Article by Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal featuring on CNTraveller.in
I’ve always loved Germany. It started when I backpacked through Europe and spent time in Munich over gallons of fantastic beer and great food at 21. Over the years I visited Munich many times but never really got down to going anywhere else besides Dusseldorf. So, when an invitation from the German Wine Institute inviting approximately 40 Sommeliers from around the world including yours truly came along I just couldn’t say no!
We were invited to experience first hand, the wines of Germany.
On landing at Frankfurt we were whisked off to Weisbaden about 30 to 45 minutes away by road. This is a small town in the centre of Germany’s wine producing region of Rheinghau.
As Sommeliers usually do, I checked into the Raddison Blue and immediately walked to a wine bar I saw on the way to our hotel.
It wasn’t surprising to see a group of fellow sommeliers on the trip already on the Riesling& Pinot Gris bandwagon. This is a lovely spot to drink some vino and watch the town’s people and a plethora of super cars pass you by. Wiesbaden is a very rich town. There is a great vibe in this city and Spital the bar we visited post the wine dinner at Weingut Koegler was fantastic.
Weingut Koegler is a charming winery with a lovely restaurant surrounded by ancient homes. I highly recommend a tasting of some of their fabulous wines, including a beautiful Pinot Noir that has spent some time in oak.
The next day we visited the Geisenheim University or the German Wine Institute. This is where it got serious with a talk on German wines and a powerful session on German Pinot Noir. Unfortunately for Germany the international world mostly associates their wine with Riesling. While they are certainly masters at that grape variety, there is so much more to discover.
Get yourself up to to the top of the Niederwald Park with the Niederwald monument and enjoy a majestic view of the river Rhine along with Rheinghau and Rhiehessen other bordering wine regions. Take the trail back down to the town where wineries and residential homes sit side by side and walk into a couple of tasting rooms to quench your thirst.
If you ever get a chance to visit the Ball de Weines in Weisbaden, don’t miss it regardless of the hefty ticket price. It’s one hell of a party that showcases top German producers who are part of the VDP association with a free flow of almost anything you like -. I spent my time drinking spirit made from Riesling and smoking some really fine Davidoff cigars in between bites of a very indulgent Black Truffle Risotto.
The next morning we headed to a wine fair showcasing over a 1000 VDP wines produced in Germany and then on to a town called Weisbaden in Franken about 2 hours away.This is a small university town, with a bridge where people converge to drink wine in the evening, very reminiscent of the Charles Bridge in Prague.
Please visit Juliusspital, a winery in the heart of Mainz, walking distance from the bridge. I was mesmerized by this place. For one, the revenue from the sale of their wines is used to sustain the hospital they run in the same complex. This is a state of the art winery with ajaw-dropping cellar that makes me want to go back to Mainz just to visit this place again.
We stayed on the outskirts of Mainz in a hotel called Meintzinger, very close to the vineyards.I have always loved the German countryside and staying in a place like this was truly a pleasure. Very large luxurious rooms in a building that just spells Europe and everything I love about it.
The vineyards slopes in Germany are the steepest in the world and when seen up close you wonder how they manage to tend to their wines without breaking their backs. As one wine producer told us, there is a lot of pain in our way of wine making but when the wine is in the glass and we taste it the pain is all worthwhile.
There are many wineries in the region to visit, I was particularly moved by Weingut Horst Sauer for two reasons. Mr. Sauer doesn’t speak English but has the power to convey such intensity through his eyes. His wines are an extension of him and it is all pure passion.
The end of the journey was a tasting at Weingut Stein, I highly recommend this winery for their wines, the view of Mainz around you and especially because of their Michelin starred restaurant Ludwig Knoll that has some very fine wines from Germany and the rest of the world. The food was impeccable and the service exactly what you would expect.
Rheinghau and the regions I visited are breathtakingly beautiful and Germany like always left me very satiated.