Wild boar the German way – fine dining with fine wines and best friends

October 31, 2012

As you know, I like to eat game of all kind. The best wild boar I have eaten in a long time was served to me by my good old friend Ulrich Hillejan and his wife Elfriede when we visited them this summer near Muenster. The so called Muensterland is a very picturesque agricultural region right north of the former industrial heartland of the Ruhr.

Ulrich comes from a tranditional farming family which goes back a couple of hundred years (he keeps very impressive records). He inherited one of the traditional farm houses away from the manor house, just outside the nearby village.

His mother (I call her aunty Doris) prepared for us the leg of a young wild boar, shot by Ulrich’s younger brother Georg. Let me say from the outset that this was the best piece of game I have ever eaten. I asked her to tell me the secret of this delicacy. Her instructions were rather sketchy. I figured that mustard plays a central role. The meat needs to be rubbed carefully with a mustard-pepper-salt potion.

The following photos show what we had for dinner. Of course the side dish with the carbs consisted of good German potatoes.

The potatoes

The young wild boar’s leg

On the plate

And after….

Needless to say that we had various kinds of delicious wines with our meal. We started the extensive tasting with a white wine, a fresh Gruener Veltliner from Weingut Setzer, Austria. The Setzer winery was decoreated with the “winery of the year 2013” award.

The estate has about 30 ha under vines and produces a wide variety of wines. Main grape variety are Gruener Veltliner, and red Veltliner. Recently, Hans Setzer, owner-operater of the estate, was awarded with the “Vinter of the year award” for 2013. With its low (11%) alcohol content, this wine is wonderful for warm summer days. It is refreshing and shows great temperament.

Gruener Veltliner Vesper, Austria

Knipser Riesling, Pfalz

We followed up with a German dry Riesling by the well-known Knipser Estate in Laumersheim, Pfalz.In 2009 the winery was awarded the “vintner-of-the-year” award by Gault Millau.

The ‘2001 Laumersheimer Kapellenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken’ was just the right wine to complement the meal. I like the minerally note and the tropical fruit aromas.

Barbera and Nebbiolo blend by Villa Contessa Rosa

Mid-term through the meal, we changed colour and switched to a red wine from Italy. Villa Contessa Rosa has currently about 70 ha under vines. The blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo, produced in the wine region Langhe, was also a good accompliment to the wild boar.

The meat from the forest animal and the red and Forest berry aromas from the wine went well together. Below you see the colour of the drop from heaven.

From here on I lost track of the wines we sampled in the course of the evening. There were a few more red wines, but honestly I cannot recall what they were and where they came from.

The generosity of our hosts knew no bounds, I might say (thank you again Ulrich and Elfriede). It was a terrific evening of reminiscing about the past and making plans for the future.

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Big summer wine tasting at Weingut Karthäuserhof, Eitelsbach II

September 26, 2012

Wine tasting

Let us come back to the Karthäuserhof estate tasting on August 11, 2012. It was a splendid summer’s day with blue sky and ample sunshine when we walked into the estate.

We paid our entrance fee of 15 Euro/person. It was all very confusing for a first time visitor. Many of the other guests, it seemed, knew their way around. Lot’s of people had showed up.

The wine tasting was conducted in two seperate locations. The first was a rather crammed barn with four tasting stations. I can only recall three of the wineries represented. The barn was packed with people, pushing and shoving along.

The vintners behind their tables were equally, let’s call it – stressed. I immediately felt some regret. Why did I give up a perfectly spacious table elsewhere and a bottle of wine in a quite atmoshere, I aske myself.

The tasting station of Knipser Estate

The three wineries were:

Weingut Knipser (Knipser Estate), Laumersheim, Pfalz
My first wine from Knipser I had tasted in Beijing, China, about 24 years ago, when my friend Norbert who is a native of the Pfalz, presented me with some dry Riesling from this estate. The family tradition of wine production in the Pfalz goes back to 1615 (an incredible long time in an Australian context).

Weingut Meyer-Näkel (Meyer-Näkel Estate), Dernau, Ahr
The Meyer-Näkel family, now in the fifth generation, has about 15 ha under vines, 75% of which are Pinot Noir, 12% early Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Blanc, 5% Riesling and 3% others. One of the two daughters presented the wines when we were there. The Ahr is the northernmost (and the smallest) wine region of Germany and produces some stunning Pinot Noir wines.

Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht or The Vintage Vineyard as it is called on the webpage, Kallstadt, Pfalz
The vineyard is about 10.5 ha in size. The mainly white varieties (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Scheurebe and Pinot Gris) are planted on a calcerous soil in four locations in Kallstadt (Saumagen, Annaberg, Steinacker, Kreidkeller).

The first two wineries I know quite well. I have tasted wines from these producers at various occasions. The Koehler-Ruprecht estate was new to me. I admit that I do not know the village of Kallstadt near Bad Dürkheim. The webpage of Koehler-Ruprecht, however, is presenting the estate in five languages (German, English, Chinese, Norwegian and French)!

The Meyer-Näkel tasting table

And now the bad news: the crowded conditions did not lend themselves to note taking. Anyway, I was not in the mood while being pushed and shoved to think about anything, except: let’s get our of here as quick as possible.

But then I also thought, Rainer, you should taste some of the wines. Which I did. I remember nothing, except that the grand cru Meyer-Näkel Pinot Noir was wonderful, and that the daughter behind the counter was very kind and friendly.

We went to search for the second wine tasting station thereby recovering a bit from our claustrophobia.

More about this later.
Stay tuned.


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


Country living: The good life in Ramsdorf, Westphalia

May 31, 2009

The land

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The Münsterland, Westphalia is not exactly a wine region. People in this rather flat but beautiful rural part of Germany, just an hours drive from the Industrial heartland of the Ruhr (the drive can be as short as 30 minutes only), prefer to drink beer and “Korn”, a spirit also called “Schnaps” distilled from wheat and other grains.

The farm houses are made of red bricks, have large wooden doors, usually green, high gables and are just magnificent. They stand alone within the land belonging to them, accompanied by large stables and barns, all erected in the same style, a wonderful sight. I went there to visit my friends Uli and Elfriede in a small hamlet called Ramsdorf.

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My friends Uli and Elfriede’s house, formerly a cottage of the estate (from the back)

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The backside with the outdoor furniture

The Food

As the people so the food, one could say. Rural people everywhere developed healthy, nutritional type of foods; no-nonsense stuff, usually based on the raw materials the land has to offer. So the Münsterlaender cuisine has a lot of sausages, ham and various kinds of meats, served with potatoes, and green vegetables.

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The table in the patio

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Beautiful beef

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Fresh asparagus in a special asparagus cooker

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The finished product: asparagus

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The finished product: the steaks

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Our meal of asparagus, potatoes, ham and a steak with melted butter

The wines

We did of course also drink wine with this delicious meal. We started while the asparagus was still cooking with a ‘2008 Knipser Sauvignon Blanc dry’ by Weingut Knipser, Pfalz, a wonderful wine, fresh, fruity with structure and depth.

The brothers Volker and Werner Knipser (and since 2005 Stephan, Werner’s son) are the owners of this vineyard and winery in Laumersheim, Pfalz. The family operates the estate since 1876. Today about 40 ha are under vines. The brothers were the first in this part of the Pfalz to use small barriques barrels to mature their wines. They also increased the area under red varieties and replanted with high quality rootlings. In 2009 the were awarded “Vintner of 2009” by Gault Millau for their innovative ways and their high quality wines. My first Knipser wine, I drank many years ago when living in Beijing. My friend Norbert Finkel, a journalist from the Pfalz, introduced me to the Knipser wines long before they became fashionable.

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‘2008 Knipser Sauvignon Blan dry’ in the bottle

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..and in the glass

After the white, we longed for some red and went out into the shed where Uli stores his wines. Here we unearthed an old wooden box with red wines from Bordeaux, France.

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Treasure trove

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The chosen one

We selected a ‘1994 Château de Sales’, a Bordeaux blend from Pomerol, France. Uli de-cantered the wine, the drop was excellent but needed to be drunk. So we had “discovered” it at the right time. The blend was full flavoured, with structure and harmonious tannins and very enjoyable with our food. The wine sells on the internet in the UK for £ 30-35 and in continental Europe for about the same amount but in €.

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The top of the capsule

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The cork

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Uli de-cantering the Bordeaux

We finished the evening with an Italian wine, a ‘2006 Vietti Nebbiolo Parabacco’ from Langhe, Piedmont in Italy. That was quite a change from the Bordeaux. The wine was rich and complex. It showed well balanced tannins which were chewy at the finish, just great for a red. What a pleasurable wine to end a very pleasurable day with my friends in the Münsterland.

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The Nebbiolo bottle from Vietti

The people

I quickly introduce my friends, the three Hillejan families. Georg and Barbara are the farmers, aunt Doris, the mother of Georg and Ulrich, and Ulrich and Elfriede, my old friends from University days. I used to work on the farm as an intern during my students days when Uli’s father Alfons was running the estate. I loved to work for uncle Alfons. He was a great man. But I did not only work but also play there. We celebrated quite a few events (a few weddings among others) on that farm, had wild parties and a great time playing farmers.

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Georg, aunt Doris, Ulrich, Barbara and Elfriede on the veranda of the old farm house

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Three men on a mission, Ulrich, me and Georg