Rheinhessen

Green Feather Wine: On the road….

On the road to complexity:  I was away for a few days over Christmas and, as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

‚So, what. You missed your own Green Feather Silvaner, among all those Alto Adige wines?‘

‚Oh, actually, could be, but I wasn’t even thinking of the wine. I miss the vineyard.‘

‚I don’t know how high the „green carpet“ stands that was sowed in before the winter, I haven’t seen it yet with all the snow, – I miss it.‘

Which sounds ridiculous, since we are about to start the cutting, maybe even Saturday, weather permitting, so that heart will change its mind very quickly, looking at a long row of vines waiting to be cut in the freezing cold.

wine glass tastekin

I made this conversation up to give you the gist of many conversations I had recently, at wine stalls we do, and more generally, when people say „How is the wine?“:  I talk about the vineyard and the person standing or sitting opposite wants me to talk about the wine itself.  Its complex fruit (not sweet though), how it has developed since we bottled it, etc etc.

‚Stop talking about the halfing of the grapes, – you can’t taste it, I want to know what it tastes like!!!‘

‚Well, you can, because as a result of the halfing…‘

‚No o o o o, stop it.‘

I stopped. But I will tell you about the amazing health harvest and the link with the halfing, if you ask me nicely, at our next stall.

Until then, I will try to learn how to tell you more about the comet lander and not so much about the Rosetta orbiter, and this is the only analogy I dare to write down, out of the many I thought of and that were utterly ridiculous.  Living in Darmstadt, we feel a bit closer to 67P than the rest of Planet Earth and it may be difficult to hide that I got totally sucked into the #CometLanding thing.

We are doing wine stuff at the moment: accounting and tasting.  I won’t even try to find a way to fit our accounting into this blog.  Unless you get a philosophical kick out of the fact that the one receipt that went missing (I have searched all folders again and again) and must thus have dissipated, is that of a sieve („ein Sieb“, in German), namely the sieve that separated the grape seeds from the skins („der Trester“), in order to allow us to dry the pips for grape seed oil.  That sieve left us with nothing so far, no oil, not even a receipt :0.

Clearly, the tasting is the more exciting activity: Tasting the 2014 vintage more specifically. Creating various sample cuvees of the wood-barrel part and the steel-vat part; observing how the acid is developing and how it fits in with the many fruit flavours which the Silvaner grape allows us to work with.

We hold that thought until 2015. And leave you with a picture of the most gorgeous bus stop I have ever seen. I have to put my running gear on and race some 10k before 2014 ends. Happy New Year! Guten Rutsch!

bus stop in the mountains  Green Feather wine says Happy New Year

Vineyard update

Our current work in the vineyard resembles a fight with a big octopus (and if you think this sounds like an exaggeration I grant you that). All these long fragile shoots (as in, the octopus legs) have to be fed into an enclosure made of wire, so as to create a ‘wall of leaves’.  A wall that will eventually be home to the grapes (blossom happening at the moment).

spot the two orange heads

spot the two orange heads

I have never tested the fragility of actual octopus legs, but the stuff or shoots we are ‘fighting’ with is pretty fragile, so, yes, there is a fair amount of swearing, if another one bites the dust.  And if we don’t break them, the tractor will: you can probably picture it quite easily how the tractor will rip off any shoots that refuse to go into the wired enclosure and instead try to crawl along the ground.  The ‘wall of leaves’ we create helps the wind breeze through, thus stopping the spreading of the dreaded fungus, and makes the spraying more effective. With any scepticism towards the spraying, bio or conventional, it seems even more important that whatever concoction is applied, it hits its targets, ie the leaves, and doesn’t just ‘enrich’ the air.

The parrots were with me for this task last weekend and seemingly split the tasks between them: Erbse was ‘in charge’ of the ground or the vine stems, whereas Marzipan preferred the leaves. While they might seem like vineyard-pros by now, they have not yet confirmed their participation in the Loerzweiler wine-festival (July 5-8, 2013).

erbse weinberg heften

Green Feather goes Pecha Kucha

The third Darmstadt Pecha Kucha Night on 21 June 2013 at CoWo21 (21 slides of 21 seconds each on 21st at 21h, get it…) offered thoughts on the lives of inventors, philosophers, app-developers, sustainability-in-blanket-wrappers, creatives, development-aid-thinkers, – and dogs. OH yes, and thoughts on wine. You can watch the video of the six Pecha Kucha presentations on the CoWo21 site. But if you prefer to look at the slides, as opposed to the person presenting, a video of the Green Feather 21 June pecha kucha presentation is available here, in German and English.  The parrots weren’t there.  They were busy with the watering can (which is a lie, of course, chronologically). 🙂

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.

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.

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?