Black Forest Wine Club. It just sounds cool, doesn’t it. Do you have to know about Black Forest wines to be part of the club? No. Do you even have to know about the Black Forest at all? No. Just come with a thirst for great wine and the appetite of a hungry German.
So, what did I know about the Black Forest before checking out its wine club? Nothing much apart from that it sounds like the setting of a Brothers Grimm fairytale and that it has good cake. Well, both of these things happen to be true – not only does the place sound like it could be out of a fairytale, but it looks that way too. 160km of dense forest stretches along the Rhine River from the Kraichgau in southwest Germany all the way to the Swiss border. Swathes of alpine woodland are interlaced with glistening streams and babbling brooks, which make way to hidden misty waterfalls. Snowcapped peaks form a horizon, beneath which emerald green slopes are illuminated by brilliant sunshine. It’s a land of crystalline rivers, craggy gorges, lush valleys, looking-glass lakes and Prince Charming castles – all of this before you even get to the wine.
The most well-known wine region in the area is Baden, a placed famed for its premium quality Spätburgunder, also known as Pinot Noir, as well as honeyed Grauburgunder, the area’s ripe and full-bodied Pinot Gris, and Weißburgunder – food-friendly Pinot Blanc. Not a great deal of the wines from here seem to make it out of the country (those smart cookies, keeping it to themselves), but fortunately, thanks to a few generous pairs of hands, we were able to try a few of these delicacies at the inaugural Black Forest Wine Club event.
Held at the ideal setting of Gezellig, we are welcomed with a glass of Pinot Rosé Brut from Moosmann, a family-run winery in Buchholz in the Elz Valley in the Baden region. With vines grown in the best area of the Breisgau on steep slopes in the foothills of the Black Forest, Moosmann are rooted in traditional winemaking, focusing on growing Pinot Noir (which makes up 45% of their vineyards), Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Müller-Thurgau. They avoid chemical fungicides and herbicides and produce wines with character and complexity. After we have settled at the table to listen to their story, we are served a glass of 2018 Famoos Trocken 2018, which is fruity, refreshing and mineral, and then their 2017 “Scheibenbühl” Weißburgunder Spätlese Trocken. A delicious Pinot Blanc, it has had 8 months in oak, making it vanilla-scented and full-bodied. A third wine from Moosmann is a rich, juicy Pinot Noir, bursting with red cherries and gorgeousness – it goes down like silk and I look for somewhere I can stash the rest of bottle to take home later.
We are also introduced to the wines from Durbacher Winzergenossenschaft, a co-operative of 140 winegrower families in Durbach. The vines there grow almost exclusively on rocky granite soils on the steep slopes of the Black Forest foothills. Low yields produce excellent quality, and we sample it for ourselves with a glass of 2018 Klingelberger (Riesling) Kabinett Trocken. The vibrant acidity is mouthwatering, making the ripe stone fruits of this Riesling even juicier, and there is a definite backbone of minerality, providing structure and elegance.
Alongside the wines, Gezellig provide a feasting table fit for royalty. A traditional Black Forest Vesper is served – a hearty cold platter of local bread, cured meats, cheeses and pickled vegetables. The pièce de résistance of the evening is the biggest Black Forest Gateau I’ve seen in my life, which is of course gobbled up with lashings of cream and the leftover wine – in true lavish and generous Black Forest style. Zum wohl!
The first rule of Black Forest Wine Club is: You do talk about it. I hope to see you at the next one!
Find out more about Black Forest Wine Club here: https://blackforestwineclub.com