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January 29, 2010

Please meet the Pfalz!

Interview with Matthias Mangold:

Matthias, you are a journalist with many years of experience within the delicious world of wine and food. Besides writing for newspapers, magazines and more, you have published several books about wine and food. Originally you are coming from Franken and after having lived abroad for some time, you today call the Pfalz your home. You know the wines and wineries and many of the winemakers of the area, but you do not sell any wine yourself. You love to enjoy a good glass of wine and you know how to combine it with nice food.
So! you are the perfect person to ask some questions about German wines in general and about the Pfalz in particular:

Q: German wines: It seems to be rather common, when talking about German wines (outside Germany) to refer to the off-dry and sweeter wines. Also the traditional wineries and wine-making methods. Is that the whole truth? Should German wines be seen as 'sweet wines'? Is it that simple?
A:[genusstur] Especially in the 1960s and 1970s the fashion was sweet, indeed. Germany does have a long tradition of producing excellent sweet wines as Auslese, Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese. 200 years ago, the price for a bottle of Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from Mosel or Rheingau was twice as high as most Bordeaux. Today, high class sweet wines are a minority and hard to sell in most German regions. Dry wines are the majority, even though a little residual sugar is very welcome in terms of taste. German wine is on an upwind, nationally as internationally.

Q: Do you see any new trends? Are there modern styles and how do those look like in comparison to the traditionally known?
A:[genusstur] The trend goes in two directions. On one hand, you have a focus on regionality - working with the classic grape varieties such as Riesling or Burgundy -, on the other hand especially young winemakers have an international approach and understanding in what they are doing. To bring both ends together, that is the aim.

Q: Can you try to summarize Germany's wines with a few words?
A:[genusstur] Germany is the perfect country to achieve crisp, clear and fruity white wines that show a refreshing acidity and a long liveliness. No other country has the tradition, the culture and the climate to top these products. Plus: we have a massively increased quality level as far as the reds go. There is practically no comparison between a German red wine 1980 and 2010. Q: Sorry... but what about the Loire with its crisp wines of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis and Burgundy with their phantastic Chardonnays? Here you find long traditions and the right climate, too. A:[genusstur] Yes, that is correct, but the Loire wines are supposed to be consumed rather young - and Chardonnay can only age a certain time span, since its acidity level is lower and won´t hold the wine as fresh as a Riesling can. One more advantage: out of a Riesling, you can make a bone dry wine that goes into a one-liter bottle. Or you make a Trockenbeerenauslese. Or everything in between this wide span. That cannot be done with any other grape variety and in no other place in the world.

Q: 13 German wine regions stand for ca 100.000 hectares under vines. Rheinhessen (26.000 ha) and Pfalz (24.000 ha) are the biggest areas, but some people will say that Mosel and Rheingau are more widely known. Even the average wine drinker (I am not referring to the connoisseur) here in Sweden or in the US will have heard Mosel rather than Pfalz, is my observation during the years living abroad. Why, do you think, is that so?
A:[genusstur] It´s a question of image. As I said, 200 years ago, people knew about high class sweet wines from the regions along the Rhine river. Kings and queens were drinking Mosel and Rheingau products. The Pfalz, for a long time, was regarded to produce quantity, not quality. If you look at awards and wine guides today, the top wine region in Germany is Pfalz.

Q: What comes to your mind when you hear the following regions? Give us one word (ok, 2-3) for each:
A: Mosel:[genusstur] Great-ageing riesling
Rheingau:[genusstur] Faded glory
Pfalz:[genusstur] still rising higher

Q: Pfalz: Riesling is the leading grape variety. Dry, off-dry and sweet wines are made. What are the trends you can see? One winestyle increasing/declining? Other grape varieties taking over or at least becoming more important too?
A:[genusstur] Riesling and Late Burgundy will remain to be the quality leaders, but one can notice a switch from varieties such as Portugieser, Müller-Thurgau and the rather new Dornfelder to White and Grey Burgundy and to international grapes, e.g. Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon. Which is ok for me. But I don´t think that the winemakers would gain a lot by excessively planting Tempranillo, Sangiovese or Syrah. Those should be sidekicks for experimentation.

Q: Visiting as a tourist or simply trying to buy a Pfalz wine in other countries: Not everybody is reading all the wine guides, before going shopping or travelling. How can the average consumer find a good wine and/or winery? What's your advice?
A:[genusstur] Before you travel, check the internet. There are many private forums in which consumers share their impressions and experiences. Once in the Pfalz, go have lunch or dinner in some of the numerous wine restaurants and ask the owner for tips and advice.
Q: Thank you. But how about shopping at the local supermarket (in USA, i.e.) or from the Swedish monopoly: what can the consumer use as a guidance when choosing a wine from Pfalz? Or getting more precise: pls look at the list of available wines at the monopoly-shelves (there is another range of wines that can be purchased via ordering, those we exclude for now) here in the country. Any quick comments on this? Does this reflect the Pfalz? Price per bottle in SEK, the boldprint. Sorry, only white wines available. (Currently, not one single German redwine can be bought just off the shelves here, but you can order some.)
A: [genusstur] The wines where the producers are mentioned are surely top quality. All the others I have no idea who they could be from.

Q: VdP - Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter stands for Germany's and the Pfalz' Crème-de-la-Crème. Recognizing the eagle-logo on a bottle is a safe bet to buy that wine?
A:[genusstur] Under the VDP umbrella, you have around 200 wineries, most of which are the best producers in the country. You can trust the eagle - although there is much much more to explore off the beaten tracks.

Q: Any other significant symbols to look out for that can help make up a decision?
A:[genusstur] Not really a symbol. Just look out for the way the labels are styled. Especially younger winemakers lay a strong emphasis on modern labels - not overstyled, not fashionable-stylish, just a classy, clear style. In many cases, the wine is pretty much like the label.

Q: Generally, there seem to be many wines at comparable prices - are there big quality differences within the Pfalz? If so, are they reflected in the prices?
A:[genusstur] Price and quality don´t always go hand in hand. Top quality demands a higher price, that´s right, but the Pfalz offers a wide range of good wines with very, very reasonable pricing. They cost a lot less than what they give you in the glass.

Q: The curious wine drinker wants to get a taste of the Pfalz - name 6 wines to pick for a tasting that will show the spectrum.
A:[genusstur] Riesling, Spätburgunder, Dornfelder, Gewürztraminer, Grauburgunder, Scheurebe.

Q: Just to explain... Spätburgunder is the German version of Pinot Noir, you refer also to it with 'Late Burgundy'. Dornfelder is a dark purple-red wine with intensive color. Grauburgunder is the Pinot Gris, a white wine from a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. Explain the Scheurebe for us, please.
A:[genusstur] Scheurebe is the cross of Silvaner and Riesling. It has an intense bouquet of Grapefruit, Cassis and other fruit and is considered to be the German answer to Sauvignon Blanc. It can be vinificated dry or sweet.

Q: Are the Pfalz vintage years of utmost importance for the average wine drinker? Or are the nuances detectable for the advanced connoisseur only?
A:[genusstur] The vintages can make a big difference. Not in Chile, not in Australia or in South Africa, but definitely in Europe, thus also in the Pfalz. 2003 all wines were quite fat and high in alcohol, with the whites being less acidic. 2006 we had bad rain at harvest time, many wineries encountered problems with their red grapes in respect of foulness. 2008 was perfect for Riesling, 2009 is considered to be nearly perfect for everything. And yes, the average consumer would notice those big differences as well.

Q: Anything you feel should be mentioned here?
A:[genusstur] There is a high danger of getting addicted to this region - you might want to come over and over again.

Q: Why should people come and see the Pfalz? What is special with the region?
A:[genusstur] The landscape is great, the people are friendly and welcoming, we have the most sunshine hours of Germany, the climate is ideal. And with more than 2.000 wineries along the German Wine Route, you´ll be sure to find just what suits your palate.

Q: Last but not least: tell us about your cooking events and winetours. Coming to the Pfalz we can book a day with you and you will....
A:[genusstur] ... either show you around in one of my wine tours that start at 10 a.m. and run until 5 p.m., I will set you on a very pleasurable culinary track by means of a wine seminar or a cooking event. You can check out what I have to offer at
www.genusstur.de, or just write me an email at matthias@genusstur.de.

Thank you so much, Matthias, we are looking forward to our next trip to Pfalz!

January 28, 2010

Chianti Classico Monteguelfo, Italy

2006 Chianti Classico DOCG Monteguelfo
Cecchi, Tuscany, Italy
ca 7 € (supermarket Germany)
♥♥

Ruby-red, medium-bodied red wine. Nose: Black cherry, violet, lily. Palate: Black cherry, spicy, little bitterness in finish. Good structure (=dominating) based on good acidity and distinct but smooth tannins (fruit and oak). 13% abv. 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and Colorino. Drink now, or keep 1-2 yrs. It is a nice Chianti, but we have had others that suit my tastebuds better...

Cecchi is the name of the family running the winery ever since 1893. They have 4 estates over about 300 ha of land. The wines can be bought in many countries. Check the website for further information.

A wine for dark meats and many of the Italian dishes. We had it with Pizza from the local restaurant. (Nope! Didn't make my own this time...)

January 24, 2010

Bonterra Zinfandel, USA

2007 Zinfandel from organic grapes
Bonterra Vineyards, (Fetzer)
Mendocino, Calif., USA
139 kr
♥♥

Dark intensive purple-red color. Nose: Intensive fruit, smelling sweet of dark fruits, (it says raspberry on the lable, but I could not find those) plum and chocolate, some vanilla and spicyness. Alcohol. Palate: Plum, dark berries, plum, dark berries (as in a lot of fruit), spices (pepper). Tannins very smooth. Acidity: yes. A (mouth filling) full-bodied wine with a good balance. 14.5 %abv. A little too bold (fruit/alcohol), little simple, for my (very personal) taste. I really liked their Chardonnay, though. ☺

Served with dark meats, dishes with good texture. We had it with roulades (filled with Parma ham and onion/garlic mixture) and it was a nice match.

Zinfandel is the signature grape of California and is believed to originate from Croatia, first planted in San Diego around 1850. Italy's Primitivo comes from the same Croatian grape variety Crljenak Kastelanski. It seems pointless to try to figure out which one (Zinfandel/Primitivo) was first or not and really... isn't very important, either...

Sunday afternoon

Walk done (despite the wind biting our faces), cat litter box cleaned, washing machine and dish washer up and running. Now, finally..., we get to focus at the more pleasant reasons of being around. Food & wine.

Some nice lazy morning reading about Bourgogne and it's wines made me really longing for some Pinot Noir, which is my favorite black grape variety and especially Bourgogne has become one of the targets I want to learn more about, since having scratched the surface @ school. Having said this, that does not mean we did not learn enough at Gustibus!, rather than that it is such a big topic that one can only learn and comprehend through time and years... and wines tasted, of course. The article was in Swedish, by the way, and can be found here.

However, I have one bottle in the basement, which cost around 300 sek, that I had bought before Christmas. But getting that stupid cold kept me from opening it. And today I have to admit I am still to greedy and won't open it. Feels like we need to have a more special occasion or some nice friends around... So, we'll have to wait a little longer for this discovery. And yes: I might be regretting, what if I get run over by a truck tomorrow and never got to taste it.... Living today, right! Hm... the longer I am thinking....

But no, it does not feel right today (you gotta be tough to yourself sometimes) and there are many other nice wines in the world and no reason to be sad. Always look at the bright side of life (think Life-of-Brian melody now).

Today, we will be having a Zinfandel from the U.S. and I will share it with you later on. Starting up the roulades now...

January 20, 2010

Clay Station Viognier, USA

Clay Station Viognier 2008
Delicato, Lodi, California, USA
99 kr
♥♥♥
Light yellow color. A perfume-bloomy (orangeblossom and jasmin) scent, peachy and tropical notes also found on the palate. Good acidity. Dry. Medium-bodied. 13.5 % abv. 100% Viognier. Nice balance. Want more.
Clay Station is the name of the vineyards, named after a stagecoach stop during the Gold Rush and lies in the Lodi foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Go to the website for some wonderful nature photos. (I need to show my husband who is a passionate bird photographer...)

From the company's website: "Clay Station wines are crafted for the adventurous wine drinker. Created from rare and difficult-to-grow grape varietals, Clay Station wines capture the flavors of New World winemaking with classic Old World grape varietals." I could not have said it better, so I decided to just copy and paste the text.

Let me confirm that is exactly how I kind of felt: adventurous! Drinking a wine from the new world which is made of an old grape variety that originates from the Rhone valley in France and that is hardly known to the average consumer. And the best of it: we really liked it! These scents of blossoms..... It felt like spring was knocking on the door (but, nope, all still very white outside...)

This wine fits to aromatic fish and white meat dishes, to sweet-and-sour inspired food, duck with orange, sallads.... We had it with grilled chicken, croquettes and a good winter salad.

January 19, 2010

Wine in moderation

Writing about wine makes you think...

To me, wine is the completion of a nice meal. Only water to any nice food gets boring and somewhat tasteless. Soft drinks are not excisting at our home and even juices have too much sugar to be consumed on a regularly base. Most important: they would just plainly not fit most of the meals.

But, introducing new wines on a regular base could give the impression of us being drunk all the time :-). And no: we are not sitting here, tasting the wines and spitting it. We are enjoying it. But just to set the records straight, I wish to outline, that we will have our wine in connection with food and at moderate levels.

I have understood, since living in Sweden (just having moved in here, and one lady being shocked about us having a glass of Riesling that evening - now that summer vacation time was over), that talking (how about writing then?) about wine is easily misinterpreted. Because we have different backgrounds and therefore tend to draw different conclusions. Many people will not drink wine to the food during the weekdays, but they will 'compensate' at weekends. (Some journalist once called it 'Kamikaze-drinking', I thought that was fun!) Why do many people need a white month after the holidays? How much are you drinking to be needing a white month? And how much are you drinking once the white month is over (and you had been so good)? Just wondering...

So! I was glad to find this programme: Wine in moderation . Here, it is nicely put together, what is drinking too much (as in becoming a risk for your health) but it also explaines the benefits of wine. I like the balance!

Besides... Have you ever heard a 100 year old person answering the question of what she did to get so old, with saying: I never drank any wine in my whole life?

January 16, 2010

Duca Sanfelice, Italy

Cirò Rosso Riserva DOC Duca Sanfelice 2004,
Librandi, Calabria, Italy
14 €
♥♥
Dark red color of lighter intensity. Nose: dark fruit, some dried fruit, leather, spicy (like allspice kind-of). Palate: dark fruit, spicy. The tannins are soft. Nice acidity. Structure dominates through a distinct bitterness, as I perceive it. Medium bodied. Definitely a drink-to-food wine. 13,5 % abv. 100% Gaglioppo.

Cirò DOC is the most known wine of Calabria, the region that lies in the south of Italy. The grape variety is very old and is believed to have come to Italy through the ancient Greeks. Click the link above to read more... The company Librandi is family-owned, but still not too small. :-) 2.2 mill bottles only in 2005. 20% of their exports go to Germany, which seems their biggest export market, but they are in many different countries... (info from their website)

The wine is made for hearty food, like roasts and dark meats. We tested it with lasagna and it worked fine for us. Bruschetta as a little starter. Tomatoes, marinated in salt, sugar & Cleopatra vinegar, loaded on toasted bread that had gotten some garlic 'massage' and had been 'sprinkled' with oliv oil. Decorated with some basil.Well... everybody has got their own lasagna recipe, right?

January 14, 2010

Cod in creamy sauce

The meal to the Bonterra Chardonnay: Cod in a creamy sauce.
In a sauté pan, I softly fried some garlic and onions in olive oil. Before those got brown, I added some Cleopatra vinegar (balsamic kind, dark) to caramalize it all. Then I added some whitewine vinegar (Doktorenhof Weisser Burgunder) to add liquid and acidity, flavours. To that came a little of the same wine we were going to drink. Then I put the cod (in bits) in and let it simmer for a while, before I added some cream, some lemon slices and some cocktail tomatoes. Then seasoned it all with salt and freshly ground pepper and put some small slices of butter in between. When the fish started to fall apart, I served it with green beans (because the peas in the freezer turned out to be beans instead) and some bulgur. (You note that I like to use butter, cream, oil... and thus I am avoiding white rice or potatoes, using Bulgur instead and eating even very little of that, actually.)

What can I say? The wine and the food were made for each other. That's how simple it is.

Bonterra Chardonnay, USA

2007 Chardonnay, Mendocino County,
California, USA
Bonterra Vineyards
135 kr
♥♥♥
Light yellow color, little sparkle of green. I smell ripe apple, fudge (I mean really like at the fudge-place we once visited in northern MI), citrus. Flavours of ripe apple and pear, pineapple, citrus flood the palate and show the dry wine's full-bodied character. I feel almost buttery texture. Tannins of the oak and the acidity are softly teasing my gums. After that a kind, very gentle bitterness and a rather long aftertaste. Nice balance! 13,5 % abv. 93% Chardonnay, 6% Muscat, 1% Roussanne. (20% of the wine was done in stainless steel (keeping the fruityness), 80% in oak (adding the secondary aromas/flavours), partially gone through malolactic fermentation.)
Bingo! EXACTLY what I wanted to have today. I am happy with my choice and looking forward to serve it to the food, which will be fish with a buttery, creamy sauce.

Bonterra (=good earth) is the name of organic winemaking since 1987, check the website for further information and for nice pictures. Somewhere I read it is a Fetzer-owned company. Fetzer was the first Chardonnay that I got to drink when moving to the US quite some years ago. I had it together with the realtor that had found that beautiful home for us. I did not really like that particularly glass of wine (too much oak - it was 1997 - as a shock to me, coming from Riesling-land), but I will sometimes buy Fetzer (today's style with moderate oak) for reminiscing... How glad did I get when I understood the connection here! :-)

Mendocino lies north of San Francisco and belongs to the areas where some of the best US wines originate from...

how fitting.... my corkscrew that we got at the sommelier school...

January 13, 2010

Green eggs and no ham

I got these eggs from a nice friend who was taking care of her friends' happy hens. These are organic eggs and in the true sense of the word - green (at least one of 'em is)! (No, no Easter egg colouring here...) What comes to my mind? Well... this one:

I would not, could not, in a box.
I could not, would not, with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat them here or there.
I will not eat them anywhere.
I do not eat green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

For all non-Americans and others who do not know Dr Seuss (and have missed the world), here is a
link for further explaination or simply watch the film



January 11, 2010

email from the White House

Today I got mail from the White House!
After having read that the Obamas have a considerable stock of wine at their private home, I sent an email to the White House to ask about the President's and First Lady's favorite wine style. I am totally aware of that they will not be able to name their No. 1 winery (aha?), but I am still hoping to hear what k-i-n-d of wines they prefer. But, unfortunately, the reply I received was not about wine (maybe just not yet?)....
Keep up the hope. I mean, hello..., we were standing there, while visiting DC a few months ago, admiring Mrs Obama's veggie garden. Our children (same ages as Sasha and Malia) have read the book of collected letters from children to the President.


nice lawn!

healthy veggies!

very cute book!
Of course we need to complete our files with the Obama wine favorites! Even nicer would be to share a glass with them, talk about wine and life (no politics pls).

January 10, 2010

Raclette

What a service! Thom from Ohlssons Ost in Kristianstad delivered 1.2 kg of Raclette cheese to my door, yesterday. I skipped driving in to town - how nice (and good) was that?!

Valais Raclette Cheese. Semi-hard, made after old, old traditions from unpasteurized cow milk.
Very aromatic.


Being nice to the guests, I sliced it for everybody - just minutes before they arrived.

All set. Ready to go. Not on the photo are all the different pickels, ham, potatoes... The meats and pinapples we grilled on the top rack. The spatulas are being set in under that and grilled from top.

While the real traditional Swiss way was/is to melt the cheese over the open fire, we use this more 'modern' kind of raclette grill. Everybody gets their own little spatula which is individually filled with cheese, pickels, onions, hams, shrimps, pineapple or whatever you like to serve. (The original way, it is served with potatoes only.) A nice conversation piece! :-) But even if you have guests where you have enough topics to share, it is nice to keep busy and as you eat slow, you really get to indulge in it. It is essential to use the right cheese, because you do not want it to seperate when melting and you do not want to have lack of aromas...

Best wines to go with this are white wines with good acidity, sparkling wines, Champagnes. If you insist on red, then pick a not too heavy wine and with good acidity. Italian or some nice Pinot Noir as an example.

I picked Riesling - of course. ☻

Riesling Kabinett trocken, Pfalz

2008 Riesling Kabinett trocken,
Kassner-Simon,
Pfalz, Germany

ca 7 € (ex winery)
♥♥+
Light yellow with slight green tinge. Medium intense aromas of golden delicious apple, peach, ripe lemon. Aromatic. Dry. High acidity. Clean. Crisp. Spritzig (=feels fizzy, even has a few tiny bubbles, but is a still wine). Light-medium bodied. The finish with citrus flavours is refreshing. 100 % Riesling. 12% abv. Drink now.
Trocken means dry. (Any German wine without the word 'trocken' is a wine that is not dry.) Although this wine IS dry, it has residual sugar which gives it a nice balance (as the acidity is high) and a somewhat richer mouthfeel, compared to many dry wines. It has spent the winter after harvest on its lees which adds further richness and flavours. www.kassner-simon.de for further information.

Perfect with nice sallads, grilled fish, sweet-sour dishes, pork chops, Bratwurst....... This time it was the companion to a nice Raclette dinner.

January 09, 2010

Skating Sweden (no wine content)


This entry has nothing to do with wine and is just to show one of many beautiful sights you can get in Sweden - even down in the south. This 'pond' is a small kind-of-laguna of the Baltic sea and during sommer months a bird protection area (you see the bird tower for all the ornithologists). It is now solidly frozen and the children get a lot of skating done around here. Looks wonderful and rather exotic for us Germans (though it is record cold in Germany too, right now, I understand). Where I grew up, you could never trust the ice on any pond! Mothers freaking out, when kids only got near them. Difficult still for me to see my children on frozen water bodies (I'd prefer the artificial ones, as picturesque it lookes)...

January 07, 2010

Palazzo Bandino Morone, Italy

Palazzo Bandino Morone 2005,
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
Valeriani Group, Tuscany, Italy
169 kr
♥♥♥
Dark ruby-red colour. Nose and palate: rich!, intensive black cherries and herbs, raisin. On the full-bodied side, the Italian-typical high acidity, nice tannins!☻Can be put on the wine-rack for some 10-15 years (in accordance to the producer) - but, Jesus!, it is so good already now, hard to be patient. 13,5 % abv
Following the rules of the DOCG, it must be at least 80% Sangiovese in the wine, the rest is Canaiolo, Mammolo and Clorino grapes.


Montepulciano is a community in Tuscany, here is more information about this DOCG. (There is also a grape called Montepulciano existing - often cheaper wines at the pizzarias (in Germany), do not get confused!)
Go visit the Palazzo Bandino! Vacation anyone?

Food: dark meats, Italian style food (aha?).


We had this with some nice comfort food (as Martha Stewart calls it): my own kind of stew made of beef and a few small cubes of a wild boar-ham (that we had gotten from our friend Stefan) with carrots, parsnip, onions, garlic and a sauce of Cleopatra vinegar, some of the above wine, tomatopaste, salt, pepper, paprika. (No fond, no soy...) Cooked it slowly almost 2hours and served it with carrot-puré (ok - had no other veggies @ home...) and brussel sprouts-mousse. Good and comforting it was: fits the cold weather out there!

So much wine so little time

Wines collected during X-mas-season that need to be enjoyed over the next period of time... Keeps one busy.
PS: Good I am a strong believer of drinking moderately!

January 06, 2010

Azabache, Rioja

Back in Sweden we were invited right away. Good to have friends everywhere! :-) Cattis (Catherine) and Mats have become very close friends to us and they are - both - excellent cooks. We have had the pleasure of sharing many good meals at their home. They love Spanish and Italian wines - like many other Swedes do. This time we were served a Rioja:

Azabache Crianza* 2006, organic
Vinedos de Aldeanueva, Rioja DOCa, Spain
79 SEK
♥♥+

A lighter-medium bodied, dry red wine with redblue colour. Nose and palate is red-fruity, spicy, some oaky vanilla. Tannins are detectable, but are not pronounced. Feels young and simple, easy to drink. Good for organic-lovers. 14% abv.
I have read about their Culto-wines, awarded with Mundus Vini Gold medal, and am curious to try one of those. The producer is an association of different growers, with beginnings in the 1950s. Today they aim for 13 mill bottles of wine / year. Go to the website and see some nice pictures of the surroundings!

* Crianza=ageing. As a Spanish wine-style it tells you that the wine was aged for at least 2 years before it was sold, with a minimum of 6 months in oak barrels - Rioja even 12 months, before bottled.
To this wine we were served nice food! Look what a cute welcoming sign at the door, done by the son, William:


A wonderful mushroom soup with 'tratt kantereller' (Cantharellus tubaeformis)


And a chicken dish with hearty aromas of fried bacon, some avocados and good spices.

Pictures taken with my new iphone, not enough light.. sorry... :-)

Thank you Mats and Cattis! We'll be back!

January 03, 2010

Croatian food w Pfalz wine

Jan. 2, 2010:
Korcula is the name of a small island outside Croatia. You reach it by ferry from Split, explaines our friend Stefan - husband to my beloved friend Geli - who has invited us for real Croatian food tonight! Part of his family originates from there, but he has just as much Pfälzer blood in his veins... When not cooking, he makes his living from their car garage - which is the cleanest I have ever seen. (You can virtually eat from the floor there, anytime!) His passion for cars (needless to say he drives a German one...) is at least as big as the passion for good food.

Stefan explaining what's cooking.
After arrival, we are served a wonderful dry, fresh, crisp, fruity (tropical; mango, peach) bottle-fermented sparkling wine, a Riesling Sekt brut from Weingut Braun (7,80 € ex winery). One of our sources of good, value for money-wineries, where also we used to buy wines while still living in the area.
The food he has prepared for us is cooking on the stove and we are all pressing ourselves into the kitchen, which is always the best place of the house - right? After a while he gets enough of us and we have to leave him alone while he is fixing the last steps...
He was a bit nervous that we might not like his local Croatian food, so they had even grilled a roast of turkey for us - just in case! (Better be prepared!) It looked so mouthwatering good that we were slowly growing concerned about not getting anything by the time the kids would have finished eating from it! It was served with oven baked potatoes and a wonderful, fresh Feldsalat, bought from the farmer around the corner (luxury....), washed many times until the last sand corns were gone.
But the high-light of the evening was of course the Sarma! Cabbage rolls. No, no, no - not like normal cabbage rolls! Forget it. This was something totally different. The cabbage had been salt-soaked for 8 weeks in a wooden wine-barrel (of course!). Spiced with special sorts of peppers. The filling of the rolls then was a mixture of ground beef, pork and speck, seasoned with paprika, pepper, salt, some herbs. The whole thing is then served in a moderate sourly soup-kind-of-sauce. So many different flavours meeting in one plate, melting together to a hearty, tender, delicate and very tasteful dish. To this there were beans, roasted bell peppers, olives, and a lot more served. We just ate and ate those rolls.
At home in Croatia they will typically serve their own home-made wine, he explaines. But, for us tonight he had picked a Pfalz-local 2008 Dornfelder trocken. This is not really my kind of grape, to be honest. But! This particular wine and together with that particular food was a perfect match! The wine is done in stainless steel tanks, has not seen any oak. There are some slight hints of fruit tannins though, but above all, a good acidity and the 13 % abv make this wine with its dark, dark purple-red colour and dark-red-berry taste nice to drink, perfect with nice company! :-) The acidity of the food and the type of food itself was a nice companion to the fruity, rather full-bodied style of the wine... Price: 4,45 € ex winery!
And yes: before he placed the huge cheese platter in front of us, we were also tasting from the good turkey!
You might not get invited for dinner by Stefan, but maybe you want to talk cars with him: click here.

600 m altitude: Hohe Loog



We started the New Year with a good, healthy walk up the mountains of the Haardt. We chose our favorite path that leads from the famous Hambach Castle up to the Hohe Loog, 618 m altitude. A moderate inclining (coming from Southern Sweden, it was the highest up we walked in a long time :-) ) trail through the forest with several beautiful views down over the Rhine-valley with all the small villages and countless rows of vines. Walking distance: ca 1,5 hours.

Hambach Castle, the place where German democracy was born.

Once arriving at the top, you will typically go in to the Hohe-Loog-house to drink a nice, cool Riesling-Schorle (white wine mixed with bubbly mineral water) and eat a good, hearty, r-e-a-l Bratwurst or some other ri-i-ch Pfälzer food (Leberknödel, Saumagen, to name a few).


This is (by the way) one of the big cultural clashes we have experienced in our relationship. B-i-g eyes I got, when my wiking took me for the first walk through the Swedish forests, packing the matsäck (backpack with food and coffee/tea)! 'Can't we just stop by at some nice place along the way?' I would ask, smiling mildly. 'There are no restaurant-like-places on the way through the Swedish woods', he'd say, triumphantly (as in: we are the n-a-t-u-r-e lovers). I d-i-d hear what he said, still convinced, it cannot be that bad... To go to the forest without going to the 'Hütte' is almost unthinkable for the real Pfälzer! (I would dare state it is the whole meaning with hiking...) But, I have learned better now, and know, he was not kidding me. (There i-s nothing in the Swedish woods!)
However, I have come a long way: we never went in there, yesterday! (We'll regret!) (I am sure!) Feeling very satisfied with all food and wine we got during the holidays, we were not at all longing for any of it just then. (Hope, we are not getting sick?)


So, if you would like to do better than us and go have some wine while
hiking through the Pfalz, here comes some example-routes for you, just click it.

The Haardt mountains protect the area and vineyards from too heavy weather and provides the micro climates for many of the sites. It is divided in different parts, with the most southern one going over into the most northern parts of the French Vosgeses.

January 01, 2010

Year end with Pfalz best vineyards


Forst is the name of a village at the Deutsche Weinstrasse that has some of the best vineyard sites of the Pfalz. Forster Ungeheuer, Pechstein, Kirchenstück are names well known among connoisseurs. We had the pleasure to end the year 2009 with a long walk between the vines. Exciting to wonder what the next year will give in terms of grapes and wines! The early pruning had started with some of the sites. The temperature was very mild, some 10° C, even if mostly cloudy, we got to catch a little sunshine, too.


After this it was party time. Hope you had some good drops to celebrate into the New Year too!
Cheers and Happy New Year!