Sunday, June 3, 2012

Report from ... Germany Day 4: The Trip to Franken Begins - June 1, 2012

Today's major happening is a change in location, we move from the Rheinhessen to Franken, where we'll tour a town, visit two wineries and have some meals that just don't stack up ... read on:

Got an email asking if there were any vineyard dogs in Germany-just so happens there are: this one from Gysler was inside - This doggy in the window is not for sale.
The day starts like yesterday, but this time I'll show you the Bell Pepper Restaurant at the Hyatt ... where it all begins

With breads, cheese, meats, yogurt, fruit, juice, eggs - you name it, it's here

Then of course it's onto the bus - exciting I know, you saw this one yesterday
We enter a town called Volkach to visit Max Muller I winery - but first we must walk there because the bus can't make it thru the town's main gate.
I liked this sign about the Morning Torture Hotel ... they've got that right.
Arrival at Max Muller I winery - there was once a Max Muller II but they have changed their name since then.
The Max Muller I winery tasting room is a modern affair
While the winery below is as old as the hills - some of these barrels date back to the 1930's
We meet Christian Muller (right) and his father Rainer Muller (left)
Christian will lead us on the tour and talk a lot ... but has plenty of bon mots to share: "It has changed since the time of my grandfather and my father who consider themselves winemakers; I'm a wine grower which suits me better cause 95% of the work is done in the vineyard.
We then trek out to the courtyard
And into the tank room, where Christian talks about his winemaking philosophy and love of wild yeast. Question: what do you do if the fermentation gets stuck?  Answer: I pray ... I don't like it linear, I like the fluctuaion which keeps things interesting.
Here we are in his small barrel room: "Stainless steel is very linear and clean; wooden cask is the third dimension of winemaking - adds extra flavours and influences you can't always control."
Done in the cellars we climb the stairs for the official tasting.
2011 Eigenart Silvaner: lots of body due to barrel aging in 600L casks ... vanilla, character with spiced exotic fruit, simply lovely; best Silvaner I'll taste all day. (****+)
2011 Ratsherr Volkach Silvaner: made from old vines on steep slopes, it's their most important Silvaner in the portfolio - tropical fruit, hint of mineral, hint of sweetness with mouth-filling sweetness and creamy with slight caramel note on the finish. (****)
"It's important to see the world, In school you learn nothing.  You only get it with experience from those already doing it.  It's also about sharing with your fellow winemakers."
2011 Eschendorf (village) Lump (vineyard) Riesling ... full bodied, touch of spice, lemon candy with nice acidity. A serious effort here. (*** 1/2)
Done with Max it's time for lunch at Hinterhofle
A beer and wine garden off the main street in Valkach

Walking in we see a little enclosed petting zoo with guinea pigs ...
Rabbits ...
and a goat (turns out there are two) - another picture coming later.
Our party listening to the waitress - grapevines are spread all around.
The worst wine of the trip (so far): nasty asparagus nose and plastic bag flavour.
Liver ball soup - not my favourite
Finally got my first beer in Germany ... Dunkel ... makes up for the lousy wine and liver soup.
Brit Tom hoists a pint as well.
Lunch continues with rose beef and potato dumpling - it was like a ball of glue ... served with a nasty red wine made from Cabernet Dorsa and Mitos
As we learn the goat makes another appearance.
A walking tour of Valkach produces a long awaited dog shot.
Street are very quiet
We pass by the Schwane Hotel, restaurant and weingut ... very good, very famous ... why did we not go here.
David (from the US) becomes the first guy drunk enough to kiss a statue

Another gratuitous dog shot.
The gate of the city of Valkach - I guess the bus really wouldn't have fit.

ourguide, a displaced Brit right out of central casting ... couldn't have picked a better one if we tried.
Pink pay phone on the street
Dave again ... we stumble upon this writing on an electrical panel in a park - obviously written by the woman he tried to kiss and fondle earlier.
Arrival at the impressive Wingut Am Stein
Told you it was impressive, tasting room on the left, restaurant on right
Some pretty impressive architecture
And steep hills
Their patio overlooking the city below
This only looks impressive - the wine turns out to be majorly faulted.
The three main soil types in Franken (bottom to top): Red Sandstone (Bunt-Sandstein); Limestone (Muschelkalk); and Chalky Clay (Keuper)
I had no idea Mork was visiting - the famous concrete egg that winemaker Tom Glass loves to use
My artsy moment - a view of the city thru the leaves of the vines
Okay, one more.
Amazing 2002 Montonia Spatburgunder: spicy, earthy and dark fruit noted. Silky smooth tannins ... this wine is peaking now. (****+)
Two impressive dessert wines followed: this 2010 Randersackerer Pfulben Riesling Auslese ... off the chart acidity that needs time to settle down, but you can taste the candied fruits behind it ... this'll be good in 5 years, great in 10. (**** 1/2)
Turn your head to the right to read the label of the 2004 Stettner Stein Riesling Beernauslese: caramel, tangerine, lemon zest, creamy vanilla ... this one is the complete package for a dessert wine. (****+)
Dinner is at Reiser, the on property restaurant of Am Stein.
We start with sea bass
Medium roasted veal and mango-asparagus risotto
And finish with  white chocolate mousse.
The bus trip to the hotel  in the city of Frickenhausen:Meintzinger.
Another busy day tomorrow, which will be our last in Germany - will tour around the region of Franken hitting 3 wineries and getting some big laughs along the way - don't worry I'll share..

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