Day 2 in Germany: Frankfurters & Franconia

by Chuck Hayward

Day 2 in Germany: Frankfurters & Franconia

Post by David Derby| April 21st, 2011

Can you imagine trying to ship these babies?

After a hearty breakfast of cured meats (everything but the squeal), sausages (a game of name that animal) cheeses, breads and other German diet food, it was on the bus to Franconia. Many people, upon hearing this name, picture the special wine bottle that looks almost like an upside down heart. While still used throughout the region with great pride, compromise has given into the export market and the wines are now shipped in modern (i.e. easier to pack) bottles.

Franconia is a sub-district of Bavaria, where the beverage of choice is Bier. However, Franconia is unique in that almost every town has its own weinfest, celebrating wine, rather than beer. Another area of difference is the climate. Franconia is not as intense as other areas, with a relatively warmer summer and slightly milder winters. With the long days of sunshine lasting into the evening, more vintages are successful than not.

Celebrating wein

Today we visited the Furst Castell estate, with a history of making wine that dates back to 1224. Banking and wine make perfect bed partners here, as in Bordeaux, and the Castell family also owns the oldest bank in Bavaria, founded in 1774. Think of them as the Rothschilds of Germany.

While much of the fame goes to the flashy, edgier estates on the Mosel and Rhine where riesling rules, here silvaner shows its charms. When the Count of Castell purchased cuttings from Austria and brought them back in 1659, little did he know that the destiny of wine growing in the region would be forever altered. In fact, it has been said that the best versions of Silvaner are made here.

Here were the wines we sampled:

Castell Schlossberg Silvaner GG

2010 Schloss Castell Silvaner Trocken  (Estate wine) Very light and clean, with lively acidity but short finish. Perfect for hot weather.

2009 Castell Kugelspiel Silvaner Trocken    This single vineyard silvaner is remarkably dry, displaying fresh fruits and herbal notes.

2009 Castell Schlossberg GG   A designated Great Growth made of limestone soil with slopes that exceed 70%. A touch of wood gives a smoky flavor and rounds out the intense acidity. Plenty of spice with a long finish.

2008 Castell Reitsteig Spatburgunder Trocken   Incredibly dark, looks like a pinot from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Sweet toast and coffee aromas backed up with dark fruit and earthy flavors.

2008 Grafen Reipperg Lemberger Schwaigerner Ruthe Trocken   Solid deep ruby color. The nose displays aroma of black licorice. Very high toned flavors including blueberry and fresh roses. Sharp/focused. Great food wine!

Far and away the most enlightening aspect of my entire trip ws the high quality of Spatburgunder (pinot noir) and Lemberger (don't worry about it) in Germany.