Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.43.14 PMSomewhere in Bavaria, a giant sleeps.  He’s been up for three days straight, and let’s face it, he can’t keep his eyes open.  This man, oversized in terms of his wine culture, and not in such pedestrian measures as height or weight, is Pascal Mehrtens.  He resides in the elegant medieval city of Regensburg, one hundred kilometers from Munich, its muscly big brother.  It was here on a dark January eve that Weinsinn – Germany’s Best Wine Party, was formally launched, and Pascal didn’t sleep a wink.

12662731_10153822140727674_2202146443528278685_nFor a man who eats, drinks and breathes wine, a German and French background offering him entrance to two of the world’s most important wine producing nations, the world of wine needed to be shaken up, and he knew just the party to do it: Weinsinn Die Party.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 8.49.03 PM.png

The evening was hosted at the Prufeninger Schlossgarten, a 12th century beer garden helmed by Axel Franke, a true manager with a command over his crew more akin to a sea captain than the land baron he poses as.  His gray ponytail moved swiftly from kitchen to bar to dining room, as he checked that everything was in place for the guests about to arrive, and he smiled generously in the midst of his business.

For aficionados of German and Austrian wines, the names Weebmuller, Goldenits, Potzinger, Hofling and Hebenstreit may be familiar enough.  But to have the actual winemakers at your party, to present the vintages themselves?  Now, that my friends is a wine geek’s wet dream.  And yours truly got to interview them, which was a hoot.

12604692_10153822140657674_4816189755324652822_oTo the mitteleuropeaische wines, add Italian, French, Slovenian, Portuguese, Spanish, Australian, New Zealander, Chilean and Argentine, 75 in total, and you definitely have a party.  Pascal curated champagnes, reds, whites and dessert wines, to offer his guests, as well, to flow with each part of the event.  And this was not an ordinary wine pairing dinner, you know the ones with yawning shrimp and Prosecco duets followed by coupled Chardonnay and salmon fishcakes.

The buffet was turned inside out, with guests welcomed into the kitchen as the main course was being prepared, appetizers laid out in a generous buffet that snaked around the chefs as they busied about their work.  Trout carpaccio with the closest shave of chervil and baby arugula was offered next to fluffy clouds of deviled eggs, nearly angelic in their lightness.  And the wines …


12592477_10153822141517674_612258736196698934_nScreen Shot 2016-04-17 at 9.06.09 PM.png

Weegmuller’s Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2002 Pfalz, a snap-crackle-pop of a wine, almost crunchy in its freshness, showed itself to be a perfect combination to the deviled eggs, from their high, billowing perch they were brought down to the ground with hints of Sicilian lemon and apricot on the palate.  Gabrielle Weegmuller, or Gaby as she is known to friends and colleagues, was on hand to offer information about her family’s vineyard, the oldest in the Pfalz, with 325 years of history under its belt.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 8.54.02 PM

Gorgeous meats that only a Bavarian feast can muster were treated to the finesse of Richard Goldenit’s Zweigelt 2010 (for those uninitiated to Austrian’s workhorse red, this is a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch).  It is unusual that this grape offers any standout performances, but in Goldenit’s case, it surprised me.  The fleshy cherry and Kirsch nose gave way to more fruit on the palate, with a very earthy, long finish.  It spoke of the medieval history that southern Germany shares with Austria, and my mind kept flashing a scene in a forest just after the rain.

It was that kind of party, where imagination runs wild and the atmosphere and food and wine more than help. Pascal had set up a big screen in the dining room with a loop of documentaries and short films about wine, including some the vineyards being presented.  The fluidity with which he mixed mediums, from the kitchen party buffet to the flash of wine media accompanying the dinner, was authentic, purposeful and most of all, fun.

After dessert there was a rocking band playing a mix of covers and their own songs, and of course, more bottles to discover, Pascal looking quite pleased and the winemakers shaking a tail feather.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you wine people can’t dance.  Pascal packed a punch that would’ve gone all night, if it wasn’t for the Prufeninger Schlossgarten’s curfew.  Bravo to the team for showing the eno-gastronomic set that you can shake things up at a pairing event, and enjoy a whole lot more than a glass with your wine.  Very rock and roll.  So thank you for the magic, Pascal.