Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Report from ... Germany - Day 1: Neustadt an der WeinstaBe - May 29, 2012

Plane was delayed two hours in Toronto ... for safety reasons, so I'm okay with that ... which kept my Aussie-cab-sharing companion waiting on the other end (at Frankfurt airport) almost 3 hours.  The drive in was a slow one due to an accident and construction work, so it felt like I never left Toronto ... but upon arrival , with little to no sleep I stumble through my first beautiful day in Germany as I await to take part in the Best of Riesling competition taking place tomorrow ... but let's not jump ahead and take a look at what happened on Day 1 ...

Arrival at Panorama Hotel in Neustadt an de WienstraBe

Took a walk down to the center of town and passed Heim Sekt Winery
Display case at the front of Heim overlooking the street
Looking for lunch along the cobble stone streets of Neustadt an der WeinstraBe
Still searching for the place we had been told to try ...
Scheffelhaus ... where I had my first glass of Riesling in Germany a Dr. Deinhard 2011

And schnitzel with potatoes and in-season white asparagus
After lunch we met up with Ulrike Lenhardt who took us on a brief tour of the Pfalz region and it all started with an impromtu visit to Bassermann-Jordan winery, "a must visit since we are passing it" I am told
We started with a tasting of Pierre Brut (a blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)- lovely white fruit and floral notes (*** 1/2)
Next up the 2008 Jesuitengarten GG (Grosses Gewaechs - or first growth, of which their are 50 throughout Germany) - a lovely peachiness with great minerality and hint of petrol (*** 1/2+)
One of the 13 basement areas or "cellars" at Bassermann-Jordan - all connected like catacombs
Barrels are mainly for show as 95-98% of their production is white white and mainly Riesling

The historical cellar area is behind bars, it holds bottles from as far back as 1811
Look carefully and you'll see racks of bottles from 1904 and 1905
The "Education Room" has various soil samples and vine samples - you can even see roots hanging from the ceiling and on the floor between the soil slabs (not pictured: maps and barrels on opposite wall). 
2 of 6 ... behind these two gentlemen (Gunther Hauck (left)- managing director of Bassermann-Jordan & Ken Helm (right) Aussie owner/winemaker of Helm Wines) is one of three remaining massive oak presses, at one time their were six but the other three were burned for fuel after World War II.

Sparkling racks and barrel room - the sparkling is hand riddled and these barrels are actually in use.
We finished our tour back upstairs with a tasting of this 2011 Auslese - 20% botrytis affected: apple, charcoal, honeyed lavender on the nose with great acidity amongst the sweetness along with honeyed pineapple and peach pits (****+)
Arrival at Weingut Pfeffingen, where we tasted 10 wines: 5 Riesling and 5 Scheurebe; and meet with Jan Eymael - winemaker and owner.
The Kalkstein Riesling was wonderful - limestone soil has given it quite the appeal: apple and lemon peel on the nose, mineral-stoniness, dry citrus peel/pith and lemon notes - and an unperceived on the palate 14% alcohol (****+)

The 2 Ungstein wines are quite comparable, though from two seperate grapes, the Scheurebe has a melon rind quality and the mineral shines on the Riesling (both: *** 1/2+)
From red clay soil (pictured behind bottle) - only 2 sites in all of Germany has this kind of clay and very pretty Riesling (*** 1/2)
This 2004 Weilberg Riesling GG shows amazing structure and barely hints at its age - only the colour gives it away.  Complexity of aromas and flavours include spiced pear, apple core, talc and grapefruit rind and pith (****)
The two dessert wines shown were like night and day.  The Beernauslese Scheurebe 2011 (right) had canned peaches and pears with hints of floral, a nicely balanced wine (****)
The Trockenbeerauslese was a different story. Some 30 years old (1982) this wine was brown in colour and was "found" in the Pfeffingen cellars.  Caramel, coffee, raisinated, burnt toffee, and scorched earth - but the acidity was still quite lovely.  This was not a wine for the feint of heart.
Time for dinner ... now we find ourselves at the Vinicombe f Meininger publishing house (basically their basement - but a nice looking and elegant basement)
Here we sit for a brief talk on how tomorrow (The Best of Riesling competition) will be judged
The formal part of the evening over with we break out some bubbly - I am told that Germans drink a lot of sparkling wine the move on to ...
Dinner - a buffet of cold items

Breads and fish
And of course a plethora of wines - from both Germany and around the world
And did I mention the hot items too
A wonderful Ad Aram 2009 Pinot Noir from Germany
A Syrah Petit Sirah from Chile
Something Spanish
And a Tawny Port
On the walk back I passed Heim again for an even better picture than the first
And back to the Panorama - which I am leaving tonight.

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