(Marty) #1


(Germany, continued from page 76)

dining. My guide, Anja, repeatedly
stopped to pick leaves and flowers
that I would have brushed past as
weeds. She’d hand me sprigs to
chew on, and soon I could recognize
the flavors not only of the herbs—
thyme, marjoram, sorrel—but also of
dozens of other, less recognizable
plants: yarrow, parsley-like spicknel,
tormentil (wildly tannic), tiny blue
harebell blossoms, salad burnet with
its taste of cucumbers, almond-
scented meadowsweet flowers.
When I mentioned the Baden
vineyards I’d been visiting, Anja
noted that Württemberg, where we
were, has traditionally been a poor
area in comparison. “The people
are rougher, and the fields here are
forests. The Badisch sensibility
is just different from ours.” When
we lunched at one of the many
“wellness hotels”—small, rustic inns
with saunas or hot thermal pools—
that dot the area, I found that I
agreed. The bathroom featured
urinals attached to faux tree trunks,
with life-size photos on every
wall of bosomy German Fräuleins in
low-cut dirndls peeping at you
from behind trees. The women’s
room, Anja reported, offered
shirtless Aryan woodcutters—even
more disconcerting.
Württemberg’s historic rusticity,
however, was not remotely in
evidence at Schwarzwaldstube,
in Baiersbronn’s ultra-luxurious
Hotel Traube Tonbach. When the
legendary chef Harald Wohlfahrt

abruptly left the restaurant in 2017,
his longtime sous-chef, Torsten
Michel, had the unenviable task of
stepping into his role. But Michel
proved more than up to the task. He
serves a version of a dish that
Wohlfahrt used to cook as well,
lièvre à la royale—slow-braised wild
hare, deboned and mantled with
a glossy mahogany-colored sauce
rouennaise (a classic red-wine sauce
enriched with duck liver). The entire
dish was meltingly rich, and
sommelier Stéphane Gass’s choice
of an earthy 2010 Bernhard
Huber Hecklinger Schlossberg
Spätburgunder was a perfect pairing.
The next morning, I drove back
down the winding roads through the
mists for a couple of hours and
returned to the realm of vineyards
at Weingut Huber, in Malterdingen,
a tiny hamlet of just over 3,000.
Its founder, Bernhard Huber, who
passed away in 2014, is often
referred to as the godfather of
German Pinot. His son, Julian, now
runs the winery, which is tucked
away in a small valley. His father was
inspired, Julian told me as we hiked
up the incredibly steep vineyard,
by the Cistercian monks of the
Cloister Tannenbach, who brought
Pinot Noir here more than 700 years
ago. “No one wanted this vineyard,”
Julian said as I tried to catch my
breath, “because it was on such a
steep slope.” Yeah, no kidding.
Above us, a crumbling 14th-century
castle loomed—a common sight
in this part of Germany, where
ruined castles seem to sprout up
like weeds. “My father bought it in

  1. There were 25 varieties
    planted here, but he replanted the
    entire thing to Pinot Noir.”
    People thought the elder Huber
    was nuts, but today his wines are
    sought after by collectors and sell for
    upwards of $100 a bottle. Back at
    the winery, his cherry- and licorice-
    scented 2016 Sommerhalde rivaled a
    good premier cru Burgundy. I felt






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