German wine

Herbst (Autumn)



Herbst.

An important period in a vintner’s yearly cycle. Unless you believe that cutting the vines in winter has more influence on what you harvest than the harvest itself.

Herbst.

A staccato mention of “Herbst” (and the other seasons, Herbst-Winter-Fruehling-Sommer) is part of the theatre play that Nick is part of at the moment, – a tale on how to remember a friend that is no longer around. On at the Mollerhaus Theatre in Darmstadt and in various schools.  There’s another theatre link: Green Feather Wine can be enjoyed at the Zuckmayer play (Carl Zuckmayer being from Nackenheim in Rheinhessen and thus neighbour to the grapes that made it into Green Feather Wine; Carl Zuckmayer probably ringing a bell in the Marlene Dietrich-context, if not otherwise) “Die Fastnachtsbeichte” at the Neue Buehne in Arheiligen.

Herbst. Winter.

The play gives you an idea that our autumn season was different (see below). As for winter, our wine will be at the Bessunger Christmas Market/Weihnachtsmarkt 2017:

Forstmeisterplatz, Darmstadt, Dec 1-3 and Dec 8-10. Till 8pm. (Fridays from 4pm; Sat/Sun from 2pm)

How was our autumn different? We took stock. I tried to learn new skills in a big vineyard (hence the red wine pic; – even the vineyards looked pink), we both got the chance to let it all sink in. Only when the wine hasn’t been such a prominent feature (feather, the spell check wanted to say, funny) for a few days, could I take it out of the fridge and taste it with an open mind, as opposed to the burdened-with-worry mind I adopt so easily.

“We did that?” – And: can I enjoy the “We did that?”.  And: can I enjoy the many more questions about our wine, thanks to a very touching write-up by journalist Franziska Neuer in this publication.

Germany is very focused on qualifications, so doing something to a high standard without the obvious qualification is alien to many people.  I can respond by throwing in lots of details about thiols; by recalling the longing for a glass and a pipette in a restaurant to cuvee the different raw reds together; or by simply learning to enjoy when Green Feather customers are happy and excited about the bottle I hand over to them. We hope to do this many times in Bessungen. See you there!

 

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.