I am one day out of Bulgaria and I already miss it. Let me tell you first and foremost: I love Bulgaria, I love Bulgarian wine (what I tried of it), I love Bulgarian people (even though they don’t like each other). I want to live and die in Bulgaria! But how did this happen and what did I experience?
The organic pioneers among Rheinhessen wine makers
The wine estate Brühler Hof, run by the Müller family, is a Rheinhessen wine institution. In 1989, when Hans-Peter Müller introduced organic production methods other wine makers didn’t even think about organic wine growing, not even in their wildest dreams. But not here. Organic growing is the family’s top priority. You can see this in the vineyard where no chemicals are used and everything is done by hand. Herbs are planted in the middle of the vines to deter insects, for the same purpose pheromones are used instead of chemical aids.
But also the production process is organized in accordance with ecological and sustainable standards. Solar power is used as the main energy generator and many other energy recycling measures are taken. Continue reading
Follow my work at Domaine des Enfants to learn about the early stages OF the wine making process
After working in Alsace and Rheinhessen, the third stop on my wine around the globe tour is Domaine des Enfants, in Maury close to Perpignan. The wine growing region is called Roussillion and is part of France’s biggest wine growing region Languedoc-Rousillion.
The domaine is run by Swiss Marcel Bühler and his American wife Carrie Sumner. I have the opportunity to stay two weeks at the domaine and get involved in various tasks. As it turns out, these two weeks cover pretty much all steps from picking the grapes to nearly bottling the wine. Follow me and learn what happens at these various stages and how juice turns to wine.
1. Work in the vineyard: picking grapes
I arrive pretty much on time for the harvest of the white grapes. There is an anxiety and excitement to be felt about when exactly to start harvesting the white grapes. Marcel and Carrie are discussing it frequently, checking the weather, checking the ripeness of the fruit, checking the moon. Why the moon? Because they follow biodynamic principles and pick fruit on fruit days of the moon calender. Continue reading
“Stay calm and have faith” – The chemist among Alsacian wine makers
Domaine Ansen is a small wine estate in the village of Westhoffen, Alsace, just a short drive away from Straßbourg. It was established in 2012 by Daniel Ansen. Daniel owns 8 ha of vineyards spread over the wine hills in and around Westhoffen, which he works organically. This means he doesn’t use any chemical additives to make his wine nor does he spray his vineyards with chemicals. He grows all of the varieties that are permitted to be produced into Alsacian wine, with Riesling being his major variety. He produces mostly white wines, Pinot Noir and also Crémant d’Alsace.
Daniel and I are driving back from Colmar, the wine capital of Alsace, where he had wine business to do. He is driving the car, his daughter is sleeping in the back of the car while I’m sitting in the passenger seat enjoying the view of the Vosges mountains. The peacefulness and tranquility of the situation encourage me to ask Daniel for an interview. He kindly agrees. So, lean back and enjoy reading the following interview! Continue reading
Wine naming in France
In most parts of France, wines are always named after the regions they come from. What does this mean, exactly? You have probably heard about a Bordeaux, a Médoc or a Chablis wine. Well, these wines are all named after the regions they come from and not after the grapes these wines are made of. So, a Bordeaux usually exists of different grape varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. A Chablis, a region in northern Burgundy, is usually a white wine made out of the Chardonnay grape. The same system, by the way, applies to Italy and Spain.
But in Alsace, it’s the grape, baby!
However, in the wine region Alsace we don’t encounter what is typical for the rest of France. Here, wines are named after the grape varieties they are made of. This little odditiy can be explained through the closeness to Germany, where wines are typically named after their grape variety and not the region. Continue reading