Introducing Gavin Williams from www.wineoftheweek.co.uk, the first male writer brave enough to become a Bouquet Best Friend!!
The super-sized barrel sits within a German hunting mansion in the Saxony-Anhault town of Halberstadt. According to the Guinness Book of Records it’s the world’s oldest giant wine cask measuring five metres in diameter and weighing in at a whopping 63 tonnes.
Work commenced on the cask in 1592 and was completed two years later in time for the wedding of the Duke of Brunswick to Princess Elisabeth of Denmark. Reportedly it took them twelve years to drink the cask dry after which it fell into neglect.
Let us just consider that for a moment. Twelve years to drink 144,000 litres works out at a health wrecking 32 litres a day. No wonder they let the cask fall into neglect, they must have been sick at the very sight of it. I do hope they had friends round to help them out.
The cask was rescued from it’s slumbers in the eighteenth century by a certain Lord Ludwig von Spiegal who, after a successful appeal to Frederick the Great, rolled out the barrel to the Halberstadt hunting lodge where it now resides.
It is unclear whether Lord Ludwig was a wine man or simply a man with a cask fetish.
Last Friday, local restaurant owner Chris Schöne cracked open the seal for the first time in 400 years and filled it with a mere 4,000 litres of Domfelder red wine from the Rhineland-Palatine. Those lucky enough to have been present at the weekend’s rebirth included the Danish Ambassador and a descendent of Lord Ludwig von Spiegel himself.
The ceremony marked the beginning of a three day festival in the town and organisers are hopeful that the giant cask will bring in the tourists.
However, for me the town is lacking ambition. In my mind I’ve long held a bizarre vision of a wine Mecca where only the most committed of oenophiles would be welcome to worship. Before gaining entry to the place of worship, pilgrims would have to submit to a blood test to prove that they had no trace of Blossom Hill in their blood. Only then could the purity of the oenophile race be ensured.
It seems to me that Halberstadt, home to this ‘Giant Cask of the Kings’, is the perfect false idol on which to project our fundamentalist commitment to all things vinous.
Hmmm. I shall be planning my visit to the good town of Halberstadt forthwith.
www.WineOfTheWeek.co.uk is written by Gavin Williams a digital consultant by day and a committed oenophile by night. His wine credentials include spells at Laithwaites, The Wine Society and Tesco Wine Club where he mostly noodled with the all seeing eye that is the internet. The WineOfTheWeek blog takes an irreverent look at the world of wine, showcasing bizarre videos, wine label oddities, preposterous news stories and only occasionally descending into earnestness.