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.

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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.


Venison from a roe deer for Sunday lunch in Trier

August 24, 2010

My stories from July and August do not come in any particular order. When arrived in early July in Trier at my mother’s place we were greated by a feats, as always. And beecause her partner Heinz is a hunter we often eat game. This time it was venison from a German roe deer (in German: Reh) he had just shot. Needless to say that my mothers cooking is just delicious as you can see from the pcitures below.

Tender venison, a meal in the making

With noodles of course

2008 Saar Riesling Van Volxem Estate

The wine I choose for this meal was a Riesling from Van Volxem Estate in Wiltingen, near Schoden (where the venison was from), one of my favourite producers from the Saar. Tough this is just a “simple” wine, it deplays all the character of a Saar Riesling, fine and delicate which machted the tender venison just perfectly.

Address
Weinmanufaktur Van Volxem
Roman Niewodniczanski
Dehnstrasse 2
54459 Wiltingen, Saar
Ph.: +49-6501-16510
e-mail: vanvolxem@t-online.de


The top German Vintners or the VIP club of German wineries: VDP

March 1, 2010

The logo of the VDP

VDP stands for “Verband Deutscher Praedikatsweingueter”. The German can be freely translated as “Association of German Wineries of Excellence”. The VDP is a club-like organisation with 196 member wineries.

It was founded in 1910 and celebrates this year its 100th anniversary. According to its website, VDP is the oldest association of the top quality wine estates. membership requirement is to adhere to the standards of the association which includes among others the strict limitation of yields. There is an inspection and certification process in place which members must submit to in oder to not loose the membership status. It is supposed to uphold the high quality of the produce.

The sign of quality are the eagle (no surprise for Germans who have made it part of their national insignia) and the cluster of grapes, usually embossed on the bottles of their “Erstes Gewaechs” comparable to France’s “premier cru”, wine made from grapes from the best terroir or locations.

The members of the association sell about 35 million bottles per year, for an average price of about 9 Euro /bottle. 80% of their production is sold on the domestic market, 20% is exported. Almost half of the bottles are sold directly to consumers.

The members come from all German wine regions. More than half of them (acounting for about 6% of all Riesling plantings worldwide) produce the finest Riesling wines Germany has to offer. In 1990 it had 161 members. Since then 73 wineries have left and 108 have joined the association.

According to www.riesling.de it’s newest three members are:

Klaus Zimmerling, Saxonia
Konrad Schloer, Taubertal
Thomas Seeger, Baden

Some of my favourite producers are members of the association, for instance Van Volxem Wine Estate in Wiltingen at the Saar.


Weinhof Herrenberg – Loch Riesling, Schoden, Saar

October 8, 2009

My friend Heinz was kind enough to help me out. He dropped by the Weinhof Herrenberg in Schoden, Saar, on his way back from the hunt and bought three bottles of Loch Riesling. I had planned to visit the Loch family winery for some time but never managed to get there. There was always something else when visiting Trier, my hometown nearby, a birthday, a visit, a train to catch etc.

Heinz brought back the box shown below and three different Loch Riesling wines, all of the 2008 vintage. Regular visitors of my blog know that I am a Riesling lover, especially if they were grown along the Saar, my favorite provenance of German Riesling wines.

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The treasures from Weinhof Herrenberg and the two brochures

The three wines were a ‘2008 LochRiesling’ (8.90 Euro/bottle), a blend of Riesling grapes from various vineyards, a ‘2008 Schodener Herrenberg “Stier”‘ (12.90) and a ‘2008 Schodener Herrenberg “Stoveler”‘ (13.90), both wines from my favorite ‘terroir’, a very steep vineyard called “Herrenberg” bordering a forest and enticing large groups of wild pigs and deer to visit and taste the sweet grapes during vintage time. I had walked the vineyard and heard about the Loch wines but never tried a single drop. It was high time to change that.

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2008 Loch Riesling wines from Schoden, Saar

I also love the brochure with the “whole” (the “Loch” in German) explaining the philosophy of Claudia and Manfred Loch, the proprietors and vintners of the boutique winery “Weinhof Herrenberg”, which is the basis for their wine-making. In short, the Loch’s aim for authenticity, uniqueness, they reject designer wines but quest for a unique character and truthfulness.

The brochure is a very unusual one, telling people why to keep their hands off LochRiesling wines and what the weaknesses of the wines are: for instance that their wines are unknown, consumer hostile, old fashioned, egoistic, lawless, dangerous and limited (in numbers of bottles!). I like this brochure.

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The “Loch” brochure with a whole in it

The wine list also includes wines from locations in Ockfen and Wiltingen, two famous Saar wine villages. The “Beerenauslese” wines are not available any longer. The Loch’s also produce a dry, sparkling wine. All wines are reasonably priced.

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The current wine list

You might wonder what they taste like? Well, I will tell you more about this at a later blog entry. But if you are near Schoden or in the vicinity of the Saar, please visit the Loch family vineyard at Weinhof Herrenberg. If you cannot visit in person, visit the website which is very informative.

Address:
Claudia and Manfred Loch
Weinhof Herrenberg
D-54441 Schoden/Saar
Tel.: +49-6581-1258
Fax: +49-6581-995438
info@lochriesling.de
www.lochriesling.de


Wine tasting at Van Volxem Estate in Wiltingen, Saar

September 8, 2008

In April this year, my friend Heinz and I, we had visited the Van Volxem Winery (www.vanvolxem.de) in Wiltingen, Saar for the first time. Unfortunately, all wines were sold out then. Dominik Völk, the wine maker, served us a delicious coffee instead and we were invited to visit again in the month of July when part of the new vintage would be released.

Steep slopes for maximum exposure to the sun at the Saar

And that’s what we did. This time I brought my whole family (mother, wife, children). Our appointment was at 14 h in the afternoon on a rainy summers day. Ms. Niewodniczanski, the wife of the owner Roman Niewodniczanski, served us six newly released wines, all of which were excellent representatives of the Saar region. Van Volxem calls these wines ‘classic dry wines’, though residual sugar in Van Volxem Riesling wines may go up to 9 g./l.. For Franconian vintners, for instance, 7.5 g./l. is the agreed maximum. Van Volxem, however, believes that the higher residual sugar content contributes to the overall harmony of its wines. The only exception to the dry wines we tasted was a semi-dry ‘2007 Rotschiefer Riesling Kabinett’.

Contemplating about Riesling wines with Ms. Niewodniczanski

Five of the six were Riesling wines, one was a Pinot Blanc. The following list shows the six wines:

– ‘2007 Weissburgunder’ (Pinot Blanc), 9.90 Euro/0.75 l
– ‘2007 Schiefer Riesling’ (“slate” Riesling), 8.60 Euro/0.75 l
– ‘2007 Saar Riesling’, 9.80 Euro/0.75 l
– ‘2007 Wiltinger Braunefels Riesling’ (a single location/vineyard wine), 12.50 Euro/0.75 l
– ‘2007 Alte Reben Riesling’ (from old vines), 13.80 Euro/0.75 l
– ‘2007 Rotschiefer Riesling Kabinett (red slate), semi-dry, 9.90 Euro/0.75 l

We liked all of them but some more than others. Heinz bought some bottles of Saar Riesling and the semi-dry Rotschieder Riesling Kabinett. Apart from Saar Riesling I bought some bottles of ‘Alte Reben’ (old vines).

The Van Volxem tasting room is a wonderful place, with old wooden furniture and beautiful old maps on the walls.

The estate will release the Grand Cru wines later this summer. We were to early to taste them.

Farewell, but we will come back (my daughters Lucy and Charlotte with the vintner’s wife).

If you are interested in German Riesling, you have to visit the Saar region. Wiltingen is a must, so is Van Volxem Estate. Have fun tasting the best German Riesling has to offer.

Address:
Van Volxem Estate
Dehenstr. 2
54459 Wiltingen, Saar
Te.: +49-6501-16510
e-mail: vanvolxem@t-online.de
www.vanvolxem.de


Another year gone bye

August 23, 2008

Because of our move to Bangkok, Friday was a busy day. Packers everywhere, the house is like a nest of wasps, it seemed. Not easy under such conditions to find some peace of mind, but I did.

Another year had gone bye. My daughters had woken me early in the morning to wish me happy birthday. More well-wishers would come to join them over the day. My birthday dinner consisted of a ‘Risotto ai Funghi Porcini’, hm, that was beautiful as we say in Australia. I have loved risotto ever since we lived in Rome, Italy. And ‘funghi porcini’ is just the best “profumo” you can imagine.

What a wonderful ruby red colour the Shiraz from Hanging Rock has.
Risotto ai Funghi Porcini

Unfortunately, we did not have an Italian wine to go with it. Since my wine cellar is almost empty, I had not much choice. There were only three bottles of Australian wine, all red, left,

a ‘2004 Two Hills Merlot’ (reserved for the last evening in our house),

a ‘2001 D’Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon’ from McLaren Vale (I had paid US$ 40 for this bottle) and

a ‘2004 Hanging Rock Cambrian Rise Shiraz’ from Heathcote.

The two whites I have reserved are for lunch on Saturday and Sunday:

a ‘2005 Kitzinger Hofrat, Silvaner dry’ from Bernhard Voelker, Kitzingen in Franconia

and

a ‘2003 Saar Riesling’ from Van Volxem Estate in Wiltingen, Saar.

The tasting room of Van Volxem Estate in Wiltingen, Saar (picture taken in July this year)

I chose the ‘2004 Hanging Rock Shiraz’. The bottle was given to me by Andrew at the cellar door when we went on a wine tasting in August last year. If you visit the region of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, you have to see this vineyard and taste its award-winning wines (see also my blog entry from 09. September 2007).

Hanging Rock has also a vineyard in the Heathcote wine region, Central Victoria where its award-winning Shiraz wines are grown which enjoy an enormous demand from consumers in China.

The Hanging Rock winery in the Macedon Ranges. In the back you can see the rock. The photo was taken in August 2007.

The wine is a blend from several vineyards near the Mt. Carmel range. It is beautiful, has a ruby red colour, and very intense plum and cherry aromas; it is very fruity, has immense depth, a good structure and actually everything you want from a Shiraz from the Heathcote wine region with its hot summers. The Cambrian soils of the Heathcote region are the key to the fame of its Shiraz wines.

Isn’t the ruby red colour of the Shiraz of Hanging Rock wonderful?

Pity the wine did not match the food (my mistake). The ‘funghi porcini’ were too delicate and subtle and the wine just overpowered the fragrance of the earthy mushrooms. We did not care this time, enjoyed the tropical garden view and the sweet heat of a dry-season evening. One last time. I wonder where I will celebrate my next birthday. Over these thoughts I blew the smoke of a Partagas cigar which was given to me by my friends Liz and Walter in Jakarta. Delicious!


Augusta Treverorum – home at last

July 24, 2008

My hometown of Trier (lat.: Augusta Treverorum) from the ‘Kockelsberg’

Alas, we made it. Grandparents were very happy to see us. Blue sky and summer sunshine greeted us. A splendid holiday awaited us. In short, Germany at its best. We are so lucky.

The Mosel river

Margit and I, we went to check out our favourite “watering whole”: the wine bar of Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt opposite the cathedral and the church of “Liebfrauen”.

The ‘garden’ of the wine bar

Riesling was our choice. We had a ‘2007 Kaseler Riesling dry’ (subregion: Ruwer) and a ‘2007 Wiltinger Riesling dry’ (subregion: Saar). Both wines were young and fresh, which make them a delicious drink in a hot summers day. We both preferred the wine from Wiltingen, Saar.

Cheers, and “zum Wohl” as the Germans say.

PS: I am loading this up from a small flat in Madrid which we rented. The internet connection is weak and blogging difficult. Please bear with me.


Wiltingen Saar – the best of Riesling wines in Germany

March 31, 2008

The little village of Wiltingen, Saar , about 9 km southwest of Trier, is one of the most famous “terroirs” for Saar Wine. It has about 1400 inhabitants and is the heart of Riesling production. The area under vines is 160 ha only and rather small one might say but these vineyards produce excellent wines.

The location (terroir) ‘Scharzhofberg’, for instance, produces outstanding Rieslings which are world renown and regularly win international awards as best wines.

Wiltingen is home to many famous wineries. I cannot name them all. There is for instance the “Riesling pope” Egon Müller who has his family business there, so has Roman Niewodniczanski’s winery Van Volxem, and many others.

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Wiltingen at the Saar river in March, photo taken from the Schoden side

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Wiltingen is a jewel also for tourism

It was a rainy day when we visited Wiltingen. However, we wanted to pay a visit to Van Volxem and maybe purchase a couple of bottles of the finest Saar Riesling. Well, we met the winemaker, a very friendly young man from Franconia, as I could identify from his accent, and he invited us in, mentioning in passing that if we came to buy wines, we would have to come again, because they sold out completely. Nonetheless, he made us sit down, served us a very good cup of coffee and told us the story of the Van Volxem wines.

Spring is a busy time in the vineyards. We were told that Van Volxem has about 30 ha under vines and that they are in the process of planting another 6 ha in prime locations, usually on very steep slopes along the Saar river.

Also Ms. Niewodniczanski showed up and took her time fro a friendly chat; she urged us to come again later in the year when they new vintage would be released. She promised she would show us around, not only to the cellars but also the vineyards could be part of our visiting program. We left our addresses and promised to come again. Who could resist such friendliness, a treatment so warm, only expected to be extended to family members.

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Van Volxem, entry to the cellar door

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In the historic tasting room

Postscript: A couple of days later, I sat in the Weinhaus, one of my favorite wine bars in Trier, and witnessed the sale and hand over of two 6-bottle boxes of Van Volxem Riesling wines to customers.

Well, I thought, I cannot complain since I still have some bottles in my “cellar” in Jakarta, and the next vintage will certainly make a wonderful buy.

Address
Weingut Van Volxem
Roman Niewodniczanski
Dehnstrasse 2
54459 Wiltingen, Saar
Ph.: +49-6501-16510
e-mail: vanvolxem@t-online.de

The estate is member of the VDP (Verband deutscher Praedikats- und Qualitaetsweingueter), the association of German prime wine estates (www.vdp.de). Today the Association has 200 members and covers about 3% of the German viticultural area.


Country Inns in Germany: Asparagus and river perch

May 18, 2007

While travelling in Germany recently, I had a lot of fish and seafood dishes, the reason for this being that I accompanied a group of visiting Indonesians to a number of coastal towns on the East and the North Sea. Since Germany had a splendid spring, this was the more enjoyable.

Later, together with my brother and my old folks in Trier, I visited one of the traditional German country inns so prevalent in my home area, the Mosel River Valley, the Landgasthof Kopp (www.landgasthofkopp.com) in Hentern, a small village between the Mosel tributaries Ruwer and Saar.

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Landgasthof Kopp main entrance

Springtime in Germany is ‘asparagus time’. Everywhere the lush white sticks can be purchased or consumed. All four of us ordered some kind of an asparagus dish. I had asparagus with perch (German: Zander).

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River perch with asparagus

With this delicious meal, I drank the house wine, Ockfener Scharzberg Riesling, a local product from a small village on the Saar river called Ockfen (www.ockfen-home.de). Ockfen has about 700 inhabitants and of the agricultural used land of 246 ha about 90 ha are under vines on very steep slopes. The most famous terroir is ‘Ockfener Bockstein’ which is among the best wines from the Saar. The wines from this location are very dry, minerally and fruity with a good structure.

From the Middle Ages onwards it was the monasteries along the Saar river that cultivated vines and promoted the wine industry. The wealth and prosperity of Ockfen was almost exclusively based on its wine industry. The many small villages and towns along the Saar river are worth visiting (among them Saarburg, Ayl, Kanzem, Oberemmel, Serrig, Wiltingen to name only a few. I highly recommend this very beautiful part of Germany.

As regards the inn, the Landgasthof Kopp, this place is a must, not only because of the superb quality of the food and the service. The price too was a pleasant surprise, unbeatable, I must say. For the four of us, including drinks, we spent a total of only 60 Euro for a memorable family lunch.


My hometown: Augusta Treverorum – a short visit to Trier

May 5, 2007

It was four busy days in Trier, running from appointment to appointment. Spring this year in Germany is most beautiful. Temperatures almost like in summer, sunshine, blue skies and very dry, no rains (bad for all the farmers and vintners). The four days included among others a family gathering with brother Wolf and my old folks, visits of old friends, meals in country pubs and at home, long walks in Trier, barbecues, afternoon coffee and cake, a Riesling wine tasting with the winemaker, a hunting trip in the forests of the Saar river, and a birthday party of my niece Adriane who turned 24!. When I finally had my train ticket to Frankfurt in my hands, I knew the time had come to say good bye. I payed a short visit to my favourite wine bar, Kesselstatt, opposite the cathedral (Trierer Dom) and had a last drink, a fine and dry 2005 Wiltinger Riesling. Then I went to an internet cafe near the train station but could not enter this text into my blog so I had to defer it to later. “Good byes” as always in the hope that you meet again and off I went on the train to catch my plane in Frankfurt for Jakarta.

Weinstube Kesselstatt

Weinstube Kesselstatt in Trier

The train trip makes the farewell easier. Along the Mosel river to Koblenz I could enjoy the beautiful Mosel valley with its steep vineyards, old castles, small settlements, and lovely countryside. After a change of trains follows the middle Rhine river valley with magnificent castles, stepp slopes covered in vines, the narrow valley, and the beautiful and winding river. When I had passed Bingen and entered Mainz, the long farewell had almost come to an end. From the familiar to the unfamiliar, the known to the unknown; the ancient, rural, pituresque and wine producing land gave way to industrial landscapes, big cities and finally the airport. My time in Germany had come to an end. So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, good bye and the promise to return in September with more time on my hands for family and friends and the tasting of fine wines from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.

Trierer Dom

Trierer Dom and Liebfrauenkirche