Austria

“Don’t tell the bees!”

gescheine vineyard leaves grapesWhen I walk past a field (any kind of agricultural area) and see “some white mist” being applied to it (the application is less damaging to every creature around if you don’t see the mist, btw), my brain does an impressive job of not wanting to know what is being sprayed. We should know, of course. And choose not to walk through. How can we find out? Here, I had suggested big boards listing the chemical being sprayed. Another option: Ask the Ministry for Agriculture. But it is probably fair to say that the Minister for Agriculture in Austria has taken the opposite view: I read here that he is refusing to disclose data on how much Neonicotinoide is being used as pesticide by farmers in Austria. Scientists obviously argue over how damaging Neonicotinoide is to bees, but a decision not to disclose data? The reason given was “Amtsverschwiegenheit” (lit: “official secrecy”), suggesting the data was confidential, similar to banking information being a “Bankgeheimnis”. Picture a doctor or lawyer saying ‘sorry, can’t reveal anything about my patients/clients’ and then picture the agricultural minister shrugging his shoulders to the bees: ‘Sorry, can’t tell you what the farmers are doing!’

So, next time you walk through the white mist, be aware that protecting an “official secrecy” weighs in much heavier than the wellbeing of yourself or any other creature around.

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.