Monday, September 2, 2013

My Introduction to German Wines

Do you have a favorite wine? In each category of wines is there at least one the you remember forever, one that has a special meaning attached to it, or just one you always have on hand and open for guests.
A few of mine are '07 Oregon Pinot Noir (stupidly under rated), '76 Rieslings from Germany, '78 Cabs from Southern Oregon
 (Valley View Vineyards to be more precise) and Early Muscats from Silvan Ridge and Noble Estate.
These bottles all hold fond memories. 
My first real wine tasting was done in my small town of Worms while I was living in Germany.
I lived in an apartment in a new building that was built right next to the Liebfrauenmlich vineyard.
They had been growing Riesling grapes in the part of the vineyard outside our place for many years. We were on the 7th floor and our balcony gave us a great view of the vines and of the Rhine river.It was also the place where most of our theater/music friends enjoyed popping corks and watching them sail in to the vineyards.
One Saturday morning while Tina (ex) was out of town I heard a knock at the door. I had not heard the elevator so I assumed it was our floor mate. I opened the door to fine a very old man with a bag on his shoulder. It was a box made of leather with four bins filled  with a wine bottle each. There was a small pouch on the side and a wood and leather trap for holding to Riesling glasses. I had never seen anything like it and still haven't.  In his hands he held a chamois and when he opened it I saw a LOT of corks. He looked up at me and said "Herr Canaga, we can not do this". It was a bag of all the corks we had been shooting in to the vineyard. As I apologized I invited him in and showed him to a seat on the balcony. He handed me the bag of corks and sat down. He then took the two wine glasses from his bag, pulled out a bottle of Riesling, opened it and poured. He sniffed it, smiled and handed it to me. The first sip put me in a new state of mind. It was at once slightly sweet yet effervescent and seemed to evaporate in my mouth, filling it with flavors I had never tasted!

He smiled and took a sip of his glass, leaned back in his chair and smiled. He had brought a 1959 Schloss Johannisberg Goldlack Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese for us to enjoy. I had no idea what I was drinking but I kept the bottle for many years. 
WE made a habit of sitting on the balcony once or twice a month and sipping great wines as he told me all about what was going on in the vineyards, appologizing for the shotgun blasts and air cannons that kept the birds at bay, and I even got to help with harvest in '76.
He introduced me  to reds from the Alsace and Moselle regions as well as some Dornfelders and Trollingers.
All the time I spent in Europe after that was spent exploring wines. Not a bad place to cut your teeth.

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