I Dreamed a Dream…
By Olga Antoniadou
I yearn so much to travel, but this year is definitely like no other I have lived to see. For the first time what is keeping me grounded is not my finances, not my health, not my work. It is my fear. Not very common for me, to be alarmed enough to halt the things I crave for. Covid-19 is showing its teeth once again and despite reasoning with myself that everything will be fine if I adhere to the health recommendations, I find it hard not to worry. Who should we be avoiding? Should we be keeping clear of our friends? Who has just returned from a trip? Do I want them to visit? Should we travel? Is it safe to fly or sail by ship? Is it best to just lay low? As I was thinking these thoughts with my mind in turmoil, whilst sitting on my balcony at home, sipping a glass of Mantinia from the Moropoulos winery, I closed my eyes and pressed myself to bring forth a comforting memory. My last trip. I slipped into a reverie.
It’s late November and Nick and I have just finished packing our cabin bags, and we’re chirping away merrily about how much fun this little getaway will be and how nice it is to be seeing our friends in Forchheim (a little town near Nurnberg). We haven’t met in a while and we’re all looking forward to it. Every time we visit I get them to organise (my German is under basic) our trips to the wineries I have selected. Franconia is famous for its Bocksbeutel (the rounded and flattened bottle) and for some of the best Sylvaner wines that can be found, although memorable Riesling is also made in the area. The white varieties outnumber the red varieties by far, with Müller-Thurgau having the most plantings followed by Sylvaner and Bacchus. In this instance I had selected the Rudolf Fürst winery, on the outskirts of Bürgstadt.
But, Paul Fürst and his son Sebastian are renowned for their Spätburgunder (pinot noir) and Frühburgunder (pinot madeleine) – not that they don’t also make excellent Sylvaner and Riesling wines. In fact, anything they make is of outstanding quality. Our tasting was hosted by Paul himself in a beautiful tasting room with floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the now dormant vineyard. They farm about 15ha of land, 11ha in Centgrafenberg (south-facing, with soil made up of loam, red sandstone and different levels of clay – the more stony areas are preserved for the red varieties and the greater mix with clay for the white), the adjacent Hundsrück (south facing, stony partially terraced slope – the most flavourful and powerful pinot noir) is 2,5ha and Schlossberg Klingenberg (very steep, terraced planted with Pinot Noir clones) is 1.3ha.
Paul is soft spoken and genteel, but at the same time he has an air of pride and confidence. His eyes, hidden behind his big eye-glasses are not at all revealing. He welcomes us, and in the beginning I had the feeling that he would be just doing his job. Efficiently, distantly, politely, After all, we had travelled quite a way to visit him. But, I was proven wrong. As he starts talking about the wines and the winery we warm up to each other and he answers every single ridiculous question I ask about himself, the family, the area, the vines, the wines. He is untiring. Never overtly friendly, keeping his distance, but with a hint of a smile dancing at the creases of his eyes and mouth. As if un-expectant of this meeting. For some reason he reminded me of my German-bred psychoanalyst. Warm in a way, but also removed. And then he really surprises me. “You know today, we were looking at the wines in our cellar and we decided to open two wines to see how they have evolved. These are required samples that we keep. Why don’t I let you try”.
I’m sure I couldn’t hide my surprise at the honour. I rewarded him with my absolutely best smile, looked at my friends and my husband and whispered “This is once in a lifetime. We are bl**y lucky’’! Out came a Klingenber Schlossberg Spätburgunder ‘R’ 2008 and a Spätburgunder Tradition 2009. What can I say. No wonder he is considered the wizard of pinot noir. Ten year old wines that still had amazing freshness. I was blown away.
Altogether, the wines we sampled left me with a feeling of precision, intensity of aromas, amazing complexity and length. I was taken by the Frühburgunder. Spicy and full. In a blind tasting I would have definitely been thrown off my feet. I would have known the aromas are pinot noir, but I would have been confused by the elegance combined with the dark colour, the spice and fullness of the wine.
Before we left, we took a quick stroll in the vineyard as it was drizzling with rain. The landscape was so utterly peaceful and beautiful.
I open my eyes and the peace has filled me.