Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Riesling in the Rheingau

Have you ever noticed how often our themes relate to wine?  A couple of years ago, we went to France and split our time between Burgundy and the Champagne regions.  We headed to the Bordeaux area the time after that.  When we had to cancel out of Italy because the Icelandic lava cloud shut down the Barcelona airport, we had been headed to the Orvieto region of Tuscany.

We arrived in Frankfurt where our friend Erika Lannefeld met us at the Hauptbahnhof. (Main train station.)  She kindly put us up in her apartment in Neu Isenberg and drove us around the area to see the sights.  The Rheingau is a center of Rhine wine production.  Riesling is what they make.  Some versions are sweeter and fruitier than others, but it is all good stuff.  I still prefer red wine.

Erika and her friend Klaus took us out on Saturday to the Rheingau.  We visited Kloster Eberbach, which is a former Cistercian monastery and now houses a school of enology.  Then we went to taste wine at Schloss Vollrads.  It was quite good.  Any guesses about what they had?  Let me see...I am thinking hard...wait, wait, I know!  Riesling!  We had a nice picnic by the river, and later a snack and a drink at Villa Gutenberg, which was open to the public for only a few days each year.  What do you think I drank at Villa Gutenberg?  Not Riesling.  They had a red wine choice for folks like myself.

The whole place is so picturesque.  You would probably like to see some pictures of such a picturesque place.  And I would like to share some with you.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera and so I don't have anything to offer.

The next day, we drove across the Rhine toward Kaiserslautern to visit Andreas Schick and his mother Monica.  We had a very nice visit with them.  We also visited Schloss Hambach and drove through towns like Bad Durkheim and Deidesheim.  This time, we remembered to bring the camera.

Schloss Hambach is a restored castle.  It is a historical monument to German democracy, and that makes it very important.  If you know anything about European history, then you will know that historical sites in Germany relating to democracy are few and far between because the old days weren't so good.  The area had been a politically independent bishopric and then the French showed up in 1797.  They took over for the bishop and implemented the Rights of Man, and Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.  Bonaparte was defeated in 1815, and the area was given to the Kingdom of Bavaria.  By 1832, the residents had quite enough of Bavarian autocracy and they attempted a revolution to regain the rights that they had under the French.  The black, red, and gold banner appeared for the first time at Schloss Hambach.  The insurrection failed and the leaders were jailed.  The democracy thing took a lot longer to catch on in those parts...The Schloss proudly displayed a plaque honoring the democratic ideals of the Hambach rebels, and the museum notes that their declarations drew, among other sources, from the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights.  Another plaque celebrates German unity, and also European unity.  The German flag flies next to the French tricolor and the Polish flag.

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