Monday, October 23, 2017

Germany-South and Alsace 2017 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: Baden, Alsace, Pfalz and Rheinhessen

Pictures: Tasting with Jean-Frederic Hugel at Domaine Hugel in Riquewhir, Alsace, including a Vintage 1945 Domaine Hugel Wine

The Germany-South and Alsace Tour by ombiasy WineTours took place from October 1 - 8, 2017. The group was small - there were 4 of us, including Annette and Christian Schiller. This posting provides an overview.

We visited a total of 19 wineries in Alsace in France and 3 different German wine regions where predominantly grapes other than Riesling are planted: Baden, the most southern German wine region and Germany’s answer to Burgundy; Pfalz with its almost Mediterranean climate and voluptuous whites and reds; Southern Rheinhessen where a variety of white grapes and also Pinot-Noir grow.

Annette Schiller in her announcement: Discover Germany’s southern wine regions and red wine. Explore Baden, the southernmost and internationally fairly unknown region that produces outstanding Pinot Noirs (in German: Spätburgunder), and whites from Burgundy grapes and other varietals. Visit wineries on the shore of Lake Constance, the largest body of water in Germany bordering Switzerland. Take a look at medieval monasteries and other cultural heritage sites. We will spend one night in an epicurean's dream destination in the Kaiserstuhl to indulge in true southern German hospitality and 1-Michelin star gourmet food. We will step across the Rhine River to compare the very different wines of the eastern (German) and western (French) Rhine valley and we will get a feel for beautiful, quaint Alsace with its picturesque wine villages dotted with half-timbered century old buildings. Enjoy a great dinner at a 1-Michelin star restaurant in Kaysersberg, the birth place of Albert Schweitzer. Enjoy the Pfalz and Rheinhessen with its gently rolling hills, sumptuous red and white wines, and a generation of young, ambitious, up and coming winemakers.

Baden • Alsace • Pfalz • Rheinhessen


DAY 1: Saturday, September 30:

09:30 am Departure by car from Frankfurt am Main

11:00 am Tour at winery Schloss Neuweier (VDP) in Baden-Baden-Neuweier

Owner/ Winemaker Robert Schätzle was our host. He took us to the vineyards and the cellar. Harvest was in full swing.

Wine has been produced at this impressive 13th century castle for more than 700 years. About 100 years ago Riesling became the dominant grape and passion. Still today, winemaking takes place in the vaulted cellars that date back to the 17th century. The Rieslings grown in the steep vineyards produce sumptuous, racy wines with delicate fruit. In 2012 the Schätzle family bought the estate and continues to produce wines of uncompromising quality. Robert Schätzle, the winemaker, studied oenology and comes from a family with a long tradition of winemaking in the Kaiserstuhl region to the south.

12:00 pm Wine pairing lunch at Röttele’s 1 Michelin starred restaurant in Schloss Neuweier

Chef Armin Röttele joined us at the end of the lunch. The plan was that Robert Schätzle would join us for the luncheon, but he only could come towards the end due to the harvest.

The restaurant in the beautiful old castle is gorgeous and the owner Armin Röttele is a 1-Michelin star chef. He prepared an exquisite menu featuring the wines of Robert Schätzle.

02:30 pm Departure

Our journey to Lake Constace took us though the beautiful, romantic Black Forest.

Picture: Lake Constance in the South of Germany, with Swiss Mountains

05:30 pm Arrival at Romantik Hotel Residenz am See, Meersburg, Bodensee (Lake Constance), Baden

Romantik Hotel Residenz am See is a 4 ½ star, family run exquisite hotel on the banks of Lake Constance. This hotel offers warm hospitality, a fabulous wine cellar, and an extraordinary idyllic location with an unobstructed view on the lake and across the water towards the Swiss Alps.

07:30 pm Wine tasting concert with the A-Capella Ensemble “Männer und Tenöre” at Weingut Aufricht in Meersburg – Stetten

Manfred Aufricht and his wife Hildegard Aufricht were our hosts. This was an evening of music and wine.

When we arrived, the team was still working in the cellar.

The winery Aufricht is beautifully situated right at the shore of Lake Constance. The idyllic location in combination with the elegant and modern architecture and the view on the lake and the Swiss Alps in the distance make this winery the perfect spot for a romantic concert.

The Aufricht winery was founded seventy years ago by the father and grandfather of the current generations. Today the winery has 75 acres of vineyards. 80 % of the vineyards are planted with Burgundy grapes (30% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chardonnay 10% respectively), the remainder with Müller-Thurgau, Muskateller, Riesling, Sauvignon-Blanc. The Aufrecht signature wines are two Pinot Blancs cuvées, the perfectly balanced Pinot Blanc – Pinot Gris cuvée and the Pinot Blanc – Chardonnay cuvée.

DAY 2: Sunday, October 01:

10:00 am Guided tour of Schloss Salem

Salem castle is an impressive ensemble of majestic buildings. It was founded as a Cistercian Abbey in 1134, when Bernard de Clairvaux ventured from his home base Burgundy to establish Cistercian monasteries on the eastern banks of the Rhine river.

In a very short time Salem Abbey developed into one of the leading abbeys in southern Germany. Salem experienced a second period of affluence during the Baroque era. It is fascinating to see the Gothic buildings, in particular the cathedral decorated with its unique alabaster plasterwork and the ornately Baroque style decorated rooms in the Palace. After secularization during the Napoleonic era Schloss Salem came into the possession of the Markgraf von Baden, the ruler of the Kingdom of Baden, and the ownership has not changed since then. Schloss Salem is also home of the prestigious boarding school Schule Schloss Salem. Kurt Hahn, a respected educator, who later was instrumental in establishing the International School system and the IB (International Baccaleurate) founded the school in 1920 with support of Prince Max of Baden. The student dorms are in the former monk cells and the monk’s spirit and simplicity of life can still be felt today.

12:00 pm Lunch at restaurant Schwanen on the grounds of Salem castle

01:30 pm Tour and tasting at winery Markgraf von Baden (VDP) in Salem, Baden

We started with a tasting of the white wines in a special room adjacent to the winery's wine shop, then took a quick tour of the wine making facilities, moved over to the red wine cellar and finished the visit with a tasting of red wines in a room adjacent to the red wine cellar.

As it was customary the Cistercian monks produced wine to support themselves and the abbey. Thus this winery has a long history. This winery comprises two estates, the bigger one at Schloss Salem on the northern shore of Lake Constance and the one in the Ortenau, at Schloss Staufenberg. The two estates together with 335 acres of vineyards make for one of the largest privately owned wine estates in Germany. Owner is HRH Prince Bernhard von Baden. The aristocratic dynasty, ones the rulers of the Kingdom of Baden, can look back to more than 600 years of viticulture tradition. It was the Markgraf von Baden who as early as in the 15th century introduced the first wine law and innovative viticultural practices. We had the opportunity to taste wines from both the Salem estate and the Staufenberg estate.

05:30 pm Visit of the Basilica Birnau

The Basilica Birnau is a Baroque jewel and sits majestically on a hill high above Lake Constance. It was built in 1749 and has been a pilgrimage church since then. The interior is richly decorated in the Rococo style and the church is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in all of Germany, not least because of its unrivalled position overlooking Lake Constance and its surrounding vineyards. The church is still in the hands of the Cistercian monks.

06:15 pm Back at the Romantik Hotel Residenz am See in Meersburg

In the evening, we took a stroll through Meersburg and enjoyed the incredible charm of Meersburg and Lake Constance.

We stopped at a wine bar for a light dinner and delicious Lake Constance wines.

DAY 3: Monday, October 02:

08:00 am Check out of hotel and departure. We again crossed the Black Forest to arrive in the Rhine plains.

11:00 am Tour and tasting at winery Löffler in Wettenberg, Markgräfler Land, Baden

Hannes Glöckner of the Löffler family hosted us. Following an extensive tasting, Hannes Glöckner gave us a tour of the cellar, where we met founder Wolfgang Löffler working in the cellar.

The Löffler family is a typical Markgräfler family. Four generations are living and working together to produce excellent wines and to run the „Strausse“, a seasonal wine tavern. They farm 35 acres of vineyards planted with Burgundy grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gutedel. Gutedel is more known under the name „Chasselat“ or „Fendant“ as the signature white grape varietal of Switzerland. Gutedel has also become the signature grape of its close neighbor the Markgräfler Land. It is regarded as oldest known grape variety, grown in Egypt 5000 years ago. In the late 18 hundreds the Chasselat grape was brought from Vervey, Switzerland to the Markgräfler Land.

13:15 pm Lunch at restaurant Der Löwen in Staufen, Markgräfler Land, Baden

Staufen is an incredibly picturesque village with the romantic Schlossberg, with it’s ruin on top and vineyards on the slopes. Time seems to have come to a standstill here.

04:30 pm Tour and tasting at winery Stigler (VDP) in Ihringen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden

Winemaker/ Owner Andreas Stigler and Regine Stigler, with son Maximilian Stigler, who is in the process of taking over, hosted us.

We started with a cellar tour, led by Andreas Stigler. Then we sat down in the idyllic courtyard for an extensive tasting. At the day of our visit, Weingut Stigler had an "Open House" for the trade. Thus, we were there with other groups. An amazing selection of different wines was open for tasting.

The winery Stigler was founded in 1881. Today it is run by the fourth generation of the founding family. The 28 acres under vine are planted with the Burgundy grapes – 36% with Pinot Noir - as well as 14% with Riesling, some Traminer, Sauvignon-Blanc, and Chenin Blanc, very unusual for Germany. Andreas Stigler’s philosophy of wine making is very classic. Careful handling and long ageing periods in barrels brings forth mineral-rich wines with lots of character and a long ageing potential.

06:00 pm Check in at Hotel Schwarzer Adler, in Oberbergen

Hotel Schwarzer Adler in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, is a 4 ½ star traditional hotel, a well-known address for a refined life style. With its 1 Michelin star restaurant and top notch winery it is an epicurean’s dream destination. It is listed in the association of “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”.

With the Keller family, which can trace its roots as winemakers and hoteliers back to the Thirty Year War in the early 17-hundreds, everything started with producing and offering outstanding food. Franz and his wife Irma, parents of the current owner, were among the first generation of chefs to start the German revolution in the kitchen more than forty years ago. Well beyond the immediate post WWII era, the urge to simply have enough food on the table – quantity over quality- lingered on. In 1969 Franz and Irma Keller and their restaurant Schwarze Adler were awarded one Michelin star, which the restaurant defends until today. For Franz Keller, the central idea of winemaking was to produce top quality wines that perfectly accompanied the creations in the kitchen. The current generation, Fritz and Bettina Keller have brought the winery to a new level. They just finished construction of a brand new winery that is an architectural landmark, beautifully integrated in the landscape. Their efforts to produce top wines, among them stunning Pinot Noirs, were acknowledged by their selection as member of the VDP in 2013.

07:30 pm Dinner at Restaurant Schwarzer Adler in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden

This 1-Michelin star beautiful, elegant, but at the same time cosy restaurant run by Bettina and Fritz Keller offers a harmonious mix of Baden country charm and elegance. The menu is a successful marriage of French and German cuisine reflecting the frontier on the nearby Rhine River, which is the border between Germany and France. The impressive wine list boasts 2 600 different wines, including an excellent selection of bottles from Baden and a mouthwatering list of French wines, in particular top notch Bordeaux.

After dinner we just needed to climb the stairs to our rooms and dream about the outstanding food and gorgeous wines we had.

DAY 4: Tuesday, October 03:

09:30 am Check out of hotel and departure from Oberbergen. We left the Baden area and Germany on the right bank of the Rhine River, at the foot of the Black Forest Mountains, and crossed over the Rhine into France, into the Alsace region. The Alsace lies just across from Baden on the left bank of the Rhine at the foot of the Vosges Mountains.

10:30 am Tasting at Domaine Marcel Deiss in Bergheim, Alsace

Sommelier Conseil Florian Mercandelli hosted us.

For old world standards this is a relatively new winery, founded after World War II, although the family Deiss has been involved in winemaking since they settled in Bergheim in 1744. Today they farm 80 acres of vineyards according to biodynamic principles. The Marcel Deiss Domaine became certified by Ecocert and Demeter for making biodynamic and organic wines already in 1998. The husband and wife team Jean Michel Deiss and Clarisse Deiss not only stand out because of their believe in biodynamie they also have a strong believe in the concept of “terroir”, the characteristics in soil, climate, and micro-climate of the vineyard. To them the grape varietal does not matter much, and logically most of their wines are field blends of different varietals – a highly unusual approach. All the wines of this domaine I ever tasted showed a stunning complexity and an intense minerality due to the specific terroir. This domaine produces incredible high quality wines.

12:30 pm Lunch at Wistub du Sommelier in Bergheim

02:00 pm Departure and drive to Bergholtz in Southern Alsace

03:00 pm Tour and tasting at Domaine Dirler-Cadé in Bergholtz, Alsace

Jean Pierre Dirler hosted us. After the tasting, we were shown around by Ludevine Dirler-Cadé and also met her husband, Jean Dirler, who was bottling.

This winery exists since 1871. Today it is managed by the 5th generation of the Dirler family, Jean Dirler. In 1998 Jean married Ludivine, daughter of Leon and Nicole Hell-Cadé, wingrowers in neighboring Guebwiller. In 2000 Ludevine’s parents plots of vines were integrated into the Dirler estate and the domaine was renamed Dirler-Cadé. The domaine has 43 acres of vineyards of which 42% are Grand Cru sites. In the 19th century Domaine Dirler was pioneer with the Domaine Dopff of Riquewihr in producing sparkling wines according to the Méthode Champenoise, called Crément d’Alsace. In 1998 Jean Dirler and his father decided to convert the estate to a Biodynamic agriculture. They introduced ploughing with a draft horse. The conversion process finished in 2004 and from the harvest of 2007 the estate is 100% Biodynamic, and obtained the label “AB” (biological agriculture) and the label “BIODYVIN” for biodynamic agriculture.

05:00 pm Tour and tasting at Domaine Schlumberger in Guebwiller, Alsace

Domaine Schlumberger is in the process of a major renovation project, including building a large, modern tasting room. We toured the winery and then sat down for a tasting.

The Schlumberger family can trace its roots back to Swabia, a wine region in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In the 16th century a branch of the family moved to Alsace to become tanners. They eventually settled in Mulhouse and became a prosperous family. In 1810 Nicolas Schlumberger moved to Guebwiller and founded a factory of fabric machines. He also bought 50 acres of vineyards and hence, the Domaine Schlumberger came into existence. Today there are two generations working at the Domaine side by side: Alain Beydon-Schlumberger (6th generation) and Severine and Thomas Schlumberger (7th generation). And today - some 200 years after the start - the vineyard area has increased to 350 acres. The vineyard is unique in Alsace: 175 acres - half of the vineyards - are classified as Grand Crus. Because of the steep hillsides (some with slopes of 50 degrees), animals are used to work the land rather than agricultural machinery. The philosophy of the Schlumbergers is to work sustainably to leave healthy soils for the future generations. 75 acres are farmed biodynamically and the conversion to biodynamic farming will continue.

07:00 pm Arrival and check-in at Hotel Les Remparts in Kaysersberg, Alsace

Hotel Les Remparts in Kaysersberg, Alsace, is a 3 star hotel with a great view on the Kaysersberg castle and surrounding vineyards, just outside of the city gate of Kaysersberg, a very typical, picturesque, romantic Alsatian wine town.

The evening and dinner was on our own. There are numerous wistubs and restaurants in Kaysersberg.

DAY 5: Wednesday, October 04

09:15 am Tour and tasting at Domaine Hugel & Fils in Riquewhir, Alsace

Jean Frédéric Hugel hosted us. We toured the winery, which is situated right in the center of  Riquewihr, and then sat down for a most impressive tasting, including a wine fom 1945.

The Hugel family has been winegrowers since 1639. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hugel family gained an enviable reputation for their winegrowing skills and for the meticulous way in which they cultivated their vineyards. In 1902, Frédéric Emile Hugel left the old family property and established himself in premises in the centre of Riquewihr which still form the heart of the family business. The Hugel family have been instrumental for the official recognition for Alsace late-harvest "Vendange Tardive" and "Sélection de Grains Nobles" wines. They also introduced the “Gentil” wines, a blend like the “Edelzwicker” but only allowed for blending the four noble grapes of Alsace: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewürztraminer. Hugel et Fils have three principal wine lines: (i) Hugel Maison: Wines made from grapes purchased from winegrowers under long-term contract, in a dozen of vineyards around Riquewihr. (ii) Hugel Tradition: Wines are also made from grapes purchased, but with a stricter selection of grapes. (iii) Hugel Jubilee: These wines come exclusively from the vineyards in the "Hugel" estates, and are made in only the very best vintages.

11:15 am We had time to stroll through this cute, picturesque village.

I walked over to the vineyards to see the Hugel grape pickers.

01:00 pm Lunch at Bistro L’Epicurien in Colmar

Chef/ Owner Nicolas Groell joined us at the end of the lunch.

Colmar is the little sister city of Strassbourg. Because of its smaller size, its historic, incredibly charming city center can easily be explored on foot.

04:30 pm Return to Kaysersberg

We had time to relax and to explore the stores in Kaysersberg to shop for the famous Alsacian pottery.

07:30 pm Dinner at the 1 Michelin star restaurant L’Achémille in Kaysersberg

Owner/ Chef Jérome Jaegle joined us at the end of the dinner.

Chef Jérome Jaegle is a native of Kaysersberg. He left his home town to train with top chefs elsewhere. Just a year ago he returned home with his wife and they opened the restaurant L'Alchémille in Kaysersberg. His new restaurant immediately caught the attention of the food critics and in the new Michelin guide his efforts were rewarded with one Michelin star. We had his 7-course tasting menu. It was a sensational experience.

DAY 6: Thursday, October 05

08:30 am Check out of hotel and departure

We drove back north through the beautiful Alsatian country-side. We stayed on the French side of the Rhine River and crossed into the Pfalz region of Germany in Wissembourg.

10:15 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Jülg in Schweigen, Pfalz

Johannes Jülg hosted us. We sat down in the wine tavern of Weingut Jülg for a tasting, followed by a visit of the wine cellar.

This winery is unique. The vineyards are in two countries - Germany and France- due to the winery’s situation right on the German/French border and the constant back and forth of this region between France and Germany. In this area the Rhine rift created many different soil types which present favorable conditions for planting a wide variety of grapes. Karin Jülg runs the wine tavern that is known for outstanding traditional Pfälzer cuisine. In the mid 80s Werner Jülg converted the family winery from a low-end mass-producing winery -so typical for the Pfalz in those days-, into a wine estate that produces outstanding wines of the highest quality. He is also known for his excellent Sekt making: the Blanc de Noir produced in the Methode Champenoise with traditional Champagne grapes is absolutely delicious. Winery Jülg produces only dry wines mostly with traditional Burgundy grapes. The oldest son Johannes is now working in the winery to continue with the family tradition.

11:45 am Departure and drive back to Alsace, France

12:00 pm Tasting at Maison Jülg in Seebach, Alsace

Peter Jülg hosted us.

Peter Jülg is the brother of Werner Jülg and uncle of Johannes Jülg. Peter and Lydia Jülg bought the historic farm house in Seebach, Alsace - just 10 minutes from Schweigen, Germany – in 1993 and made their first vintage of Maison Jülg wines in 1994. They started out with 7 acres and today they farm 20 acres of vineyards. Their vineyards are planted with the traditional Alsatian grape varieties: Sylvaner, Pinot-Blanc, Pinot-Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Gwürztraminer, Pinot Noir and some Chardonnay for their crémant. They pursue biological agriculture, are certified “biological” and their wines carry the label “AB”.

01:30 pm Lunch at Restaurant – Brasserie A La Rose in Seebach, just down the road from Maison Jülg.

03:00 pm Departure from Seebach. We finally said good-bye to France and drove back to Germany to continue our way north into the Pfalz wine region.

We took a look at the Deutsches Weintor (German Wine Gate) in Schweigen, a landmark built in 1936 which greets the traveler when coming from France. It also marks the beginning of the German Wine Trail. You can climb 18 meters to the top and enjoy the view over the breathtakingly beautiful landscape south towards the Alsace and north towards the Pfalz.

04:15 pm Cellar tour and tasting at winery Ökonomierat Rebholz (VDP) in Siebeldingen, Pfalz

Valentin Rebholz gave us a cellar tour. Hannsjörg Rebholz joined us on the tour. Sabine Wagner led the tasting.

Hansjörg and Birgit Rebholz, the third generation of the Rebholz family continue what the founder, the Ökonomierat Eduard Rebholz began: producing highly individualistic wines by working as close as possible with nature. The Rebholz wines do not undergo any chaptalization, fining, or deacidifying nor will sweet reserve be added to underscore the individuality of the terroir, the climate, and the grape. 75% of the 47 acres under vine are planted with Riesling and the Burgundy grapes, 10% with Chardonnay and the rest with Silvaner, Sauvignon Blanc, Muskateller and Gewürztraminer. Due to the purity the wines have an enormous ageing potential. Hansjörg Rebholz was nominated as winemaker of the year 2013 by the Austrian lifestyle magazine Falstaff.

06:30 pm Arrival at Hotel Leinsweiler Hof in Leinsweiler, Pfalz

Hotel Leinsweiler Hof in Leinsweiler is a 4 star hotel sitting in a gorgeous location, surrounded by beautiful vineyards as far as the eye can see. This is a quiet hotel in the middle of the vineyards with a good restaurant and winebar: The perfect spot to relax after a long days journey.

DAY 7: Friday, October 06

09:30 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Münzberg – Lothar Kesseler & Söhne (VDP) in Landau-Godramstein, Pfalz

We met son Friedrich Kesseler in the cellar and father Gunter Kesseler during the tasting.

Godramstein is a typical wine village in the Palatine region. A bit further from the village center in north-west direction sits the “Münzberg”. The hill was named “Münzberg” (hill of the coins) when at this site coins from Roman times were discovered. Jakob Kessler, great-grandfather of Gunter Kessler, the current owner, realized the value of the Münzberg vineyard sites and bought several parcels in the late 19th century. In 1974 Lothar Kessler moved the wine estate out of the village to the foot of the Münzberg in the mids of his vines. The distinctive appearance of the estate reminds of some wineries in the US with its sleek architecture. The philosophy of the Kesslers: “In the cellar we complete what nature started. It is the art of the winemaker to conserve the good characteristics of the berries.” The Kesselers produce distinctive wines that are rich in character and reflect their origins in the chalky parcels of the Münzberg.

12:30 pm Lunch at restaurant Zum Kühlen Grund in Freinsheim

With its baroque historic center, the narrow streets and the well-preserved town wall Freinsheim is one of the most beautiful towns along the “German Wine Trail”.

02:15 pm Tour and tasting at winery Rings (VDP) in Freinsheim, Pfalz

Andreas Rings hosted us and his brother Steffen Rings greeted us. We started with an extensive tasting and looked at the winemaking facilities before leaving. The Rings brothers are building a new winery in Freinsheim and most of what we saw at the current location will be moved to the new facilities next year.

The foundation for today's winery was laid by the previous generation, which farmed grapes and other fruit right up until the turn of the millennium. Son Steffen Rings started to make wine at the estate in 2001. His brother Andreas joined the family winery later after he finished his vocational training. In 2008 the brothers teamed up and have been running the estate together since then. With its steady expansion over the last few years, the now 75 acres of vineyards are planted with an even split between red and white grape varieties. The vineyards now include many of the best sites in Freinsheim, Kallstadt and Ungstein. The brothers produce unique wines that show the different soils and the signature of the winemaker. In mid 2015 the winery Rings was admitted to the VDP. This membership crowns the tireless effort of the brothers to strive for top quality wines.

04:15 pm Tasting at winery Krebs in Freinsheim, Pfalz

Jürgen Krebs and his fiancee Hoppi Polla were our hosts.

Winery Krebs is an estate steeped in tradition. For generations the Krebs family has been producing wines in the Freinsheim region. The geology around Freinsheim provides for a potpourri of very different soils. Sand, gravel, loess, clay, chalk – everything is present in the different parcels of the vineyards. Jürgen Krebs chooses carefully which grape varieties best match the vineyard site and strives to produce distinctive wines that reflect the singular character of the vineyards.

06:15 pm Check-in at Pfalzhotel Asselheim

Pfalzhotel Asselheim in Grünstadt-Asselheim is a 4 star quiet and peaceful hotel in a lovely, authentic wine producers' village.

We had dinner in the wine tavern of the hotel.

DAY 8: Saturday, October 07

09:15 am Tasting at Sekthaus Raumland in Flörsheim-Dalsheim, Rheinhessen

Heide-Rose and Volker Raumland were our hosts.

With this visit we honored the Germans affinity with the bubbly stuff. Did you know that the Germans are world champions in sparkling wine consumption? And that “Rotkäppchen” in Freyburg, in the Saale-Unstrut region is the world’s second largest sparkling wine producer after Freixenet? And that there are many top rated Sekt producers in Germany?

Our visit took us to one of the top notch Sekt (the German word for sparkling wine) producers. According to several life style and wine magazines Sekthaus Raumland is the best of the best. Volker Raumland studied oenology at the Geisenheim Oenological University when he and some fellow students got the idea of producing “Sekt” for the wineries that wanted to have a Sekt in their portfolio but lacked the specific expertise and equipment to produce one. It did not take long before Volker Raumland started to produce his own Sekt and started his own label.

Today he has 25 acres of vineyards in the Flörsheim-Dalsheim area and produces Sekt in the Méthode Traditionnelle on par with the quality of the best Champagnes. His philosophy: no mass production, top quality, “small but beautiful”, first class base wines, at least 36 months on the lease. Since 2002 his wine and Sekt estate is certified “AB” for biological agriculture.

11:30 am Tour and tasting at winery Wittmann (VDP) in Westhofen, Rheinhessen

Philipp Wittmann joined us in the wine cellar, where he was working.

This winery in Westhofen has been in the hands of the Wittmann family since 1663. Attachment to the native soil runs deep and in order to leave a legacy of healthy soil and vines the vineyards are farmed biodynamically. The old vaulted underground cellar with its consistent temperature provides the perfect conditions for the wine to ferment spontaneously with its own natural yeast in wooden casks. The 62 acres of vineyards are planted primarily with Riesling. Because of the almost mediterranean climate in southern Rheinhessen, the Burgundy grapes also have a long tradition in viticulture. Philipp Wittmann, the current owner, regularly gets awards for his wines.

13:30 pm Lunch at Metzger und Gasthaus Deutsches Haus in Westhofen.

03:00 pm Cellar visit and tasting at winery Gröbe (VDP) in Westhofen, Rheinhessen

Winemaker/ Owner Fritz Gröbe was our host. He showed us the wine cellar. Then, we sat down in his private dining room for a most enjoyable winetasting.

The estate can look back to a long history. It has existed in Westhofen since 1763. Since then the Groebe family has carefully tended to the vines and has produced top quality wines. Today, the estate farms 22 acres of vineyards planted with 70% Riesling, 10% Silvaner, and the rest with Pinot-Gris, Pinot-Noir, Scheurebe, and Gewürztraminer.

05:45 pm Check-in at the Hotel Hilton in Mainz

Hotel Hilton in Mainz is a modern 4 1/2 star hotel situated on the edge of old town Mainz on the picturesque banks of the mighty Rhine River.

For dinner we went to Ladendorfs Weinhaus. In Mainz - one of the ten Wine Capitals of the world - wine is ubiquitous. The local wine taverns offer traditional Määnzer food such as Fleischwurst, Handkäs mit Musik, Nackesche. "Weck, Wurscht, und Woi" (bread rolls, sausages, and wine) that's the slogan of Mainz.

Roland Ladendorf's Weinhaus has by far the best selection of German premium and ultra-premium wines among the many wine taverns in Mainz. Roland is a wine expert.

DAY 9: Sunday, October 08

09:15 am Walking tour through Mainz

Mainz is the birth-place of Johannes Gutenberg, the man who gave the world the power to print and hence to develop our digital future. It was founded by the Romans. In the center is the mighty, impressive 1000 year old cathedral.

11:30 am Departure from Mainz City and drive to Nierstein

Before arriving at the winery we stopped at the Red Slope, the famous vineyard with its outstanding terroir. From there we had a breathtaking view of surrounding vineyards, the Rhine river, and the Frankfurt skyline.

12:00 am Cellar tour and wine pairing lunch at winery Louis Guntrum in Nierstein, Rheinhessen

Owners Konstantin and Stephanie Guntrum were our hosts.

The family roots go back to 1648, to the small village of Wörrstadt in Rheinhessen. Ever since, the Louis Guntrum family has been growing grapes and making wine. The 8th generation, Louis Jean George Guntrum, built today's estate building in 1923. It impresses with its stunning location right on the banks of the Rhine river between Nierstein and Oppenheim. Today, the winery is owned and managed by the 11th generation, Louis Konstantin Guntrum and his wife Stephanie Guntrum.

Following the cellar tour we sat down with Konstantin and Stephanie Guntrum for a tasting with a light lunch, which Stephanie Guntrum had prepared for us. Konstantin opened a number of very special wines for us, including the wine they served at their wedding and a noble sweet wine from 1976, the year Annette and I got married.

02:30 pm Departure from Nierstein

03:00 pm Arrival at Frankfurt International Airport

schiller-wine: All Postings (Published and Forthcoming): Germany-South and Alsace 2017 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: Baden, Alsace, Pfalz and Rheinhessen

Vineyard and Cellar Tour at Weingut Schloss Neuweier in Baden-Baden-Neuweier, with Owner/ Winemaker Robert Schätzle

Wine Pairing Lunch at Röttele’s Restaurant (1 Star Michelin) at Schloss Neuweier, with Owner and Winemaker Robert Schätzle, Weingut Schloss Neuweier - German South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2015)

Wine tasting concert with the A-Capella Ensemble “Männer und Tenöre” at Weingut Aufricht in Meersburg – Stetten, with Manfred and Hildegard Aufricht

The Lake Wines of the Aufricht Brothers: From Lake Constance in Germany

The Evolving Structure of the Wine Industry in Germany – The Case of the Lake Constance Region

Schloss Salem at Lake Constance in Germany: A Museum, a School and a Wine Estate

Tour of Schloss Salem in Salem, Baden

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Markgraf von Baden in Salem, Baden

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Löffler in Wettenberg, Markgräfler Land, Baden, with Hannes Glöckner of the Löffler Family and Founder Wolfgang Löffler 

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Stigler in Ihringen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden, with Andreas and Maximilian Stigler

Dinner at Restaurant Schwarzer Adler (1 Star Michelin) in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden.

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars and Wine Taverns in Freiburg, Baden, Germany

The World Class Wines of Alsace

In the world class white wine region Alsace

Tasting at Domaine Marcel Deiss in Bergheim, Alsace

Lunch in Alsace: Wistub du Sommelier in Bergheim and Bistro L’Epicurien in Colmar

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Dirler-Cadé in Bergholtz, Alsace, with Jean Pierre Dirler and Ludevine Dirler-Cadé

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Schlumberger in Guebwiller, Alsace

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Domaine Hugel & Fils in Riquewhir, Alsace, with Jean Frédéric Hugel

Dinner at the 1 Michelin Star Restaurant L’Achémille in Kaysersberg, with Owner/ Chef Jérome Jaegle

Wine Lunch at Weingut Jülg with Johannes Jülg – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Jülg in Schweigen, Pfalz, with Johannes Jülg

Schiller's Favorite (Wine-) Restaurants in Deidesheim in the Pfalz, Germany

Tasting at Maison Jülg in Seebach, Alsace, with Peter Jülg

Tasting at Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz in Siebeldingen, Pfalz – Germany-South by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz in Siebeldingen, Pfalz, with Valentin Rebholz and Stephanie Wagner

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Münzberg – Lothar Kesseler & Söhne in Landau-Godramstein, Pfalz, with Friedrich and Gunter Kesseler

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Rings in Freinsheim, Pfalz, with Andi Rings

Tasting at Weingut Krebs in Freinsheim, Pfalz, with Jürgen Krebs

Tasting at Sekthaus Raumland in Flörsheim-Dalsheim, Rheinhessen, with Heide-Rose and Volker Raumland

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Wittmann in Westhofen, Rheinhessen, with Philipp Wittmann

Cellar Tourvisit and Tasting at Weingut Gröbe in Westhofen, Rheinhessen, with Fritz Gröbe

Cellar Tour and Wine Pairing Lunch at Weingut Louis Guntrum in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, with Konstantin and Stephanie Guntrum

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