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February 25, 2011

Bubbles, Bitching & Sauna

Ah, it is so good to be home again... A few days ago, I took a day off to spend some hours at the sauna. Lady's sauna. You know, here in Germany, in most saunas genders are mixed and people naked. Very naked. Now, after having lived abroad for quite some years, I have lost the concept of mixed and naked. Prefer lady's sauna instead. Although I could - for the sake of relaxing - do without all the chatting. But, there is a price tag to everything, right?

So, there I am, in this - actually - rather nice and big sauna area of the public pool. Several different saunas, warmer, less warm, dry, steam, lights blue and red etc... A real nice silent room with comfortable relaxing chairs. Carpe diem. Big windows (walls of glass) opening up the view of a wonderful blue sky. And the ladies (ages 50-70) that have gathered outside, occupying an entire row of chairs. [Reminding me of my English friend Doreen, who once told me about the jokes the Brites do about us (beware of the) Germans, throwing out our towels on the pool chairs of the Mallorca hotels early in the morning...] 

10.30 a.m., they talk and chat and giggle. And with the window between us - who'd care? Then: one of them reaching down into her bag, coming out with a bottle, wrapped in newspaper (which looked like the page of daily death notices). Over the coffee cups with the bottle - out comes... not coffee, but sparkling wine. Of course. No desperate housewives here!(Or?) A little moment of small significance. I smile, and am reminded of that I am back home in the Pfalz, where life sometimes is a little lighter than perhaps elsewhere.

11.00 a.m.: time for my next session of sauna. Two different ladies sitting in there, chatting all the time (with no window between us). Bitching about those outside that apparently are having more fun then they themselves do. I smile. Life here is just like anywhere.

February 24, 2011

February Pruning

Vineyard Deidesheim
Someone has been busy. And freezing. While the vines are still dormant, things are happening in the vineyards. Read more here...

February 22, 2011

Fassweinprobe - Barrel Tasting

Winemaker Stefan Giese
 Last night I was invited to my first barrel tasting. An internal tasting, I mean. Not for customers and buyers - just for friends of Weingut Johan Ohler. I feel privileged to have been invited too. In a very relaxed atmosphere, the wine maker Stefan Giese introduced the wines of 2010. Out of the barrels - and tanks, as a matter of fact. Of course, all wines are extremly young at this stage and will do well with a few more months, but this is what I take with me from this evening:

Arnim Jost, Sabine Ohler-Jost,
Stefan Giese
2010 - a difficult year in the Pfalz (and elsewhere), with drastically lower quantities. However, the quality of yesterday's wines is throughout the range very good and I assume those wines will be sold out quickly. If you want to try - you better hurry up. Filling is happening now in March, most of the wines will be available shortly thereafter.

We started with two rosé wines. Easy drinking, fresh and fruity wines, with the one made from Cabernet Sauvignon being my favorite. Strawberry, red current and hints of green capsicum. Summer can come! (I know, the wine world is working hard for us consumers to drink rosé all year round - which of course I could. But. I am self confident enough to keep associating rosé wine with summer. Ha.)

Then came the burgundy varieties:
Blanc de Noir, made of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). I don't really know why - but that wine style is just not mine. It is fashionable and popular, but I'll pass.
Then: Weisser Burgunder, Grauburgunder and Chardonnay. All showing the for our region and that age of wine typical aromas. My favorite was the Chardonnay. No oak. No malo. Plain Chardonnay. Tropical with a very nice acidity and without any disturbing sweetness (which I have sometimes found in German Chardonnays) (not that I can say that I have had that very many German Chardonnays yet) (remember? I'm the Riesling girl).

A Sauvignon Blanc was to follow. Which is a little project of Stefan himself and his father-in-law. Nice! The blackcurrant leaves and classical gooseberry, nice and dry with a good acidity. Fits well in row with my previously tasted Sauvignon Blances, two of which I have written about here... 

Riesling. Coming home. From a liter wine to three different vineyards. Just getting better all the time. Liter wines (Gutsweine) are often mixed with mineral water here in the Pfalz, to drink as Schorle (Spritzer). It gets more exciting, moving up to the vineyard wines.
All Rieslings were good - in their different ways. My personal favorites are the Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten, where the vines are 35 years old, which gives this beautiful, elegant minerality that is going so well with the white stone fruit aromas. And the Königsbacher Idig, that has a bit more of flintstone to it, it even showed herbal tones, very nice. All Rieslings were crisp and dry with high acidity - which I like.

The tasting was completed with a red wine from 2009. Spätburgunder that now came out of the barrique. It had all the structure, fruit and secondary aromas, but will now need some time on the bottle. I will buy that one and put it in my new cellar which is to be finished by summer, hopefully.

I love being home again and now getting the chance to meet these enthustiastic winemakers. How every inch of them is into this process. There was a lot of interesting expert-talk about different clones and yeasts, taking out old vines, planting new ones, deciding here and there and everywhere. Again, I got so excited just by hearing about all those many small (and big) steps, the different circumstances that every vintage year brings along, all that is within the chain of pre-vine to wine in glass.

February 19, 2011

I want my € 1.39-per-liter wine! Now! Gulp.

The DWI (German Wine Institute) has just announced the 2010 sales numbers of the German wine market. The total sales of wines (both, German and international wines) have gone down by 2,7%, while the quantities have remained more or less stable. This is connected to the increasing sales of wines at the discounters, where extreme price politics are usual business. Having read that, I need to formulate a few thoughts around this.

Last week, we spent a few days at Feldberg in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) region. We went to Lidl to get a few breakfast items... No, wine isn't really on our breakfast table - but can I pass a wine shelf without checking the bottles? No. Only, this time, what caught my attention was the signs, not so much the bottles themselves. Lot's of 1 € somethings... Reds and whites and rosés.

Jesus Christ. Where are we heading with our cheap-cheaper-cheapest mentality.........? W. T. H? Rotten meat, Dioxin in food chain, and several other scandals have shaken the country in the recent past. One important factor behind all this is undoubtedly the pressure to keep prices down, down, down. We - as in consumers - seem to not care, as long as we can get our food at low costs. Instead of cutting down on meats, going back to not having meat dishes every day of the week and therefore rather a good piece of it, we want it all and now and all the time. And the same goes for wine?! Hello? Can't afford a bottle of wine for 7, 8 € - well drink less of it then. Which is better anyway, right?

What is the low price per liter leading to? Are we going to drink a lot more for the same money? Or are we going to drink less, and thus actually saving money? That remains to be seen.

What is our goal? 0,30 € / liter - are we happier then?

Now! I am not at all a friend or a believer in Sweden's alcohol politics. But, at least there are people spending thoughts on alcohol and young people. I am not saying that they are doing the right thing with their constant taboos and brain washing with partly simply plain lies and misleading facts. But, there certainly is a certain awareness, that we seem to be lacking in our liberal (God, how thankful I am for that we are liberal!) society:

Considering all the problems we do have with young people (13, 14 year olds) becoming alcoholics, I can't see this new trend being of any help. Yes, we know, it was the alcopops (and their marketing) that started that problem for our society, the flat rate drinking at the discos, parents not having any time for their children anymore, schools ending too soon, leaving kids alone and without supervision at early age. So, yes, we need to work on this issue from several different starting points. We need to be using our common sense thing and we need to sharpen up. And yeah, and perhaps there are no statistics showing an increased risk for even more alcohol dependent children, just because Lidl and co are giving away the wines. WTH, it just feels wrong. Especially since there is no positive effect with this price dumping. (Or is there?)

And how does it help the local producers? With higher production costs in our country, compared to many other countries - how long and how far will they be able to keep up with this? And should they? And what happens now, with 2010 being this enormously lower quantities... Will they be thrown out of the discounter shelves?

Well, for now, it seems to still be working. As the DWI reports, 46% of the volumes and 52% of the sales of wine in Germany, are German wines after all. German wines are market leaders in Germany. That's nice.

February 08, 2011

MyPfalz: Hirschhorner Hof, Riesling Brut

MyPfalz (3) Monthly Sparkling - February
Hirschhorner Hof 
Riesling Sekt Brut 2007
Königsbach, Pfalz 
€ 16,50

Yellow apple and soft notes of peach mingle with brioche - the nose likes it! The crisp acidity and fruity taste are completed by wonderful minerality and end with a pleasant tickle of saltiness. Pronounced and quite lasting... Good... I want more. The bubbles (did I tell you I   l-o-v-e   wines with 'em) are many, small and cute and mouth filling. I keep it! Oh... it's empty.
Organically grown grapes are the base for this wine, which is fermented in a 1200 liter cask. Done the traditional way (2nd fermentation in the bottle), the degorgement was done by hand in 2010, with 2 g of dosage (grape must) added.

This was entry no. 3 of my new series MyPfalz, click here to read more.

February 03, 2011

Wine & Chili 2

One of the leading keyword searches that bring new people to this blog of mine is: 'Wine and Chili'.  Telling me, I wasn't the only one wondering a while ago - see here:

Today, at, I stumbled over an article of Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein about the pairing of chili and wine:

Click here for the full article.
"If you want to go 'all American", a full flavored Zinfandel will pair beautifully with its rustic structure, spicy brambly flavors and mouth coating yet unpretentious flavor. If you want to opt for something a bit edgier, look for a Negro Amaro or even a softer interpretation of a Petit Sirah, both of which have Zin's enjoyable rusticity but with more elements of prune, black fig, and black licorice. And finally, if you want to play up the herbal components of the dish (bay, oregano, any green chilies) don't overlook Chilean Carmenere as an intriguing choice, which balances smoky herbal elements with dark plummy fruit...."
Feel free to send your favorite pairing too.

February 02, 2011

Royal Wine Tasting in Koenigsbach

Last weekend we were at a wine tasting with royal flair. The 9 wine princesses of Neustadt/Weinstrasse had invited to the Koenigsbacher Winzer (a cooperative) for a nice evening with wine, food, and entertainment. The proceeds benefit the Kindergarten 'Regenbogen', a place for disabled children.
The Princesses and two (?) Bacchuses (thought there was only one!)
What I find very remarkable, is that it was all initiated, planned and accomplished by these young ladies that are between 18 and 25 years of age. They picked their wines - each from their own wine village (Neustadt/Weinstrasse has 9 of them), and presented them in a very nice and charming way. We learned a little about the villages and about the princesses themselves. One had become a princess just like her mother, grandmother, great aunt before her. Another one skipped a week of ski vacation with her school, to do this event instead. Dedicated young people that do make a difference!
Princesses in action
The wineries contributed to the good cause by giving their wines. Here is a list of what we were served:
- Welcome Sekt: Weissburgunder Extra Dry, Heim'sche Sektkellerei (Neustadt)
- 2009 Weissburgunder, Bergolt-Reif&Nett (Duttweiler)

- 2009 Grauer Burgunder Kabinett halbtrocken,Weinland Koenigsbach (Koenigsbach)
- 2009 Mussbacher Eselshaut, Riesling Kabinett trocken (Mussbach)
- 2009 Muskateller Spätlese, Weingut Andres (Lachen-Speyerdorf)
- 2007 Rieslaner Spätlese, Weingut Weegmüller (Haardt)
- 2008 Cabernet Dorsa, Weingut Haigis (Geinsheim)
- 2007 Gimmeldinger Meerspinne Cabernet Sauvignon, Daniel Hauck (Gimmeldingen)
- 2008 Cuvée Nicolaus trocken, Weingut Stortz-Nicolaus (Diedesfeld)
- 2008 Chardonnay Beerenauslese, Weingut Sommer (Hambach)
Swirling and tasting
Me, personally, I would have loved to see more dry wines, not so many off-dry ones. A sparkling wine under Brut is not really 'my thing'. But, it most likely reflects the wine style that many of the guests prefer. I found the Muskateller and the Chardonnay Beerenauslese most interesting. The quality of the wines was certainly good and it is well worth looking closer at those wineries.

I was sitting besides Herr Nebel, the 'mayor' (Ortsvorsteher) of Geinsheim. He owns a hair salon where he offers wines from the wineries of Geinsheim in small glasses. A nice opportunity to do a little wine tasting while at the coiffeur, don't you think! And if you found your wine, you can also buy it there - at winery prices.

Wine Princess Natascha of Koenigsbach
What's a princess without her Bacchus
Koenigsbach, home of the famous IDIG

 Thank you, your highnesses for a fun evening!