First wine flash mob in Koblenz and Trier

October 29, 2012

My own flash mob in Bangkok

About a week ago history was made when the first “wine flash-mob” was conducted in Koblenz, and a much smaller one in my home town Trier. I learned it from facebook, and I wished I were there.

Funny is that the word flash of the term “flash-mob” sounds like “Flasche” which translates into German as “bottle”. So it is a “bottle mob”. Indeed about 200 wine lovers followed the invitation in Koblenz and congregated at the “German corner” (Deutsches Eck), a public square, where Rhine and Mosel river merge.

It was maybe the last warm autumn’s day (according to the organizers 21 Celsius) with blues sky, coloured leaves on trees, soft air with the hint that winter was not far away. Jan Wilhelm Buhrmann and Marco Pusceddu from the wine bar “Gavino” in Koblenz had invited to this un-usual event.

The event was part of an initiative by the German Wine Institute (DWI) to promote German wine. The title of the campaign was “become a wine spotter” (or discoverer) and it was conducted in the third week of October. In more than 400 restaurants all over Germany various events were held to promote German wine.

The bottle flash mob in Koblenz, planned for only 20 minutes, muted into a two hour public tasting and wine sharing where German “Gemuetlichkeit” reigned. Great stuff. I hope I can be there when they do it next time.

Winery of the Year 2012 – The German Champions

October 12, 2012

In the last week of September three of my favourite German wineries were honoured by the Wine & Spirits Magazine, and included in the top 100 list of the best wineries of the world in 2012.

The three wineries are the following:

1. Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel, Mosel
The winery has been in the Loosen family for more than 200 years. Ernst Loosen took over in 1988, and, as they say, the rest is history. Dr. Loosen is maybe one of the best known German vintners in the international wine scene. I was so happy when Barrique, my local wine shop in Healesville, Victoria was carrying Dr. Loosen wines.

Winery Dr. Loosen,
St. Johannishof
54470 Bernkastel, Mosel
Tel.: +49-6531-3426

2. C. von Schubert, Mertesdorf, Ruwer, Mosel
This winery has also a long tradition. The “Grünhaus”, as the estate is also known, was already mentioned in ancient documents in 966 when it belonged to the Benedictine monastery of Saint Maximin in Trier.

Carl von Schubert, the current owner-operator, belongs to the fifth generation of the von Schubert family. The estate produces outstanding wines and was awarded many national and international prices. I tasted some of the Maximin Grünhäuser 2011 vintage dry Riesling wines during our summer vacation

Dr. Carl von Schubert
Hauptstr. 1
54318 Mertesdorf
Fax: +49-651-52122

3. Robert Weil, Kiedrich, Rheingau
The winery was set-up in 1875. The founder was the university professor Robert Weil who taught German at the Sorbonne in Paris. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71 forced him to return to his native Germany. He settled down in Kiedrich, Rheingau and extended his vineyards and laid the foundation for today’s estate. In 2010 I found some bottles of the Robert Weil 2008 vintage in a Bangkok wine shop. Delicious.

Winery Robert Weil
Mühlberg 5
65399 Kiedrich, Rheingau
Tel.: +49-6123 2308
Fax: +49-6123 1546

Weinhaus Gut Suelz revisited

August 22, 2012

Weinhaus Gut Suelz

When I was a student at Bonn Univerity and I lived at the right hand side of the Rhein river (they call it the “schael Sick”, the shoddy side of the river), I visited this place in Oberdollendorf regularly.

The building

Sometime we would just walk from Niederdollendorf through the forest to get there, sometimes we would cycle along the Rhain river. It was one of our preferred destinations. We would relax in the garden and enjoy some bottles of local wine.

The garden with the vineyards on the hillside

We came there recently to end our visit to Koeln and Bonn (including a visit to the house of german history). It was the highlight of the day so to speak because my wife and the children had never been there before. I wanted to share with them some of my past.

The weather was a bit cloudy, and it was a Thursday, consequently only young and not so young lovers and retirees where there when we arrived.

The vineyards in a theater facing the South

The Weinhaus Gut Suelz is located at the bottom of a kind of natural theater, sourrounded by vineyards with the forests on top of the hills, at the edge of the village. The vineyards, however, do not belong to the ‘Weinhaus’, Suelz does not have it’s own production. But I knew one of the vinteners of these vineyards, the Bloeser family. Indeed I have written about them years ago on the Man from Mosel River.

Blauer/Blue Portugieser by the Bloeser winery

I did not fancy a Riesling but instead wanted something special, something local. The Blauer Portugieser (in France known as Portugais bleu), a traditional grape variety from Austria (yes, Austria and not Portugal) wine seemed just the right stuff.

It is a light, but dark red wine, with a medium to light body, soft tannins and low acidity, an uncomplicated wine one could say. very good for a sensitive stomach. It meant home to me somehow, or as we Germans call it “Heimat”.

Apple juice from ‘Streuobstwiesen’, a traditional biotop under threat

The service was very good. We ordered “Flammkuchen” (a traditional dish from the German Southwest and the French East -Alsace) which seems to have gained the upper hand when it comes to dishes one orders together with wine these days.


You can see from the photo above that this was truly worth it.
My tip: if you are in the vicinity, drop in. There is a great choice of wines, not only local ones but many more from around Europe. And enjoy.

Weinhaus Gut Sülz GmbH.
Bachstraße 157
53639 Königswinter – Oberdollendorf.
Tel.: +49-22 23 – 30 10.

Enoteca “13 gradi” and Angelo Consorte, in Garbatella, Rome

August 15, 2010

The precinct of Garbatella in Rome

When we lived in Rome, we had an apartment in Via Tamburini in Garbatella. During our holidays in Rome we could not resist to visit the old stomping ground and wander around. Apart from having “reconnecting” with “our” old pizzeria (more about this at a later stage), we also found a treasure of a wine shop, an “enoteca”, as it is called in Italian.

Name cards of Alfredo Pinot, manager of Enoteca “13 gradi” in Garbatella

By accident we stumbled into Angelo Consorte’s wine shop named “13 gradi” (13 per cent). After dinner we just wanted to take some wine with us to the old farmhouse where we stayed near Appia Antica. We were lucky, “Enoteca 13 gradi” was still open.

The inside of the treasure house

Angelo Consorte and me

The four of us immediately felt at home in the place. We waited for another customer to be served. I used the opportunity to browse through the shelves and had picked up six bottles which I lined up in a row.

Then we started to talk to Angelo. He took Margit for a local, the rest of us was obviously foreign (we have broken Italian only). We introduced ourselves and had a great conversation.

Angelo was very kind to help me identify the wines I wanted to try. He analyzed my selection which helped him to get an idea what types of wines I intended to try. Here and there he replaced a bottle with another one and in the end we walked out with eight bottles for which he made us a really good price.

We learned that Angelo had traveled along the Mosel and Rhine rivers by bike and was quite familiar with the wines from my home region. In fact he is involved in the organization of winery tours on bikes, very interesting I found.

My girls had a good time

My take from “13 gradi”

In the end my take was the following:

– 2008 Marabino, Noto, Nero d’Avola
– 2009 Le Favole, Bosco Bando, Traminer Aromatico, Friuli
– Graf von Meran, Riesling by Unterberger, Alto Adige
– 2008 Pinot Grigio, by Nals-Margreid, Alto Adige
– Marcarini Fontanazza
– La Luna des Rospo, Silente
– Zeno Blauburgunder Riserva, Alto Adige
– La Corte del Pozzo, Valpolicella Fasoli Gino

I apologize for the sloppy registration. I missed out on some of the vintage indication. But I will provide an account of these wines in the context of their consumption (usually with food and during lavish dinners).

However, I also noticed that my notes are not complete (after all I was on holidays and not on a wine tasting venture). I might skip one or the other of the above wines. Some of them we took with us as gifts for friends and therefore I do not posses all tasting notes.

Angelo is certainly a find. Please visit him at “13 gradi” when in Rome. He has a great selection of Italian wines and a great passion for them. Below his address.

Enoteca “13 gradi”
Piazza Bartolomeo Romano 4
00154 Roma
Tel.: +39-328-5589211 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +39-328-5589211   

PS: Thank’s to Alfredo Pinto earlier mistakes in my blog entry could be corrected. What would we do without the internet. Thank you Alfredo for making me aware of my misconceptions.

Pierre Sparr Riesling, Alsace

May 8, 2010

Pomfret con alceitunas y alcaparras

We had fish for dinner. Following a Spanish recipe, we had “Bonito con Aceitunas y Alcaparras” (tuna with olives and capers) from the “Culinaria Spain – Spanish Specialities” cookery book by Koenemann, 1998, Cologne, which is a wonderful book. It has not only breathtaking recipes but great pictures, stories about the food and the people, the various regions of Spain and, of course on Spanish wines.

We deviated from the original recipe by replacing the tuna fillets by whole pomfret fish but used all the other ingredients for the preparation of the dish. Needless to say, it was delicious. The recipe worked also with pomfret, one of my favourite fishes here in Asia.

2008 Pierre Sparr Riesling, extreme, Alsace

I had no Spanish wine in my wine fridge, but a Riesling from Alsace which I had bought a couple of days earlier because of its funky modern label. Pierre Sparr is the name of the estate. The 2008 vintage Riesling is still young and exuberant, just the right stuff for pairing it with the strong taste of the olives and the capers. The acidity made all the difference.

Pierre Sparr Riesling extreme

2008 Pierre Sparr Riesling, extreme, Alsace

I tried to find the same label on the Pierre Sparr website but could not. It must have been a special label for the export market. Back home in Alsace the same wines have more traditional wine labels. The Sparr family winery goes back to 1680. Pierre Sparr is representing the ninth (!!!) generation of Sparr family wine-makers and vignerons. The winery is located in Sigolsheim at the heart of the Alsace region. The family owns and operates 34 ha under vines and contracts fruit from about another 150 ha, usually small growers.

I love this wine region and have visited many times, especially during my student days. Alsace has a outstanding gastronomy, spread over the most picturesque region, right at the foot of the Vosges mountains down to the Rhine river. Vines have been cultivated since Roman times.

Pierre Sparr offers a wide range of wines (and also grappa). I guess the wine we had belongs to the lowest quality segment which you can buy in France for about 8.25-9.50 EURO/bottle. I paid much more for it here in Bangkok. It displays rose petal aromas, citrus, peach and honey. The wine is sprizzy and has zest, a good structure and a long finish. Its’ perfectly made and will last for some more years (12% alc/vol).

I hope we have the chance to visit Alsace again this year. And meanwhile I look out for Pierre Sparr wines here in Bangkok.

Sunday lunch in March

March 14, 2010

Since the beginning of this year, we have a new rule as regards the family cooking: every Sunday another member of our family is preparing the family feast. It was my turn last Sunday (more about this another time) and today my daughter Lucy (15) took on the role of the chef.

She presented us with salmon with salsa and a guacamole. In addition we had a fresh salad which is very nice in 35 Celsius heat. Mama helped a little but not much. It was delicious, as you can see from the photos below. What a great lunch this was.

The recipe came from the delicious magazine (December 2005/January 2006): Cajun salmon with corn salsa.

One mixes a table spoon each of coriander, dried tyme and oregano, cumin, and dried garlic, adds two table spoons of pimento (sweet smoked paprika) and olive oil and mixes this in high heat in a pan. The salmon fillets are rubbed with the mix, then cooked for about two minutes on one side and one minute on the other. After that you transfer them to a heated oven of about 180 Celsius where they are cooked for about 3-5 minutes. Serve with the salsa and guacamole.

The salad

The wine, however, was my department. Thanks to Mathias and Beatrix we still had a bottle of ‘2007 altenkirch Rieling, trocken’ by Friedrich Altenkirch in Lorch, Rheingau, Germany.

The wine is German Riesling at its best. With only 12% alc. vol. it has zest and finesse and the typical citrus flavours. It is a blend from different locations and made to be enjoyed young. The single vineyard wines from very steep slopes the winery produces are regularly awarded all kinds of medals. Altenkirch is worth a visit if you are visiting the Rhine river.

Winery Friedrich Altenkirch
Binger Weg 2
D-65391 Lorch /Rheingau
Tel: +49 67 26 / 83 00 12
Fax: +49 67 26 / 24 83

As the river….

October 24, 2008

Most German wine regions (not all) take their name from the river which runs through the territory planted with grape vines. This is true for the Mosel, Saar, Ruwer, Rhine, and Nahe to name but a few. Vine growing in my native Germany is intrinsically linked to rivers and river systems which is partly due to the availability of steep slopes catching the last beams of sun.

The village of Schoden at the Saar river, in the background, the location Ayler Kupp (photo taken from the location “Herrenberg”)

Recently my writing style has been characterized as “meandering” (by David Harden, thanks David) and meandering I do. In fact the purpose of my whole blog is meandering. Meandering between the old and the new world and its wines, meandering between my actual live in a big Asian metropolitan city and my desired live in a rural place in Victoria, Australia, meandering between the many identities I have acquired over the years working in Asia and my future as an Australian vintner and wine maker.

Wuerzburg at the Main river and its vineyards

The second part of the title sentence goes as follows: “…so the wine”. This is certainly true for Germany. I have to find a similar “alliteration” for Glenburn and the Upper Goulburn Wine Region.

Row spacing and trellis systems in Germany

May 10, 2008

While traveling in Germany last year, I took quite a few photos of vineyards and the way vines were grown there. While visiting the Ahr, Rhine, Mosel and Saar I notices that row spacing and trellising could showed a wide variety of different spaces and systems.

This slope on the Ahr shows “planting with the slope” and planting “parallel to the slope”, and also the width between rows shows variations.

Here (photo above from the Ahr) sticks have been put between the individual vines in order to make it easier to move in the vineyards and to prevent stones and earth to be washed down the rows. Every vine has its own individual post and no wires are required. One finds this system also along the Mosel and the Saar.

Individual vines and the post after pruning (Saar)

After pruning, two canes are bound to the post on the individual post system. I wonder if spur pruning can be applied to it too?

Usually movable fruit wires, as we have them in Australia (VSP = vertical shoot positioning), are not a feature of these trellis systems. This is not surprising. On the steep slopes of the Mosel, Ahr and Rhine rivers moving fruit wires would be suicidal.

In my own vineyard in Glenburn, we use a simple VSP-trellis system. The move of the fruit wires is usually not a difficult job, especially along the gentle slopes as we have them. However, when the rows are long, the wire gets heavier and heavier the longer the day lasts.

Three fixed wires on vines in Olewig, Trier/Mosel

One finds also more and more metal posts, here also with three wires (Olewig)

In some of the locations, even if they are steep, caterpillar tractors are used to work the land. These tractors are small but still need narrow rows between the vines in order to operate.

Below, two rows have been planted close to each other (and no vehicle can work between them), but the next rows a planted at a wider distance so that the caterpillar tractor can be used.

Even cabbage is grown between the rows (Olewig/Trier, Mosel)

In my blog entry titled “Along the Mosel River”, of September 12th, 2007 I showed some of the elevators used on steep slopes to carry material up and down the vineyard. Have a look and check it out; it’s an interesting system, one can observe on many steep vineyard slopes on the Mosel.