Monday, 17/07/2023 (II): Weingut Hieronimi

It was our last day in Cochem and we still hadn’t had the chance to visit any of their wine bars. The shame!

I had bookmarked a few in my early research, but their strange timetables and ours didn’t quite seem to align.

However, after our kaffee und kuchen, we felt energised and determined to walk to this winery on the other side of the Mosel, crossing its imposing bridge, even if we weren’t quite sure of what to expect. Would it be open? Had it been open? Will it be open?

You can imagine what happened next: the place that websites and maps point you to was, in fact, shut.

But there was a sign inviting us to go round the corner and see… And when we went down the steps, we found a nice looking garden, but with a shut gate as well. Ahh! We would not be able to “take our shoes off and sip wine in the garden while the sun sets” as the owner of our hotel had described.

Although… we saw some people drinking wine under a canopy next door. It seemed to be part of the same wine bar, so we tentatively walked into the dark, cool space, and enquired: would it be possible to try out some wines?

“Of course, you can try four… or eight. But maybe you want to sit inside? It’s better for the wine, with this heat outside…”

That sounded like a plan. We went for the eight wines tasting. A slight escalation on our initial plan of maybe tasting a couple of wines before leaving Cochem, but hey, holidays are there to improvise. Why not?

The tasting was done in two phases, four wines at a time. The person at the bar asked what type of wines were we interested in, and prepared a selection for us. So all we had to do was to taste and judge!

Starting the wine tasting at Weingut Hieronimi
Starting the wine tasting at Weingut Hieronimi
Atmospheric candle and bottle of water at the cellar-like bar in Weingut Hieronimi
Atmospheric candle and bottle of water at the cellar-like bar in Weingut Hieronimi

They brought a lot of literature and information-rich materials so we could make sense of what we were drinking and the various terms mentioned in the leaflets.

A chart describing "flavours of German wines"
A chart describing “flavours of German wines”

However, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being conflicted about this type of “parallel ladder” diagrams, because they display two classifications side by side and seem to imply that they correlate, and… they don’t.

The scale on the left reflects a selection criteria based on location and growers’ own opinion, while the classification on the right reflects the amount of sugar in must at harvest, and it does not consider whatever the winemaker does to the wine afterwards.

You could have the nicest botrytised grapes (the Trockenbeeren) and end up making an absolutely disgusting wine because you are a careless winemaker. That should not automatically qualify as a “superior quality wine”. Or as the wikipedia page puts it: “the measure of wine ‘quality’ is the ripeness of the grapes alone.”

On the other hand, could you make an exceptional wine and it still not be described as a Grosses Gewächs or label it with a nice VDP eagle with grapes if you’re outside of the growers’ association? Theoretically yes!

So that’s why I object to this type of diagrams!

I found more interesting this table which I hadn’t encountered before: it lists the amount of residual sugar in wine AFTER fermenting. So after it has ceased to be “must” and has become an alcoholic drink, i.e., wine!

Chart mapping the amount of sugar in German wines to its descriptor
Chart mapping the amount of sugar in German wines to its descriptor

I don’t know if such a thing exists already, but a table that compares the amount of sugar in must with the amount of sugar in wine would be quite revealing. I think we would see how Kabinett can end up being perhaps from Trocken to Feinherb (and quite low in alcohol), even Auslese could be made Trocken (although with a substantial amount of alcohol compared to the Kabinett wine), but then perhaps the Trockenbeerenauslese would never ferment to completion because the yeasts cannot subsist with so much sugar and eventually die.

But anyway, that’s maybe talk for another post 🤓

We were here to try wines, and these are the notes of the many wines we tasted:

  1. Elbling 2022. Table wine. “The Elbling was already cultivated by the Romans on the Mosel – today it is a rarity”.
    Light Peach nose, delicate acidity. Lemon (peel). Very drinkable table wine, and very cool to try out Elbling for the first time!
  2. Weissburgunder 2021, halbtrocken (Pinot Blanc), Qualitätswine der Mosel.
    Wet stones/petrol/wax heedy bit, blossom on the nose, lemon peel, grapefruit, apricot (maybe unripe). We loved this one! ⭐️⭐️
  3. Blanc de noirs 2022 (Spätburgunder?), Qualitätswine der Mosel. “Pleasantly sweet floral scent makes you want to take the first sip.”
    —Very berry on the nose, raspberry, cranberry, strawberry.
  4. Müller-Thurgau 2022, Qualitätswine der Mosel. “Light drinking and mildly acidic”.
    —Nose: peach, hint fig leaf, herbiness, tiny wax, some grape smell when it warms up. Mouth: very peach, some mango. I loved this one! ⭐️
  5. Spätburgunder Rosé 2022, feinherb.
    —Nose: red fruit, berries. Mouth: red cherries.
  6. Riesling 2021, half trocken, “the favourite of senior chefs”.
    —Devvers said: however, gooseberry.
    —Sole: nose = green asparagus, green grocer, green leaf, vegetable; mouth = lemon hint
  7. Riesling Spätlese 2022, Pradikätswine der Mosel, slightly aged.
    —nose: mango, honey; mouth: slight smoke, peach, lemon
    —Devvers: + ginger on the nose
  8. Riesling Auslese 2022, Pradikätswine der Mosel.
    peach, raisins, mango, pineapple hint (?), nectar, floral, honey. We loved this one! ⭐️⭐️
  9. Riesling Auslese 2022. Klüsserather St. Michael. Pradikätswine der Mosel. Feinherb, “great maturing potential”.
    —Devvers: small nose! Ripe peach/nectarine.
    —Sole: peach, lemon.
The tasting continues at Weingut Hieronimi: Spätburgunder, Rieslings
The tasting continues at Weingut Hieronimi: Spätburgunder, Rieslings

We were specially excited to try out wines made with grapes we had not experienced before or which we’re extremely unlikely to have any time soon, such as the Elbling or Müller-Thurgau, as some of these wines, although “perfectly drinkable” are just too expensive to export: relatively inexpensive at source but not distinctive enough to warrant the price they’d need to be paid for to make a profit once you add the taxes in the UK… It’s just easier to drink them “in place” i.e. enjoy them while you’re there.

After we finished drinking the wines we enjoyed the most, we decided we were enjoying the place so much, we would stay for another glass and some nibbles.

Cheese and olives platter at Weingut Hieronimi
Cheese and olives platter at Weingut Hieronimi

The place is really big. Apart from the garden and the cellar downstairs, they also have this room upstairs (where the bathrooms were), and there was another big room right in front of this one. So I reckon this might be really popular in colder months…

Upstairs bar area at Weingut Hieronimi
Upstairs bar area at Weingut Hieronimi

Decorative old wine press from 1800 on the landing:

Old 1800 wine press at Weingut Hieronimi
Old 1800 wine press at Weingut Hieronimi

We liked in fact one of the wines so much, that we decided to get a bottle to drink in our hotel’s courtyard (glasses free to use) as our Cochem farewell. So we got a bottle of the Riesling Auslese 2022 (number 8 in our list), which was about 8% ABV, and decided we’d find somewhere to eat some dinner before it got too late, as we knew what happened at that time in this small town.

We emerged from the darkness of the cellar, a little bit cold and damp in our bones, and were suddenly confronted with the realisation that it was still warm and sunny outside. The wonders of long days in summer! It didn’t even look like it was that late

… but it was.

Weinkeller Hieronimi - the building façade
Weinkeller Hieronimi – the building façade

We had committed the very exact error we were warned about: we had not booked a place on Monday, which is when most places are shut to rest (after the very frantic week-end with local area day-tripperss).

Cue a frantic combing through the town to see if anything was open. And so we witnessed that it was true and not an exaggeration: almost everything was shut. Even the kebab place was shut! We would not be to have chips as a last resource. Nothing. All the imbisses were also shut. What situation!

We tried our luck with the very small number of restaurants that were still open, but no one wanted to accept us. “We’re full”, they declared. This time, I believed it. The places were swarming, with queues outside and sweaty waiters running from place to place taking orders and carrying dishes.

We had started to seriously discuss whether the newsagents-like place in front of the train station would have anything edible (if it was a newsagent, and if it was open), and somehow we ended up being the last diners accepted at a pizzeria where they cheerfully and happily rejected everyone else that begged for a table 5 minutes after. And it wasn’t even 20h yet!

They did not need more victims. 🧛🏻🧛🏻‍♀️

Our standards had been considerably tempered, brought down to the floor and trodden over at that point, so it’s not that we were expecting much of any place that would take us; I think we just weren’t expecting anything at all (except maybe just not food poisoning!).

Certainly what we weren’t expecting is that the pizzeria was, in fact, an interdimensional portal to the 80s.

I hadn’t eaten a pizza like that since then, and they knew it, and they knew we knew it.

It was as if they were tortured souls paying penance for a sin they committed and they were stuck in that time, inflicting suffering with terribly average food even if they actually wanted be nice cooks, night after night, in a groundhog day pizzeria edition sort of curse. Or maybe they were psychic vampires, sucking up people’s energy?

We decided to laugh at the whole situation and admire the very 80ness of the very inelegantly thick and clumsily shaped dough, the evidently-came-from-a-jar tomato sauce, the quite-probably-not-Italian-at-all Pepperoni slices, the probably “Italian flavour spices” sprinkled on top, etc, etc. It was food, it would fill our stomachs, we would not have a horrible hungover. Deal!

All around us, people looked miserable, disappointed and increasingly greyer as their vital energy was sucked out of them by the tortured souls in the kitchen. Meanwhile, we giggled at the absurdity of it all, our own souls safely protected by the maelström of wines we had tasted a while earlier 😆

We did NOT brave being offered a slice of Vienetta or a coconut ice-cream (in its husk) as dessert, and chose instead to escape the 80s, go back to our hotel and enjoy our last hours in Cochem in the company of our Riesling Auslese.


PS I’m not going to share the name or address of the place, because remember, they don’t need more victims. All I’ll say is: don’t be like us. Book a place on Monday.

And if you’re afraid of speaking on the phone because you don’t speak German, then convince your hotel person to help you, bribe them, do whatever is needed, but avoid the 80s pizza. Leave it in the 20th century, where it belongs 😂

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