The power of social media

September 7, 2012

As you know, I usually do not write about negative things. Wines which I did not like, I do not report about. Similarly I deal with restaurants I visited and dishes which I found wanting.

In more than 5 1/2 years as food and wine blogger, the Man from Mosel River has only twice issued a critique. In both cases it was about wineries I visited where I felt ill treated. One was about Punt Road Winery in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia. The second about Weingut Von Othegraven in Kanzem, Saar, Germany.

In both cases senior management of the wineries in question has apologized to me. Punt Road got back to me within days, Von Othegraven respondedn within two weeks. In both cases I have accepted the apology. And in both cases I was invited to visit again. The wine-maker of Von Othegraven offered a wine tasting to make good for the sloppy service I encountered when visiting the place last July.

I find this very remarkable. It shows that in the time of the fast internet and social media, businesses cannot afford not to respond to queries. This is a very positive thing. Consumers have not only purchasing power but also the power to influence the public perception, the image of a company.

This experience confirms that my cautious use of negative critique is justified, and effective.

Cheers everybody


Von Othegraven Winery in Kanzem, Saar

August 25, 2012

Regular readers of my blog will have noticed that I usually abstain from writing negative comments about any wine experience. Today I will break with this tradition making a slight dent in my otherwise immaculate positivism.

Summertime in Germany is also the time of wine festivals and the time of visiting wineries and cellar doors. And keeping in the spirit of things, my family and I, we set out on a beautiful day in July to pay a visit to one of the wineries along the Saar river.

I needed a birthday gift for a dear friend of mine and I intended to honor him with a first class bottle of wine from a first class winery. Since my friend lives in the Ruwer valley, a location with excellent Riesling terroir, I wanted to contrast the Ruwer wines with a specimen from the Saar, the other tributary of the Mosel where excellent Riesling wines are produced.

My choice was the Von Othegraven winery in Kanzem, a small hamlet on the banks of the Saar river. This winery is quite well known in Germany because Guenther Jauch, a celebrity TV moderator and talk show host, is the owner of the place.

I could not have been more wrong in my choice.

We rocked up without an appointment (which we would regret), drove into the courtyard of the estate at the outskirts of Kanzem at the bottom of the steep vineyards of the Kanzemer Altenberg, the grand cru vineyard of the area.

We innocently rang the bell of the manor house but where greeted by a very grumpy vintner (it was the manager, not the wine-maker), who let us know immediately and in a very impolite way that we were not welcome, and should “buzz” off.

Uff, we were mentally not prepared for such a rude reception, and deeply regretted that we had bothered to come in the first place.

So my recommendation to the casual wine tourist is not to visit Von Othegraven. It is a waste of time. If you are still interested in their wines, go to my favourite wine bar, Weinsinnig in Trier, and buy a bottle of the outstanding Altenberg Riesling.