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January 29, 2012

The House of Mondavi

Lazy Sunday afternoon by the fireplace, reading about the rise and fall of an American Wine Dynasty (Julia Flynn Siler): The House of Mondavi.

Taken by the story of the early beginnings, of how Cesare and Rosa Mondavi came to America from Italy in early 1900 and started up their business.

Disturbed by how Rosa will later side with only two of her 4 children and how she will be unbelievably cruel against Robert and his sister Helen by cutting them out not only of the family business. Also of her own shares they are supposed to not inherit more than a few dollars each - of millions that were to be split.

Amazed by how Robert Mondavi will then manage to succeed with his new winery. And relieved that the court decided in his favor to get his share of the Krug winery, the previous family biz.

Understanding how complicated the situation was for his children and Margrit, his 2nd wife.

And now reading with great interest how he meets his counterpart in Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the man who came from a total different world compared to Robert M.

Looking forward to continue reading about the legendary Opus One.....

January 26, 2012

2010 Tukulu Chenin Blanc, South Africa, Fairtrade

100 % Chenin Blanc. Hm. Now, it is a while ago, that we had this one and I never took notes (remember, I just moved...?). But what I do recall with this wine is, that it did not suit our tastebuds. Not really. Chenin Blanc is my husband's favorite grape variety ever since we first discovered it in South Africa. There, we found several wines we enjoyed. But Tukulu (why do I always want to say Takatuka?) won't be added to our 'wines-we-liked list'. When I first opened it, I felt nothing but green. Green as in grass and as in stinging nettles. I was sure, it was Sauvignon Blanc instead (or at least partially)... And the taste had a bitter twist to it. Ok, after a while in the glass, the green vanished mostly and there came fruitiness. But not as much and not as clearly as stated on the label. (Not for me at least.) The high acidity was there, though, so in that aspect very much Chenin Blanc. I guess, it is just me, because searching the web I find countless pages with good ratings for this one. Good, everyone does not like the same thing/wine? 

A great plus is the Fairtrade sign, definitely worth supporting.
Price: 7,50 €

Another Chenin Blanc, which suited me better:

January 20, 2012

Winedowner @ Weingut Weegmüller

2010 Riesling Herrenletten Alte Reben Weegmüller
Last night we spent a few hours at Weegmüller's. The 3rd Thursday of a month, the Weegmüller sisters Stefanie and Gaby open the winery for guests to come, enjoy a few glasses of good wine and chat away with other wine enthusiasts. It is more of a 'insider' thing, usually the same people keep coming back, but there will always be new visitors joining in. Very cozy and casual. Check out their FB or web page to see when the next wine downer takes place.

During the warmer months, wine and small dishes are served outside in the courtyard. Here, beautiful old stone walls and huge old wooden doors and gates give you the idea of how many generations have gone through this winery. In the winter months, people gather in the cellars. Lots of candles make for a beautiful atmosphere and underline the mystique that is spread within the old vaulted cellars. 
Winedowner @ Weegmüller Jan 19, 2012
At arrival, you are served a glass of bubbly and after that, you pick your own wine. Either by the glass or by the bottle. Lars' and my favorite is the Riesling Herrenletten from old vines. A dry wine with warm tones of yellow fruit, citrus, paired with a beautiful minerality, herbal hints, and high acidity. Rather intense (13,5% abv), but yet elegant and smooth. The residual sugar is notable, but makes it ideal for sipping away, especially when drinking without food.

Perhaps I will see you there some Thursday this year....?
See my previous post about Weegmüller here.

January 19, 2012

German Wineries & Social Media

Prof. Dr. Edith Rüger-Muck about Facebook & Co for wineries

Yesterday, I spent the day at Saalbau in Neustadt, to follow the 65. Pfälzische Weinbautage. This yearly conference for vintners of the Pfalz is organized by the agricultural department of Rheinlandpfalz (, the Farmers & Vintners Association ( and the agricultural service center ( The two days event was generally focussing on how to strategically combat the increasing weather episodes and their effects on the vines/wine, but had also a few other topics to offer.

One of those was how to build/expand/maintain customer relations by using social media. This was actually the part I was interested in most and why I went there, to see if I could learn more.

What to say? First impression: this section of the day was the one, where least attention was brought to by the audience! There was a constant mumbling and chatting/talking that was above all impolite towards the speaker, Mrs. Rüger-Muck, who did a good job up there. Those vintners! My personal interpretation was that most of them felt not at all addressed. "Social media? Facebook? Xing? That's for the desk sitters. Or at least it's got nothing to do with my winery..." 

What a shame. But it also kind of reflected parts of what the speaker had to say: so are wine related pages not at all found under the top ranking Facebook pages. No. 1 FB page in Germany with over 1.000.000 fans was McDonalds (!) (?) and Nr. 5 with almost half a million ..... the discounter Lidl!! (??) WTH? Armes Deutschland.

Then Mrs. Rüger-Muck showed the leading German winery fan page with over 900 fans: Johner. Currently, not a single German winery makes it to over 1000 fans on their page. 

In comparison, she presented American wineries with much higher numbers, (note: but still not close to the Australian Yellow Tail brand (a terrible wine, to my taste) with over 290.000 fans. This has been researched by journalist Mario Scheuermann, and can be found here: and more info plus numbers here:

The speaker further outlined, that it is more the personal pages of vintners that have most attention, compared to their winery pages. A good example for that is Dirk Würtz, a winemaker, blogger and more. He has over 5000 fans on his page and he is seen as Germany's Web 2.0 Guru. Anyone connected to the wine related German Social Media world, knows Dirk. See here: also related to other German blogs and bloggers, which I recognized, almost all of them. It felt like meeting 'old friends', since I do follow their blogs (at least partly). About several of them you can find entries on this blog, like under the label Twitter.

The essence was, that it is not enough to have a Facebook page (Twitter account, Xing account....) only, but that it is well maintained. It is all about having a strategy about branding yourself or your product/winery. You even need to be ready for criticism and how to react then. To simply start up a page and 'see what happens' won't give much. And this is the part where most wineries don't even want to know more, because they lack time to do it themselves and/or money for resources to do it for them. 

However, it might be more expensive to keep ignoring social media and its importance as one of the tools of a good marketing strategy.

With great interest, I will keep following the development of wineries & social media. But hearing the mumbling crowds yesterday, tells me, it might still need some time...

January 17, 2012

Penicillin cures,

but wine makes people happy.

Alexander Fleming, Scottish scientist who discovered penicillin in 1928.

Quote of the day from my new wine calendar. Love that one, since it provides me with new facts, ideas and inspirations around wine every day. 

January 12, 2012

Grape of 2012: Portugieser

Also: Blauer Portugieser, Vöslauer (Austria), Kekoporto (Hungary)

Here, in the Pfalz, this is most commonly known as a rosé wine (Weissherbst) to blend with mineral water to then be called 'Weissherbstschorle'. Often it is made as a light red wine, low in alcohol and tannins and not too high acidity. 

I usually keep a bottle at home for a certain friend who prefers a roséschorle over most other wines. You can buy this one for 3,95 €/l here.

However, as I am not particularly interested in this variety, I do find it amazing that it is the 2nd important red wine grape in the Pfalz. That is one of the reasons why the Pfalzwein-Werbung (the agency that is marketing our region and its wines) announced the Portugieser as grape variety of the year 2012. With 2000 hectares, the Pfalz has the largest plantings of it in Germany, although the numbers are declining. 

A good chance to go and try different Portugieser wines is the local winefair in Bad Dürkheim, end of March.

Last year, I got to try real intense and dense wines of this grape, which was a true surprise to me. Frank Meyer from the Stiftweingut in Klingenmünster (Südliche Weinstrasse) offers some Portugieser that has been aging in barrique barrels for 36 months. I hope to get there some day to learn more about winery and wines. 

January 09, 2012

2009 Eugen Müller Pechstein Riesling Brut

 Different and really good! Flintstone and citrus, citrus and flintstone. The main actors in this brut sparkling wine with lots of small bubbles. Add a little saltiness. And perhaps slight hints of yellow fruit, grapefruit in the finish. Minerality. Good, high acidity. 
Another wine from our favorite vineyard site, the Pechstein in Forst, where Basalt is found in the soils. Bottle fermented. Price: ca 15 €.

We enjoyed it together with a mixed salad with lime-garlic-cilantro marinated shrimps and some fried chicken stripes. A perfect match. Accompanied with home made white bread. Baked with olive oil in the dough and salt flakes on top, my new (Miele) steam oven taking care of a perfect crust. (No more water in cup or on tray in oven...)

January 08, 2012

Walking the Vineyards

After a rainy, stormy and grey period we had a wonderful sunny day today. How I enjoy walking the wine fields with my family! Even now, naked as they are, the vines have a soothing effect on me... The pruning has already started a few weeks ago and it is comforting to know it all starts over again. It gives some kind of stability, consistency, watching the procedure so close by. However, I feel deep respect for the people standing out there in wind and weather and clipping vine after vine. Not too fun when the weather is bad? Much easier to go walk the sites with sunshine and 10 C (plus).

The picture (smart phone, not big Canon) was taken north of Königsbach on the way towards Deidesheim. We see some of the vineyards Nussbien and Reiterpfad with the villages Ruppertsberg and Deidesheim (left) and a bit behind is Niederkirchen.   

January 06, 2012

2009 Bürklin-Wolf Pechstein G.C.

Pechstein, our favorite vineyard. Lars and I both love the special notes that come with the wines from this site. Basalt is the word. Basalt? Why would anyone believe that black volcanic stone tastes good? Ever thought of biting into a piece of that? Certainly not. Why does it give so much to a Riesling grown on soils where its found? I haven't got an argument that sounds reasonable. Sorry. It just does. And that is a fact. We have tasted enough wines from this site and from different wineries, that all had that certain touch to it. And we have tasted other Bürklin wines from different sites, that do not have this particular flavor and smell. I have asked Tom Benns, BW's wine consultant several times, if the wines from different vineyard sites are done in similar ways and they are, all following the biodynamic laws. Some people will say, this special notes come from the Riesling only, that it does come from the vine itself. But why then on this soils more so than on the neighboring soils - given, all the other aspects around viticulture and vinification are identical? 

So. During last year, we bought this bottle for around 30 € to put away and to taste it in a few years, let it get some more aging done first. But, now -  in the festive mood, the first Christmas in the new house - we decided to move time forward a bit and just opened it one of these nights after dinner. 

What can I say? The cork crumbled into 2719 pieces. Yes, I do have the right opener. The wine - poured through a fine tea sieve (how much fun that added) - did not taste cork. But it did not taste it's usual either. Already the nose was less significant than what we are used to from Bürklin wines and especially Pechsteins in general. Did the cork dry out? Now, it is a shame for the money, the expectations and the missed moment. But, it would have been much worse, had we waited some years to then discover this. Still, I need to get another bottle of this wine, I just know it is fantastically good. 

Go to see the famous sites here: 

January 04, 2012

J F Ohler Chardonnay & Spätburgunder brut

This was our sparkling wine this New Year's. I started with it in a bubble bath before the party and continued with it through out the evening and night into the early morning. So good! A beautiful mousse with lots of small, soft bubbles. Soft notes of brioche, light yellow fruits and red berries. A nice minerality. And brut. 

For me, who usually will pick the Riesling Sekt before a Chardonnay/Pinot, this one is clearly a new favorite. If served together with Champagne in a blind tasting, it'd be challenging to say which one is the non-French, I would say.

Another fine example of really good vintner Sekt (traditional method) from the Pfalz. Price: ca 13 €.