Tag Archives: Saar Valley

The Vintage Experience

After two months an important part of my trip has concluded. Important not just because I learnt a lot about wine, but also as I needed work to get a working-holiday visa to remain in Europe all year. After 10 months of solid visits to wineries with a few brief intermissions, I was grateful for a break in wine when I travelled through the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and Northern Germany before returning to wine, this time on the other side of the fence. Another thing I was grateful for was some money and the chance to stay somewhere for free for a few months, thus saving me some money that I didn’t have. It is with all sincerity that I thank first the Hasselbach family from Weingut Gunderloch in the Rheinhessen, and second Annegret Reh-Gartner and her team at Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in the Mosel, for their generosity in welcoming me and allowing me to gain first-hand insights into German riesling.
Picking grapes in the Rheinhessen

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Vintage 2012 – Weeks Eight & Nine

My final two weeks of vintage were for the most part uneventful as the harvest concluded and the vast majority of work was cleaning and checking the fermenting tanks. I was very generously taken out for dinner and lunch by the domestic sales manager and the owner respectively, and on both instances got to eat some lovely German food. There were a couple of dinners to celebrate the end of vintage; first with the Romanian vineyard workers and then the cellar team who are all locals. The winery also welcomed a journalist and they opened some bottles going back to 1983, all of which I had the chance to taste as well.

Bernd working hard pressing botrytised fruit to get juice with high sugar content.
Niklas compacting grape marc for future distillation to make schnapps.
Range of wines tasted going back to 1983.
Freshly and heavily hand-pruned vines in the Scharzofberg vineyard.
Old shoots clinging to the trellis wire. Always reminds me of snakes.
Just so you know who owns this vineyard.
This is Alexandra, one of the Romanian friends I made in the vineyards.
Walking up those steep slopes pruning requires a rest break.

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Vintage 2012 – Week Six

Here I am in the Mosel region, based in the Ruwer Valley just outside of Waldrach. I’ve now been working at Kesselstatt for about ten days and it has been great so far. Almost all of the fruit has now been picked from their numerous vineyards, and every day I get to check the progress of the tanks fermenting. The winemaker Wolfgang Mertes (who has also generously provided me with a great room whilst I am here) prefers spontaneous fermentations, some of which take a week to start. Before they start fermenting the rieslings can have a character of sweet tea to them, which is quite unique and delicious. Some of the weisburgunder tanks are fermenting really slowly but show great character because of it. It has been getting colder, sometimes raining and even a bit of snow. I picked grapes my first day and also had the chance to visit some of the other vineyards.

Vineyards overlooking Trier, the town where the Ruwer and Saar valleys join the Mosel valley.
Where I am staying in the Mosel.
The vineyards above Kasel the first day of work, beautiful day and actually got a bit warm in the afternoon.
The Saar vineyard of Scharzofberg.
Bins of fruit freshly delivered to the winery.
The bins are lifted off the ground or off the back of trucks.
They are then emptied into the destemmer and the berries are pumped up to the hoppers.
Berries are free run juice go into the hoppers.
The hoppers are then emptied into one of the presses below.
The pressed juice gets transferred to tanks for settling overnight and racking off sediment the following morning.
Flotation filtering is used to separate additional solids in the juice before it goes into fermentation tanks. Here we can check to see when the clear juice becomes sediment.
Tanks must be cleaned thoroughly. This is Simon.

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Back to the future (Mosel, Germany – Day Two)

For the first time on my trip, I feel totally out of my depth in the Mosel Valley. Having started my wine career in the Yarra Valley, and working for a sparkling producer, means that I am very familiar with the varieties of Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley. When it comes to Riesling, I am a little bit out of my element. I have gained some familiarity with the wines of such regions as the Clare Valley and Eden Valley, and also other emerging regions in Australia and New Zealand. Visiting Alsace in 2010 helped a lot, but of course Riesling isn’t necessarily the focus. German rieslings, particularly the wines of the Mosel, are in an entirely different league. This is of course why I have come to the region; to gain familiarity and experience.

On top of the world, looking down on creation!

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