By Sue Style
Wink tells me that Wine Travel Guides is about to venture into the German vineyards with three guides to the Mosel which will go on-line later this month. Meanwhile, if you’re one of those rare people who understand about and love German wine, it’s worth considering a visit to the Black Forest. People have always beaten a path to this gorgeous bucolic holiday area for relaxing holidays with a big dose of wellness thrown in, but increasingly it’s the food and wines that are calling the shots. On the food front, Baden-Württemberg (the Land where the Black Forest lies) boasts the highest concentration of Michelin stars in Germany. As for Baden wines, better known in the past for quantity than quality, these are now winning international plaudits – and prizes – for their elegance and complexity.
A good place to start is the Kaiserstuhl, a small enclave of volcanic outcrops sandwiched between the Basel-Freiburg Autobahn and the Rhine. Here is where you’ll find some of Baden’s finest wines, grown in terraced vineyards. It’s worth setting up a few tastings here to get a feel for how far the wines have come.
Reinhold and Cornelia Schneider’s winery in Endingen, founded only in 1981, was flagged in Tom Stevenson’s Wine Report as the fastest-improving producer in Germany. Their reputation for whites (Weissburgunder/Pinot Blanc, Grauburgunder/Pinot Gris) is firmly established but the Schneiders are no slouches where red is concerned (principally Spätburgunder, a.k.a. Pinot Noir).
Karl-Heinz Johner, whose wine career started at Lamberhurst Vineyard in Kent (southeast England), works 17 hectares in Bischoffingen (and a further 12 in Wairarapa, New Zealand) with his son Patrick. Their benchmark is Burgundy, their aim to make the wines that best express the unique terroir of the Kaiserstuhl. Their range of racy Spätburgunders is a lesson in what Pinot Noir can do outside its homeland in skilled hands with the right clones and good terroirs; their mouthfilling Weissburgunder knocks spots off its Pinot Blanc cousins across the Rhine in Alsace.
Close by in Oberrotweil is Weingut Salwey, another family-owned and -run estate. Since 2002, son Konrad has shared wine-growing and winemaking responsibilities with his father and takes care of the whites (floral and fruity Weissburgunders and fine Grauburgunders), while Herr Salwey Senior is responsible for some finely aromatic Spätburgunders.
For eating out, the Kaiserstuhl has plenty of options from honest country inns to elegant, Michelin-starred tables. The appealing Gasthaus Kaiserstuhl in Niederrotweil with its flowery-curtains-and-formica decor is run by a two-man father-and-son team. The (aptly named) chef, Herr Koch Junior, cooks locally sourced ingredients (kid, rabbit, pike-perch) enlivened with armfuls of fresh herbs and edible flowers from the chef’s garden and the surrounding fields and vineyards (wild garlic, dandelions etc.), while Herr Koch Senior attends single-handed to the small dining room.
In nearby Vogtsburg-Oberbergen is the firmly established Schwarzer Adler, a cosy-elegant, wood-panelled Gasthof whose classic French cuisine with local accents served by fulsome, smiling women in Tracht (traditional Black Forest costume) has merited a Michelin star since 1969. Owner Franz Keller was a pioneering wine grower in his day, making distinctive and idiosyncratic wines which fell foul of the (arcane) rules of German wine labelling, a tradition proudly carried on by his son Fritz. The wine list is spectacular – 1800 references, including top Bordeaux and Burgundies, as well as the cream of Baden.
If roast chicken speaks to you more than poached poularde with truffles, a final option could be the Keller-owned Winzerhaus Rebstock just across the road. Here you can feast on classics like Mistkratzerle (a proper farmyard bird that’s been scratching around in the Mist or manure heap), Wienerschnitzel or calf’s kidneys, with voluptuous apple tarts and cream cakes to finish.
Weingut Schneider, Königschaffhauserstrasse 2, 74396 Endingen am Kaiserstuhl.
Tel: +49 7642 5278
Weingut Karl-Heinz Johner, Gartenstrasse 20, 79235 Vogstburg-Bischoffingen
Tel: +49 7662 6041
Weingut Salwey, Hauptstrasse 2, 79235 Oberrotweil am Kaiserstuhl
Tel: +49 7662 384
Gasthaus Zum Kaiserstuhl, 79325 Niederrotweil
Tel: +49 7662 237
Schwarzer Adler, Badbergstrasse 23, 79235 Vogtsburg-Oberbergen
Tel: +49 7662 93 30 10
Winzerhaus Rebstock, Badbergstrasse 22, 79235 Vogtsburg-Oberbergen
Tel: +49 7662 93 30 11