An account of a romance with the irresistible boutique wines of Franconia in Bavaria. 

Our culinary quest for some of the most endearing and exclusive gourmet experiences took us to Germany's richest region, Bavaria. We were prepared for the out-of-the ordinary.

For starters, as we relished crisp smoked salmon and mushroom-leek risotto with a fine dry Castell Schlossberg Sylvaner white Fanken wine at 40,000 feet on board the direct Lufthansa flight to Munich, we knew we had finally made it. It was a heightened start to a ground-breaking gourmet pilgrimage into a relatively lesser known region of southern Germany. 

Hidden treats

Bavaria's inimitable gastronomic treats are often hidden in the tiniest of hamlets and towns where award-winning fine dining outposts magnetise city gastronomes all the way from Munich. Medieval fortified Nuremberg lured us to its old town area and to a historic gourmet landmark ‘Zum Sudhaus', an honour nonpareil… 

Relishing a fabulous Asparagus Cake with Fresh Asparagus Salad, we shared space with giants like Chancellor Willy Brandt, Helmut Kohl and distinguished royalty. Just a whistle away the quaint Museum Brewery Alstadthaus Brauerei extended tastings of Nuremberg's fabulous micro-beers brewed in one of the tiniest breweries in the world. Bavaria is all about world famous Weise Biers (wheat beers).  

A finely tuned six-course fine wining and dining at boutique address Essigbraetlein elevated our gastronomic pursuit further. Our Nuremberg culinary caper brought us to the traditional Bratwursthausle where buxom fraus offered us succulent skewer-popping sausages and mega steins of Dunkel (dark) beer.  

Vibrant Coburg is small but seductive and tempting. Its famed annual Samba event draws in another species of swinging forms from across the world.

We popped into Feyler's for their delicious Goldschmaetzchen, the gorgeously grand golden gingerbread cookies created with actual gold leaf for visiting royalty. With thirst edging us further, we walked the old town to Wein Ortell the city's oldest and largest wine merchants where boutique Franken (Franconian) wine tastings made way for our fabled wine country capers.

Our breezy cruise through breathtaking countryside Franconia, Bavaria's well-tended boutique wine region, brought us to the gourmet Christmas capital Rothenburg Ob der Tauber. It was actual snow we swallowed here, in the mild heat of spring! You need nerve to dig into Rothenburg's edible snowballs or Schneeballen; those authentic face-sized butter-cream balls had us skip lunch all together.

Steffen, our expert vineyard host, offered us some of the finest Tauberhase wine labels paired with choicest Bavarian country cheeses at the hilltop wine-tasting hut overlooking the Mittermeier vineyards over the mesmerising Taubertal valley. We relished limited edition varietals like a 2008 Weingut Stoerlein and Krenig Silvaner ‘Tradition' dry white and a superb  Weingut Rudolf Furst 2008 Silvaner ‘ Pur Mineral' dry white; gems in their own class.  

Culinary creativity

A private fine wining and dining evening at the Gourmet restaurant Villa Mittermeier saw us speechless at Christian Mittermeier's outstanding French and Italian culinary creativity. More surprises awaited us at the renowned thermal spa town Bad Kisingen and further on to tiny Ramsthal.

The limited edition bouquets of Baldauf Winery charmed us completely with classy boutique wines: the daringly sensual Baldauf Gold Medal 2008 Clees Bacchus Spaetlese; The Baldauf ‘Domina', a unique blend of Portuguesa and Spaetburgunder a fabulous dry red wine with charcoal flavours was the highlight. The hallmark of our unforgettable visit was a fine dining experience with friends Gunter and Markus at the celebrated Laudensacks gourmet restaurant. 

But with dynamic Peter Lehnardt it was elite exception. The pioneer-businessman-owner of the celebrated Schlosshotel Weyberhofe Vital Resort and Weyberhofe Braurei (micro brewery) was the hands-down winner with his unmatched one-and-only Beer Champagne; Careme. A serious wine connoisseur and collector, Peter charmed us with select wine tastings at his ancient underground cellars and the finest fine wining and dining evening in our whole Bavarian culinary pilgrimage.

As we strolled the breathtaking slopes of Schlossberg vineyards of wine giants Castell (Faber and Castell fame), a spectacular drama of light and shade whetted our thirst for boutique varietals. Back in their cellars we savoured Castell wines of outstanding repute: the 2008 Schloss Castell Mueller Thurgau Trocken (dry); the award-winning GG Schlossberg Silvaner and ‘Apriles' Silvaner, honeysuckle with jasmine and peonia bouquets and sensational reds like the 2008 Reitsteig and innovative 2008 Castell Cuvee blend.

Besides their famed boutique wines, it's a good idea to bring back hard cheeses, local beers, likors (schnapps), fabulous breads and, of course, Schneeballen!

Getting to Bavaria

The most convenient direct connection is on Lufthansa Airlines to Munich Franz Josef International Airport. From here Franconia is to the northwest; about two hours, each destination within 90 minutes between.