Schloss Vollrads Estate 2015 Riesling

Schloss Vollrads Estate 2015 Riesling

So we used up the last of my pre-prepared meals from the freezer this week. I made a stash of meals before baby TC came along and now I wish I’d made more! One of my favourite meals to make bulk of is the butter chicken recipe from the Ripe Deli cookbook. It’s delicious and reheats so well + it goes exceptionally well with Riesling.

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“This is my passion, not my job” – An Interview with Siegbert Bimmerle

IMG_1230I would love to be the person who has the time and resources to visit each and every winery in the world. There are so many good ones out there and to be honest we probably don’t know about half of them. Siegbert Bimmerle is the owner of Bimmerle Wines in Baden Germany. His vineyard is a family-owned operation that was founded in 1936 by his grandfather Josef Bimmerle. With 45 hectares of vines, half planted with red varieties and half with white, Siegbert is producing some extraordinary tipples. They are sure to make you go back for more and more until… uhh ohh… the bottle is gone! I had the chance to speak one-on-one with Siegbert recently to find out about his award winning wines and why-oh-why I can’t buy a bottle at my local bottleo shop yet…

What is Bimmerle’s philosophy to making wine?

Quality comes first. This is what matters to us and this starts with the vines in the vineyard. Intense care is taken during the vintage with careful handling of the grapes. During the wine making process we work hard to bring out the best quality year by year. Furthermore we aim for a better quality each and every vintage.

Siegbert, what sort of training/education have you had?

Besides my education as a vine cellar man (Weinküfer), it is not the professional experience which I believe is the most important. The most important is my affinity to the vine. This is my passion, not my job.

I have read that you have maybe, ‘the most modern winery anywhere on the planet,’ can you please tell me what makes your winery so modern?

Yes, it is true. We have just built a new wine factory with the most modern manufacturing in our region (Ortenau / Baden). For example the containers that our grapes are transferred in are very small containers. The advantage is that the grapes are not squeezed and are transferred gently. The grapes are freshly pressed with one of the most modern membrane press machines in the area. The machine is very slow and soft and it takes about 6 hours to process each batch of grapes. If we cannot handle the grapes while they are arriving we put them into a special cooling system for freshness. We make sure the transition is short for the grape / juice from delivery to the tank. This is important for the fermentation. We have 84 small tanks from 200 Liter up to 6.000 Liter. So we are able press each grape variety individually. We are using modern techniques combined with know-how. All our wines have received accolades and medals each and every year both nationally and internationally. In 2011 we received for the 3rd time the highest honoury award for the highest rating vineyard in the area for achieving best consecutive results throughout the years.

I see you have the ‘Wine Sanctuary’ for events; do you also welcome tourists to stop in for a tour and tasting? Can people show up, or do they need to contact the winery first? What would the charge be?

Yes, visitors are welcome for a tasting. We also have a local store in our winery. So, if it is a small group of up to 5 or 10 people they can just show up and taste at our bar. However if they would like to have a guided tasting they need to book in advance. We charge a minimum of 14,00 Euros per person for a guided tasting. Please note the tasting at the bar could be done a bit cheaper.

Currently your website is only in German, will an English version be available in the near future? In the meantime for English speakers, what is the best way to contact the winery for further information?

So far we are just making wine just for the German market. Before we move on to sell our wines in other countries we would like be sure that we are very well known in our home country. After we have grown so much and our wine is well known, we will start to work on exporting. Therefore we have not translated our website, but we will do it soon. We have already translated some information for our customers together with Mrs. Claudia Pech of the German Wine Agencies in London. She is coordinating our wine business in England and is happy to help with any enquires about our wines or winery. 

What is your favourite wine from your range?

Spätburgunder Rotwein (Pinot Noir) – Im Holzfass gereift [aged in wooden barrels]

Thank-you Siegbert for your time and after tasting your wines I have a new appreciation for the ‘new generation’ of German wines coming onto the market. I’m looking forward to the day I can order some over to New Zealand to accompany a nice Kiwi lamb roast.

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The tasty truth about the new generation of German wines

German Wine Tasting London It’s hard to mention German wines without thoughts of Riesling popping into your head. It is an amazing grape that produces wildly diverse styles of wine, everything from bone-dry to luscious sweet tipples. It is the queen of German wines that sometimes hides us from the other delectable goodies coming out of this great land.

I was recently invited to an event in London hosted by the German Wine Agencies called ‘Germany Unplugged’. I really didn’t know what I was getting into, my initial thought was that it was simply an event to get to know some more of the fairly unknown wine producers in Germany. In some ways I was right however I have to admit I walked away from the event with a feeling of what i can only associate with a teenage girls admiration for Justin Bieber. German wines are being re-born and let me go on the record for being the person who said it first – German wines are the next big thing.

German wine is undergoing a transformation. In the years to come they are not only going to be known for too expensive Riesling and overly sweet wine. What they call the ‘new generation of winemakers’ are hailing from century old wine industry families with a desire to travel the world and ultimately pick up skills to better craft their wines. They are listening to the cries and trends in the market place on how to better satisfy us, the consumers.

What really warmed the cockles in my heart was hearing stories from the winemakers themselves. Not only are their travels making them open-minded to winemaking but also they have a strong sense of teamwork between them. They are concentrating on promoting German wine as a whole. They want to share their history collectively with us through a glass of wine.

Nothing shows this more so than the devastating effects of the late frost in May 2011. Frosts are the monsters in the closest for all winemakers. It’s one of the gambles of growing grapes and sadly something we can’t control. Well not yet anyway. The 2011 frost was the most devastating for the Konrad Schlör vineyard in the North Baden region. Having lost 80% of their 2011 harvest in a mere 1 hour it’s hard to even put it into words what a terrible loss this was.

This is the bit that made me proud to have German heritage in my family tree. Fritz Wassmer, a winemaker living 330kms south of the Konrad Schlör vineyard didn’t spare a moment’s hesitation in offering some of his grapes to Konrad Schlör. This meant Konrad Schlör was able to fill the gap in his production and produce a 2011 vintage.

Fritz, who once interned at the infamous Domaine de la Romanée-Conti knew the devastation of losing vines due to weather conditions. Sharing similar philosophies in the art of winemaking with Konrad Schlör, this amazing gesture bonded the northern and southern parts of Baden. It is a hauntingly romantic story that captured my attention. What is best about it, is that I found out this after I had fallen in love with their wine range. Hi my name is Casey and I am a Wassmer wine addict.

We need to keep our eye on German wines, as from what I saw at Germany Unplugged it is an exciting wine sector that is going to have some amazing evolvement over the coming years. You can also expect me to be blogging in more detail on specific vineyards I think are going to be the next wine superstars. Now where’s a glass of Wassmer Pinot Noir when you need one 😉

Backpacking through Europe with Eurail – Berlin

After 3 and a half months on the road I still get that child-like excitement wash over me when we arrive at a new place. It was hard to leave Munich; I mean how could you really, with all the glorious amounts of beer at your fingertips? Well for Morgan and I it signified the start of our 3-month Eurail adventure so therefore the sadness was met with anticipation.

I have to admit after camping for 3-days in the rain in Munich it was also nice to board our train to Berlin. After finding out that the trip would normally cost 260 Euro for the both of us we were quite happy indeed with the investment we made through Eurail, it will definitely pay itself off. The train journey was about 6 hours and since we are too cheap to pay 10 Euros to reserve seats it ended up being 6 hours of playing musical seats. The fun and games ended up with us camping out between two carriages. Private room, ensuite, window views in abundance – we may as well of been in first class!

We arrived in Berlin in the early evening to the main station and easily found our way to the S-Bahn, which is also included in our tickets so we didn’t have to pay a cent. We made our way to the Charlottenburg station and from here we followed the hostels directions – which I have to say were spot on and made our lives so much easier. It was a good start to our stay at Hostel Die Etage.

The hostel was nice, especially for a private double room for under 50 Euro a night. Our room was huge, beds were comfy and the lady at the reception equipped us with a map and all the important relevant info for our sightseeing adventures in Berlin. So the next stop was dinner, which was also from a recommendation by the hostel. Curry Mit Biss, is a small roadside food stall on the main road in Charlottenburg and as you can guess they do the famous Berlin curry wurst (sausage). So for about 5 Euros each we got a plate full of curry wurst and chips with a bottle of Berliner Pils on the side. I have to admit I have had curry wurst twice in my life now and it’s not a favourite. Think of a sausage in sweet tomato ketchup with curry powder mixed in. Tiredness had set in at this stage and we hit the sack to rejuvenate for the next day.

Our first full day in Berlin started off with a delicious hotdog with crispy fried onions on brought at a stall out in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Delicious yes, but 3 euros each – not that great! It was here at 11am we meet up with the Sandeman’s New Berlin crew to partake in the “Free Walking Tour” – which by the way is free if you can be hard-arsed however they like to mention that they ‘work for tips alone’. They may as well advertise that all the tour guides are orphans too. Or quite rightly charge 2-3 Euros per person and leave out the guilt. Ok enough about that, it is an awesome service and now the second one we have done (the previous was in Madrid).

The tour is 3 and a half hours and you are in groups of about 30 people. The tour is very informative and you actually get quite engrossed in the German history. Not being a history buff I have to admit I learnt a lot and was hugely surprised at how recently a lot of major events in German history happened. For instance the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 and the country finally being put back together. You also have to remember that Berlin was heavily bombed in WWII so a lot of the buildings are quite new. The tour takes you to various sites including; the Holocaust Memorial, Check Point Charlie, the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag (impressive parliament building), the site of the book burning’s (Bebelplatz) and you get to stand over top of Hitler’s bunker (sorry folks no one is allowed to go in it sadly!).

A must that is not included in the tour, simply because it would make it an awfully long walking tour is the East Side Gallery. So we hopped on the S-Bahn and made our way further into East Berlin. The gallery is awesome; it is about 1kms of the Wall, which has some of the most amazing graffiti/murals on it. Morgan’s favourite part of course came at the end when we stumbled across a Lowenbrau beer garden. Convenient! So we were able to sit in the garden alongside the river with our 1l beers and contemplate all we had seen that day. By the way if you go to the beer garden between 3pm-7pm it’s happy hour, 1l Oktoberfest beer = 5 euro, bargain!

That night we went back to our old ways of a supermarket dinner, which consisted of noodles, tuna and of course the Milka-Daim chocolate and some Trolli lollies. Not to mention the 1.70 Euro Romanian rosé that went down like a treat.

Day two was rather laxed, it’s a day that I like to have in every place where you just wander and see what you come across. This for us included; noodles in a box by the riverside watching all the boats (we even saw one named Capt. Morgan!), wandering the East Berlin streets, testing out the famous Weissbier– wheat beer (there is a super place just under the TierGarten S-bahn station) and then getting stuck into another supermarket dinner but this time accompanied by not 1 but 4 bottles of wine!

Yes you can imagine what my head is like this morning. However we have made it to our train after a delicious pizza bread for breakie and we have thanked our un-stingy asses that we actually reserved seats this time for the 5-hour journey to our next destination. So we are settling in to watch the movie “Downfall” – about Hitler’s last days before he offed himself and Germany lost WWII.

On a long summer’s evening, on a train bound for…

Riesling like you don’t know it..

schloss-johannisberg-bannerI recently came across a little exquisite half bottle of Schloss Johannisberg 2006 Auslese Riesling – packaged in a traditional flute styled brown bottle – typical of the Rheingau region in Germany. I use to steer clear of anything from those Germans as i believe they have some of the most confusing labels on earth, unless you speak German and understand all their peculiar wine laws! Though i warn you, don’t be scared of the unknown – some of the most amazing Rieslings you could ever try hail from this country!!

Schloss Johannisberg is one of those producers to watch out for as well, not only known for their contribution towards making German wine what it is today but they constantly produce good quality wines at a range of price points and a range of styles from the typical ‘trocken’ aka dry to the very very sweet wines and coincidentally some of the most expensive sweet and rare wines in the world.

Don’t be scared of these ‘sweet’ wines either, i normally prefer dry over sweet but a glass of this Auslese Riesling had my taste buds dancing. I felt like i could of wrote a book on all the little hints of this and that i could pick up. Everything from mandarins and tangerines to honeyed Asian pears with a touch of fresh mango on the side. In a good way the finish was rather short, with the sweetness dripping away quickly – not giving you that overload of sugar which left your mouth salivating for more.

The term ‘Auslese’ refers to the sweetness level of the wine, this is how most wines are categorised in Germany. There are 6 categories in this classification, Auslese comes in at number three which indicates that the grapes are late harvest and have been hand selected having high natural residual sugar.

The remaining categories in order of increasing sweetness are;

1. Kabinett

2. Spatlese

3. Auslese

4. Beerenauslese

5. Eiswein (Ice Wine)

6. Trockenbeerenauslese

They are all worth a try, even better if you can set them up in a vertical tasting – some categories would be hard to distinguish as regulations usually have a bit of a cross over period. But hey why not, if you can get your hands on them as well as some sausies and sauerkraut you could have a great little dinner party on your hands!

Schloss Johannisberg Auslese Riesling 2006 sells at US$69.