Famous vineyard sites
Cheers! The Pfalz.
Sensuous Wines of Quintessential Elegance: Forster Kirchenstück. Springtime comes early to the Pfalz. In fact, one of Germanys earliest wine festivals is celebrated here, in Gimmeldingen (district if Neustadt), when the almond trees blossom in early April. Just a bit further north on the Deutsche Weinstraße (German Wine Road) lies a quartet of wine villages.
Let's turn attention to the smallest of the four villages, Forst (population: ca. 900), which boasts no fewer than five “grand cru” sites as follows:
- Ungeheuer: 29 ha
- Pechstein: 15 ha
- Jesuitengarten: 7 ha
- Kirchenstück: 4 ha
- Freundstück: 3.5 ha
In all, these five sites comprise nearly 60 ha. The high value of these sites was documented by the royal Bavarian property tax assessment of 1828. The late wine writer Frank Schoonmaker (1905–1976), author of one of the 20th-century classic works on German wine,The Wines of Germany (NY, 1956), wrote: “Here is some of the most valuable agricultural land in the world, the Kirchenstück and the Jesuitengaten in Forst.” His overall appraisal of German wine is no less flattering: “bottled poetry.”
While all five vineyards are outstanding, the Kirchenstück is generally known as the best. The rich soils are a mixture of sandy clay and loam with fragments of limestone and basalt. Its nine acres of Riesling vines are situated on gentle slopes adjacent to the town, just behind the Kirche (church), with a microclimate enhanced by the surrounding sandstone walls that absorb the warmth of the sun during the day and gently release it at night. Warm evening breezes not only warm the air, but also ensure good circulation to reduce humidity, and thus the danger of mold. The wines are universally described as being extremely rich in fruit aromas and flavors as well as quintessentially elegant and sensuous. Great aging potential.
Today’s village of Forst (meaning “forest”) was ceded in a deed of gift in 1100 by Johann I., bishop of Speyer and a nephew of Emperor Heinrich IV, to a foundation in Speyer. The immense Forst (forest) north of Deidesheim, however, was expressly reserved for royal hunting. The village proper lines one main, cobblestone street (0.75 mile on the Deutsche Weinstraße) that is easy to miss, since a bypass road to the east was constructed to alleviate traffic congestion through the little town. It pays to take the original road to see the picturesque, ivy- and grapevine-cloaked, half-timber and sandstone houses (18th-19th century). Food and wine await within many an oleander-filled courtyard along this tiny stretch of the wine road.
Speyer, by the way, is the site of a UNESCO World Heritage site: the Dom (cathedral), one of the trio of great Rhenish Romanesque cathedrals lining the Rhine in Mainz, Worms and Speyer.
Tips for Tourists
The "Three B's of the Pfalz"
Speaking of the "Three B's of the Pfalz", locals know what, more specifically who is meant by that regional idiom. The three wine estates known as the biggest and the best of the Pfalz: Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl (von-buhl.de), Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan (bassermann-jordan.de) and Weingut Dr. Bürklin-Wolf (buerklin-wolf.de). All three of them offer a Vinothek (wine shop) and a restaurant.
Additional address in Deidesheim:
Hotel Deidesheimer Hof - hotel and restaurant (deidesheimerhof.de)
Additional recommendations with excellent food, wine and accommodations:
- Neuleiningen (unique, hilltop village ringed by an ancient town wall): Alte Pfarrey - hotel and restaurant (altepfarrey.com)
- Kallstadt: Weinhaus Henninger - hotel and restaurant (weinhaus-henninger.de)
- Freinsheim (another town ringed by its medieval wall): Alt Freinsheim - restaurant; Freinsheimer Hof - hotel and restaurant (freinsheimerhof.com) and Von-Busch-Hof - restaurant and wine cellar (von-busch-hof.de) are also recommended for fresh, seasonal/regional specialties.
- Last but not least: The German Wine Academy (guided English-language, week-long tour of wine country in mid-September) takes in three UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the cathedral in Speyer/Pfalz, as well as the Residenz in Würzburg/Franken and the Upper Middle Rhine Valley/Mittelrhein (spectacular landscape between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz, replete with vine-clad, steep slate vineyard sites and ancient castles). Perfect for singles and/or couples who want to become acquainted with fine German Riesling wines (plus some great reds: Spätburgunder and Dornfelder). It’s a fun week with wine lovers from all around the world.
- Red wine fans: mid-October GWA....tour red-wine country in Württemberg, Baden, and the southern Pfalz