Effervescent Silvaner

August 19, 2010

Great Franconian wines in the bocksbeutel bottle

I just love the wines from the Silvaner grape. Most of Silvaner is grown in Alsace and Franconia, one of my favourite German wine regions. Many of the wines from Franconia come in the famous “Bocksbeutel” bottle.

What I did not know is that some Silvaner producers also make the grape into sparkling wine. One of these essences was served to me during a recent family gathering in Reichenberg near Wuerzburg.

2008 Wertheimer Tauberklinge Silvaner extra dry

The ‘2008 Wertheimer Tauberklinge Silvaner sparkling extra dry’ (12.% alc. vol., 3.6 g. acid/litre and 14.7. g. sugar/litre) was a wonderful effervescent experience.

I think this wine from “Tauberfranken” technically belongs to the Baden wine region and not Franconia. However, nice Silvaner are produced their that’s for sure, and it’s just right at the border of these two outstanding German wine regions.

Effervescent Silvaner

This wine was very refreshing, spritzy with zest and round fruityness, very pleasurable indeed. I will have more of it in the future. Thanks go to my folks in Reichenberg for introducing me to this excellent sparkling wine.


Restaurant review: Weinhaus Spielberg, Randersacker/Franconia

May 13, 2010

Randersacker

The settlement of Randersacker, Franconia

One of my favourite wine regions in Germany is Franconia. My maternal grandparents came from this part of the country. My grandfather, Hans Heinrich Schuessler, was the man who introduce me to the pleasures and the mystery of grape wine. He was a native of Reichenberg, a small hamlet just south of the city Wuerzburg, the capital of the region. Randersacker is situated at the opposite side (from Reichenberg) of the Main river. We visited the place while touring Germany some time ago.

Spielberg1

The inscription on the Bocksbeutel bottle reads: In vino veritas

The market town of Randersacker was first mentioned in a historical record in 779 AC. The historical centre of the town, though small, is quite nice and worth visiting. We were on our way back to Wuerzburg but wanted to have dinner at Weinhaus Spielberg.

Franconia produces outstanding wines, mostly Sylvaner/Silvaner but I like also the Riesling wines. It’s speciality is the Bocksbeutel, a wine bottle in the form of an ellipsoid. This is what we came for when we selected Weinhaus Spielberg as our target.

Spielberg2

A coaster of Weinhaus Spielberg

Weinhaus Spielberg is a traditional country inn where solid German food and good local wines are served. We ordered some local specialities, especially typical Franconian dishes. The two pictures below might give you an idea what food I have in mind. We had the house wine with the food, a very refreshing, young and delicious Silvaner.

Spielberg4

Spielberg3

The service is very efficient, the waiters are friendly and very helpful. At times the Weinhaus is very busy. However, there is no need to fret, you will highly satisfied with what you will get. My credo: visit the place yourself, and see with your own eyes, taste with your own taste buds and have fun in Franconia.

Address:
Weinhaus Spielberg
Stefanie Sokoll
Lurzengasse 3
97236 Randersacker

Tel.: +49-931 / 708391
Fax: +49-931 / 709957
E-Mail: Spielberg-AS@t-online.de
www.weinhaus-zum-spielberg.de

Opening hours:
Monday – Sunday: 11 – 24 h
Friday: open from 17.00 h
closed: Thursday


Dorfprozelten – at the fringes of the Franconian wine region

October 13, 2008

The first part of our family reunion last July brought us to the village where my mother grew up: Dorfprozelten, a small hamlet at the banks of the Main river in Lower Franconia as the region is called. The village is situated between the small towns of Miltenberg and Wertheim.

Dorfprozelten in the morning (photo taken from the meadows at the river banks). In the back one can see the location ‘Predigtstuhl’ where vines are cultivated.

I spent most of my childhood summer vacations in Dorfprozelten, lodged at my maternal great-grandmothers house in the middle of the village. Since my family could hardly afford to go on holidays as we do today, we spent our time with relatives and explored the beautiful surroundings between Spessart and Odenwald, two hilly, forested regions sanwiching the Main river.

Many of the village inhabitants were fishermen; many others were barge owners transporting goods from port to port in the inland river and canal systems which link many German lands with its neighbours. My uncle owned and operated a 1,000 tonne ship (river barge) together with two of his sons. My father often joined them during his holidays as a kind of occasional sailor.

In July this year, we arrived on a Friday two days before the fishermen would celebrate their annual local fishing festival. We should miss it all together since we stayed only for one day and one night. But on a rainy Saturday morning walk, I took the picture of this poster stuck to a tree near the river.

The billboard introduced the various fish varieties which call the river Main their home. Their numbers are on the increase ever since river pollution was reduced by the introduction of waste water treatment plants in the 1970s and 1980.

When on holidays we swam in the river as little kids until it was forbidden because of the rising pollution. My father used to swim out into the stream to greet barges, at times go on board and jump back into the rapid river waters. He was a very good swimmer. Today, swimming is again allowed because of the improved water quality.

The wine produced in Dorfprozelten does not come from “premier cru” terroir but rather belongs to the “Landwein” category (table wine or ‘vin de pays’). Among others Bacchus vines are cultivated. I am personally not a lover of Bacchus grapes and wines, but I drink “local” as much as I can.

Franconian wines are often filled in traditional bottles, called “Bocksbeutel” with a rounded, big belly shape. Sylvaner is the dominant grape variety, much liked by the locals and of outstanding quality only in this part of Germany. Apart from Riesling, Sylvaner is my most preferred variety of the German white wines.

We stayed in a typical country inn, named “Gasthaus Krone”.

Country inns in Germany offer home style cooking and local German cuisine which is not easy to find these days. Most Germans eat home style dishes at home and when they go out, they are looking for some more exotic cuisines. Moreover, these days many Germans try to avoid the restaurant business because of the long working hours. Therefore, today many country inns are operated by non-Germans offering everything from Turkish, Chinese, Thai, Italian Greek and other foods. But not so in Dorfprozelten.

The rooms were furnished in a typical Southern German country style. They were clean and spacious. Ideal for two families with children. The breakfast was a delight, offering many local cheeses, eggs cold cuts, sausages, and other meats.

The menu was a typical ‘country inn’s menu with a lot of local dishes. I loved the richly decorated hard cover in thick leather.

The wine list, here the section with local white wines only, was dominated by local wines from Franconia. Unfortunately, we could not taste them all. I guess we have to come back for some more sampling.

Sauerbraten with Knoedel, a hearty German country meal.

If you plan to visit Lower Franconia, I recommend you stay in this village of my ancestors for a night or two. It’s worth it, I promise.


Restaurants in Germany – Hotel Prinzregent, Munich-Riem

June 25, 2008

Bavaria is just such a beautiful place. I just cannot get enough of it. Especially at this time of the year travelling around Upper Bavaria is truly enjoyable. Even sub-urban places such as Riem have their charm. I stayed in a small hotel at the outskirts of Munich to attend a conference at the Messe Zentrum (the fair).

The very first evening, I asked the receptionist where one could have a decent bite of food, preferable Bavarian style and I was pointed into the direction of the Hotel Prinzregent (www.prinzregent.de), in fact a country inn style place along the main street in Riem. The ‘guest room’ of the public bar part was fairly busy at a Friday evening.

The Bavarian country inn – Hotel Prinzregent

As it was my first evening back in Germany I could not resist ordering a pork roast Bavarian style with ‘Semmelknoedeln’, a kind of cooked carbohydrates made from leftover bread crumbs. It was so delicious I completely forgot to take pictures for my blog. I drank wheat beer with the meal though the Prinzregent has a nice wine list available. For dessert, which I usually do not have, I had ‘Apfelkuechle’, a kind of apple backed in a doe and seasoned with raisin. After that mighty meal I was exhausted and went to bed early.

The pasta

The very next day I came back to enjoy some more of the delicious food at the Prinzregent. Unfortunately, I did not order the roasted pork again (I should have) but went for a vegetarian pasta dish. It was ok but could not match the pork. The side salad was fresh and tasty.

The salad

This time I tried some of the white wines with my food. First I ordered a Riesling from, of course, the Mosel. A ‘2006 Weingut Schmitges dry Riesling from grey slates’ was my choice. It is a young but very enjoyable wine, typical for the region, elegant, displaying aromas of citrus and green apples, a fruity, minerally kind of wine.

For my second glass I choose a Sylvaner from the native lands of my mother, Franconia (the most northerly part of Bavaria). Horst Sauer is one of the icons of the vintners and winemakers from Franconia. His ‘2006 Eschendorfer Lump’ is just divine. The Germans like to describe a wine as “filigran”, which my dictionary says means “lacy” or “filigree”. I do not know if that makes sense to you. Anyway, the wine shows the typical Franconian character, is complex and fine, well balanced, has a good structure and a lingering finish. The prices for the wines were not on the cheap. The fellow at the next table turfed the idea of having a glass of wine after he saw the prices. Well, I was in a festive mood that day and did not bother.

White sausages Bavarian style, isn’t this beautiful?

My last meal at this wonderful place I enjoyed sitting in the large beer garden under very old chestnut trees reminiscing about the wonderful time I had in Bavaria. It was rather a late breakfast than lunch and therefore I ordered the typical Bavarian “white sausages” which is eaten with sweat mustard. A wheat beer matches that perfectly. Sorry you wine folks.

Address:
Hotel Prinzregent an der Messe
Riemer Strasse 350
81829 Munich
Te.: +49-89-94539-0
http://www.prinzregent.de


Beautiful Bavaria

June 14, 2008

I had the great chance to spend a weekend in Munich, the capital city of the state of Bavaria. The weather was splendid; it was the first weekend of June. Of course I had some to work but fortunately there were a couple of hours which I used to explore the surroundings. I just walked through the city and enjoyed the cheerful atmosphere. Of course I had also food and drinks in mind.

People over people in the English garden in Munich

I ended up in the “English garden”, as it is called, a large park in the heart of the city where everybody seemed to converge on a Sunday afternoon. I asked two nice ladies for the way to the next beer garden (show me the way to the next whiskey bar) and they pointed me to the beer garden at the Chinese pagoda.

The Chinese pagoda beer garden

Unfortunately my small camera could not capture the atmosphere there. There were lots of people as well. Numerous stalls sold all kinds of Bavarian food and drinks, mostly beer in big and super big mugs or beer based mixed drinks. For instance one could order a “Russian” which is a mix of wheat beer with white lemonade, a nice drink to quench your thirst and thats what I did. There were horse carts, people on bicycles, and children on skate boards. There were street musicians along the wayside, larger and smaller groups of tourist and day visitors from all over the world. Here and there one could spot the odd local Bavarian, men dressed in the traditional ‘Lederhosen’ (leather pants) and women were dressed in elaborate ‘Dirndl’ outfits.

Bavarian folk music presented by a brass band in traditional leather pants

Munich is not exactly known as a wine growing region. Helas, there was also a part of the garden where a vintner from Franconia offered his wares, in this case delicious wines from this northerly part of Bavaria. “My heart jumped in my chest”, as we Germans say. here I had the opportunity to be regaled by the very wine of my mothers homeland.

The vintner was Roman Sauer and his family from Nordheim in Franconia. They were very friendly and cheerful. For my next visit to Franconia I should schedule a tasting!

I first tried a Sylvaner (fresh and dry), then I moved on to a Riesling (crisp, citrus and apple aromas) and the last wine I tasted was a red wine (see the picture). Well, and now I face a memory lapse. Moreover, I cannot find my notes. I do not remember what it was. The colour is a deep and beautiful red. It should be a Pinot Noir but it could have been something more “exotic”. Needless to say the wines were all well made and delicious.

I would have tasted the rest of Roman Sauer’s wines on offer but that was just too difficult in the heat. The sun was shining on me and the three large glasses of wine had their own effect. The Bavarian music was entertaining, the beer garden visitors were loud and cheerful, and somehow I made my way back to the small hotel in Munich-Riem.

Below the flyer I collected which depicts Roman Sauer and his family. There was not much opportunity for a chat because the garden was so buy, guests coming and going. Unfortunately, I could not find a webpage of the Sauer Estate and learn more about his vineyard, wine making, etc.

Address:
Weingut Roman Sauer
Raiffeisenstrasse 11
D-97334 Nordheim
Tel.: +49-9381-9691


Restaurants in Jakarta: Champa – Wine and Spirits Circle Dinner

June 11, 2008

Saturday night marked a rare occasion, because the Jakarta Wine and Spirits Circle had not organised a function for a while. Therefore, the invitation for a dinner cum wine tasting came just at the right time. We are members of the Circle since many years and cultivate some very fond memories of past wine tastings.

The event took place at the Champa restaurant, which provides Vietnamese and Indochinese food. The Champa opened its doors to the public in 2002 and possesses a warm and cosy atmosphere. I had already been to this restaurant with friends and business associates a couple of times and always liked the food.

The tables were a bit crowded by the glasses

The menue showed exciting features

‘Four temptations’, the entree ‘Goi Cuon Ca hoi, Goi Cuon Malay, kai Hoer Bai teay, Tom Ham Pho Mat’, freele translated, it reads as follows:

– Champa fresh spring rolls made of salmon
– Crispy minced chicken and crab meat martabak style
– Thai famous deep fried herb chicken in Pandean leaves
– Roasted Tiger Prawn and herb crust with cheese on salad

The main dish named ‘Bo Nuong Hed Hom ca Hoi Mojo’ consisted of grilled tender loin with mushroom cheese and stir fried Norwegian salmon with Mojo.

The dessert, called ‘Da Vanni’, was a crepes filed with Banana and cream, vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with nuts and chocolate.

How about the wine you might ask. Well, Alsatian and Austrian wines were on the agenda. we started with an aperitif, a ‘2004 Domaines Schlumberger Sylvaner’. Woh, an Alsation Sylvaner, Sylvaner being the grape of Franconia and its famous Bocksbeutel wines. It felt fresh and fizzy, a nice aperitif, I must say.

We faced seven glasses on our table, it felt a bit crowded in the limited space available. Three were for whites and four for red wines.

White wines

– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris
– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer
– 2005 Leth Gruener Veltliner Kabinett

Red wines

– 2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve
– 2004 Leth Linot Noir Classic
– 2006 Pfaffl Blauer Zweigelt
– 2003 Sepp Moser Blauburgunder Gebling

Let me say it from the outset: this was not an evening for scribbling down tasting notes. I was in a much too good a mood for that. I also do not know much about Alsatian and Austrian wines. But the evening confirmed one thing: one has to drink and taste a lot in oder to understand the intricacy of the various grape varieties and the wines. I promised myself to drink more wine from the two regions.

Domaines Schlumberger is a wine estate in Alsace. It was established in 1810 (these Europeans have awfully long traditions in wine making) and has 140 ha under vines, half of this area classified as “grand crus”. Schlumberger only vinifies his own grapes. Today, the sixth and the seventh generation of Schlumbergers run the estate. Much of the vineyards is organically farmed (60 ha organic and 30 ha biodynamic).

The Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer was semi-dry I would say but showed some very fine aromas and great balance. Also the Pinot Gris must have had some high residual sugar because I perceived it as almost sweet. Both wines went well with the Asian food. However, I liked the Sylvaner best. Unfortunately, I did not check the bottles to identify from which “terroir” the Schlumberger wines came from (there are 4 grand crus: Kitterle, Kessler, Saering and Spiegel) and the wine list is silent about their provenience. Maybe we drank only the “normal” wines (Les Princes Abbes) and not the ‘grand crus’.

The Sepp Moser Estate (www.sepp-moser.at) in Rohrendorf in the wine region of the Kremstal produces mainly white wines. The location Gebling has been used for vine cultivation since 1284 and is a steep south facing terraced vineyard. The Pinot Noir displayed the typical characteristics of the variety and the ‘terroir’ (hot days, coll nights during vintage time).

From the Pfaffl Wine Estate, located near Vienna in a region called “Weinviertel”, a Blauer Zweigelt was included in the tasting. Zweigelt is a red grape variety developed in Austria in 1922 and, of course, it bears the name of the developer (Fritz Zweigelt who should later became director of the Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterburg). Zweigelt is today the most widely grown red grape variety in Austria. Interesting is that the grape is also cultivated in the Niagara wine region of Ontario/Canada. The Pfaffl family cultivates about 30 ha of vineyards and goes back generations.

The Leth Estate is located in the village of Fels at the river of Wagram, Lower Austria and has about 40 ha under vines. The wine-plus website (www.wein-plus.com) awarded the winery three stars. The estate has practiced organic viticulture for decades and produces mainly white wines (70%). We were lucky to taste two reds from Franz Leth’s cellar.

In fact after all the tasting I settled in the end for the ‘2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve’, which I liked best. It is a full bodied red with a fruity flavour and a mellow finish. The grape variety originates from France and belongs to the same family as Pinot Noir. St. Laurent (also called Pinot St. Laurent) is an aromatic dark red grape with aromas of forest berries and black cherries. Today it is mainly planted in Austria and the Czech Republic (and a small area in Palatinate and Rheinhessen in Germany).

When we left, and we were among the last guests, there was nothing left of this wine and many others. My resolution for the evening was to try more wines from these two wine regions.

Address:
The Champa
Jl. Wuaya 1/50
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12170
Te.:+61-(021)-727-88668