Monthly Archives: September 2009

More vineyard adventures

While the Ürziger Würzgarten vineyard was probably my favorite, I wanted to share two more with you.

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The winemaker from Emrich Schönleber walking us through the Goldtröpfchen vineyard

Whenever we were let out into the vineyards, we were like kids at recess.  Here’s a short video of my fellow wine nerds traipsing through the Goldtröpfchen vineyard.  I was hoping to hit the America’s Funniest Home Video jackpot, but no dice.

This was the next stop:

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Still in the Mosel, on to the Erdener Treppchen vineyard

you can see me making my way up the stairs at the bottom left - helps give some scale to the shot

you can see me making my way up the stairs at the bottom left - helps give some scale to the shot

I made a quick video of this vineyard because I was impressed by the “soil” (aka big slabs of slate).  I did turn the camera at one point, but it still worth checking out.

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My teeth hurt

4 days + over 200 of the world’s most high-acid wine = sensitive teeth

tooth10 days of ProEnamel by Sensodyne and an emergency visit to the dentist have almost restored my teeth to their pre-Germany sensitivity level. 

I doubt I will receive sympathy from any of my dear readers, but take it from me – if you plan to go on a wine trip, don’t forget to pack the enamel building toothpaste!

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If only it were so easy

Doing some house cleaning today (don’t make fun), I found an apron that I hadn’t seen in a while.

apron

Instead of suggesting that you kiss the cook or that too many brews spoil that cook, this apron offered something even sillier – a six-step recipe for fine wine – not that it’s necessarily wrong.  In coming weeks I’ll write more about wine-making.  I can’t make it this easy, but I’ll do my best.  Stay tuned.

wine recipe

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Jamaican me thirsty

I’m not sure if this name will fly once we actually put this cocktail on the list, but for now I’ve found it quite entertaining.

I recently got in a cool product called St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram from my friend Scott who distributes products from Alpenz.  Essentially, it’s a rum-based liqueur flavored with allspice berries.  These are no ordinary allspice berries, however.  They’re from Jamaica and they give the spirit a rich smell of baking spices – clove, cinnamon and nutmeg (“all” spices in one – get it?), along with a spicy, pepper finish.  It will make great fall and winter cocktails – mulled ciders, warm punches, etc. 

In some recipes this liqueur is listed as Pimento Dram.  The pimento refers to the berry from which the allspice is derived and is not to be confused with that flavorless red thing jammed into your olive.  I found a few definitions for dram, the most likely being an informal expression of a small amount of liquid (often in reference to Scotch).  The fact that dram can also be used as a measure of the powder charge in a shotgun shell was also quite compelling. 

The label claims it’s a tradition of the West Indies, yet it’s bottled in Austria.  Go figure.

Shortly after getting the product in house, Scott emailed over a recipe for me to try.  With a few tweaks, here it is:

guests in the background wondering why I'd want to photograph bottles of booze

guests in the background wondering why I'd want to photograph bottles of booze

1.5 oz. bourbon
1 oz. Finger Lakes Distilling Cassis Liqueur
just under 0.5 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white (gives great body and texture to the drink – don’t be scared!)
healthy pinch salt
club soda

 

 

 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and do a pre-shake without ice – this helps to incorporate the egg white.  Add ice, shake again, strain into a chilled up glass and top with club soda.  It was so pretty on its own, I didn’t garnish it.  Maybe a lemon twist?

my bartender Gene doing the egg honors

my bartender Gene doing the egg honors

pink, frothy, spicy, refreshing - what more do you need?

pink, frothy, spicy, refreshing - what more do you need?

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The Hollywood of Germany

urziger wurzgarten background

far from California

One of the highlights of the trip was when the winemaker from Schmitges took us on a stroll up through the Ürziger Würzgarten vineyards in the Mosel. 

Despite the ominous clouds and the steep incline of the trail, it was a wine nerd’s dream. 

I’ve seen the name “Ürziger Würzgarten” on bottles of Riesling for years and being able to see it in person helped shed some light on why these bottles are so expensive.

First, check out the terroir:

yes, they're referring to rocks as soil - the famous slate of the Mosel

yes, they're referring to rocks as soil - the famous slate of the Mosel

Next, check out how steep the vineyards are:
some sections have slopes up to 70 degrees

some sections have slopes up to 70 degrees

Here’s a typical sign you’d find in the vineyard:
the signs mark who owns the vines

the signs mark who owns the vines

If you’re lucky, you’ll own more than one row.
Here we’re getting closer:
urz wurz no people
Here’s a view from the top:
the Mosel River is in the background

the Mosel River is in the background

Yes, we were so spoiled that the winemaker’s wife drove up and presented us glasses of wine once we got to the top:
not a good photo op for those afraid of heights

not a good photo op for those afraid of heights

Oh, and it was single vineyard Spätlese:
sweet success!

sweet success!

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A perfect finish

Underberg

the signature 20 ml bottle, dubbed the "portion of well-being"

I couldn’t believe my luck when I noticed the Underberg behind the bar at the hotel in Mühlheim. We heard stories from multiple winemakers in Germany about “wild porks” running through the vineyards and I had just finished a braised leg of one with a side of sauerkraut that contained potatoes, cheese and more pork.

this much food calls for a digestive

this much food calls for a digestive

I discovered Underberg 4 or 5 years ago and would purchase it regularly from Amazon. Sadly, they stopped carrying it and it fell off my radar. The company was founded in 1846 and the founder’s grandson developed the “portion-sized” bottle in the 1940s. The family, now on their 5th generation, safeguards the secret recipe which contains over 40 aromatic herbs.

I think of it as a less-sweet and tastier version of Fernet-Branca. It’s perfectly balanced and will make you feel like maybe you weren’t such a pig at dinner.

The bartender at the hotel also shared a cool party trick with me regarding the bottles. He claimed that the Underberg bottle was carefully shaped so that only Underberg would pour successfully from it. I was skeptical, so after stocking up at the Frankfurt airport, I tested his theory upon my return home. Sure enough, I drank the Underberg, re-filled the bottle with water, turned it upside down over the sink and not a drop escaped.

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Bright young stars

This week we visited with Prinz Salm. Here’s a quick video showing the estate:

The estate has been around since 1200, but the average age of the current team in charge is 25! We tasted and toured with Felix, who’s 27 and the current wine maker (he started 2 years ago). He’s the 32nd generation, but the first one to focus only on wine making – historically, the family has also been involved in politics, construction and finance.

Felix told us a story about when his grandparents were living near Cologne prior to WWII. When his grandmother received word the Americans were coming, she acted quickly to preserve the family’s wine cellar. She took all the bottles from the cellar, tied rocks to them and tossed them into the nearby lake. The wines were protected and the family did get them back, but there was one serious shortcoming to her idea – the day after she sunk the bottles, all of their labels floated to the surface of the lake.

After we toured the estate, Felix took us to some of his family’s vineyards. Here’s a video where’s discussing one of his current projects, replanting Riesling vines.

(This video has useful information, but it appears as though it was shot by a child.  I didn’t realize you can’t get a “portrait” shot in video mode – only “landscape”.  I’ll get the hang of it)

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