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September 30, 2010

A Day at VDP Estate von Buhl - Part one

Founded in 1849, Reichsrat von Buhl is one of the prestigious estates of the Pfalz. Together with Bürklin-Wolf and Bassermann-Jordan, it is often referred to as one of the 'big Bs', all found in any famous and not-so-famous wine guide. The estate is today owned by the entrepreneur Achim Niederberger and it is run by an operating company, which in its turn is owned by a Japanese investor and by Stefan Weber, director of the estate, and Christoph Graf, sales manager.

Von Buhl has about 65 ha under vines, of which many are growing on top sites in Forst and Deidesheim. Famous vineyard names like Kirchenstück, Ungeheuer and Pechstein were already in the 19th century known by wine connoiseurs - not only in Germany. I will explain more about the sites (called Lagen in German) with future postings...

Today, it is about the harvest fest of last Saturday: We met at the estate at 10.00 a.m., where we were greeted by Christoph Graf and team. Together we walked up to the vineyard (Lage) Kieselberg. Here we were harvesting the grapes of 8 rows of vines.
Equipped with a bucket and grape harvest shears, we got a short introduction of how to and which grapes to take and which not. Some grapes show beginnings of boytritis and as today's harvest will go into the production of a dry wine, those grapes need to be excluded.
Werner Sebastian, responsible for the estate's vineyards and viticultural management, was explaining all we wanted to know. His passion and love for his work is infectious and it was fun to meet a person so happy for and with his job! He has been in the business for 40 years and works since 2004 with von Buhl. And it was under his guidance that the biodynamical standards of today were implemented and successfully certificated.
When our buckets were full, we simply shoutet 'Trauben!' (grapes), then somebody came to empty them and to give us new empty buckets. Within a couple of hours only the leaves were left on the vines, and the grapes were transported to the winery to meet their destiny: the press.
What we picked that day, was Riesling and the refractometer showed 88° Oechsle. In accordance to the Prädikatswein-system (the German wine system, where wines are classified by must weight), this could give a Spätlese wine. But as the VDP has changed their system by going back to express the origin of the grapes (soils, vineyard sites, terroir), (more about this later) this wine will result in a 'Deidesheimer Kieselberg Riesling trocken'. Telling you exactly where it comes from and that it is a dry wine. Smart! (And if you happen to catch a bottle of 2010, you know, I had my shears in there.)

After the work was done, we were served a nice, warm potato soup with apple cake. Yum! And to avoid dehydration: a Riesling trocken.

Read my next post about the rest of the day, with vineyard walk, wine tastings and cellar tour.... 

September 27, 2010

Sherry Ambassador Germany

Sherry meets Pfalz. Today this year's Sherry Ambassador was elected: Pietro D'Alto from Vinopolio, Marburg. Congratulations, Mr. Ambassador!
5 finalists from different regions of the country came to Neustadt/Weinstrasse to meet the last challenge. At the Vinicombe, the wine cellars of Mundus Vini, 3 different types of Sherry were served in black glasses (try it yourself!) for the candidates to recognize. Last theoretical questions had to be answered before the winner was announced. Prior to today's competition, 15 in-depth-questions around the famous Andalusian wines had to be answered right, a proposal for a menu with 5 corresponding different sherry styles had to be given. 

Today's candidates are sommeliers from top-houses of Germany and Pietro works as a freelance sommelier with his own company. The competition was announced by the Sommelier magazine

I think it is a good thing to have Sherry Ambassadors in Germany, because the wines get far too little attention and deserve way more! And what a great way to learn through people who know and have the passion for those exciting drops that are said to belong to the oldest wines on earth. Within the next weeks, several Romantic hotels offer Sherry-menus, and I might be trying to get to attend one myself. A nice way to discover brands you won't find on supermarket shelves. Check here for more information (Germany), for the international pages:

It was fun to have a short occasion that brought back memories of last year's Spanish Wine Education programme. The Spanish wine industry is doing a good job in marketing their wines by spreading knowledge...

More about Sherry on this blog...

September 20, 2010

Schloss Deidesheim Gutsausschank Dr Kern

This is where we spent a nice evening the other night: Gutsausschank Dr Kern, Schloss Deidesheim. It had been some 15 years, since my last visit - so it was fun to return. Especially now, that I have come to know the owner Stefanie Kern, since our children attend the same school.
It is unclear when exactly the original castle was built, first documentary evidence relates to a reception taking place end of 1200. What once was built as a water castle, was destroyed in 1689, during the War of Palatinate Succession, when almost all of Deidesheim was burnt down. In the 1700s, a new castle was built - only to once again be destroyed, this time by the French revolutionary army. As a consequence out of the secularization, the area and remains were auctioned by several individuals. Among them was Mr Goerg, who in 1804 and 1817 built two wineries for his sons on the areal he had bought. 
Mr Goerg is an ancestor of Stefanie and she took over the restaurant after her parents. For the last 50 years, food and wine have been served in these rooms, where lots of antiques can be found. Looking at some of the inventory, I wished they could tell me a story of things they have witnessed...
(Every table was occupied, my picture was done before the guests arrived.)

The wine menu concentrates on two wineries: Forster Winzerverein and Bassermann-Jordan and includes some own wines from Schloss-Deidesheim. An excellent way to try some local wines in a very relaxed atmosphere. AND to buy home, if you'd like. (Again, I am thinking of Sweden...)
In the glass: Bassermann-Jordan Riesling Kabinett trocken. Deidesheimer Kieselberg. Wonderfully, dry, elegant wine with nice acidity, minerality, and aromas of apple and white stone fruit. Really like it.
Grilled feta cheese
The food ranges from smaller dishes, like fresh salads over meat dishes to the traditional local 'Pfälzer Kost'. Which you should not choose when on a diet where you are still are afraid of fats. But for those of us, who have moved on to 'high fat plus protein, less-to-no carbohydrates', this works just fine (if you skip the mashed potatoes) (which you can't because they are so good)! That is what I took:
Bratwurst, Saumagen, Leberknödel, Sauerkraut, Kartoffelbrei
(more about this in some other post....)
To read more about the castle and Deidesheim, read here.
To book your table, click here.

September 19, 2010

Wine Select

Another beautiful, sunny day. We took a nice walk in the forests over Königsbach, north of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, where we enjoyed beautiful views over the Rhine valley.
After that, we were happy to stumble over a sign 'Hoffest'. Wine Select, a wine-event, -dealer (international and German wines) and -promotion company had opened their doors for a fest. Perfect for us! 
Up there on the terraces you can have pick-nick enjoying the views...

Today, you could buy 15 different wines by the glass or do a tasting of several, which is what we chose to do. I picked 4 wines for us:

2007 Scheurebe trocken, Weegmüller, Haardt. Not as spritzig as a Riesling, but very aromatic nose with black current and lychee in this dry wine that does have a little higher rest sugar. Definitely worth trying more of that grape variety!

2008 Riesling Kabinett trocken, Ohler, Gimmeldingen. Mussbacher Eselshaut. A dry, clean and fresh Riesling with nice, ripen citrus fruit. Yum.
2007 Riesling Kabinett trocken, Lucashof, Forst. Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker. A dry, clean and fresh Riesling with peach aromas and some minerality. Nice.

All of those were perfectly matching our salmon-shrimp-skewer that came with a couscous salad and a nice lemon-yoghurt sauce. 

2005 Mongrana Maremma, Agricola Querciabella, Tuscany. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. A food wine, with the typical well pronounced tannin structure. I would certainly have liked it better with some food, but that was gone by the time we got to this wine. Plus we got nicely engaged in conversations so we did not pay the attention the wine certainly had deserved. Sorry. (Next time!)

However, the atmosphere was lovely and we'll certainly be back! There is a nice cellar where you can taste and buy wine, I am curious to see if there will be more happenings taking place. For now, the next Sundays will all be opened until mid of October...
Life is good!

September 17, 2010

300 000 Liters Wine Consumed

at the Wurstmarkt, last year. Reports today's newspaper (Die Rheinpfalz). We'll see what this year's festival will have to report. Today starts the 2nd weekend of the world's largest wine fest...
Read more about the fair in my recent post for invinitum

September 15, 2010

#twv TwitterWeinVerkostung - Twitter Wine Tasting

#twv is the hashtag under which (mostly German speaking) wine lovers (you need not be a wine expert) meet online on a regular base to taste a wine and tweet their opinions about it. The wine was previously bought by each tweeter (=person that has a twitter account).

Real-time results for #twv

  1. weinreiseweinreise 

    Tag 2 und er gefällt mir besser, aber die säure ist schon knackig... Nicht der gelbe, gefällige Typ, das gefallt mir! #twv

  2. DonSimonDonSimon_ 

    Hat gerade Infos zum nächsten #twv Paket bekommen,ihr werdet es lieben :-) Mehr am Montag Abend während dem CabSauv vom Weingut Uebel ! #twv

Initiator is Simon Atzei, widely known and referred to as Don Simon with his blog . About one year ago, the Don organized what he called 'TastingSalesDay': While wine tastings on twitter was nothing new by then, his concept was (and still is) to introduce wineries that are within twitterverse. Interested wineries or wine dealers can propose a tasting package of 1-3 wines, that should cost no more than 20 € for the individual taster, incl. shipping costs. Simon announces the package and then everyone that is interested orders his/her wine, which is shipped in good time before the tasting takes place - mostly on Monday evenings.

Simon's motivation is of purely private nature, out of fun and his interest for wine. As he says (which I can only agree with), it is not so easy to gather people around you for a 'real life' tasting. Thus being able to do so via your computer is a good alternative. For wineries and dealers it is a chance to get new customers, contacts and simply to gain reputation by being 'up-to-date' when it comes to social media. Or just to see how a certain wine can be evaluated...

Nobody knows exactly how many participants there are, as not everybody is active during the tastings. Some just drink, follow the twitter-conversation, and enjoy... So far, there are more male than female tasters, but the number of ladies is growing, the Don says.
It is also he who picks the wines to taste and so far, packages until March 2011 are decided upon. (Hm - I like it)

Besides German wines, there have been Italian, French, South African, Austrian, etc..... So, if you'd like to send in your wines, just send a message - or more fittingly, follow the Don  and let him know! 

Another fun 'side-effect' is, as Don Simon puts it, that he has also found 'real-life' friends through this #twv.

Read here about last Monday's #twv

September 13, 2010

Sauvignon Blanc, Uebel - Twitter tasting

2009 Sauvignon Blanc Kabinett trocken
Weingut Uebel, 
Nussdorf, Pfalz, Germany
6,90 €
12% alcohol
100% Sauvignon Blanc

Color: pale straw with slight hints of green
Nose: medium intense, clearly Sauvignon Blanc: grass, nettle, asparagus, some elderflower, hints of white pepper followed by a slight touch of alcohol
Palate: dry, light bodied with good acidity, gooseberry and grass tones, asparagus, ripen citrus. A decent, enjoyable herbal finish.  

A Sauvignon Blanc as I like it. More 'green' than fruity, fresh and crisp.

Nice to serve with salad dishes, chicken with pesto, green asparagus.  

Wine of tonight's Twitter wine tasting #twv. 

Read here about my visit to the winery or go directly to their website.

Here you can read what the German twitter-tasters had to say about this Sauvignon Blanc:

Don Simon (initiator)
Il Direttore della Gazzetta del Vino
Der Weinspion

September 11, 2010

MundusVini Great Wine Award results

5883 wines from 42 countries were tasted by an international jury (see my previous post): 1771 achieved medals. 471 awards went to German wines - with the Pfalz receiving 157 and thus leading among the German wine regions. Followed by Württemberg and Baden. 

The award 'German winery of the year' went to Weingut von Winning, which also stood for the category 'Best dry German white wine' with their 2009 Deidesheimer Grainhübel Riesling Spätlese trocken.
To find out which other wines and wineries got awarded, please visit

In November the winning wines of the awards can be tasted during the official wine tasting from 12-14 Nov. here in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse.  Drop me a note if you are participating, I'll be there too.

(Information from the official MundusVini press release)

September 08, 2010

Weingut Uebel, Pfalz - Twitter Wine Tasting

The word 'uebel' can be translated with ill, bad, nasty and some more. But this has absolutely nothing to do with this winery carrying the name Uebel!

Jochen Uebel, a young and passionate winemaker is the most friendly person ever! I had the pleasure to get to meet him today, when I visited the Uebel estate to pick up my wine package for Monday's twitter wine tasting. Yes! Finally I will be able to attend this fun club of twitter tasters that meet regularly under the hashtag #twv. But more about this later...
Jochen explained to me that the family-run winery is very young and in the early beginnings. Today, the majority of wines is sold via commissioners, which is a good way to earn money to build a solid foundation for a winery to grow and gain stability. But of course, his passion and his drive are devoted to the bottle wines and I do believe that this man knows exactly what he is doing. We will hear from him and his wines, something tells me.

Uebels have 10.5 hectars under vines and the location (in Nussdorf-Landau) is beautiful, let me assure you! Although it was raining dogs when I got there this morning, I just loved how it is nestled in at the very end of a cute, romantic, narrow road, which is more of a path. (Swedish Volvo erm...) And once you got passed the last bend of the street you see nothing but ... vines. Gorgeous.
In the cellar, where the stainless steel tanks are waiting for this year's crop, Jochen is explaining a bit about the techniques and his philosophy. How the wine is filtered in the end only and how he concentrates his work on letting the different grape varieties reflect just that - their own style. And how he uses barrel aging to accentuate but not to kill a wine. Sounds very good to me!
In a couple of weeks they will start to fill those 5000 l tanks with Sauvignon Blanc, White and Grey Burgundy, Chardonnay and Riesling. The reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Portugieser, and Dunkelfelder. Ha! You too have not heard about that grape variety, have you? I am going to look it up. It gives very dark wines with lots of tannins, and therefore makes a good component in a cuvée - under the right circumstances, that is.

But now, first, we are going to taste Sauvignon Blanc 2009 on Monday and then the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. #twv

How fun: Through twitter I got to know a new person in real life too. Not too bad? (Nicht übel?)

September 02, 2010

Ortega 2010

My first sip of this year's wine: Ortega. Sweet, very yeasty. Called 'neuer Wein' , Federweisser, Bitzler. This one here came in that morning, so really, it is still grape juice. The yeasts are working already though and the wine changes almost by the hour. Everyday it will be less sweet and stronger in alcohol. That way, there is a new wine to every taste.
As of today, the temperatures are still too high, it needs to be a bit more cooler and fall-ish, for me to like to drink this wine (I only asked for a sip to be able to take the photos for you, since I was not buying either...). But, of course, just as with all other consumer products, everyone tries to be the first, so already now you can go and enjoy this year's wine.

However, that I am writing about it now, is more out of the curiosity of where it was served:
At the entrance of the local supermarket. That is of course nothing at all curious to us in Germany. People pass it - and hardly even notice it. But to me, just back from Sweden, this is something very attention-catching!

I start giggling (although I am all by myself), just by the thought how much fuzz this would create in front of a Swedish supermarket. Seems like a great joke for candid camera to me! Of course, it wouldn't happen, because it is simply forbidden to sell alcohol outside the monopoly and to sell wine on the parking lot - that would have about the same touch as selling cocaine here. Funny world?

September 01, 2010

Writing for a Swedish Wine Blog: Invinitum

I am excited and proud to announce that I have become part of a team of writers for a Swedish wine blog. Invinitum, a Scandinavian wine-webshop, is expanding. My part will be to share my personal taste, views and thoughts about wine. Needless to say that I will be using this chance to write about German wines, beginning with the Pfalz. My home. (Did I mention...?)