I came across this Schloss Koblenz Mosel Riesling in the Avanse supermarket in Furue (a suburb of Hiroshima) one Saturday afternoon earlier this month.
It instantly struck a chord with me and brought back memories of camping beside the river Mosel with my school friend Patrick Bayly in the summer of 1982.
We spent several weeks hitch-hiking our way through France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. Our route took us through the Black Forest, up the Rhine as far as Koblenz and then along the Mosel to Trier.
Back to the wine. After a long period of drinking mainly Italian whites, most notably a zinging greco-fiano from the Pipoli vinyard, located on the side of an extinct volcano in Basilicata, the dry Mosel riesling seemed remarkably soft and delicate.
Back to the Summer of 1982
Having enjoyed the wine, I looked into the archives and dug out some old photos and my 1982 diary to see what I had written about Koblenz and the Mosel.
Inevitably, my comments about the local sites are a little disappointing as I was more interested in writing about the amusing characters we encountered on our travels.
Thursday 8th August 1982
Caught a bus into Bingen, where we made our way to Klopp Castle. We came across a couple of slides, and as is usual, Boff had to have a go. Down the big wavy slide he goes – splatt! Into the grott that awaits him at the bottom.
Klopp Castle was a bit of a letdown – not very much to see, either of castle or of the surrounding countryside, and the museum was shut.
Now we devote well over an hour in search of the right road to Koblenz. After hitching at one end of town we go back for the second time to the other side of the river. Are given a lift by [a] bod in [a] red Renault – without having to hitch. Clever Boff had attached a destination placard to his rucksack, and this had done the trick.
Are dropped off in a small village, and hitch outside [the] house of [a] friendly German lady – who also has a nice daughter or two. (We are not worried about getting a quick lift, for we hope to be invited in for tea.) We are given a lift by [a] talkative Canadian bod who does a similar sort of thing himself [i.e. hitch-hiking, I suppose].
Dropped by the side of the Rhine, we hitch a lift with “William person” [a disparaging reference to a cousin of mine whom Boff had met while hitch-hiking around England the previous summer] in horrible furry car with lots of furry grooh dangling from strategic positions.
Finally, nice German businessman takes us to Koblenz. Koblenz seems very nice. Here are the barges we had talked about catching, but we don’t ask any of the captains!
To the campsite, where we are amused by the gait of the owner and his loudspeaker system over which he calls people to his office after a rendering of martial music.
We had planned to look around Koblenz and then hitch-hike to Trier the next day. My only comment about what I saw in Koblenz is that it was “very nice” and that we “bought a load of grub and trudged back to the campsite,” where, lounging outside our tent in the heat of the day it became obvious that we had no intention of going anywhere and end up drinking beer all evening with a party of Dutchmen:
In the next tent along from us are two rather fine Dutchmen. One is a Boff lookalike, [but] with dark hair and a beard, the other can only be described as mammoth man; a huge hulk of a figure, but a harmless sort of chap. In the shade of their canoe were found many crates of beer, which they and some of their compatriots seemed to drink at an astounding rate.
We had one of Patrick’s [i.e. Boff’s] famous spaghetti bolognese for dinner tonight, except that sausages instead of mince were used.
As evening draws on and our game of draughts becomes more impossible [sic], a tall dutchman emerges from the gloom and invites us to join him and his two cyclist friends for beer. All really good blokes – have a good chat… Our party and the nearby German/Canadian group chat and guffaw long into the night.
Our plans to head to Trier are further disrupted the next day. Firstly, I forgot to pick up my passport when we left the campsite and so half the day was wasted when I realized and had to go back and get it. However, that led to a second and most welcome disruption to our plans:
Having thus wasted half the day’s hitching time I assure Boff … that we shall get “The Big One” today! Indeed we do. A young couple pick us up and take us to a German pop/peace festival near Langcamp [sic]. It pours with rain…
The next day our two friends drop us off in a town somewhere on the Mosel and we head for Trier, encountering some colourful characters along the way:
Eventually two rattish looking chaps pull up in a car that is dominated by plastic tulips that leap from the speaker grills of the radio. they seem impressed by my combat jacket and ask which U.S. unit we’re from! Every time we drive past a girl they go into ecstasies of delight, titilating themselves by hooting, giggling and waving.
They drop us off near to Trier, and we are immediately picked up by one, Mrs Loony. She takes us into Trier, and all the way she fidgets and fiddles, slumps and primps, while her driving throws Boff about in the back like a sack of spuds. She then proceeds to take us to a YH [youth hostel] , where we wait until she has gone and make our escape!
After looking around, and being told where the YH is again, we camp by the river Mosel, a few hundred yards up. I ask [an] old hausfrau for fresh water for coffee, and Boff amuses himself hurling stones into the river.
Thirty years later, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen and Koblenz was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here is a Deutsche Welle video of the region, which I hope, one day, to revisit: