02 July 2011



Welcome to day 2 of our magical Riesling tour! I got up early (thank you, jet lag) and went for a run through the vineyards. I think I saw 60 rabbits between the rows of vines, but I stopped counting when I got to 45! At that time, I the town hadn't even started to wake up, so I took a stroll to enjoy this charming village. Our breakfast at Villa Spiegelberg included fresh fruit, lots of good strong coffee, and delicious German yogurt, and the PERFECT hot boiled egg.

The Pfalz region is one of my favorite, and one of the lesser known, regions in Germany. I'm pleased to show you some of the great wines we found or rediscovered:

Off to Darting for a group tasting with Kurt Darting, Eugen Muller, Theo Minges, and Herbert Messmer. We tasted 43 wines over the course of about 3 hours, and then took a break for lunch. Some things new to me: Metewurst is basically ground pork, served sort of as it were steak tartare. There's a pork-based dish called saumaugen that's mixed into potatoes, onions, and peppers, and then baked likemeatloaf. We also had a huge cheese platter that include my own beloved St. Andre triple crème brie.

And thank goodness for the salad! These type of trips always bring out the showcases (ie: meat; see former blog “Here Piggy Piggy” for clarification), so we don't see much in the way of green things besides the vines, so I ate as much salad as I could. And the best thing at lunch was the fresh strawberries! The whipped cream was mixed with vanilla beans and yogurt, keeping it as tangy and fresh as the berries. It was the perfect thing to have after a big lunch.

How do you pronounce this wonderful region? Pfalz is pronounced“false”, as in:

You think all German wines are the same? Pfalz!
Think beer goes better with cheese than wine? Pfalz!
oh, i will think of more...but, next up, Muller-Catoir. pronounced cah-twoaar.
This was a beautiful estate--80% of their annual production is Riesling. It's located in a gorgeous castle that's simply hard to believe if you haven't seen it.
You're going to have to trust me on this estate and just buy the wines. I have no idea to date what they cost, but they're gorgeous.
Slight note: this place was amazing. Beautiful scenery, beautiful wines, and a - oh, let's face it, gorgeous winemaker. But my palate went into a bit of shock here, and the notes will be coming along shortly.

Our last stop of the day was at Von Winning (pronounced Vinning), and our host, Stephan, has been in charge there since 2007. This estate has a long, distinguis hed history, and though many talk about the new wines they are producing as being “new”, Stephan insists that they are traditional rather than progressive. The idea here is to be respectful of the wine (a common theme in the Terry Theise portfolio of wineries)

We took a long stroll through the massive cellar, which was littered with candles from a recent visit by the German president and 180 other diplomats. Huge barrels remain like a museum, and the winery has bottles cellared from every vintage since the '40s. We saw a large foudre with the inscription in German “from birth to death, drinking the very best.”

I liked Stephan immediately because he said things like “we are not producing fast food, we are producing slow food,” and “quality, quality, quality.” The winemaker was mentioned twice by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, which is a big deal. These wines were really in a realm of their own. These are wines where 50% or so is aged in oak, which doesn't seem like a large stretch for a region where most wines are fermented in oak, but the very mentality is what changes here. But the winery insists that "this is not beer or coca-cola"--that with good, very good, and genius parcels of land, some beautiful wines can be made. And they were indeed unusual--and they were indeed good.

Are we craving meat and potatoes because we're not getting enough? Pfalz!