Monday, November 21, 2011

In the Plane: Wining and Lunching on an Airbus 380 from Frankfurt am Main, Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa in Business Class (LH 572)

Pictures: Wining and Dining on an Airbus 380 in Business Class from Frankfurt am Main, Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa (LH 572)

This was supposed to be a night flight, leaving Frankfurt at 10:10 pm and arriving 12 hours later in the morning in Johannesburg in South Africa. But it turned out to be a day flight, leaving Frankfurt in the morning at 10:30 am and arriving in Johannesburg 12 hours later at night. The reason for the change was a combination of 2 things: a technical problem of Lufthansa with the Airbus 380 and the new curfew that has been imposed at Frankfurt International Airport. The Captain told us the next day that there was a slight problem, which however, could not be fixed in time to leave before 11:00 pm. So, the flight had to be rescheduled and my wife Annette and I spent the night at the Sheraton Hotel at Frankfurt Airport instead of in the plane and the following day in the plane instead of in Johannesburg. The lesson I have drawn: With the strict curfew at 11:00 pm at Frankfurt International Airport, it has become very risky to take flights late in the evening; you may end up in a Frankfurt hotel instead of on a flight to the place where you are heading to.

New World Wine Producer South Africa

South Africa is a New World wine country, with a long wine history. With about 100.000 hectares of land under vine, it accounts for 1.5% of the world's grape vineyards. Yearly production is around 10 million hectoliters, which puts the country among the top ten wine producing countries in the world.

I have traveled in South Africa many times in the past 3 decades, in particular during the period 1989 to 1992, when I used to live in Madagascar. The last time I went there, was about a year ago in 2011. When traveling in South Africa today, it quickly becomes evident that apartheid is resting in the dustbin of history. South Africa’s current President is the Zulu Jakob Zuma, who is mired in personal and political controversy. The Txosa Nelson Mandela, who had spent more than 25 years in prison during apartheid, was President in the 1990s and is now a revered elder called "Madiba" ("Papa"). South Africa successfully hosted the Soccer World Cup. The Soccer World Cup was hoped to provide a boost to the tourism industry; but indications are that the expected boost did not materialize, at least not fully. The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to be wide, but is narrowing and a black middle class is emerging. This, however, is not so much evident in the wine region, which continues to be dominated by the whites; Cape Town even has a white mayor. 99% of the vineyard area is in the hands of whites. The AIDS pandemic is taking a huge toll with the HIV infection rate at about 20 percent.

Over the course of the years, I have detected an increasing openness, pride and camaraderie among all the South Africans – white, colored or black, Boers or Brits; Indians, Jews, Zulus, Txosas or Vendas, I met. Nevertheless, this rainbow society with a share of 75% of blacks, has huge challenges to cope with.

The Wines

Lufthansa offered 6 wines in business, the usual mix of interesting wines.

NV Champagne Piper Heidsick Brut, France

The sparkler in Business Class was a Champagne from the renowned Champagne House Piper Heidsick. The NV Piper Heidsick presented itself with delightful aromas of roasted hazelnuts, fresh brioche, aromatic vanilla, a touch of pear and elements of citrus.

2010 Mosel Riesling aus der Steillage, Peter and Peter, Germany

A Mosel wine with a rather restrained sweetness on the palate. Fresh, crisp with a mineral character. Probably most international travelers expect a sweeter wine, when they choose a Mosel Riesling.

2009 Nord Sud Langeduedoc Viognier, Laurent Miquel, France

Long native to the Rhone valley, Viognier is grown all over the world now. Fine floral notes, combined with hints of aromatic oranges and juicy apricots.

2007 Chateau Mazails, Medoc Cru Bourgeois, France

A fine Cru Bourgeois wine with some toasty notes, good depth of flavor and an elegant tannin structure on the palate.

2008 Zweigelt and Cabernet, Freigut Thallern, Thermenregion, Austria

An excellent example of what Austria is now able to produce, a “Super Austrian” juicy New World style red wine.

2008 Syrah, Spier, South Africa

Not on the printed wine list. An extra. A tribute to the destination country. Big, juicy, full-bodied.

The Menu

The lunch was composed by Douce Steiner, owner of and Chef at the Restaurant Hirschen in Sulzburg in the Markgraeflerland region (Baden) in Germany. Douce is the daughter of Michelin starred Chef Hans-Paul Steiner and she herself is a Michelin starred Chef.

Here is what we ate.


My wife Annette and I both chose the same: Petit Four of salted Herring and Pumpernickel with Cucumber Salad. The other 2 options were (1) Pate Baden Style with Waldorf Salad and Lingonberries and (2) Leaf Salad with Chanterelles, Cherry Tomatoes and Pumkin served with Potato Dressing

Main Course

We had 3 choices and chose the following. We missed Roast Goose with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings

Swabian Dumplings and Caramelized Onions

Filet of Halibut in Lime Fond and Fresh Mint

Camembert, Gruyere, Blue Cheese

Mango Tart

Alternatively, we could have chosen Fruit Salad.

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