floor of a newly reconstructed building, a kind of replica so to speak, of an older house. Capital M has a wonderful terrace with a grand view of the square.

I got there much too early; the kitchen was still closed. The kind waiter offered me a table at the window, and I ordered a glass of house white, a Sauvignon Blanc by the South Australian family winery Angoves. Newspapers were brought to me and I indulged in the pleasure of reading in quiet. I was the only customer at that early hour.

Tasteful crockery for morning tea

I was still full from breakfast and unsure if I should lunch at Capital M. Then I though of Dworkin and my responsibility towards the good life in dignity and decided to move to the table the kind waiter had reserved for me. in the meantime the first guests had arrived, casually dressed most of them. In this relaxing atmosphere, I felt at ease.

I read through the menu and decided on a two course meal. My choice of entrée was white asparagus which is just in season in Beijing. What a good choice that was. The asparagus was firm and succulent, it melted in my mouth.

I also had another glass of the house wine, the SB by the Angove Family winery.

Asparagus with a poached egg on top and olive oil

For my main course, a white snapper on a bed of vegetables, I selected a ‘2008 Dry Riesling’ by Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, in Wachenheim, Palatinate in South-West Germany. Riesling is one of my favourite white. Although just one of their starting wines, this Riesling was exactly what I needed, a beautiful accomplishment with my meal.

2008 Dr. Buerklin-Wolf dry Riesling shows an intense colour

The main course was so jummy, I could not believe it. I took it bite by bite, slowly exposing my taste buds to the food. I wanted it to last as long as possible. The veggie selection interspersed with flower petals and a nut mix, was just amazing, awesome stuff.

The main course

Unfortunately, the battery of my camera did not last and gave up her service right in the middle of my meal so that I cannot show you more pictures from the restaurant, the view and the people.

The service at Capital M is exceptional, hard to find in China this kind of concern for the customer. Prices are also decent. I paid for three glasses of wine and a two course meal 42 EURO, which is not bad.

Apart from the Forbidden City and the Great Wall lunch or dinner at Capital M in Beijing is a must if you visit China.

Address:
Capital M Beijing
3/F, No.2 Qianmen Pedestrian Street
(just south of Tian’anmen Square)
Beijing 100051 China
中国北京市前门步行街2号3层
邮编 100051
Tel: +86-10- 6702-2727
Fax: +86-10- 6702-3737


The best 10 German dry Riesling wines

November 25, 2009

It was a bit disappointing for a native from the Mosel River to read through the list of best dry Riesling wines of Gault Millau’s newly released wine guide 2010.

Among the best German dry Riesling wines of 2007 and 2008 there was not a single one from the Mosel, Saar or Ruwer.

I know that my home region is more famous for its semi-dry and sweet Rieslings but…

The good news it that a wine from the Nahe where my materal grandfather had introduced me to dry wines many decades ago was ranked the second highest.

Moreover, the vintner of the year is also from the Nahe. Tim Fröhlich (35) was awarded this prestigious title. The family estate Schäfer-Fröhlich is one of the best wineries in the Nahe Region and produces outstanding dry and sweet wines.

The winner for best dry Riesling (with 96 points) was a wine from the Pfalz, a ‘Forster Kirchenstück GC’ by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf (70 €). Emrich-Schoenleber received 95 point for a ‘Halenberg Grosses Gewächs’ (29 €). Among the top ten five Riesling wines came from Pfalz, two from Rheingau and Rheinhessen each and one wine from the Nahe.

That the Franconian wines were missing from the list was a further disappointment. Also in Franconia the 2007 and 2008 vintages were outstanding (as is the 2009).

Two other wines received 95 points, a ‘Abtserde Grosses Gewächs by Keller Estate, Rheinhessen and a ‘Forster Pechstein GC’ also by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Pfalz (35 €). 94 points were awarded to three wines: a ‘Deidesheimer Hohenmorgen GC’ by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf (35 €), a Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg by Georg Breuer, Rheingau (40 €) and a ‘G-Max’, also by Keller Estate, Rheinhessen (I found a price of 160 € from an internet sales website). From some chat on the internet I got the impression that you won’t see a bottle on any shelf. This wine is “rationed” and reserved for special customers. Keller estate was “the producer of the year 2006” of Gault Millau.

Two wines were given 93 points: ‘Kastanienbusch Grosses Gewächs’ by Rebholz Estate, Pfalz (32 €), and ‘Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Alte Reben Goldkapsel’ by Josef Leitz, Rheingau (65 €). Wine number 10 received 92 points and it was a ‘Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Schiefer’ by Siener Estate, Pfalz (16.50 €). This is the only wine in my price-range.

Needless to say that all the wine gurus of the world have written about these wines and these producers, John Gilman, Jancis Robinson, Eric Assimov to name only a few. Some of the wine reviews you can find on the internet, some of them are linked by the specific estate named above. It seems there is lots of research to be done.

Go wine enthusiast. You can, of course, also buy the wine guide, Gault Millau.


A Sunday at Bloody Hill

September 21, 2009

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Great Yarra Valley views from the Mayer Vineyard (left to the dam)

On a beautiful Sunday in early August, we were in for a surprise visit to the Mayer’s. We bought some “nibblies” (Australian for cold meats, sausages, cheeses, condiments, etc.) and some wine in Healesville and drove up the steep drive to Bloody Hill on top of which their beautiful house (rammed earth) is situated. Alas, they were in and happy to welcome their unannounced intruders.

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The vineyard at the crest of the hill is very neat

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Some of the wines on “offer” (f.l.t.r.: a Silvaner from Franconia, Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, a Riesling from the Pfalz and a Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley)

We came at the right time. A shipment of Riesling wine (about 60 cases) which Timo had made on a visit to Germany last year had just arrived and was ready for tasting. Moreover, as a member of the South Pack, Timo was in the preparation of a wine tasting tour to three Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). The South Pack is a group of eight innovative young Australian wine-makers who have raised the bar for the selling of premium and super-premium wines in sluggish markets.

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The German Brotzeit

A quick “Brotzeit” was thrown up and the wine tasting could start. We did not drink in any kind of order but rather according to gusto and enthusiasm. First cap of the rank was the German Riesling Timo had made, Dr. Mayer Riesling of which I have no picture which speaks for itself. This was not a time for tasting notes but for joy and nourishment of body and soul, for Australian and Swabian story telling and song.

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Bloody Hill Pinot Noir

Timo is a native of a small hamlet, called “Grossheppach” (about 4,500 inhabitants), today part of the small town called Weinstadt (translated: wine city) in the Rems valley (the Rems is a small river), Wuerttemberg, about 15 km east of Stuttgart. As everything in Germany, Grossheppach has a long history.

Grossheppach

Coat of arms of Grossheppach showing the river Rems and four grapes on a vine

Furthermore, the village has a long tradition of vine cultivation and wine making. Timo comes from a family of small vintners (and farmers).

In 1279 a historical deed is the earliest written testament of the flourishing wine production in Grossheppach. Magister Rudolf, a local doctor, had bequeathed his house in Esslingen and three vineyards in Grossheppach to the Abbey of Bebenhausen which was witnessed by knight ‘Fridericus miles de Heggebach’.

Timo showed as a historical chronicle of Grossheppach with black and white photos which also depicted his family in the 18th and 19th century. Here we are, thousands of kilometres away from the old land and talking grape production, wine traditions and wine styles. To cut a long story short, Timo had made his first ever Riesling wine in Grossheppach and shipped it for sale to Australia.

It was not the time for tasting notes, I guess. We opened one bottle after the next. First the Riesling wines, then Chardonnay and finally Pinot Noir and Shiraz, all Mayer Vineyard wines and Timo Mayer creations.

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Mayer and Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir and a traditional German wine label with the coat of arms of Grossheppach

The Mayer Vineyard is only a small operation (2.5 ha under vines). All wines are hand crafted and from a single vineyard. Timo believes that wine is made in the vineyard, therefore there is minimal interference. The reds are unfined and unfiltered. Timo makes wines with a difference, with great character and individuality. As he says “he wants to bring back the funk”, and funky these drops are. James Halliday, “the wine pope of Australia”, has awarded his highest rating, a 5 stars, to the Mayer Vineyard.

The Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir is one of the newest creations from the masters hands; a great wine, elegant, whole bunch fermented if I am not mistaken. Timo assumed that all of it would be sold during the South Pack promotion tour together with the Riesling. By now there should be nothing left, I guess.

Needless to say that the day extended to the night and ended with a pasta feast for 9 hungry mouths.

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The pasta sauce in the making

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The magician at work, this time in the kitchen and not in the wine cellar

We had a great time. The children played all afternoon. We walked the vineyard and Timo showed me where he shot a deer. Then we went to get some of that venison for us to take home. The “Brotzeit” led to dinner and then it was time to drive home to our own vineyard in Glenburn. Good news is that Timo is planning to make Riesling again in 2009 and maybe the following years.

For sales and enquiries contact:
timomayer@bigpond.com.au

The following wines are for sale:
Bloody Hill Chardonnay
Bloody Hill Pinot Noir
Big Betty Shiraz
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (also as the Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir)


Reichsrat von Buhl: ‘2007 Forster Ungeheuer Grand Cru dry Riesling’

August 31, 2009

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Embossed on the bottle the sign for ‘Grosses Gewaechs’

I had not had a Grand Cru (or as the Germans say: Grosses Gewaechs) wine for a while. Fortunately, I had participated in a wine quiz of the German wine magazine “Weinwelt” some time ago and won a bottle of Riesling. Not any Riesling, it turned out, but a ‘2007 GG Forster Ungeheuer dry Riesling’ produced by Reichrat von Buhl, Pfalz.

I was completely taken aback when my mother handed me the packet. I could not believe my luck: first time participate, first time win a price. I carried my treasure back to Bangkok and stored it carefully for a special occasion.

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The freshly opened bottle

The occasion came faster than expected. Although the cellaring potential of this wine is 12 to 18 years (!), it only lasted a couple of months in my care. Sunday family lunch was just the right time and place for a treat.

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A beautiful straw colour in the glass

This is a beautiful wine, powerful, complex and dense, with citrus and mineral characters. It did not overpower the food, though it could just stand on its own, enjoyed just as a glass of wine. The peccorino Sardo on the fish was the right match for the dry Riesling (12.6%).

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Flounder with Peccorino Sardo

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The salad

Needless to say, one bottle was not enough. That’s why I recommend if you have the opportunity stock up on this noble drop, buy a crate, a dozen or whatever, in any case more than one bottle. The whole Sunday the taste lingered on my palate and could not be deleted from my mind.

Reichsrat von Buhl has a long tradition of excellence, family-owned since more than 150 years, it was leased in 1989 to an operating company owned by two Japanese businessmen. I found this fact quite remarkable, I must say. Another remarkable fact is that it was also owned for some time by the family of the grandfather of the current German Economics Minister, Dr. Karl-Theodor Freiher zu Guttenberg.

The commitment to excellence, however, has remained the same or is even stronger than ever, I guess.

Address:
ReichsratvonBuhl
Source: from the website www.reichsrat-von-buhl.de/english/kontakt.htm


Wine shopping in Healesville, Yarra Valley

August 16, 2009

Barrique

For a long time I wanted to write about my wine shopping experience in Healesville, a charming tourist town in the Yarra Valley, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. One can find a jewel of a wine store in this rural retreat, called Barrique. I took the photo above Christmas last year.

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This is the old shop front

When visiting Healesville again in July 2009, I was shocked to not see the above signpost in the old place. I was afraid that the global financial crises and the bush fires might have let to the closure of this little wine shop. Alas, it had only moved a block further along the main street into the city centre. I was so happy when I found it again.

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The “new” Barrique, a block further up the main street

I could not resist the temptation. Previously, I had bought German wines from this shop. I dashed in to see what was on offer. The wines are beautifully displayed. There was so much out there. I could not stop browsing through the shelves.

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The inside of Barrique

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So many bottles

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Wines from all over the world

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The “German box” with selected Riesling wines from various German wine regions

The box above announces some of the best German Riesling producers from Mosel, and Nahe. I just love Riesling wines. In the end I picked up four bottles, one from the Pfalz, three from the Mosel. I will not tell you what they were today. More about the tastings of these wines later. Stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.
Cheers


German wines: delight in red and white

July 4, 2009

Traveling in Germany I had the opportunity to taste some marvelous wines with some of my friends. Two of these I would like to briefly present to you, one red, one white wine, one from the Pfalz and one from my native land, the Mosel or to be precise the Saar.

Over a dinner at “Schneeweiss”, a fashionable restaurant in the eastern part of Berlin offering “cuisine from the Alp mountain lands”, we had a bottle of ‘2008 Schneider Ursprung’, a cuveé made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Portugieser by Markus Schneider.

Markus Schneider is one of the young but accomplished vintners who earned the highest praise from wine critics and experts from the wine and hospitality industry. This cuveé is made from grapes grown on a rather warm location at the “Feuerberg”, a terroir known for its capacity of heat retention by the local gravel stones which allows the grapes to fully ripen.

The wine is of a deep purple colour. It displays flavours of a lot of fruit, plum, some mint, chocolate and shows some peppery notes. The wine is very round and extremely smooth, for me just a bit too perfect in the mouth, I must say. It went extremely well with the food that I had ordered (Italian pasta filled with mushrooms). The wine is perfect and was a good choice. It retails for about 8 to 11 EURO but is worth the money.

Schneider Ursprung

A very simple label on the bottle: “Schneider Ursprung”

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What a beautiful deep purple colour

Later the same evening, we tasted a dessert wine from my native lands, the Mosel, actually from the Saar river. It was a ‘1992 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spaetlese’ from “Staatliche Weinbaudomaene Trier”.

OckBockRiesAus

What a delight this wine was, a drop from heaven. It had aged well, was fresh and round. Although low in alcohol (only 8%), the acids were vibrant so that the wine was extremely well balanced, honey sweet, just wonderful. Only my friend Gerhard can wait for a wine like this to ripen in the cellar and patiently await the right moment to open a treasure like this.

I know the terroir quite well, Ockfener Bockstein, just a couple of meters away from the boundaries of the hunting grounds of my friend Heinz in Schoden, Saar which borders on Ockfen. The vineyards here are extremely steep and all work in manual. The 1992 vintage of this Riesling Auslese is just wonderful. I have no words to describe this nectar and do justice to the wine.

Address:
Schneeweiss
Kern Ranogajec GbR
Simplonstraße 16
10245 Berlin
Proprietors: Denis Ranogajec and Ralf Kern
Tel.: +49-30/29 04 97 04
Fax: +49-30/29 04 97 05

Weingut Markus Schneider
Am Hohen Weg 1
67158 Ellerstadt
(near Wachenheim, Pfalz)
Tel.: +49 (0)62…
Fax.: +49 (0)6237 – 977230

Administration:
Georg-Fitz-Straße 12
67158 Ellerstadt
info@black-print.net
http://www.black-print.net

Staatliche Weinbaudomänen Trier
Deworastr. 3
54290 Trier, Germany
+49 651 97598-0
www.staats
weingueter.rlp.de


The best German vintners and wine makers

June 1, 2009

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The wine gods (photo taken from a building in Berlin)

Its certainly a great honour to be called “vintner of the year”. Since 1994 Gault Millau, Germany’s wine guide and major authority regarding wine, wine business and the wine sector, is awarding the “vintner of the year” award.

Today the total number of vintners of the year is 16, seven of which come from the Mosel wine region. The current one, however, comes from the Pfalz (Knipser brothers).

But in the years 2007 (Theo Haart, Mosel), 2005 (Kartaeuserhof, Ruwer), 2001 (Loosen, Mosel), 1998 (Mueller-Scharzhof, Saar), 1996 (Joh. Jos. Pruem, Mosel), 1995 (von Schubert, Ruwer) and 1994 (Fritz Haag, Mosel) the vintner of the year came from my home, the Mosel river and its tributaries.

(Remark: the Mosel wine region was originally called: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer)

No other German wine region has provided that many “champions”. So far the Nahe and Pfalz wine regions had two vintners of the year; and Rheinhessen, Rheingau, Frankonia, Ahr and Baden had one each (for the names of the vintners of the year: Gault Millau).

I came about this fact only by accident while researching a story, I was going to write. I have to find more Mosel wines here in Bangkok, I guess. Wish me luck.


Country living: The good life in Ramsdorf, Westphalia

May 31, 2009

The land

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The Münsterland, Westphalia is not exactly a wine region. People in this rather flat but beautiful rural part of Germany, just an hours drive from the Industrial heartland of the Ruhr (the drive can be as short as 30 minutes only), prefer to drink beer and “Korn”, a spirit also called “Schnaps” distilled from wheat and other grains.

The farm houses are made of red bricks, have large wooden doors, usually green, high gables and are just magnificent. They stand alone within the land belonging to them, accompanied by large stables and barns, all erected in the same style, a wonderful sight. I went there to visit my friends Uli and Elfriede in a small hamlet called Ramsdorf.

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My friends Uli and Elfriede’s house, formerly a cottage of the estate (from the back)

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The backside with the outdoor furniture

The Food

As the people so the food, one could say. Rural people everywhere developed healthy, nutritional type of foods; no-nonsense stuff, usually based on the raw materials the land has to offer. So the Münsterlaender cuisine has a lot of sausages, ham and various kinds of meats, served with potatoes, and green vegetables.

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The table in the patio

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Beautiful beef

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Fresh asparagus in a special asparagus cooker

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The finished product: asparagus

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The finished product: the steaks

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Our meal of asparagus, potatoes, ham and a steak with melted butter

The wines

We did of course also drink wine with this delicious meal. We started while the asparagus was still cooking with a ‘2008 Knipser Sauvignon Blanc dry’ by Weingut Knipser, Pfalz, a wonderful wine, fresh, fruity with structure and depth.

The brothers Volker and Werner Knipser (and since 2005 Stephan, Werner’s son) are the owners of this vineyard and winery in Laumersheim, Pfalz. The family operates the estate since 1876. Today about 40 ha are under vines. The brothers were the first in this part of the Pfalz to use small barriques barrels to mature their wines. They also increased the area under red varieties and replanted with high quality rootlings. In 2009 the were awarded “Vintner of 2009” by Gault Millau for their innovative ways and their high quality wines. My first Knipser wine, I drank many years ago when living in Beijing. My friend Norbert Finkel, a journalist from the Pfalz, introduced me to the Knipser wines long before they became fashionable.

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‘2008 Knipser Sauvignon Blan dry’ in the bottle

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..and in the glass

After the white, we longed for some red and went out into the shed where Uli stores his wines. Here we unearthed an old wooden box with red wines from Bordeaux, France.

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Treasure trove

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The chosen one

We selected a ‘1994 Château de Sales’, a Bordeaux blend from Pomerol, France. Uli de-cantered the wine, the drop was excellent but needed to be drunk. So we had “discovered” it at the right time. The blend was full flavoured, with structure and harmonious tannins and very enjoyable with our food. The wine sells on the internet in the UK for £ 30-35 and in continental Europe for about the same amount but in €.

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The top of the capsule

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The cork

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Uli de-cantering the Bordeaux

We finished the evening with an Italian wine, a ‘2006 Vietti Nebbiolo Parabacco’ from Langhe, Piedmont in Italy. That was quite a change from the Bordeaux. The wine was rich and complex. It showed well balanced tannins which were chewy at the finish, just great for a red. What a pleasurable wine to end a very pleasurable day with my friends in the Münsterland.

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The Nebbiolo bottle from Vietti

The people

I quickly introduce my friends, the three Hillejan families. Georg and Barbara are the farmers, aunt Doris, the mother of Georg and Ulrich, and Ulrich and Elfriede, my old friends from University days. I used to work on the farm as an intern during my students days when Uli’s father Alfons was running the estate. I loved to work for uncle Alfons. He was a great man. But I did not only work but also play there. We celebrated quite a few events (a few weddings among others) on that farm, had wild parties and a great time playing farmers.

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Georg, aunt Doris, Ulrich, Barbara and Elfriede on the veranda of the old farm house

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Three men on a mission, Ulrich, me and Georg