2012

All our posts from 2012

Suche, Weinberg

Wir bedanken uns schon mal auf diesem Wege fuer die Anregungen, die wir von Lesern der Allgemeinen Zeitung nach dem gestrigen Artikel bekommen haben und noch bekommen werden. (In dem Artikel ueber den Greenfeatherwine Blog wurde erwaehnt, dass wir nach einem neuen Weinberg in Nackenheim und Umgebung suchen.)  Und wir haben ueber Eure Emails gleich noch viel mehr ueber Rheinhessen gelernt.  Keep it coming!  Sollten wir tatsaechlich schon bald in einem neuen Weinberg schneiden und binden, erfaehrt ihr das dann wieder hier.

“Seek and you might …”: This is a quick thank you for the emails we have received after yesterday’s article in the Allgemeine Zeitung in Mainz.  Keep the suggestions coming!  And since our project so far is about the Silvaner grape, here‘s an article I stumbled across in the post-email research (article made available with the permission of VivArt Mainz).

Glas Green Feather Wine

A happy, sunny New Year!

Harvest. Botrytis. And…

…a highly financial day in the life of a Mini-Wine-Producer/Blogger:

Financials? The suspense! I know!  Did we invest in pumps, filters, a press even? No. I just followed Jimmy Wales’ request and gave a tiny amount to Wikipedia. Why? My appreciation for their no-ads rule is growing, as the battle of my ad filters against pop ups intensifies, never mind those freaky ads that remind  you of a google search you did yesterday (that’s soo yesterday).

But I can’t help but think that my “yes, I’ll sponsor”-click had more to do with wine and botrytis. But the basics first: Botrytis, a fungus, can turn the grapes into something very desirable (Noble Rot) or that has to be discarded (Grey Rot). But how do you illustrate the two? My “yes, I’ll sponsor”-click was made, I think, in honour of a fairly good illustration of the latter in its German entry, headed “Grauschimmelfaeule” (“Grey Rot”). Two things I love about this page:  It has a picture of a grey rot affected tomato plant that will put you off tomatoes for a long time: it looks like someone did a meticulous job of knitting a jumper round a tomato plant made out of some very bizarre grey wool. But it also lists the latin names: Botrytis cinerea or Botryotinia fuckeliana. Nothing to add to this.

That Botrytis “f…”s with the grapes is something Frank, Boris, Pascale, Hans, Astrid, etc will remember from our own Green Feather harvest, since we we spent a good deal of our time cutting out the rotten bits from each grape (see min 0.44 in the video). So, the idea that Botrytis can, on the one hand, create “Noble Rot” (“Edelfaeule”, “edelsuess”, in German), something that gives sweet desert wines such a special note that the price sky-rockets, but also create the bad rot, the “Grey Rot”, is hard to get one’s head round. This page is a good read on the subject.

Botrytis on tomato plant Grey Rot Noble Rot Wikipedia

image by Rasbak from Wikipedia shared under GNU Free Documentation License

During our own harvest we got to know each BUNCH of grapes, putting it into the ‘sweet’ bucket, or the ‘not so sweet’-one. That felt like a lot of attention given to each grape. So, how crazy is it to give that kind of attention to each individual BERRY? The effort involved in doing a “Beerenauslese” (“berry selection”) or a “Trockenbeerenauslese” (“dry berry selection”) appears in an entirely new light, after our harvest!  If we were JUST doing an “Auslese”, ie a selection, ie separating the sweeter grapes from the not so ripe ones, then the idea of doing that whole process for individual berries is just staggering: Imagine the long line of vines in front of you and you are standing there with two buckets, one for the berries with exactly the right type of Botrytis (or dried up), the other for the rest. That’s obviously what explains the price, – and what a bummer if after all that effort the fermentation then does not go well….

If you have heard of the French sweet wine “Sauternes” (I giggled my way through this 2011 harvest report) being made with Botrytis, but not yet of the German variety, here are some vintner sites that offer Beerenauslese: these were mentioned in a magazine’s recent tasting: coming from south Germany, Rheinhessen and Austria; I myself remember tasting a very nice Beerenauslese at Wittmann, one of the top White Wine vineyards in Germany (and a bio-dynamic one, too).

But before I consider shelling out for a Beerenauslese, as for financial commitments today, I thought I’d stick to sponsoring (Green Feather’s very own) Nick’s “Movember”-efforts of growing a moustache in support of prostate cancer awareness.  And create my very own wishlist for 2013, which includes taking part in a harvest for a Beerenauslese.

What a difference two weeks make…

If you remember the autumn images from the previous post, the vivid colours, the red and yellow leaves dotted or splashed over the vineyard and its surroundings like bits of chilli and pumpkin in our pasta-lunch today, then you might understand that it took me a while to take in the change in scenery today. Yes, I knew the leaves would have come off, given the temperatures over the last week, but to witness such a sudden change back to the Pale season, the first season described in The Year in Colours, was quite a shock, – I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures below!  In stark contrast to the vineyard, the transformation in the cellar, from juice to wine, is anything but sudden (which is good!): the bubbling in the air lock is gradually getting less, we are crossing our fingers for a few more days to hope for a smooth end to the fermentation. In the US this coming week, it’s not so much a question whether Nov 6 will go smoothly, but what the results mean for the next four years: expect us to be on election results watch during one of our early morning fermentation checks.

Green feather vineyard autumn

The Green Feather Vineyard only two weeks ago ….

… and today, the fallen leaves exposing a few grapes left behind

Eiswein

In neighbouring vineyards, some harvest fun is still to come, …

Beerenauslese

… as is here!

Green Feather Harvest (2):

And for those of you that found the fog pictures in the last post a bit too subdued, this is how the Green Feather Vineyard looked shortly after the harvest:

Silvaner Grapes Green Feather Vineyard Harvest

Here’s a little autumn tour, starting at our vineyard….

rhine vineyard

… to the Rhine…

… to a neighbouring vineyard….

… back to the river, and….

Green Feather Silvaner harvest Vineyard

… back to the Green Feather Vineyard.

“Sleepless in ….”: The Green Feather Harvest 2012

What was the last thing you did that was so good that you could not go to sleep? A film, a book, meeting someone? For me last night, it was the harvest of the Green Feather Silvaner yesterday, the buzz of so many friends and colleagues helping us out, the excitement of all the things we had researched and discussed now sitting in our hands (quite literally, in the case of some very ripe grapes).

We started the day in a fog that left the exact end of our harvesting effort a bit fuzzy. By the time of our lunch picnic, we glanced into the sun as if it was a mid-summer’s day. The parrots flapped their wings, as if this was part of the official grape treatment procedure. What was a moment of cheerful goodbyes to parrots and friends at the end of that afternoon, was also the start-gun for the – for us novices possibly nerve-racking – transition from grapes to wine. The grapes will go through some pretty transforming stages, hopefully give us the essential aromas from the grape skins and come up with some clear juice. The clear juice then dives into fermentation, to resurface as wine.

In all of these steps, the question is how deep you put your hands into the drawer of supporting powders, etc. We try to work even harder and use less of those! More on that another day, but before I head to bed, I wanted to thank everyone who turned this harvest ‘job’ into such an amazing day!

The First Green Feather Wine Fan Post

The first fan mail arrived!

The first Green Feather Wine fan mail has arrived! It’s from Jim (no relations), sent via Franz (with relations) and caused surprised looks from the parrot. Why? I suspect that they like nibbling on bottle corks so much that a parrot and a cork merging into must have looked to them like a glimpse of nirvana. Jim writes: “… ten out of ten for a marvelous wine” and “ …much better than a lot of so called professionally made wines”. This distinction might be correct in one sense, in that we are beginners, but Green Feather Wine is a professionally done wine, we cannot claim that such a nice wine came together in our bathtub. Green Feather Wine claims it needs a professional “Fass” in the same way as “hospitals need vas-es” (to quote one of my favourite John Hegley poem);  (“Fass” being the German term for “wine tank”,  in our case a stainless steel tank.)

Ein wein fass vor der Reining wird von Papageien geprueft

A stainless steel tank or “Fass” has an inspection.

All in all, a parcel (and email) that brought a big smile to my face, – many thanks, Jim!

Searching for a new vineyard!

What’s the opposite of a bio-vineyard? No vineyard, in our case.  We swapped herbicides for manual weeding; chemical fertiliser for manure; we got ready for the bio-battle against illnesses. The bio-certification-application was stamped and signed.  But what we didn’t know:  Our step-by-step efforts over the last two years were like blocks put onto a Jenga-tower.  And while the vintner we are renting from gave his nods to all the previous blocks we placed onto the tower, the last step, the prospect of certification, must have given him cold feet and he let the bio-tower collapse.

jenga turm spiel faellt zusammen

a jenga tower collapsing (Shutterstock)

This means we are on the hunt for a new vineyard, where we are allowed to do bio, ideally in the same area, Rheinhessen, near Mainz. Any suggestions, let us know.

If chemicals weren’t allowed to reduce the ground underneath the vines to a brown carpet, the vineyard would risk looking like the “Wild, wild West”, we were told. This seems to be the fear that made the bio-Jenga-tower collapse. I respect that fear and won’t call in the demonstration- or tree-chaining squat. After all, Mitt Romney has weird opinions, too. But it might just be that the very ‘brown carpet’ that the chemicals create are more likely to trigger associations of the ‘Wild, wild West’…

The memory that will stay in mind from this lovely piece of land called “Am Sprung”: Our vineyard had become the ‘talk of town’, we were told, because the vines carried so many grapes. The bio-jenga-blocks must have done some good, after all.

a search for a needle in a haystack

The search for a new vineyard is on. Will it be like searching for a needle in a haystack?

A Berliner writing on Veltliner

This post starts with a lie: I wanted to post a quick note on Silvaner, but it refused to rhyme (or almost rhyme, in the case of Veltliner, an Austrian white wine variety) with my current location, a hotel room in Berlin. And so Silvaner got ditched from the headline, a familiar fate, as this article (in German) explains (see the second half of the interview). It’s such a nice summary of Silvaner wines in Germany and how the author, Stephan Reinhardt, got into Silvaner wine, that this paragraph at least should be translated into English. Maybe it will have a dramatic effect and we’ll all start ordering these Silvaners from Franken, Roter Hang, Kaiserstuhl, etc. Or at least people will no longer think, – “Silvaner?? They must have made that one up.”

white wine fermentation yeast 2012 German silvaner

The first 2012 juice bubbling away: but a taster suggests it’s way too early, the grapes need more sun.

There is another ‘endangered species’ of German white wine, if the same author is to be believed: the semi-dry (halbtrocken oder feinherb, in German) ‘Riesling Kabinett’. In this article he explores why this amphibian (light, mixed with a hint of sweet, neither entirely dry nor heavy-sweet) is such a rarity and pictures us as readers putting in so many repeat orders for ‘Riesling Kabinett halb-trocken’ that the vintners suddenly break with old habits and drive their harvesting devices out into the fields at exactly that time when sun and grapes agree on ‘Kabinett’. As for our own grapes, their sugar levels currently stand at 65 (Oechsle), so they still have some talking to do with a friendly sun.