Silvaner

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!

 

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

Vineyard Friends plant vines

Time to reflect on yesterday’s bank holiday when I was joined by a few friends to re-plant missing vines: When I left home this morning, my view of the wing mirror was obstructed by a little red dot: a pomegranate pip as it turned out, still stuck to the mirror, even after a few kilometers on the motorway. A nice reminder of yesterday’s fun action in the vineyard, the pomegranate pip left behind by two snacking parrots climbing around the car, with Marzipan observing our vineyard-hole-digging action from his most favourite perch ever: the steering wheel. Yes, they were also sitting between the vines conducting no doubt a very thorough “ground investigation” with their beaks on the soil that came out of the planting holes, but every parrot needs to take a rest from such strenuous tasks. And their most strenuous activity came at lunch time, as we sat down for a well-deserved picnic: climbing from one person to the next, the parrots tested which human offered them the best chance of getting a crumb of Astrid’s yummy cake; or, for that matter, shoes they could nibble on. (In fact, Frank’s shoes could no longer be nibbled on, the clay-like soil, “Loess” as it is called, had already been the last nail in his shoe coffin.)

gepflanzete rebe hochstamm

Foto by Frank Rein

If you picture what we did all day long to plant 62 vines, you might have in your head the kind of image of a local politician smiling into the camera with his or her foot on a spade to mark the thrive in new development in the local area. Yes, we did that, 62 times, just without the suit and the cameras. (in fact, Jula did take amazing pictures, but my camera could not muster the energy to record them. )

But this day was about so much more than that: a very special day of ‘things’ coming together in an amazing way: ‘people’ coming together in a remote field based on instructions scribbled on a map; ‘plants and equipment’ coming together, ie reaching Darmstadt ahead of the bank holiday (-it was very close).  Time and time again I observed a beaming sensation written into faces looking up while arms moved through soil in zen-mode; and the same sensation voiced several times during the day (“Das ist sooo schoen!), even as our energy faded.

By then we had also driven almost 300 l water and 500 kg planting soil up the hill, had “sucked for England/Germany/Austria/Lörzweiler/Darmstadt” to make the water flow from the big tanks stationed in the car into the smaller containers and had chatted with various passers-by.

It was a day on which I felt supported, by the Lörzweiler community as well as by a digging and planting group of friends. A neighbouring vintner took one look at my planting water set up, disappeared and came back with some essential accessories that smoothened our operations, eased our backs. And whether you like management speak or not (our workflow of digging/root removal/planting soil/fungus/plant/pole/ties/watering/closing-up-the-hole could have easily filled 40 powerpoint slides, never mind the parrot-related in-between-steps), it is a fair conclusion that as a team we “stepped up to the plate to streamline our workflow”  :o).

So much for the many content ‘ahhhhhs’  on the day, which continued over a drink in barely-can-speak-mode, once the last spade was squeezed into a seemingly puffed-up-t0-twice-its-size Kangoo (or Kangaroo, as the car was renamed, thanks to Sam 😮 ). The big question now remains whether the 62 plants sitting right now  in the “wellness pools” we have created for them will appreciate the TLC they received from us. “Success rate” (Erfolgsquote) is the term used on agricultural forums, when they discuss how many plants they had to ‘RIP’ out the following years, due to frost, or because the roots did not manage to penetrate the hard ground surrounding the “wellness pool”. This may sound like a long wait for the last and 41st powerpoint slide to be drafted on yesterday’s venture, but if I can post pictures in 2 years’ time, of leaves and grapes on those new vines (“Hochstämme”), then llka, Astrid, Jula, Frank, Sam, Claus and I will know that the sore muscles were all worth it. Will we then still remember the awning we had to set up to find cover from the rain? The worms (earthworm/Regenwurm) we accidentally cut in halves with our spades? The 30-year-old root-block we capitulated on (“Close the hole again, we’ll never get this one out”)? – We will have to see!

traubenwickler falle einbindig

There is a scientific explanation as to how this moth count (“einbindiger Traubenwickler) from the pheromone traps relates to the health of our grapes in autumn, – I am just not sure you would want to hear it :o)

Thinking in parallel years

This blog post tries to speak in pictures: Two collages showing how very different thoughts have to be applied, in parallel, right now, to the new vintage (2013), yet to develop its first leaf, and the 2012 vintage, just bottled: While the 2013 vintage currently needs the type of tlc that leaves the fingers full of mud (“Loess” is the type of ground conditions we are in) and the knees sore, the 2012 vintage has already forgotten what mother nature looked like, as it slips into the newly arrived “Green Feather Bag” (drawing of “Marzipan” and design by Sonja Schmitt). And thanks to an invitation to play boule, we had to ditch the vineyard work for one Sunday and take the new bag out for a picnic!

vineyard vines Weinberg Wurzeln

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 22.44.32

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!

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!

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.