Riesling - so misunderstood
Day 2/3 Trier to Traben-Trabach then Bacharach on a boat and a stunning art gallery/weingut
Heidi, oh Heidi; our guide was a little bit crazy, frighteningly intelligent and yes, dressed in a toga. “Salve” she says as we enter reception. I hate all this role-playing stuff – “erm…morning”.
She takes us around the astonishing sights of Trier, firstly explaining why there are so many ice cream shops (a polygamist split from his many wives and had to give each of his women part of his business), and then telling us about the amphitheatre before leading us into this incredible arena.
I stood in the middle – obviously looking a little bit like Russell Crowe – and did that 360 degrees spin so favoured by Hollywood, taking in this awesome panorama.
Heidi then took us underground, down into the deep, dark, damp, terrifying areas reserved for those who were condemned to be killed by highly-trained gladiators or wild animals ‘a bestia’.
We leave for Traben-Trabach and try yet more Riesling in Daniel Vollenweider's Mosel Winery. The dry Rieslings again stealing the day, although the sticky Auslese was out of sight, amazingly sweet and honeyed. I'm ready for lunch.
Graifen for lunch in Traben-Trabach – I gotta tell you this place was beautiful. like eating in an antiques shop run by a wealthy auntie. Curried celery hearts, more Black Forest hams and artichokes to get us in the mood and then a gorgeous quarter chicken with a rosemary red wine gravy. Lovely, loads of meat and very filling. Then within the hour, oy vay, we're eating again.
We enter the Rheinhold Franzen, again a strange place, a wine tasting room in a privately owned house in an estate; nowhere near the vines we were having exalted to us. This one was very special though for one reason, the owners are 22 and 25-years old! Following a family tragedy in which his father was killed, Kilian Franzen and his girlfriend Angelina Lunz took over the winery.
They also claim to have the steepest vine slope in Europe. Although this was challenged by a Swiss journalist - figures.
The wines - all Riesling - were delicate and minerally; oh and there was no spitoon so we had to finish all eight wines served! At the end of the tasting Angelina then served us soup of ginger and pumpkin which was really lovely, hint of chilli and cream. The message is slowly getting through that this is not the Germany I pictured.
Full and squiffy we head to our next hotel - the boutique designer hotel in St Goar a beautiful medieval town on the Rhine; castle on hill (check), pennants fluttering in the breeze (check), warm welcome (check).
Morning campers - croissants and coffee then back on the winebus heading for the Loreley. If you are unfamiliar with this myth I'll put it in a nutshell.
Legend has it a mermaid sat on the Loreley rock singing, some 'lonely' sailors steered their boats towards her seductive song and were dashed on the rocks. The rock is famous and they hold concerts and plays on its top. On the bank opposite we tried another Riesling sekt (9am!) with Philips-Muhle winery, and then half a dozen more Rieslings - spitoon provided thankfully. We then jumped on a river cruiser - a huge tourist raft, and sailed past the Loreley to Bacharach. I saw an osprey and lots of retired Germans soaking up the sun on the upper deck - the Germans that is, not the Osprey.
We alight at Bacharach, stunning, simply stunning. Ancient timber houses (we're talking 1320s onwards) lean in towards each other in narrow streets overlooked by the tapestries of vineyards, which alongside tourism offer the only job opportunities in the region according to our driver.
This place is quintessential, quirky and quite unexpected as was my lunch - wild boar in aspic, oh, and a glass of Riesling would you believe. This one grown on a tiny island in the Rhine, although you wouldn't know it!
A couple of tastings later and a walk through the vineyards of Castle Johannisburg - owned by the Dr Oetker frozen food specialist family, but don't let that put you off. At last a winery set in its vineyard. Thankfully just the one Riesling to taste here.
Then we go to an amazing place, the winery of Georg Muller-Stufftung for dinner and eight more wines, eight more but what's this...a red? A Fruhburgunder a cousin of the Pinot Noir, not stunning, and quite expensive, but the setting...the setting. We were in the wine cellars which had been converted into a modern art gallery. Dark, atmospheric and bonkers.
This trip has been an eye-opening tour of a country rethinking its cultural exports. The wine works, they are mad for it here so there must be something in it. I found the Germans charming, intelligent and passionate about their produce. From the outrageously intricate food served at Becker's, to the rustic lunches in the wineries, the punchy dessert wines to the driest of dry Rieslings, beautifully dramatic surroundings and architecture in Bacharach to the modern art gallery. Welcoming, warm and wonderful Westphalia to the heart of Rhenish wine. Cracking.
Find everything you need on the region and the rest of the delights of Germany athttp://www.germany.travel/.
Glad to say my eyes were already wide-open to the glories that are German foods & wines so your review didn't hold any great surprises.
Pleased you had a good time though, & found your 'education' to be a fun one!
I love pumpkin and ginger soup , I had forgotten about it and after your reminder I think I will be making some again soon.
Goodness .. A winery must be quite a lot to take on at the ages of 22 and 25 .. I admire their courage in taking on such a huge venture .
It sounds like you had a truly wonderful trip .