Monday, May 20, 2019

Germany-North Tour 2019 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential Riesling

Pictures: Tasting in the Vineyard the Wines of Weingut Laquai in Lorch, Rheingau, with Gundolf Laquai, Owner and Winemaker

We spent 9 days (Monday, April 29, 2019 to Tuesday, May 7, 2019) touring 5 German wine regions (Rheingau, Mittelrhein, Mosel, Nahe and Rheinhessen), tasting fabulous wines, meeting world-renowned wine makers, and delving deep into German history and culture.

There were 12 of us, including Annette and Christian Schiller. This posting provides an overview. More specific postings focusing on individual events will follow (see list below). Most of the pictures are mine, but I have also used pictures which participants of the tour posted on facebook.

On the Germany-North Tour 2019 by ombiasy WineTours, we visited a total of 25 wineries in 5 different wine regions: Rheingau, the jewel in the crown, with its perfect, fuller bodied, racy Rieslings; Mittelrhein where the Rieslings grow on the steep slopes of the fortress- and castle-ribboned banks of the Rhine river; Mosel with its dizzying steep vineyards and famous elegant Rieslings; Nahe and its serene, peaceful valley where perfect harmonious wines reflect their roots, and Rheinhessen with its many young, up and coming, dynamic winemakers.

Annette Schiller: Our way of traveling allows wine lovers to fully experience authentic Germany. Drawing on our love and deep knowledge of Germany and close personal ties to many personalities in the wine scene, our small group visits many of the hidden gems that other tours pass by, but which are essential to comprehend what German wine is all about

Germany with its roughly 250,000 acres under vine belongs today to one of the smaller wine producing countries in the world. However, viticulture in Germany has a long tradition, going back to Roman times 2,000 years ago. In the 15th century, the area under vine was four times larger than it is today. Wars, subsequent loss of territory, diseases, overproduction, and competition from beer brewing resulted in land turned over to other agricultural uses. In the 19th century, concentration on terroir and technological progress fostered a tremendous improvement of quality and the prestige of German wines, in particular from the Mosel, Rheingau, and Pfalz regions, resulting in prices above those for first growth Bordeaux wines. Today, all thirteen wine regions in Germany produce outstanding wines, and German Rieslings belong to the best white wines in the world.

Rheingau • Mittelrhein • Mosel • Nahe • Rheinhessen

Monday, April 29, 2019 – Tuesday, May 07, 2019


DAY 1: Monday, April 29

10:30 am Attending the “Weinbörse” in Mainz.

We spent almost a full day at the Weinbörse. This was the perfect introduction to our wine tour. We already met many of the winemakers we were going to visit on the tour and we had the opportunity to taste many, many top wines from all German wine regions - those we visited on the tour and those we did not visit.

Compared with large, international trade fairs the annual VDP (Association of Germany's Premium Wine Estates) Weinbörse is “klein aber fein,” (“good things come in small packages”). Here you can sample wines from Germany’s elite winemakers from all German wine regions. It is relatively easy for visitors to quickly locate the region of interest. The exhibition area in the Rheingoldhalle is all on one floor.

Among others, Jancis Robinson, Stephan Rheinhard (Robert Parker) and Stuart Pigott were tasting with us.

04.30 pm Check in at Hotel Hilton in Mainz City.

Hotel Hilton in Mainz City is a modern 4 star hotel in the center of Mainz on the shore of the Rhein river in walking distance to everything: the historic old town, the river, the Mainz central train station, shops and restaurants, and it is just a quick drive from Frankfurt airport.

05.00 pm Mainz City Tour.

Before dinner, we went on a City Tour of Mainz.

07.15 pm Dinner at restaurant Heilig Geist in Mainz.

The Heilig Geist (Holy Spirit) is a very special place. A deconsecrated church with glorious, soaring vaulted ceilings sets the scene. This restaurant with good German food is just in a majestic location.

DAY 2: Tuesday, April 30

09.00 am Vineyard tour, cellar visit and tasting at winery Joachim Flick in Hochheim, Rheingau.

Owner and winemaker Reiner Flick was our host.

We started with a cellar tour and then sat down for a tasting. At the end of the visit and on the way to lunch, Reiner Flick showed us his vineyards, including the famous Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg.

We began our wine tour with a visit to the easternmost wine village of the Rheingau region, the famous village of Hochheim am Main, the “Gate to the Rheingau”. In the 17th century Britain used the term “Hock” for Hochheim wines and later described all Rheingau wines as “Hock”. At that time, the wines of Hochheim were much more famous than Mosel wines and were more expensive than some of the finest Bordeaux.

Thomas Jefferson visited the region in 1788 and described Rheingau Riesling as “small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim”. He took 100 vines of Hochheim Riesling back to Monticello and tried to grow wines there. Hochheim was quite famous long before this and the region was known for producing quality wines in the Shakespearean era. Both ‘Hock’ and ‘Rhenish’ can be found in Shakespearean texts.

Hochheim am Main is on the banks of the Main river, which flows west from Frankfurt, meeting the Rhein river at Mainz, on the other side of the river from Hochheim. Essentially the vineyards in this village are at the cross of these two rivers, which gives the terroir a distinctively different flavor than the rest of the Rheingau. The Flick family’s viticulture tradition in Hochheim goes back to 1775 to about the time when Jefferson visited Hochheim.

In 1997 Reiner Flick, the current owner of winery Joachim Flick, purchased a 700 year-old mill with a turbulent history – the Strassenmühle – and moved the winery to this location. Rainer is convinced that quality starts in the vineyard. He practices environmentally friendly viticulture and tries to make the most out of what’s possible with nature. The 47 acres of vineyards are planted with Riesling (81%), Pinot-Noir (10%), and Pinot-Blanc, Pinot-Gris, and Sauvignon-Blanc.

Reiner owns the Monopol Grand Cru site Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg. There is another interesting history to it: In 1845 Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert visited Hochheim and they were served the best wine from Hochheim and were shown the best vineyard site of Hochheim. In 1850 the English Court allowed the town of Hochheim to call this vineyard: Königin Victoriaberg. Since then the English Court orders this wine for special occasions, the last one was the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

11.45 pm Lunch at the Weingut Schloss Johannisberg Gutsrestaurant.

Schloss Johannisberg is one of the world’s oldest Riesling wine estate going back 900 years and it was here that the “Spätlese” was accidently discovered. For many centuries the estate was owned by the Prince-Abbot of Fulda, but changed hands several times during the Napoleonic wars and subsequent secularization.

In 1816, Austrian Emperor Francis II, gave the estate to his Foreign Minister, Prince von Metternich, as a thank you for his successful negotiations in the reorganization of Europe during the “Congress of Vienna”. The last resident of the Metternich family at Schloss Johannisberg, Tatjana Princess von Metternich was a patron of the arts in the Rheingau and beyond and revived the castle to its former gory after the destructions during World War II. After her death in 2006, the Oetker family (yes, that's the one that produces baking helpers and puddings) bought the estate. The Johannisberg wines show substance, considerable volume, and a spicy fruitiness paired with pronounced acidity. We enjoyed the wines with lunch at the Domaine’s wine tavern overlooking the vineyards and the Rhine river.

01.45 pm Cellar visit and tasting at winery Geheimrat J. Wegeler in Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau.

This historical wine estate Geheimrat J. Wegeler with its picturesque courtyard is in the center of the little wine village Oestrich. The esteate was acquired by the Wegeler family in 1882. Today the proprietor is still the Wegeler-Dreiseberg family. The 119 acres of vineyards are planted 100% with Riesling and are in top locations in Oestrich and Rüdesheim, such as the famous Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland, and the Winkeler Jesuitengarten.

The tasting of these wines was very interesting in comparison to the Hochheim wines we tasted earlier in the day.

04.15 pm Cellar visit and tasting at winery Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Rheingau.

Jan Christensen was our host.

We first took look at the vineyards from the tasting room and then toured the celler before sitting down with Jan in the chateau building for a formal tasting

With 185 acres under vine – 100% is planted with Riesling-, winery Robert Weil is one of the largest and most prominent estates in the Rheingau. This estate with its chateau character is a symbol of German Riesling culture. The historical manor house, the ultra-modern cellars and the vinothek stand side by side in a beautiful park – the same synthesis of old and new that is reflected in the estate’s philosophy of excellent, terroir-focused winemaking where tradition and contemporary oenological know-how are in harmony.

06.30 pm Check in at Hotel Kloster Eberbach in Kloster Eberbach.

Hotel Kloster Eberbach is a 3 superior star guesthouse in a part of a former monastery that dates back to the 16th century. This building served formerly as a mill and barn. In the course of the careful modernization of the hotel emphasis was placed upon maintaining its traditional monastic elements. The comfortably furnished double rooms offer a peaceful sleep, just as one expects it would have been like for centuries within the monastery walls.

08.00 pm Dinner at Kloster Eberbach in the Klosterschänke.

The Cistercian monk Bernard of Clairvaux from Burgundy founded the winery when he establishing the Abbey. In medieval times Eberbach Abbey was the largest winery in all of Europe with 750 acres of vineyards. Today Eberbach Abbey is one of the five State-owned wineries (the State of Hesse is its proprietor) and with 500 acres the largest winery in Germany. The estate’s holdings in highly esteemed vineyards in the Hessische Bergstrasse and the Rheingau wine region are unparalleled.

DAY 3: Wednesday, May 01

10.00 am Guided tour of Kloster Eberbach.

One of Europe's best-preserved and important medieval monasteries lies in a valley near the town of Eltville in the Rheingau. Still a world-class winery today, the Eberbach Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery, founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux as the first Cistercian abbey on the eastern bank of the Rhine river. Its Romanesque and Gothic buildings are very impressive. We will do an in-depth tour of the Abbey, including a visit of the lay brother’s dormitory where every year the famous auction of premium German wines takes place. A very special treat will be a peek into the treasure chamber, where century old wine bottles are still stored and where the movie “The Name of the Rose” with Sean Connery was filmed in 1986.

12.40 pm Aperitif at the Schwarzes Häuschen in the Steinberg Vineyard of Kloster Eberbach.

The Steinberg vineyard is a “Clos” – a vineyard totally surrounded by a stone wall. It is the largest “Clos” in Germany and one of the very famous Riesling vineyard sites. The monks constructed this vineyard according to the Burgundy prototype.

01.30 pm Lunch, Cellar visit and tasting at winery Baron Knyphausen in Erbach, Rheingau.

Baron Knyphausen and winemaker Arne Willkens were our hosts.

We started with lunch in the courtyard of Weingut Baron Knyphausen. Arne Willkens then showed us the new winemaking facilities and led a tasting in the courtyard of Weingut Baron Knyphausen.

The winery Baron Knyphausen goes back to one of the oldest viticultural enterprises in all of Germany. The Draiser Hof -home of the winery- was built in 1141 by the Cistercian monks of the Eberbach Abbey to cultivate the monastery’s vineyards and fields in Erbach and Eltville. In 1818 the Baron zu Knyphausen family purchased the estate and the vineyards. The holdings include the famous Erbacher Marcobrunn, one of the top terroirs in the Rheingau, if not the world. Almost 60 acres are under vines and planted mostly with Riesling (85%), and with 10% of Pinot Noir and 5% with indigenous grapes such as red Riesling.

04.30 pm Tasting and dinner at winery Kaufmann in Hattenheim, Rheingau.

Owner and winemaker Urban Kaufmann was our host, with his wife Eva Raps.

Winery Kaufmann was founded by Hans Lang in 1953, in the post World War II era. The son of the founder converted the winery to organic viticulture and became member of the Ecovin Association for Organic Viticulture in 2012. With no heir interested in continuing working in the winery in 2013 the Lang family sold the estate and Urban Kaufmann and Eva Raps purchased the winery. Urban comes from Switzerland and ran one of the best Appenzeller cheese companies. Eva used to be the Managing Director of the VDP.

I quote Urban:”To produce top cheeses was important to me, today Riesling, white Burgundy grapes and Pinot-Noir are the focus in my life. There are magic moments to take care of these grapes in the vineyard and in the cellar from the fermentation phase until bottling.” And Eva:”To implement the VDP’s philosophy of quality management right here in my own winery is an awesome experience”. Dry wines have a long tradition at the estate and account for 90% of the portfolio. Eva and Urban took the conversion to environmentally friendly winemaking to yet another level: in 2017 they were certified biodynamic by Demeter.

DAY 4: Thursday, May 02

09.30 am Cellar tour, vineyard tour, and tasting in the vineyard at winery Laquai in Lorch, Rheingau.

Gundolf Laquai was our host.

During the cellar tour, we focussed on the production of sparkling wines in the champagne method, then walked up and down a few steep slope vineyards, before sitting down in the vineyrad with a beatiful view over the Rhein valley and tasting the wines of Weingut Laqiai.

We travelled to Lorch to the very end of the Rheingau region where it touches the Mittelrhein region. We left the heart of the Rheingau region. The Rhine river left its east to west direction, took a turn to the right and flows south to north again Lorch is a unique place: it sits on one of the narrowest parts of the Rhein river where the Taunus mountain range plunges nearly 60 % down into the valley. The sun's rays strike with all their power on the slate soil rich with minerals. In Lorch the Laquai family has a long tradition of producing wine, going back to 1716. In 1990 brothers Gilbert and Gundolf Laquai started to revitalize extremely steep vineyards and introduced the terrace system. They became pioneers in the Rheingau of planting the slopes horizontally instead of vertically. The embankements of the terraces leave enough room for the development of healthy fauna and flora to help grow healthy vines that give healthy fruit. Their wines reflect the soil: the Rieslings have an herbal, mineral character, and the Pinot Noir shows Cassis and Cherry, herbal notes, strong tannins and a long finish.


11.30 am Departure and drive to the Mittelrhein wine region.

This short journey to Bacharach involved a ferry ride across the Rhine river. There is no bridge across the Rhine river for some 70 miles between Mainz and Koblenz to not destroy the beauty of the Rhine valley.

12.15 pm Lunch at restaurant Altes Haus in Bacharach.

Bacharach is an incredible beautiful, romantic 1000 year old wine village. Its castles, church spires, medieval city wall, and half-timbered houses on the shore of the Rhine rive is pure “Rheinromantik”. This is also the home town of Michael Thonet, the famous designer of the “cult” chairs, still in vogue today.

02.30 pm Tasting and vineyard drive at winery Ratzenberger in Bacharach, Mittelrhein.

Jochen Ratzenberger was our host.

Most of the time was taken up by a taating of the Ratzenberg wines. Before leaving, Jochen Ratzenberger took us on a vineyard tour which included a breathtaking view of the Rhein valley.

The grandfather of the current owner, Jochen Ratzenberger, purchased this 300 year old wine estate in 1956. It lies in a beautiful narrow valley bordered by extremely steep vineyard sites. The winery itself is also very beautiful with vast, historic vaulted cellars. A significant portion of the 35 acres of vineyards are planted with vines more than 50 years old, which give the wines substance and at the same time elegance. Jochen Ratzenberger also produces some very delicious Sekt, which is kept on the lees for at least 30 months.

04.50 pm Boarding of the cruise ship on the Rhine river in Bacharach.

Cruise on the Rhine, passing the famous Loreley Rock and the slopes of the Mittelrhein wine region. Time to indulge in the breathtakingly beautiful view of the Rhine River its banks dotted with castles, fortresses, and ruins dating from the middle ages. The Middle-Rhine valley is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

06.50 pm Debarking in Boppard.

Check in at the beautiful Belle Époque Hotel Bellevue in Boppard right on the banks of the Rhine river.

Premier Bellevue Rheinhotel in Boppard is a 4 star old-world, very elegant spa hotel of the Belle Époque era right on the banks of the Rhine river. The views towards the big bend (the Bopparder Hamm) of the Rhine river are priceless.

This hotel dates from the end of the 19th century and has seen the aristocratic visitors from all over Europe when they visited the famous Rhine river. Enjoy the view on the Rhine river and observe the cargo boats traveling upstream and downstream.

The evening was free to explore the quaint little town of Boppard or to stroll along the majestic Rhine river.

DAY 5: Friday, May 03

09.30 am Guided tour of Eltz Castle.

Eltz Castle is a truly fairy-tale medieval castle surrounded by dense forests in the hills above the Mosel river. It was built more than 850 years ago by the Eltz family and is one of the few castles that have never been destroyed. Here you can experience the Middle Ages and nature in its purest form. Today the Countess and Count Eltz, descendants of the same family that lived here in the 12 th century - 33 generations ago - live here and are doing everything to preserve their ancestral home.

12.00 pm Lunch at restaurant Weinhaus Berg in Bremm.

01.30 pm Tasting at winery Reinhold Franzen, Bremm, Terrassen-Mosel.

Angelina Franzen was our host.

The Franzen family has been making wine in Bremm for centuries. It is here where you find the steepest vineyard world-wide, the Bremmer Calmont (68 degree incliniation). And it is the Franzen family who worked hard to preserve this extraordinary terroir of oxidized red Devonian slate and Quarzite. In the 1800 and 1900s, the entire Calmont -50 acres- was planted with Riesling vines and the wines belonged to the most expensive and sought-after bottles of the world. Phyloxera and two world wars ruined the market for German wines, and a younger generation did not deem it worthwhile to work in the very steep vineyards. By 1980, the only 9 acres vineyards left on the Calmont were vineyards down by the road along the Mosel and the entire mountain was covered in roses and wild vines.

In 1999, Ulrich Franzen decided to start buying up as much Calmont as he could. He was able to purchase 112 contiguous parcels, from 112 different owners. Within three years he planted 7,900 Riesling vines into the steep slate ground. This gave him 1.2 ha in the heart of the Calmont, an amphitheater-shaped section near the center of the mountain, facing south. Today, the winery is run by the young couple Kilian and Angelina Franzen. They belong to Germany’s young, very ambitious winemakers who have their own philosophy of winemaking. The grapes are crushed by feet in large boxes and macerated for 2-4 hours. Then they are pressed, and settled for 12 hours prior to fermentation. All ambient yeast ferments here, and nearly all the wines go through malolactic fermentation.

04.00 pm Tasting at winery Jos. Jos. Prüm in Bernkastel-Wehlen, Mosel.

Amei Prüm, the wife of Manfred Prüm, welcomed us.

The contrast cannot be bigger between our previous winery visits and a visit to this world-famous estate on the banks of the Mosel river. At the J.J. Prüm winery all wines are Rieslings and all are sweet. The wines are of great aristocracy, and are renowned for their precision, focus, finess, and legendary ageing potential, regardless of the way how they achieved their level of sweetness (by chaptalizing or adding sweet reserve or through noble rot). Viticulture traditions in the Prüm family go back to the 17 th century, although the J. J. Prüm estate as we know it today, only came into being in 1911 when the property was divided up between seven heirs. Third generation Dr. Manfred Prüm, is the winemaker and owns the estate together with his brother Wolfgang Prüm and his daughter, fourth generation Dr. Katharina Prüm.

06.00 pm Check in at Christiana’s Wein & Art Hotel in Bernkastel-Kues.

Christiana’s Wein & Art Hotel in Bernkastel-Kues, a unique 3 superior star hotel with stylishly renovated rooms offering a modern living style but at the same time a cosy feeling.

07.00 pm Wine-pairing dinner at winery Richard Böcking in Traben-Trarbach, Middle Mosel.

Owner Denman Zirkle was our host. At the request of Annette, we had a traditional German dinner, which is bread with butter and cold-cuts.

The Böcking family has been influential in wine business in Traben-Trarbach since the 17 th century. At the turn of the 20th Century, Traben Trarbach, along with Bordeaux, were the largest wine trading towns in Europe. During this period the Böckings acquired Ungsberg and Schlossberg, in Trarbach, and Geyerslay in Wintrich, along with the present day Juffer and Juffer-Sonnenuhr, in Brauneberg; these are all vineyards with a reputation for exceptional quality. During the 20 th century the hay-days were over and a steady decline can be observed. In 2010 it seemed wise to sell the estate but a new generation of Böckings hailing over from the United States invested heavily into the winery and a re-awakening of the historic wine estate took place. Today winery Richard Böcking again produces stunning Riesling wines in the best Mosel tradition.

We tasted the wines and had a traditional German meal with matching wines in the 14th century Knights Hall. This is the largest secular building from the Middle Ages on the Mosel with a spectacular romantic ambiance of a bygone era.

DAY 6: Saturday, May 04

09.45 am Tasting at winery Dr. Loosen in Bernkastel-Kues, Middle Mosel.

Ernst Loosen was our host.

The Dr.Loosen winery has been in the hands of the Loosen family for over 200 years. Located just outside of Bernkastel, it is one of the larger producers in the Mosel region with 130,000 bottles produced annually. In the US the winery is particularly known for its sweeter style Rieslings of top quality. Ernst Loosen is the current owner and while most often associated with the sweet-style, low alcohol wines very often to be found on the shelves of wine stores in the US, he is producing top dry Rieslings on the Premier and Grand Cru (GG) level, which he recently introduced to the market in the US. He also produces white and red wines in the Pfalz in Germany (J.L.Wolf winery) and in the US in Washington state (Chateau St. Michelle) and in Oregon (J. Christopher wines).

12.00 pm Visit of the famous Berncasteler Doctor vineyard and cellar.

We met Matthias Willkomm, owner of Weingut Dr. H Thanisch - Erben Mueller-Burggraef, in the famous Doctorkeller for an aperitif.

12.30 pm Departure and short drive to the winery Dr. H. Thanisch, Erben Müller-Burggraef.

12.35 pm Vertical tasting of “Berncasteler Doctor”.

Matthias Willkomm was our host.

Berncasteler Doctor is one of the most famous vineyard names in the world. Today the vineyard is divided up among only three owners: Weingüter Geheimrat J. Wegeler - Gutshaus Bernkastel, Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch – Erben Thanisch and Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch – Erben Müller-Burggraef.

The Doctor is a small (8.25 acres) plot: south-facing, and an extremely steep slope (up to 60%) of devon slate structure, situated behind and overlooking the rooftops of the quaint old town of Bernkastel. The vineyard is planted exclusively with Riesling vines, about 45% of which are ungrafted. The Doctor name originates in a legend about Prince Boemond II of Trier who fell sick and then was cured by a wine from this vineyard. The Berncasteler Doctor was owned by Count von der Leyen until 1760, and in 1794, under French rule, declared community property. During most of the 19th century, the Doctor was leased to the Thanisch family and it eventually became the property of Dr. Hugo Thanisch and his wife Katharina. The viticultural tradition of the family dates from 1650. Dr. Hugo Thanish, a Prussian deputy, established the estate ́s international reputation, primarily by the spectacular awards and high prices for his wines at auctions.

In 1895 after Dr. Thanisch death, his wife Katharina took the responsibilities of the estate and since then until 2018 women of the Thanisch family have been running the business. The name of the winery changed to Weingut Wwe (this means “Witwe” = widow) Dr. H. Thanisch. In 1988 the Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch was split up between two branches of the family: Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch - Erben Thanisch and Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch - Erben Mueller-Burggraef. Last year Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch - Erben Mueller-Burggraef was sold to the Peter Mertes company owned by the Willkomm family, Germany’s largest wine merchant.

02.00 pm Lunch at Restaurant Juffer Flair of Weingut Christian Steinmetz in Brauneberg.

This restaurant comes with a beautiful view on the Mosel river and the famous “Juffer” vineyard. It belongs to winery Christian Steinmetz which is a relatively young winery by German standards.

03:45 pm Visit of Wine Presses from Roman Times

Before stopping at Weingut Haart, we visited wine presses from Roman times, which were discovered only recently.

04.00 pm Tasting at winery Haart in Piesport, Mosel.

Johannes Haart was our host

The Haart family’s viticulture tradition goes back to 1337. Weingut Haart is one of the oldest wine estates in the Mosel valley, and one of the few that was not owned by the church or aristocrats. Today it is Johannes Haart who manages the estate. In 2007 his father Theo was awarded the “winemaker of the year” award of the wine guide Gault-Millau Germany. Signature wine of this estate is the “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”.

Anyone who loves the James Bond movies might remember that in “Goldfinger” James Bond enjoyed a bottle of the “Goldtröpfchen”. Johannes cherishes the family’s wine making traditions but pushes further towards ecological sensible winemaking. He stays away from pesticides and encourages beneficial organisms such as an insect hotel in the vineyard. The wines of this winery are impressive for their tremendous freshness and ageing potential.

Before the visit of Weingut Haart, we made a a short stop to take a look at two 2000 year-old wine presses from Roman times. This presses in close proximity to each other and at the edge of the world famous wine site “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen” were only discovered in 1985 and 1991 when road building measures for land consolidation were undertaken.

06.30 pm Check in at Hotel Krone Riesling in Trittenheim.

Hotel Krone Riesling in Trittenheim is a 3 star historic hotel situated directly on the banks of the Mosel River, surrounded by vineyards with a stunning panorama across the river. This quiet, dreamlike location, away from noise and traffic, lets you forget the everyday life quickly.

08.00 pm Dinner at restaurant Krone Riesling.

DAY 7: Sunday, May 05

09.00 am Guided bus tour of the Roman City of Trier.

Trier sits on the banks of the Mosel River and is the oldest city in Germany. In Roman times it was the largest city north of the Alps, and the second most important city of the Roman Empire. For some years it even became an imperial city. This 2000 year old city is a treasure trove of Roman and German history, and pagan and Christian culture. There is so much to see in Trier, but the famous landmarks from Roman times are a must: the Porta Nigra, the amphitheatre, and the imperial thermal baths. The most eminent citizen of Trier in modern times was Karl Marx, who was born and raised here.

11.00 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Peter Lauer in Ayl, Upper Mosel, Saar Valley.

Katharina Lauer and Peter Lauer were our hosts.

The Saar, a tributary to the Mosel river gives name to one of the 2 unique sup-regions of the Mosel wine region where crisp, more masculine Rieslings are made. Frank Schoonmaker wrote 1956 in ‘The Wines of Germany’: “In these great and exceedingly rare wines of the Saar, there is a combination of qualities which I can perhaps best describe as indescribable – austerity coupled with delicacy and extreme finesse, an incomparable bouquet, a clean, very attractive hardness tempered by a wealth of fruit and flavor which is overwhelming.”

Florian Lauer, currently the head at the 100% Riesling winery Peter Lauer (20 acres), which was founded in 1830, produces exactly those kind of wines. His specialties are dry and just slightly off-dry Rieslings. The wines are spontaneously fermented with their natural yeasts. For many years Florian Lauer fought the wine law of 1971. We all have heard of the “Ayler Kupp”. This was once the filet piece of the Kupp mountain. Other parts of the mountain had different names to distinguish between the various terroirs. The wine law of 1971 abolished the traditional, historic terroir thinking, merged vineyard sites, and reduced the number of single vineyards from 35,000 to 5,000. The entire mountain now was named “Ayler Kupp”. It has been Florian’s mission to keep the old vineyard names alive. He has been fighting this fight since his first vintage in 2005. The EU regulations forced an update to the law in 2014 and finally he now can legally use the older vineyard names such as Unterstenberg, Stirn, Kern and Neuenberg.

12.30 pm Lunch at Weinrestaurant Ayler Kupp at winery Peter Lauer.

Weinrestaurant Ayler Kupp is definitely a restaurant out of the ordinary. The view towards the Ayler Kupp vineyard is stunning, but most importantly the restaurant is run by Jörg and Laura Diekert. Jörg worked as sous chef under Christian Bau, the 3-Michelin star chef at “Victor’s Fine Dining in Perl-Nenning. Laura worked at “Victor’s” as sommelière. You can imagine that food and wine was exquisite.

02.30 pm Departure from the Mosel wine region and drive to the Nahe wine region.

05.00 pm Check in at Parkhotel Kurhaus Bad Kreuznach in Bad Kreuznach, Nahe.

Parkhotel Kurhaus Bad Kreuznach in Bad Kreuznach is a very elegant 4 superior star old-world, historic hotel. It sits in the SPA-Garden of Bad Kreuznach, on an island surrounded by the river Nahe. German emperor Wilhelm II took his baths here and received many illustrious guests. In 1958 German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French President Charles de Gaulle met here to negotiate the French-German friendship pact.

The evening was free to enjoy this beautiful spa hotel. You could take a dip into the thermal hot spring waters or head out to town where you found a medieval bridge built in 1300 crossing over the Nahe river. This is one of the few remaining bridges in the world with building constructed on it.

DAY 8: Monday, May 06

09.15 am Tasting at winery H. Dönnhoff, Oberhausen, Nahe.

Anne Dönnhoff was our host.

The Dönnhoff family has been making wines for more than 250 years, but a new era started when Helmut Dönnhoff began making wine in 1971. He started out with a vineyard of 10 acres, and through careful acquisition he now cultivates 60 acres of the best vineyards in the Nahe valley. Helmut Dönnhoff has become a living legend of German wine and is celebrated as one of Germany’s very best producers. A few years ago, his son, Cornelius Dönnhoff, took over, with his wife Anne, who led the wine tasting. Both are committed to making the most out of the terroir to attain the ultimate in quality. The majority of the grapes planted are Riesling, but Dönnhoff also produces outstanding Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

11.30 am Visit and tasting at winery Dr. Crusius, Traisen, Nahe.

Peter Crusisu and his daughter Judith were our hosts. Judith, jointly with her sister Rebecca, are slated to take over the winery.

A lot has happened since the Crusius family settled in Traisen in 1576 to start a mixed agricultural and winegrowing farming estate. In the 1950s, Hans Crusius transformed the farm into a wine estate covering 18.5 acres. Today the winery has 50 acres planted with vines and is one of Germany’s top wine estates. The Gault & Millau wine guide for Germany rated winery Dr, Crusius with 4 out of 5 grapes. Owner is Dr. Peter Crusius, the son of Hans Crusius. The vineyards are predominantly planted with Riesling (60%), some white Burgundy varieties (30%) and several varieties of red wine (Pinot noir précoce and Pinot noir 10%). Their top vineyard sites include the spectacular “Traiser Bastei”, which is with just 3 acres one of Germany’s smallest top vineyard site, and the very steep “Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg”.

01.45 pm Lunch at restaurant 3 Buchen, Golfclub Nahetal, in Bad Münster-Ebernburg.

03.45 pm Check in at NH Hotel in Bingen.

The NH-Hotel in Bingen is a 4 star very modern hotel beautifully situated at the confluence of the Nahe and Rhine rivers, with stunning views across the Rhine to the vineyards and castles on the Rheingau side.

05.00 pm Vineyard tour, cellar tour and tasting at winery Kruger-Rumpf, Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe.

Stefan Rumpf was our host. We started the visit with a vineyard tour, followed by a quick cellar tour, where we met Georg Rumpf, who is currently in charge of making the wines at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf. We then sat down for a tasting.

Here we arrived at the far end of the Nahe region where the Nahe river joins the Rhein river. The Nahe wine region is the region in Germany with the most diverse geological formations making it very difficult to claim a distinctive “Nahe” character of the wines. We tasted sleek, piquant Rieslings and at winery Kruger-Rumpf we discovered that the Nahe can also produce hearty Silvaner, Grauburgunder, Chardonnay, and wonderful Pnot Noir.

“In our family, viniculture has been a tradition since 1708 - a tradition that we have been cultivating in our vineyards as well as in our manor house which was built back in 1830” says Georg Rumpf. Today, the vineyard area totals about 50 acres and the annual production is 14,000 cases. Georg Rumpf has taken over the winemaking at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, while his father Stefan now focuses more on sales, and his mother Cornelia manages the restaurant.

08.00 pm Dinner at the Altes Zollamt restaurant in Bingen.

DAY 9: Tuesday, May 07

09.30 am Vineyard tour and tasting at winery Bischel in Appenheim, Rheinhessen.

Christian Runkel was our host. He first took us on an extensive vineyard tour. After a quick look at the winemaking facilities, we sat down with him for a tasting of his bone-dry Rieslings.

This is a relatively young winery by German standards and one of the rising stars of Rheinhessen. Current owners are the “Bischel brothers” Christian and Matthias Runkel. They belong to the group of young, very ambitious winemakers who want to bring German wines, and of course particularly wines from Rheinhessen back into the first league of wines world-wide. Their grandfather founded the winery in 1960.

Today the winery has 47 acres of vineyard in top sites in Bingen (Scharlachberg), in Appenheim (the famous Hundertgulden), and in Gau-Algesheim (Johannisberg, Sankt Laurentiuskapelle), all in northern Rheinhessen. Year after year the brothers took steps to radically improve the quality. Besides sustainable vineyard management they reduced yields and only use hand selected, perfectly ripened grapes that are spontaneously fermented with the natural yeast from the vineyards. The wines are aged in steel tanks and oak casks and the best Pinots are matured in French barrique and tonneau barrels.

Besides stunning Riesling they produce a gorgeous Pinot-Blanc with an enchanting bouquet of flowers and vanilla, and wonderful, elegant, Pinot-Noirs. Their efforts were awarded with being asked to join the VDP. As of January 1, 2019 they are the newest member of the VDP.

12.15 pm Winery visit and lunch at winery Louis Guntrum in Nierstein, Rheinhessen.

Konstantin Guntrum was our host.

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 with his wife Stefanie.

02:30 pm Departure.

03:00 pm Arrival at Frankfurt Airport.

07:30 pm Post-tour Dinner at Mainlust Desche Otto in Schwanheim, Frankfurt.

Those of us, who had not yet left, got togather at Mainlust Desche Otto for a typical apple wine dinner, with 2 of our grandkids.

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