Germany Diary: Let the Wine & Rhine Begin

By October 7, 2013Winemakers

We cast off from Saarbrucken late afternoon and passed Trier which unfortunately we couldn’t see because it was midnight. We docked in Bernkastel about 8am and at 8:30 we were off on a walking tour of this picturescque Mosel town. We headed quickly to the boat where Barbara Selbach was waiting for us with a tasting of her wines. I had just met her husband Johannes at a Riesling tasting in NY but he was in Canada so Barbara represented the family winery.

Barbara Selbach on board

Superb wines, especially strong in the spatlese and auslese categories, We started with a 2012 Zeltinger Kabinett trocken, 2011 Zeltinger Himmelreich kabinett halbtrocken, a delightful 2007 Graacher Domprobst Spatlese halbtrocken, a 2011 Zeltinger Schlossberg Kabinett, 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese, 2011 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr auslese and the remarkable Zeltinger Sonnenuhr auslese.

These were unctous complex wines with minerality yet balanced with sugar to play such wonderful symphony of tastes. German white wines, as we found out, definitely can improve with age and the top German wine makers are superb craftsmen and women, and at relatively reasonable prices.

Barbara had to leave before the boat left for Cochem, but left behind wines we could taste on the sun deck as we passed those very vineyards: 2001 Bernkasteler Badstude spatlese , 2007 Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese, 2011 Graacher Domprobst spatlese feinherb (a new designation indicating a small degree of sweetness), 2011

view of the Moselle

Wehlener Sonnenuhr kabinett, 2008 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spatlese, 2011 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr spatlese, 2011 Zeltinger Schlossberg spatlese, 2005 Zeltinger Himmelreich auslese. My favorite was the Schlossberg spatlese, a superbly balanced wine with 7.8 residual sugar and 7.2 acidity. It’s a great food wine and a delight to have by itself.

That evening after dinner I had arranged for a private tasting at the Hieronimi Winery in Cochem. The wines were in a different league than Selbach and although we appreciated the personal touch and information given by the young owner, the 6th generation of the family, we just knew that these wines lacked the complexity, depth and lasting effect of the great German wines. We were on our way to becoming budding German wine experts!

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