OPPENHEIM — I didn’t take my camera to the reception and dinner last night, thinking, silly me, “Well, it’s a reception and dinner, why would I need a camera.” I was wrong. We had a splendid dinner and excellent wines at l’herbe de Provence restaurant in Hotel Zwo, where many of the group are staying, and I wish now that I had some images for you.

I met my colleagues on this three-day tour of organic estates — we represent the UK, Finland, China, Japan, Korea, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, the USA (that’s me), and the common language is English.

The wines for last night’s event came from Geheimrat Schnell, in a Rhein estate in Guntersblum. We began by sipping a pleasant and tart Chardonnay Brut, but the revelation was the Guntersblumer Weisburgunder 2007, a pinot blanc that was one of the most gorgeous wines I have ever encountered, bursting with camellia and jasmine, pears and yellow plums, limestone and dusty limes, all couched in a texture that was like powdered silk electrified by startling acidity. We drank this with the amuse bouche, a shot glass holding a little bread salad and a piece of sardine, and the starter dish, a brilliant combination of rouget barbet (that’s a fish) on braised apricots with tiny fried chanterelle mushrooms. Lord have mercy, the wine and the dish placed off each other beautifully.

A small “surprise course” from the kitchen brought a dollop of braised calves’ tail in a pastry shell. With it we drank Geheimrat Schnell’s Guntersblumer Eieserne Hand Spatburgunder 2007, a lovely, light, delicate pinot noir with a ravishing bouquet of plums and mulberries, dried spices and dried berries, a wine that pulls up spice, brambles and lilacs poised in a satiny texture. Not a profound pinot noir, but certainly one you (meaning I) could happily drink every day. The price for this wine around these parts is 8 eruos, about $10; the Pinot Blanc 07 mentioned above costs 6.5 euros, about $8. And the winery is right down the road. Can you imagine “drinking locally” like this at such prices?
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Oops, just got back from breakfast in the hotel lounge, a magnificent spread of a dozen salamis and other cured meats (some rather mysterious looking) and the most beautiful breads in the world (all of which demand trying), cereals, bowls of jams and jellies gleaming like dark wobbly jewels, tomatoes, pickles and so on, and not a pastry in sight.

The bus is waiting to take us to Geisenheim Research Institute, the only viticulture department in Europe devoted to organic studies. We’ll have a seminar with Prof. Dr. Randolf Kauer, have lunch at the institute, tour the experimental vineyard and then come back to Oppenheim for a tasting with ECOVIN, the association of German organic winegrowers. And then another estate visit and then dinner tonight.

More later, with pictures.