Bulgaria – a paradise for wine lovers

September 19, 2014

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Vineyards in Trier

For someone like me, a native of Trier or Augusta Treverorum, as the city was called in Roman times, the move to another ancient Roman city, in this case Sofia, Bulgaria is not a big thing. Sofia was called Serdica (or Sardica) then, possibly named after the Celtic tribe Serdi.

Constantin the Great is supposed to have said “Serdica is my Rome”. And here we have the third city in which I lived and which belonged to the Roman empire. But he did not make Serdica the seat of his government. For this he choose Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople. By the way I lived in another Roman city: that was Vicus Bonnensis or Castra Bonnensis, the present day Bonn, my alma mater where I studied agriculture.

If I had lived two thousand years ago, a move from Trier to Sofia would have been a move from one province of a wast empire to another. Latin would have been the lingua franca. I would have had access to all the Roman infrastructure common in those days: a bath house, a circus, an amphitheater and so on.

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Constantine Basilica in Trier

Both my native Augusta Treverorum (the city of Augustus in the land of the Treverer) and my current home Sofia got their name from the native Celtic populations (the Treverer in my case). Both were major cities of the Roman Empire. Trier was located in the Roman province of Belgica, Sofia in the province of Thrace. Both places history is tied to the Roman emperor Constantin the Great.

There are also differences. Augusta Treverorum is famous for its wine cellars and its wine production, vineyards reaching deep into the city. Sofia does not have vineyards in its vicinity. However, the old province of Thrace was famous for its wines, and so is present day Bulgaria.

I admit that there is still a lot of room to improve its produces’ fame but more and more Bulgarian wines are available in wine shops in other parts of Europe, especially Germany and England.
Needless to say I use my spare time here in Sofia to explore the many wines of Bulgaria. My welcome present by my colleagues consisted of a wine guide, Di Vino 2014.

I would like to invite you to come along on this journey and explore the richness of the ancient land of Thrace, and it’s contemporary wines.

Le Voyage

Le Voyage by Katarzyna Estate

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Wine tasting at Oechsle, Trier

October 29, 2013

The following wine tasting was a remarkable event which we utterly enjoyed. I do not include tasting notes here; we were not in the mood to write all that stuff down. We wanted to enjoy each others company and get on with the exploration of the wines.

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The Oechsle wine house in Trier

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The tasting facilities

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Wine stored in the tasting room

The wine tasting costs about 15 EURO/Person and includes six wines. So what were the wines we had included in the tasting, you might ask?

They were as follows:

– 2011 Chardonnay by Sektgut Laurentius
– 2011 Elbling Classic Margarethenhof by Juergen Weber
– 2011 Riesling Spaetlese (old vines) by the Bremm winey
– 2011 Ayler Riesling by Peter Lauer
– 2011 Chardonnay by von Nell Estate in Kasel
– 2011 Kasler Kehrnagel (off dry) by Recihsgraf von Kesselstatt

and two red wines
– Rotweikoenigin (red wine queen) by Longen-Schloeder
– 2011 Pinot Noir by Chateau Edmond de la Fontain

You will have noticed that this in more than six wines. In fact the sommelier was so encouraged by our enthusiasm that he served us some selected drops.

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Elbling, my new passion

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Riesling from the Mosel

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Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, semi dry Riesling

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The Mosel produces also excellent Pinot Noir wines

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The jolly wine tasters: The Weber and Adam families


Elbling temptation – Open day at the Fuerst Winery in Metzdorf

September 30, 2013

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The Fuerst Winery in Metzdorf

My day job does not leave me much times these days. However, as promised, I wanted to share with you some of my wine experience during the last summer vacation in Europe. Today I want to inform you about our visit of the “Hoffest”, a kind of open day with all kinds of program for the guests including food and wine of the Fuerst winery in Metzdorf, a small village on the banks of the Sauer river.

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Elbling, one of the oldest vine varieties

The Fuerst family is know for their excellent Elbling wines. Elbling, a white grape, is one of the oldest grape varieties in Europe. It’s origins are not entirely clear. Some claim that the Romans brought the grape to Gallia and Germania, others say that is was an indigenous variety cultivated by Celtic communities long before the Romans arrived.

However that may be. It is very high in acidity, and therefore suitable for the production of sparkling. The total area under Elbling grapes has decreased over the years. Less than 600 ha are planted to Elbling grapes these days, most of it along the Mosel river. Luxembourg has about 120 ha of Elbling vineyards.

The wine is spritzy and fruity, in short a straight forward affair, a pleasant and down to earth experience. It should be drunk young.

It was a splendid day when the six of us visited on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately we had missed the breakfast and morning walk in the vineyards, which was offered as an culinary and educational experience for the guests.

Because everybody was in the vineyards, the seats and tables in the winery were rather empty when we arrived which left us with lost of choice. Just about 30 minutes later the place should fill up very quickly and we were lucky to have a comfortable place.

We were hungry. The photos below show the different dishes we ordered. Apart from various cold platters, even a simple sausage with fries could be ordered. The barbecue and grilled meat were the favourites with many guests.

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I was eager to taste the Elbling wines. They should not disappoint me. There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summers day, I must say. The relatively low alcohol of the wine also helps.

Before we left I searched for the vintner; and the young wine-maker sold me a few bottles. I was amazed. Here you get value for your money. Please check out the price list of the Fuerst winery. You will find many pleasing offers.

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The man from the Mosel with daughter Lucy

Concluding I will say that Elbling is an underrated grape variety but makes very pleasing wines. If you visit the Mosel river and its tributaries, please plan for an excursion along the Elbling wine route and visit some of the lesser known hamlets and villages and taste the wines of small family owned vineyards and wineries.


Two Men from Mosel River tasting New Latitude wines in Bangkok

March 18, 2013

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Gran Monte Syrah grapes in Khao Yai

Recently a good old friend from high school times, Thomas Weber from Trier and his wife Birgit, visited Thailand for a holiday. Since Thomas is a kind of a wine geek, someone who has written two books about wine, and who knows every vintner along the Mosel river, I intended to introduce him to a selection of New Latitude wines.

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The two wineries I had in mind where GranMonte Family Winery and PB Valley Wines, both located in the Asoke Valley in Khao Yai, Thailand. Unfortunately, Thomas did not have sufficient time to go and visit the vineyards in person. Therefore I decided to bring the vineyards to him.

We did two tastings, one shortly after his arrival in Bangkok, the second one the evening before his departure. The first wine tasting took place in our home. I had selected three wines (one white and two reds), all from GranMonte Family Winery.

We started with the ‘2012 Viognier’, according to some critics the best white wine Gran Monte has ever made. Thomas was amazed that such an outstanding wine could be produced here in Thailand (I provided him with a farewell gift, guess what it was?).

We followed up with two Gran Monte Syrah wines, the ‘2010 Hermitage Syrah’ and the ‘2009 Orient Syrah’. This was the first time that Thomas had ever tasted wines grown in the tropics, or, as they are also, called ‘new latitude wines’.

He was amazed by the high standard and the outstanding quality of the wines. All of them fully satisfied his expert palate pampered by vintage after vintage of excellent wines from the Mosel. The Thai wines from Gran Monte can positively compare with any wines from Europe, that was the verdict after the first round of tastings.

The second wine tasting was conducted over a dinner (forgive me that I skip the food here) at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi 39 Sukhumvit in Bangkok. This place is the Bangkok cellar door of PB Valley Khaoyai Winery.

Again we tasted three wines, one white and two reds. We started with the ‘2012 Pirom Khao Yai Reserve Chenin Blanc’, an excellent vintage and very enjoyable wine. We liked it so much that we consumed quite a few bottles with our entrees. Only for the main course we switched to red.

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The Cabernet-Dornfelder blend is being decanted

First we had a bottle of ‘2011 Pirom Khao Yai Tempranillo’. The wine had a beautiful aroma but the somehow ‘green (gemuesig) taste’ disappointed a little. The more we were looking forward to the ‘2010 Cabernet Dornfelder cuvée’. It had time to breathe after the decanting. This wine, an unusual blend, did not disappoint. It displayed its character, was full of flavor, had structure and an excellent finish.

The surprise of the evening was, that Mr. Gaksch had reserved for us a bottle of the lovely PB Valley Lychee Schnaps so that we could harmoniously end our Thai wine tasting.

The overall verdict is that Thailand produces outstanding wines and that more needs to be done to bring this good message to the world of wine.

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The happy tasting party

I strongly advised Thomas to come back again, and instead of spending time at Thai beaches, go and visit Thai wineries and enjoy the pleasure their excellent wines provide the casual and the “un-casual” drinker.
Spread the gospel.


A spittoon

February 15, 2013

Spittoon

A spittoon at Weingut Karthäuserhof in Eitelsbach

When we had the open day at Weingut Karthäuserhof last August, I took this photo of a spittoon in the tasting room. I do not particularly like these receptacles but in serious wine tasting they are a necessity.

I will have to do more wine tastings to appreciate their usefulness, and wonder when this will happen.

Does anybody have other photos of spittoon for wine to share?

Have a good weekend.
Cheers (despite lent, I will have a few glasses of wine in the next weeks).


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


2012 in review

January 2, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 72,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.