Last day of 2012: Taking stock

December 31, 2012

What to do on the 31 of December? Well, I thought to check out my wine fridge. Small as it is, the review did not take very long.

I was amazed that my wine collection included wines from Germany (yes mostly Riesling wines), Austria, Italy, Canada, Australia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and of course Thailand. This makes eight countries, four in the West and four in the East.

I also realized that I have no French wine in stock.

Wine fridge 1

1982 Scharzhofberger Spaetlese

Two wines in particular I look forward to taste in 2013.

One is a ‘1982 Scharzhofberger Riesling Spaetlese’ by Egon Mueller from Wiltingen at the Saar river, the second a ‘2009 Pinot Noir Centgrafenberg Grand Cru’ from Rudolf Fuerst in Buergstadt, Frankonia.

Wine fridge 2

2009 Centgrafenberg GG Spaetburgunder

Both wines, both terroirs and both vintners are among the top in Germany.

The Riesling bottle looks OK, just the label has suffered a bit. I wonder what a 30 year old wine will taste like. In any case it is a treasure. I wonder when I shall open it?

The bottle of Pinot Noir I bought from Fuerst junior during a wine tasting at Karthaeuserhof in Eitelsbach last August.

There are of course other treasures in my wine fridge. More about this next year. Now I will get ready for the New Years party.

I wish all of you a good start into 2013, and stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.


Pinot Noir from the Ahr

October 28, 2012

2009 Spaetburgunder Auslese Trocken

The Ahr wine region is well known for producing outstanding Pinot Noir wines in Germany. During a visit this summer we bought a bottle of ‘2009 Spaetburgunder Auslese dry’ from the Mayschoss Vintner Co-operative.

The co-operative is the oldest in Germany. In 2012 one of it’s wines was awarded the best “Blanc de Noir of Germany” title by the food magazine „Der Feinschmecker“ (5/2012 edition). We visited the cellar door in August and had a guided tour which was very lovely.

Recently I tasted the Mayschoss Pinot Noir together with my friend Juergen. The wine has a beautiful dark red colour. The black fruit aromas with a tiny hint of peach are lovely. The wine is medium-bodied, smooth and shows a fine balance. We drank it on a Sunday morning, just like that without food, what we call in Germany a “Fruehschoppen”, a drink (glass of wine or beer) taken after church, and before going home for lunch.

Thanks Juergen and Elisabeth for the excellent company.

Steep slopes at the Ahr river


Assmannshausen Hoellenberg Spaetlese – Best Pinot Noir of my summer holidays

August 28, 2012

View of the Rhine from Bingen looking downstream

Well, if you could just see around the bend in the river, you could see Assmannshausen and its steep vineyards. The vineyards you see in the distance on the other side of the Rhine river here in the photo above are in fact the ones of Ruedesheim. However, you will get a good idea how steep these terroirs are and what a hell of a lot of work it is to cultivate the grapes on these steep slopes.

‘Hoellenberg’is the name of the location (terroir) which means in English (freely translated) ‘mountain of hell’, a quite common name for steep slopes in the Rheingau wine region.

In short, the best Pinot Noir (spaetlese, late harvest) I tasted during my five weeks in Germany was a ‘2010 Hoellenberg Pinot Noir Spaetlese’ from Assmannshausen produced by Kloster Eberbach in the Rheingau.

2010 Assmannshausen Hoellenberg Spaetlese – Pinot Noir

I bought the bottle in the wine shop at Kloster Eberbach for about 17-18 Euro, I think and it turned out to be a treasure. Pinot Noir of the finest kind. Pinot Noir the way I like it, full of flavours but well balanced, earthy with a vibrant acidity, a good body, structure and a long finish. A wine with character.

At 12.5. % alcohol, this wine is not overpowering but elegant, regal I would even say. I immediately regretted that I had not bought more bottles. I was to fast, as always, impatient. At the time I did not want to stand in line for the tasting on this busy Sunday afternoon when we had dropped in the cellar door at the monastery in Eberbach.

A selection of cheeses and salads

We had the wine in a very casual way with some summer dishes, salads and typical German dinner cold cuts and an insalata caprese. The wine would have matched almost any food except some spicy Asian dishes. but it is worth being enjoyed as stand alone drink.

My rating: four and a half out of five stars, 19 of 20 points, 90 Parker points. I could not be more subjective, I guess. In hindsight and given my memory lapses, I consider this the best wine I drank during my summer vacation.

The only one exception maybe was the wine tasting at Karthaeuserhof in Eitelsbach which I attended at the last day of the holiday, but then we merely tasted (small amounts of excellent wines in big glasses and without food) and did not drink a bottle of wine.

More about this event, another time. Stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.


Boetzinger, wine from Baden, Germany

May 5, 2012

Boetziner wine co-operative

When I attended the party convention of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Karlsruhe a couple of week ago, I was not so sure that I would have the time for some wine tasting. Alas, the Saturday night party of the FDP showed that there was no reason to worry.

Karlsruhe is located on the right side of the Rhine river in Baden, one of the smaller German wine regions in the South-west, just across the Rhine river from another famous German wine region: the Pfalz (Palatinate).

It goes without saying that wine from Baden was the choice of the organizers, and a good choice it was. One does not expect a “grand cru” to be served at such an occasion. After an excruciating day of debate and discussion the hundreds of party delegates just want to get on with their lives.

However, a decent drop of wine is very much appreciated. Two wines were on offer, a ‘2011 Boetzinger Pinot Gris, Kabinett dry’ and a ‘2011 Boetzinger Pinot Noir, Kabinett dry’, both in their dry variant.

Boetzinger is a wine co-operative, the oldest wine co-operative at the Kaiserstuhl in Baden. It has about 500 vintner members who produce first quality grapes.

We started with the white and followed through with the red, both wines were very pleasant, clean and crisp for easy drinking and dry: in short excellent specimen of their kind.

We drank lots. The waiters kept bringing the stuff. When we got up at about two o’clock in the morning we had a good fill.

And the next morning, you might ask? Well, just fine. The wine not only had a decent taste, it showed its quality also after a huge consumption.

From the Boetzinger website I found that the bottle of Pinot Gris costs only EURO 5.75 and the bottle of Pinot Noir is EURO 6.30, both very decent prices especially when you are dealing with the exorbitant wine prices here in Thailand.

Try the wines of Boetzinger.


The other day in Germany 1: 2009 J.J. Adeneuer No. 2 Spaetburgunder dry

November 16, 2011

2009 Adeneuer No. 2 Spaetburgunder dry

At a recent business dinner a dry Pinot Noir from the Ahr was served. It was a ‘2009 Adeneuer No.2 Spaetburgunder dry’ by Weingut J.J. Adeneuer in Ahrweiler, Ahr.

The ‘2009 Adeneuer No.2’ costs about Euro 16.- to 17.-, and is a ripper of a German Pinot Noir.

Since my main course was a fish dish, I had chosen the Riesling wine (more about this later), not a difficult choice for a Riesling aficionado like me.

But later in the evening when the dinner dragged on, I also had a good look at the red wine served with the food. I love the Pinot Noir wines from the Ahr, the smallest wine region in West Germany, therefore I had to taste it.

When I was a student at Bonn University we would sometimes skip some lectures and go on a spontaneous trip to the Ahr river. The Ahr valley is a very romantic place, a little jewel for a young student in love with life and everything.

Because of the darkness of the dining room, I could not verify the expected pale red colour of the Pinot Noir. The aromas were dense and fresh, strawberries and other red berries came to mind. The wine is medium bodied with fine tannins, a very good structure and a long finish. I found ratings on the internet between 17 and 18 points (on the 20-point scale).

I wished I had ordered some red meat as well…..

Address:
Weingut J.J. Adeneuer
Max-Planck-Str. 8
53474 Ahrweiler
Tel.: +49-2641-34473
Fax.: +49-2641-37379
web: http://adeneuer.de
Opening hours:
Mo. – Fr. 9.00 – 12.00 h and 13.30 – 18.00 h
Saturday 10.00 – 15.00 h
Sunday and holidays only with appointment


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


Franconian treasure: Weingut Schmitt’s Kinder

November 14, 2010

2007 Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl by Schmitt’s Kinder

One of the best Franconia wineries is Schmitt’s Kinder in Randersacker, a lovely village of about 3,500 people along the Main river, about 30 minutes from Wuerzburg, the capital city of Lower Franconia.

We have visited Randersacker in 2008 and cultivate fond memories of this (much too short) visit.

The name “Schmitt’s Kinder” (in English Schmitt’s children) goes back to 1910 when the children of the vintner (Schmitt) did not, as is the custom in Lower Franconia, divide the property after the fathers death among the siblings, but instead opted to jointly cultivate the land.

The winery is currently under the management of the 10th generation of vintners: Karl Martin and Renate Marie Schmitt. The total area under vines is bout 14 ha in the locations “Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl”, “Marsberg”, “Teufelskeller”, “Pfülben” and “Ewig Leben”.

Main variety is Silvaner, followed by Riesling, Mueller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc, Bacchus, Domina and Pinot Noir.

The ‘2004 Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl Pinot Noir’ won the 2006 Pinot Noir Cup for best Pinot Noir wine of the world!!!! Can you imagine? That’s just great, a German Pinot Noir beating the best of France and Australia.

The back label, very modest and unassuming

Our friends Romy and Friedel Engisch in Wuerzburg offered exactly that wine when we visited last August. I tell you also the 2007 vintage of this Pinot Noir is first class. Amazing what Pinot Noir wines Germany can produce.

If you have the opportunity to get your hands on a bottle of this wine, do so immediately. Total production is quite limited but the price level is very reasonable.

Romy and Friedel Engisch with their guests from Bangkok

Address:
Weingut Schmitt’s Kinder
Am Sonnenstuhl 45
D-97236 Randersacker
Tel.: +49-931 / 70 59-1 97
Fax: +49- 0931 / 70 59-1 98
www.schmitts-kinder.de/


Restaurant review: Schlosshotel Cecilienhof, Potsdam

October 1, 2009

cecilienhof

Schlosshotel Cecilienhof

I had the great pleasure to participate in a formal dinner at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof in Potsdam. This hotel is part of a historic castle of great significance: it was the site for the Potsdam Conference which brought peace to Europe at the end of World War II. It was in this building that Truman, Churchill and Stalin (among others) negotiated the fate of Germany in 1945. But I will not bore you with too much history today.

The dinner was a very enjoyable affair: I had great company, the food was excellent, the wines were very, very drinkable and the service was eminently suitable. I went for the seafood choice below: first a salmon starter followed by a “Zander” (pike perch) fillet.

Zander0

The starter made of salmon

Zander

“Zander”/pike perch fillet for main course

I also tried both wines on offer. The choice for white consisted of a ‘2007 Weingut Schloss Sommerhausen Riesling dry’ from Frankonia in Germany and was an excellent pairing with the starter. Schloss Sommerhausen is located between Ochsenfurt and Wuerzburg, the home of my maternal grandfather who introduced me to the wines from Frankonia.

I just love Riesling and Silvaner wines from Frankonia, but they also produce excellent Spaetburgunder and many other wines. The shape of the Frankonian wine bottles is unique (only the sweet Meteus wines from Portugal can also be found in such bottles), they are called “Bocksbeutel”.

Sommerhausen Riesling

But I also wanted to taste the Pinot Noir, a young wine from 2008, ‘Alde Gott Spaetburgunder dry’ from Baden. This was my second Pinot Noir from Baden since I arrived in Germany and I must say, both wines (the other one was from Affental) were excellent.

Both are produced by wine co-operatives. “Alde Gott” is located in Sasbachwalden, a village near the cities of Buehl and Baden-Baden were also the wine co-operative of Affental can be found.

AldeGott

Addresses:
Weingut Schloss Sommerhausen
Familie Steinmann
Ochsenfurter Straße 17–19
97286 Sommerhausen
Tel. 0 93 33/2 60
Fax 0 93 33/14 88

Wine sales at Schloss Sommerhausen
Steinmann family
Hauptstraße 25
97286 Sommerhausen
Tel. +49 – 93 33/2 60
Fax +49 – 93 33/14 88

Opening hours:
Mo. – Fr. von 9.00 – 18.00 Uhr
Sa. von 10.00 – 16.00 Uhr
Public holidays 10.00 – 14.00 Uhr

Wine Co-operative Sasbachwalden
Talstraße 2
D-77887 Sasbachwalden
Tel.: +49-07841 – 20 29 – 0
Fax: +49-7841 – 20 29 18
E-Mail: info@aldegott.de


Connoisseurs delight: a wine tasting in Berlin of a special kind

January 15, 2009

schlau0

While in Berlin an old friend of mine, Gerhard Schlaudraff, had invited me spontaneously to join and celebrate his birthday in his new home near Warschauer Platz. Since Gerhard is not only a wine lover but a real wine expert, the feast promised to be something special. And indeed, it turned out to be a wine tasting of a special kind.

schlau1

I was about an hour late and many wines had been already swallowed up by gay drinkers. I came just in time for the two reds, the ‘1995 Corton Grand Cru Domaine Bonneau du Martray and the ‘1996 Grand Vin Château Beychevelle Saint-Julien’.

We all agreed that the two wines should have been drunk some time ago, they had, unfortunately, already passed their prime. That’s why we moved on swiftly without loosing too much time.

schlau21

The ‘2003 Kuenstler Reichestal Spaetburgunder’ from the Rheingau was a ripper of a wine. It can hold itself against the best Pinot Noirs from Burgundy. The wine was well balanced despite the “horror” announcement of 15% alcohol on the label. So forget about France and Burgundy and explore this wonderful drop from the Rheingau. More and more Germany is showing itself as a Pinot Noir producer of high distinction. My tip: get a bottle of this wine now and enjoy it, preferably over a good meal, with family and friends.

schlau3

After that we moved on to sweet wines for dessert. We started with a ‘1999 Deidesheimer Grainhübel Riesling Auslese’ from Weingut Dr. Deinhard, Pfalz. This wine was “heaven on a stick”, a dessert Riesling which you want to try. Our eyes rolled in their sockets with delight and our taste buds were exposed to an opulence and richness from which mere human palates are often excluded.

schlau4

The last wine came from my adopted home, Victoria, Australia. It was a Muscat from Rutherglen, a wine region about three hours north from our own place in Glenburn.

The ‘Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Grand Muscat’ was the highlight of the evening. Chambers produces outstanding Muscat wines of superior quality. The average age of its Grand cuveés is about 70 years.

The Chicago Wine Company gives the wine 98 out of a 100 and has given up to describe the wine, because tasting notes would read the same year after year.

For me this wine was the perfect ending to an utterly enjoyable wine and birthday celebration. From here on only spirits with a much higher alcohol content could be taken. I left the diners to it when I made my way home on the subway.


The next big thing: German Pinot Noir

October 10, 2007

d1000110pinot.JPG

Pinot Noir grape

It seems that I’ve been drinking the right stuff: “Blauer Spätburgunder” as the Germans call it, Pinot Noir is all the vogue in “the German lands”. Traditionally, Germany has always been considered a white wine producer. The recent rediscovery of Riesling and the boom in worldwide Riesling demand supports this view.

Now it seems domestic attention has shifted to the colour red. In particular the Pinot Noir wines show a tremendous rise in quality and consumer demand. Wine experts in Germany praise the progress made and estimate that an increase in demand for German Pinot Noir is going to follow the Riesling boom.

But red varieties are no strangers to Germany, as I have pointed out in one of my recent blog entries (“Old friends, wine from the Mosel and other culinary delights”, 16. September 2007). Where would German red wines be if politicians had not meddled in the vintners’ affairs in the 18th century, as elector Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxonia did along the Mosel?

d1000133pinot2.JPG

Vintage time for Pinot Noir 2007

My recent explorations of German wines made from the Pinot Noir grape can only confirm the wine writers’ opinions, though they mainly point to the wine regions of Ahr, Baden, Rheingau and Rheinhessen and seem to forget the next big thing, Pinot Noir from the Mosel.

I argue that the quality of Mosel Pinot Noir wines is as good as wines from the other regions and you will get a good drop at much less expense. The Ahr, pioneering Pinot Noir grapes for many decades, has always been considered a high-price red wine region. However, you do not have to spend €12 to 20 per bottle.

My favourite Mosel Pinot Noir wine producer, the winery of Alfons Sebastiani in Mehring offers a beautiful Pinot Noir for €5,40 the 0.75 litres bottle.

Another great Pinot Noir producer on the Mosel is Weingut Markus Molitor in Wehlen. I tasted his 2004 Molitor Spätburgunder at the Weinhaus in Trier (opposite the Karl Marx Haus in Brückenstrasse 7); it is very drinkable.

Less affordable are the Molitor 2004 Pinot Noir wines from the locations Graacher Himmelreich and Brauneberger Klostergarten (€35 to 49 /075 l bottle). These prices are an indicator for the general trend; Mosel Pinot Noir wines seem to be becoming the new cult wines. Wine producers and consumers will benefit from it.

As for the average wine drinker like myself, I do not worry about high prices as long as there are plenty of new wines to find, explore, and taste. My recommendation is to try some German Pinot Noir wines.