Categories
Uncategorized

Franken

Franken (in English, Franconia) is out of the mainstream of German wine both geographically and by dint of its quite separate traditions. Politically it lies in the otherwise beer-centric former kingdom of Bavaria, which gives its State cellars a grandeur found nowhere else in Germany. Franken is unusual in that it makes greater wines from Silvaner than Riesling, and has long specialized in dry wines. The name Steinwein (“stone wine”) was once loosely used for all Franken wine. Stein is, in fact, the: name of one of the two famous vineyards of the city of Wurzburg. Franken’s wine capital on the Main. The other is Innere Leiste. Both distinguished themselves in the past by making wines that were incredibly long-lived. A Stein wine of the great vintage of 1540 was still (just) drinkable in the 1960s. Such wines were Beerenauslesen at least, thus immensely sweet. Franken makes few such rarities today; indeed less than 10% of production is anything other than trocken or halbtrocken.

Franken’s climate is decidedly continental, but climate change has largely solved the region’s problem of too short a growing season. Indeed, 1996 was the last vintage that saw any underripe Riesling arid Silvaner is frequently as concentrated and alcoholic these days as some of the more substantial wines from the Austrian Wachau.

Vineyards near the magnificent city of Wurzburg in autumn, before the relatively early arrival of Franken’s particularly cold winter - which historically limited the planting of Riesling in Franken and encouraged the planting of dreary Muller-Thurgau.
Vineyards near the magnificent city of Wurzburg in autumn, before the relatively early arrival of Franken’s particularly cold winter – which historically limited the planting of Riesling in Franken and encouraged the planting of dreary Muller-Thurgau.

But even in Franken, unfortunately, Muller-Thurgau seems to offer a better return, at least on less-than-ideal sites. lt is the most-planted variety, on about a third of all vineyard land, but Silvaner (grown on more than a fifth) is king, magically producing wines of crackling intensity here, even if it demands the most propitious vineyard sites. Franken wines may also be made from the super-aromatic grape varieties Kerner, and especially, Bacchus. Scheurebe and Rieslaner, an even later-ripening Silvaner x Riesling crossing, can make very good dessert wines and substantial dry wines here, provided they reach full ripeness.

The heart of Franken

The heart of wine-growing Franken is in Maindreieck, following the fuddled three-cornered meandering of the Main from Escherndorf and Nordheim upstream of Wurzburg, south to Frickenhausen, then north again through the capital to include all the next leg of the river and the outlying district around Hammelburg. Escherndorf stands out from these many villages for its celebrated Lump vineyard, and such talented producers as Horst Sauer and neighbour Rainer Sauer. What distinguishes all these scattered south-facing hillsides is the peculiar limestone known as Muschelkalk (whose origins are not so different from the Kimmeridgian clay of Chablis, or indeed of some of Sancorre’s soils). This gives the wines an elegant raciness, particularly so in the case of the famous Wurzburger Stein and noticeably so even in the more honeyed wines of Eseherndorfer Lump.

Wurzburg is the essential visit: one of the great cities of the vine, with three magnificent estate cellars in its heart belonging respectively to the Bavarian State (Staatliche Hofkeller), a church charity (the recently revived Juliusspital), and a civic charity (the Burgerspital). The city is also home to the Knolls’ exceptional 66-acre (27ha) Weingut am Stein estate. The Staatliche Hofkeller lies under the gorgeous Residenz of the former prince-bishops, whose ceiling paintings by Tiepolo are reason enough to visit the city. There is also the noble Marienburg Castle on its hill of vines, the great baroque river bridge, and the bustling Weinstuben (wine bars) belonging to these ancient foundations, where all their wines can be enjoyed with suitably savoury food.

All of these labels, from some of Franker's most admired producers, are designed for the wide, flat Bocksbeutel that has been the characteristic bottle shape for Franker wines for centuries - which is why so many wine labels are oval.
All of these labels, from some of Franker’s most admired producers, are designed for the wide, flat Bocksbeutel that has been the characteristic bottle shape for Franker wines for centuries – which is why so many wine labels are oval.

Mainviereck, further downstream to the west, has lighter loam based on sandstone. It has much less land under vine, but ancient steep vineyards such as Homburger Kallmuth (off the map to the south) can produce extraordinary, age-worthy wines. This is also Franken’s red wine area, where exceptionally arid terraces of red sandstone can produce Spatburgunders and Fruhburgunders (an early-ripening strain of Pinot Noir) of real interest. Stars such as red wine magician Rudolf Furst and Lowenstein are based here.

In the Steigerwald in the east, the vine looks almost a stranger in the setting of arable fields with forests of magnificent oaks crowning its sudden hills. The seriously steep slopes are of gypsum and marl, which makes its mark in particularly strongly flavoured wines. Some of the finest wines come from the parishes of Iphofen (home of Hans Wirsching and Johann Ruck) and Rodelsee, as well as the doll’s-house princedom and wine estate of Castell.

ТНE WINE CENTRES OF FRANKEN

Franken
Franken

Vine-growing is concentrated on the banks of the meandering Main, with the best sites being steep, well-protected, south-facing, and benefiting from sunlight reflected off the river’s surface. Some years, spring frosts can destroy a substantial proportion of the grape crop.

Categories
Uncategorized

Baden

Germany is profiting more from climate change than any wine country. In the far south, its growers are setting off in quite new directions.

Their wines are invariably dry, very full-bodied, and often oaked. These are incontrovertibly wines to be drunk with food; the best are keenly sought at Germany’s well-kept tables, even if they are too rarely exported. France may have provided the original models for the Spatburgunder, Grauhurgunder, and Weissburgunder that are, respectively, the first, third, and fourth most-planted vine varieties in Baden, but a new generation of winemakers is confident enough to carve out its own local styles of wine.

Among German wine regions only the Ahr has a higher proportion of red wine than Baden and Wurttemberg where 44% and 71 % respectively, of total vineyard area are planted with dark-skinned varieties. The second half of the last, century saw massive restructuring of the Baden winescape, both physical in the form of re-landscaping of difficult-to-work steep slopes, and social in the form of the domination of Baden’s super-efficient co-ops, which at one stage handled 90% of each crop. Today, that proportion has fallen to 72%, although the mammoth Badischer Winzerkeller at Breisach, the frontier town on the Rhine between Freiburg and Alsace, is still Baden’s principal marketer.

The co-ops are making better and better wine, but it is what is happening at the other end of the scale that makes Germany look at Raden with new eyes. Smaller producers such as Dr Heger in Kaiserstuhl, Bernhard Huber in Breisgau, Andreas Laible in Durbach, and Salwey of Oberrotweil are the ones who pioneered Burgundian techniques and clones. Other top Кaiserstuhl growers include Bercher, R & C Schneider, Karl Heinz Johner, and Fritz (son of Franz) Keller, whose wine-importing and gastronomic background is heavily influenced by France.

Baden is the warmest German region, only slightly damper and cloudier than Alsace, just across the Rhine. Two-thirds of its vineyards skirt the legendary Black Forest, with the bulk of them in a narrow 80-mile (130km) strip between the forest, and the river. The best of them lie either on privileged southern slopes in the forest massif or on the Kaiserstuhl, the remains of an extinct volcano which forms a distinct island of high ground in the Rhine Valley.

The Kaiserstuhl (mapped opposite) and Tuniberg furnish one-third of all Baden’s wine. While the dominant soil type is loess. must of the finest red Spatburgunders and full-bodied white Grauburganders grow on volcanic soils and are positively stiff with flavour. Immediately east of here is the Breisgau, where Bernhard Huber of Malterdingen is making some of Germany’s finest Spatburgunder. To the north, in Lahr, the Wohrle family has breathed new life into the Weingut Stadt Lahr, which is now making particularly pure, pristine whites Chardonnay as well as Pinot Вlanc.

North again, just south of the luxurious Black Forest spa of Baden-Baden, the Ortenau is Baden’s second most important pocket of vineyards with a long-established emphasis on red wine. Andreas Laiblo, Schloss Neuweier, and newcomers Enderle & Moll are the over-achievers here.

Still further north, the diversity of soils of the Kraichgau encourages a wider range of varieties, but Riesling is popular and Auxerrois something of a local specialily. Around the historic university town of Heidelberg the Badische Bergstrasse is best known for the Seeger estate’s various Pinots.

Far to the south, in the Markgraflerland, the corner of Germany between Freiburg and Basel, the favourite grape has been Gutedel, the local name for the Chasselas planted across the border in Switzerland. It makes refreshing, if reticent, wine. Chardonnay is also very much at home here and rival winemaking brothers Marlin and Fritz Wassmer of Bad Krozingen-Schlatt, together with Ziereisen of Efringen-Kirchen, have put the local Spatburgunder on the map.

Wine from the southernmost area of all, around Meersburg on the Bodensee, is known as Seewein (“lake wine”) and off-dry, pink-tinted Weissherbst of Spatburgunder is a cheerful local speciality. Aufricht of Meersburg-Stetten and Staatsweingut Meersburg are making some remarkable Muller-Thurgau (the principal grape) here as well as some elegant white Pinots.

Wurttemberg

Salwey and Dr Heger are two of Baden's most admired producers and, like their peers, take Grauburgunder extremely seriously. (Endingen has hosted an annual Grauburgunder event). About half of all the region's grapes are Pinots of some hue.
Salwey and Dr Heger are two of Baden’s most admired producers and, like their peers, take Grauburgunder extremely seriously. (Endingen has hosted an annual Grauburgunder event). About half of all the region’s grapes are Pinots of some hue.

Wurttemberg, extensive though its vineyards are (it is Ger many’s fourth-largest wine region), is very much better known in Germany than abroad. Producers such as Aldinger and Rainer Schnaitmann in Fellbach on the outskirts of Stuttgart suggest that Wurttemberg is poised for the sort of revolution recently witnessed in Rheinhessen. The region, which, like Baden, extends far beyond the limits of this map, is still dominated by the dark Trollinger grape, but Lemberger, the fourth most-planted variety after Riesling and Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier), produces some thoroughly convincing and distinctive Wurttemberg red. There have also been some convincing experiments with Fruhburgunder and even some red Bordeaux varieties. The climate is more continental so sites are chosen with care, lining the River Neckar and its tributaries, with three-quarters of the region’s vineyards to the north of the state capital, Stuttgart.

BADEN, WURTTEMBERG, AND HESSISCHE BERGSTRASSE

Baden, Wurttemberg, and Hessische Bergstrasse
Baden, Wurttemberg, and Hessische Bergstrasse

Just north of Mannheim, and not an exporter of its dry Rieslings, is Germany’s smallest wine region, Hessische Bergstrasse. Baden and Wurttemberg between them have 60 times as much vineyard.

KAISERSTUHL AND BREISGAU

Kaiserstuhl and Breisgau
Kaiserstuhl and Breisgau

This new map shows the heartland of Baden fine wine production, the source of some of Germany’s most complex and most full-bodied renditions of Pinots Noir, Gris, and Blanc Alsace is just across the Rhine from here.

Categories
Uncategorized

Pfalz

The Pfalz (in English, Palatinate) is Germany’s biggest, and these days perhaps most exciting, wine region; a 50-mile (80km) stretch of vineyards north of Alsace, under the lee of the German continuation of the Vosges – the Haardt Mountains. Like Alsace, it is the sunniest and driest part of its country and has the never-failing charm of half-timbered, flower-bedecked villages among orchards. A labyrinthine road, the Deutsche Weinstrasse, like the Route du Vin of Alsace, starts at the gates of Germany and winds northwards through vines and villages, culminating in the Mittlelhaardt, the area mapped in detail opposite. A great part of the wine of the area has been made by efficient co-operatives, but the Pfalz is now known for its ambitious individual wine producers, many of them members of such informal organizations as Funf Freunde. Pfalzhoch, and Sudpfalz Connexion.

This harvest scene of terraces near Bad Durkheim looks almost as though it belongs on a medieval tapestry.
This harvest scene of terraces near Bad Durkheim looks almost as though it belongs on a medieval tapestry.

Riesling is the most-planted vine, but the red wine craze has swept through the Pfalz, too. In 2010, almost 40% of all its wine was red, and Dornfelder was the second most-planted variety; Muller-Thurgau has fallen to almost exactly the same area as the even less distinguished red Portugieser. A rich mix of other varieties makes up 45% of the region’s vines. The Pfalz is Germany’s workshop for a range of whites arid reds of every complexion, including the whole Pinot family, with the emphasis on dry, often barrique-aged wines for the table. The three Pinots (Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, and Spatburgunder), with and without oak, are firmly established and even Cabernet Sauvignon can be ripened. Two bottles in every three of Pfalz wine are dry: trocken or halbtrocken.

Exciting wines throbbing with fruit are now made not just in the Mittelhaardt, the home of some of Germany’s biggest, and most famous estates, but throughout the region. There are Pfalz wines of serious interest, made from Viognier and Sangiovese as well as the more traditional varieties, from as far north as Laumershieim, as far south as Schweigen, and as far east as Ellerstadt.

In the Mittelhaardt, however, Riesling is still king. Mittelhaardt Riesling’s special quality is succulent honeyed richness and body, balanced with thrilling acidity – even when it is finished dry. Historically, three famous producers (known as the “three Bs”) dominated this, the kernel of the Pfalz: biodynamic purist Burklin-Wolf, von Bassermann- Jordan, and von Buhl. But any monopoly of quality they had has disappeared in a surge of ambitious and original winemaking on all sides.

The Einzellagen on the hilly west side of the villages are the ones that most often attain the summits оf succulence. In the south, Ruppertsberg is one of the first villages of the Mittelhaardt; its best sites (Gaisbohl, Linsenbusch, Reiterpfad, Spiess) are all on moderate slopes, well-exposed, and mostly Riesling.

The warm, dry summers of the Pfalz make the region well suited to producing dry wines full of fruit and flavour, although there is also one of the Pfalz's Trockenbeerenauslese in this collection of labels. Alcohol is just 6.5% but the sugar level will be extraordinary.
The warm, dry summers of the Pfalz make the region well suited to producing dry wines full of fruit and flavour, although there is also one of the Pfalz’s Trockenbeerenauslese in this collection of labels. Alcohol is just 6.5% but the sugar level will be extraordinary.

Forst has a reputation for the Pfalz’s most elegant wine. Locals draw parallels with the tall, graceful spire of the village church. The top vineyards of Forst lie on water-retentive clay, while black basalt above the village provides dark, warm soil, rich in potassium, sometimes quarried and spread on other vineyards, notably in Deidesheim. The Jesuitengarten, Forst’s most famous vineyard, and the equally fine Kirchenstuck, lie just behind the church. Freundstuck (largely von Buhl’s) and Pechstein are in the same class. Georg Mosbacher is an outstanding Forst grower.

Although Forst was the most highly rated Pfalz village in the classification of 1828, Deidesheim to the south has at least caught up, besides being one of the prettiest villages in Germany.

Its best wines have a very special sort of succulence. Von Bassermann- Jordan and von Buhl have their cellars here. Hohenmorgen, Langenmorgen, Leinhohle, Kalkofen, Kieselberg, and Grainhubel are the top vineyards.

The village of Wachenheim, where Burklin-Wolf is based, marks the end of the historic kernel of the Mittelhaardt with a cluster of famous small vineyards. Bohlig, Rechbachel, and Gerumpel are the first growths. Richness is not a marked characteristic of Wachenheim: its great qualities are finely poised sweetness and purity of flavour.

Bad Durkheim is the biggest wine commune in Germany, with 2,000 vineyard acres (800ha). Riesling is in the minority except in the best sites of the terraced Michelsberg and Spielberg. For long Bad Durkheim was an under-performer but now Thomas Hensel anil Karl Schaefer and others challenge them. One of Germany’s most reliable co-ops. the Vier Jahreszeiten, has been a reliable producer of bargains here for decades.

From here north we are in the Unterhaardt, whose most renowned parishes are Kallstadt (star performer: Koehler-Ruprecht) and Ungstein. Their best sites are Saumagen, in what was a Roman chalk pit, and Herrenberg, famous for rich Scheurebe from the Pfeffingen estate. Knipser and Philipp Kuhn of Laumersheim make a wide range of thrilling wines, from barrique-aged whites and reds to substantial Grosses Gewachs dry Rieslings.

THE WINE CENTRES OF THE PFALZ

Pfalz
Pfalz

The Mittelhaardt, mapped opposite, is but a very small proportion of the sprawling Pfalz, where summers of late have been warmer than ever.

THE MITTELHAARDT

Mittelhaardt
Mittelhaardt

Bad Durkheim is famous for its riotous sausage and wine fair every autumn. But most of the great Pfalz vineyards are little further south, between Wachenheim and Deidesheim.

Categories
Uncategorized

Rheinhessen

Today, Rheinhessen rivals Pfalz as the most exciting wine region in Germany. For years this area between the Rheingau and Pfalz, bounded to the east and north by a long, slow bend in the Rhine, seemed to be asleep. A handful of strong traditionalists around the Nierstein “Rheinfront” made fine wines: most of the area just churned out the Liebfraumilch and Gutes Domtal that did Germany’s reputation so much harm.

But by the turn of the century it was apparent that much was set to change in and around the 150-odd Rheinhessen villages, spaced out over an area 20 by 30 miles (30 by 50km), virtually all named Something-heim, where wine is just one crop among many. A group of highly trained and motivated, enviably well-travelled young winemakers have demonstrated that not just the sleep terraces right on the Rhine, but the dull, undulating, fertile mixed-farming country in the hinterland can produce wines of thrilling integrity and quality. They are concentrated in the south in the area mapped opposite, for the first time in this Atlas, known as Wonnegau. Many of these younger winemakers belong to organizations such as Message in a Bottle, Rheinhessen Five, and Vinovation, inspired in particular by a remarkable pair of overperforming neighbours, Philipp Wittmann and Klaus Peter Keller, in the area around Florsheim-Dalsheim in the south.

The revolution has been taking place in villages no one had heard of. Dittelsheim owes its arrival to Stefan Winter: Siefersheim. far to the west, to Wagner-Stempel; Hohen-Sulzen to Battenfeld Spanier; Bechtheim to Dreissigacker; and Weinheim to Gysler. In many cases they are not so much trailblazing as recovering historic sites, for the vine has been cultivated in Rheinhessen since Roman times. Charlemagne’s uncle presented vineyards in Nierstein to the diocese of Wurzburg in 742. Typically these new-wave winemakers are returning to traditional winemaking methods, including most obviously low yields and ambient, rather than added cultured yeasts. The result, is wines that are more intense but reveal their aromas rather more slowly than the German norm. Nor do they limit themselves to Riesling. Serious dry Silvaner is made here and the quality of the Spatburgunder produced is soaring.

A mixed bag of vines

No German wine region grows a more varied mix of vines. Even the once-ubiquitous Muller-Thurgau today accounts for barely 16% of all Rheinhessen’s vineyard. Riesling is now Rheinhessen’s second most-planted variety, having overtaken the Dornfelder that is popular for fruity reds. Silvaner, Portugieser, Kerner, Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), Scheurebe, and Crauburgunder can all lay claim to between 4 and 9% of the region s vineyard.

Silvaner has a particularly long and noble history in Rheinhessen and can be found today in two distinct styles. The majority is light, fresh, reasonably fruity wine for early drinking (notably with the early summer while asparagus the locals love). At the other end of the scale are powerful, dry Silvaners with high extract and longevity. Their foremost protagonist is Michael Teschke of Gau-Algesbeim, whose estate is almost solely dedicated to the variety, although Keller and Wagner-SlCmpel arc both practitioners of this style.

One traditional characteristic persists. The proportion of Rheinhessen wine that is sweeter than halbtrocken is still almost half. Only the Mosel and Nahe produce a lower proportion of dry wine than Rheinhessen – although many of the region’s finest, new-wave wines are bone dry.

For centuries, Worms was one of the great Rhineland cities, seat of the famous “Diet” of 1521 that excommunicated Martin Luther, translator of the Bible into German. Its Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstuck vineyard around the local church, the Liebfrauenkirche, has the doubtful distinction of having christened Liebfraumilch, the rock on which quality German wine so nearly foundered. But two growers, Gutzler and Liebfrauenstift (formerly Valckenberg), are now making serious wine from this vineyard.

At the other, northern extreme of Rheinhessen, the town of Bingen, facing Rudesheim across the Rhine, has excellent Riesling vineyards on the steep slopes of its first-growth Scharlachberg.

The four left-most labels are for wines produced on the land mapped in detail above, while Gunderloch is perhaps the most famous "Rheinfront" producer. Michael Teschke is based in the far northwest of the region.
The four left-most labels are for wines produced on the land mapped in detail above, while Gunderloch is perhaps the most famous “Rheinfront” producer. Michael Teschke is based in the far northwest of the region.

In the distant past, the town of Nierstein was famous for its wonderfully luscious, fragrant wines from such illustrious vineyards as Hipping, Brudersberg, and Pettenthal, but in the 1970s the name was sullied by its association with the bloated Grosslage Niersteiner Gutes Domtal, a wine from anywhere except Nierstein. Today, it is no longer the leading light in Rheinhessen, although Kuhling Gillol and Keller are doing their best to bring back the glory days.

Just to the north of the town lies the village of Nackenheim. The most, famous stretch of vineyard here is the sand-red near-cliff called Roter Hang, where the Gunderloch estate consistently excels with uniquely spicy, unctuous Riesling from the Rothenburg site.

THE WINE CENTRES OF RHEINHESSEN

Rheinhessen
Rheinhessen

Germany’s most productive region has more than 400 named single-vineyard sites but, although things have been changing for the better, most wine is still sold either as Liebfraumilch or as bland, geographically confusing Niersteiner Gutes Domtal.

WONNEGAU

Wonnegau
Wonnegau

This new map shows where the greatest concentration of the new stars of the region is to be found, in gentle farming country rather than in a dramatic landscape like the “Rheinfront” between Nackenhein and Nierstein.

Categories
Uncategorized

Eastern Rheingau

The boundaries of Hattenheim (in the west of the area mapped below) stretch back into the hills to include the high ridge of the Steinberg.

This 80 acre (32.4 ha) vineyard was planted and walled in the 12th century by the Cistercians. Below, in a wooded hollow, stands their monastery. Kloster Eberbach. If German wine had a headquarters this great complex of medieval buildings in its woodland valley would be it. Today, it houses music festivals, a hotel, restaurant, and an extraordinary collection of ancient wine that tells the story the Rheingau. In 2008, its owners, the Hessische Staatsweinguter Kloster Eberbach (Stale Wine Domain), intent on restoring the Steinberg to its full glory, built a thoroughly modern winery on the outskirts of Eltville for its vast vineyard holdings, the biggest in Germany and some of the best.

Kloster Eberbach's new Steinberg winery was built at a cost of 16 million euros And it is not just the winemaking facilities that have been modernized - all the wine bottles now have distinctive screw cap closures.
Kloster Eberbach’s new Steinberg winery was built at a cost of 16 million euros And it is not just the winemaking facilities that have been modernized – all the wine bottles now have distinctive screw cap closures.

Like Hallgarten, Hattenheim has marl in the soil. Mamberg on its eastern boundary is 90% owned by Langwerth von Simmern. Nussbrunnen and Wisselbrunnen are capable of producing wines just as good. Straddling the border with Erbach is Marcobrunn, unusually close to the river in a situation that looks as though the drainage would be far from perfect. Wine from either side of the parish boundary is very full-flavoured and often rich, fruity, and spicy: the characteristics of these marl-based vineyards. The owners of Marcobrunn include Schloss Schonbom, Schloss Reinhartshausen, and the Staatsweingut. Erbacher Siegelsberg, which lies parallel with Marcobrunn, is next in quality.

The beautiful and musical Gothic church of Kiedrich is the next landmark, set back from the river and 400ft (120m) higher. Kiedrich makes exceptionally well balanced and delicately spicy wine. Robert Weil (part Japanese-owned) is the biggest estate of the parish and today makes many of the Rheingaus most impressive sweet wines. Grafenberg is reckoned the best part of the vineyard, although Wasseros is also highly regarded. Weil concentrates on its substantial holdings in Grafenberg and the smaller but equally outstanding Turmberg, and makes fine Trockenbeerenauslesen in enviable quantity in both. (Turmberg was incorporated into the Wasseros in 1971, but in 2005 was restored, under its original name and size of 9.4 acres/3.8 ha, as a monopoly of the Weil estate.)

Rauenthal, the last of the hill villages and the furthest from the river, can make a different kind of superlative wine. The complex Rauenthalers of the estate of Georg Breuer continue to be some of the most sought-after in Germany. Auslesen from two lordly growers, Baron Langwerth von Simmern and Count Schonborn, as well as those of several smaller growers on the Rauenthaler Berg, are prized for the combination of power and delicacy in their flowery scent and in their spicy aftertaste.

Eltville makes larger quantities of wine but without as much cachet, although J Koegler is a grower to watch. Not far from the town are the headquarters of the Staatsweinguter Kloster Eberbach, whose wines (especially Steinbergers) have in the past been among the Rheingau’s best.

Without the fame of their neighbours, Walluf and Martinsthal share much of their quality. At Walluf the stars are JR Becker and Toni Jost, one of the most celebrated producers of the Mittelrhein across the river.

Hochheim

In the far east of the Rheingau, separated from the main stretch of vineyards mapped opposite by the southern suburbs of sprawling Wiesbaden, the Rheingau has an unexpected outpost: Hochheim (which gave us the word “hock”). Hochheim vineyards lie on gently sloping land just north of the warming River Main, isolated in country that has no other vines. Good Hochheimers, with their own thrilling full-bodied earthiness, thanks to deep soils and an unusually warm mesoclimate, match the quality of the best Rheingauers and the style of those of Nackenheim-Nierstein in Rheinhessen.

Flick and Kunstler are the bright sparks of Hochheim today. The Czech Kunstler family made wine for three centuries in Moravia before being expelled from the country in the mid-20th century.
Flick and Kunstler are the bright sparks of Hochheim today. The Czech Kunstler family made wine for three centuries in Moravia before being expelled from the country in the mid-20th century.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Domdechant Werner injected new life into the region, with Domdechaney its flagship site. Today, Franz Kunstler is the undisputed leader for the consistency and the brilliance of his wines, particularly those from the Kirchenstuck and Holle vineyards. Кirchenstuck grows the most elegant wines, while Holle and Domdechaney produce wines so rich enough to be atypical of the Rheingau’s elegant signature.

Hochheim was previously most readily associated with Queen Victoria, whose visit to the source of wines then so popular with her subjects is commemorated by the Konigin Victoriaberg vineyard and label. The sole owner of Konigin Victoriaberg is now Reiner Flick, who not only makes excellent dry and sweet wines from the vineyards of Hochheim, but is also putting the historic vineyards of Wicker, especially Nonnberg, to the northeast of Hochheim, back on the map – though not, alas, this one.

HATTENHEIM TO WALLUF

Hattenheim to Walluf
Hattenheim to Walluf

Note that for entirely practical reasons, the orientation of this map, like that of the Western Rheingau, is not due north. The vines occupy the great majority of the slope between the woods and the water. Vines аre also grown on the narrow stand between Hattenheim and Erbach.

HOCHHEIM

Hochheim
Hochheim

Hochheim is quite different from the rest оf the Rheingau, not just because it is one the Main and is physically separate, but also because the sand, loam, and loess soils are looser, deeper, and warmer.

Categories
Uncategorized

Western Rheingau

The Rheingau is the spiritual heart of German wine, the birthplace of Riesling and the site of its most historic vineyard, planted by Burgundian Cistercians as a rival to the Clos do Vougeot. At its best its wines can unite depth, subtlety, and austerity to make the noblest, wine of the great wine river. Did these attributes make it complacent? It has certainly been overtaken in the past decades by the less aristocratic Rheinhcssen and Rheinpfalz. Its potential, though, still glitters in its finest bottlings. The names of Rudesheim, Johannisberg, Erbach, Rauenthal, and Hochheim still spell Riesling at its most compelling.

Schloss Johanninsberg is the granddaddy of them all, boasting nine centuries of vine-growing, while the others are more contemporary stars. Kesseler is a red wine specialist, and the great majority of Rheingau wines of either colour are now dry.
Schloss Johanninsberg is the granddaddy of them all, boasting nine centuries of vine-growing, while the others are more contemporary stars. Kesseler is a red wine specialist, and the great majority of Rheingau wines of either colour are now dry.

The broad stretch of south-facing hillside mapped here is sheltered to the north by the Taunus range and warmed to the south by reflection from the Rhine, here running from east to west. It has obvious advantages for vine-growing. The river, more than half a mile wide and a throbbing highway for slow strings of enormous barges, also promotes the mists that encourage botrytis as the grapes ripen. Decidedly mixed soils, crumbling from the hills, include various forms of slate and quartzite as well as marls.

Rheingau
Rheingau

At the western end of the Rheingau the south-facing Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg, by far the Rheingau’s steepest slope, drops almost sheer to the river. The Rudesheimer Berg is distinguished from the rest of the parish by having the word Berg before each separate vineyard name. At their best (which is not always in the hottest years, since the drainage is too good ai times), these are superlative wines, full of fruit and strength and yet delicate in nuance. In hotter years, the vineyards behind the town of Rudesheim come into their own. Georg Breuer and Leitz are the outstanding names here.

The Rheingau’s white wine output is even more dominated by Riesling than the Mosel’s, but today 12% of Rheingau vineyards are planted with Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Assmannshausen, around the river bend to the northwest, is no longer the sole red wine outpost.

Rheingau
Rheingau

Ambitious, cosmopolitan growers such as August Kesseler of Assmannshausen revolutionized the colour and structure of such wines, from pale and suspiciously smoky to deep, sturdy, and barrique-aged. Dry Assmannshauser Spatburgunder has for long been Germany’s most, famous red wine. Krone, Robert Konig, the Hessisehe Staatsweinguter Assmannshausen (State Wine Domain), and newcomer Chat Sauvage maintain a high standard. Assmannshausen’s extraordinary pink Trockenbeerenauslese is a revered rarity.

The Rheingau wines of all hues that fetch the highest prices are the super sweet Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeernauslesen: wines with another purpose than accompanying food. Its less rare wines had drifted into being sweet, too, before its current leaders, like so many of their peers to the south, deliberately moved away from this tradition. By 2005, 84% of fall Rheingau wine was dry – as it had been 100 years before. The Charta organization of top growers led the way in the 1980s, encouraging low yields and dry wines of Spatlese quality. Since 1999, this torch has been carried by the VDP top growers’ association.

Geisenheim, just upstream from Rudesheim is home to the world-renowned teaching and research centre for oenology and, especially, viticulture. Just upriver and uphill from here is Schloss Johannisberg, standing above a great apron of vines, dominating the landscape Geisenheim and Winkel. It is credited with the introduction in the 18th century of late harvesting to make nobly rotten, sweet rarities and, after a lull, it once again deserves its landmark status.

Schloss Vollrads, above Winkel, is another magnificent and historic estate whose reputation has recently been restored. Even Winkel’s second-best site, Hasenspung (“hare’s leap”), is capable of richly nuanced, aromatic wine.

Mittelheim, squeezed between Winkel and Oestrich, has less distinction, but the best wines of Oestrich, from the Doosherg and Lenchen vineyards, have real character and lusciousness, whether sweet or dry. Peter Jakob Kuhn, Spreitzer and Querbach make both with distinction.

In Hallgarten, the Rheingau vineyards reach their highest point. Heavier marl soil predominates here. The Hendelberg and Schonhell sites yield strong, long-lived wines, although many regard Jungfer as the finest site. Furst Lowenstein and Fred Prinz are the Jungfer’s most notable producers.

ASSMANNSHAUSEN TO HALLGARTEN

Assmannshausen to Hallgarten
Assmannshausen to Hallgarten

The map above shows how we have sliced up this venerable stretch of the vineyards sloping down to the broad, busy Rhine in order to map as much of the important terrain as possible. Alas, there is no room on the map below for vineyards around Lorch, whose reputation has been steadily growing.

Categories
Uncategorized

Nahe

What would you expect оf a region neatly inserted between the Mosel, Rheinhessen, and the Rheingau? Precisely. At their best, Nahe wines capture the precise vineyard expression of those from the Mosel, and live as long, but also reveal the body and grapey intensity of Rhine wines. Then there is that extra ingredient: a hint of alchemical gold.

The River Nahe flows northeast parallel to the Mosel, on out of the Hunsruck hills, to join the Rhine at Bingen. Whereas the Mosel is the very spine of its vineyards, the Nahe is flanked by scattered outbreaks of wine-growing where either its own banks or its tributaries’ face south. Most of its best wines today are made by quite recently established winemakers. The best vineyards are no easier to work than the Mosel’s, however, and the number of growers has been declining.

If the majority (just) of white Nahe wine is still made in the fruity, sweeter style, wine-growers such as Helmut Donnhoff and his son Cornelius, Werner Schonleber and his son Frank, and Tim Frohlich of the Schafer-Frohlich estate have shown that brilliant dry wines can be made from the region’s best vineyards.

The Traiser Bastei vines are squeezed between the Nahe, the railway, and the road on one side and on the other the craggy Rotenfels precipice, which stores and radiates warmth between Traisen and Bad Munster. The vineyard has been shrunk by the extent of falling nocks.
The Traiser Bastei vines are squeezed between the Nahe, the railway, and the road on one side and on the other the craggy Rotenfels precipice, which stores and radiates warmth between Traisen and Bad Munster. The vineyard has been shrunk by the extent of falling nocks.

The westernmost of these are above Monzingen, whose two first-class sites are the stoney, slatey Halenberg, and the more sprawling, variable and damp Fruhlingsplalzchen, with redder, softer soil. Emrich-Schonleber and Schafer-Frohlich are the outstanding exponents in this broad, open valley, which contrasts with the narrow drama of the Nahe’s most concentrated stretch of great vineyards. They lie on the left, south-facing bank of the river as it winds around Schlossbockelheim, Oberhausen, Niederhausen, and Norheim. They were classified by the Royal Prussian Surveyor in 1901 (on a map revived in the 1990s by the VDP as a blueprint for vineyard quality). Niederhauser Hermannshohle was rated first, encouraging the Prussian government to establish a new Staatsweingut (State Wine Domain) here the following year. Scrub-covered arid hillsides and old copper mines (Kupfergrube) were cleared using convict labour to create several now vineyard sites. Its wines then challenged those of the long-established Felsenberg downstream of Schlossbockelheim, today rendered so eloquently by Schafer-Frohlich, whose, other great vineyard is, confusingly, the steep Felseneck of Воскеuau well north of the river.

Of these five great Nahe producers, only one, Donnhoff, has vines in the stretch of top-quality vineyards below, demonstrating just how scattered the Nahe's vinelands are. The Brucke ('bridge") vineyard is a monopole that regularly produces luscious sweet wines.
Of these five great Nahe producers, only one, Donnhoff, has vines in the stretch of top-quality vineyards below, demonstrating just how scattered the Nahe’s vinelands are. The Brucke (‘bridge”) vineyard is a monopole that regularly produces luscious sweet wines.

From the 1920s, the Nahe Stuatsweingut and several large estates based in Bad Kreuznach but with vineyards upstream produced wines of a brilliance and pungent minerality as spectacular as the rocky landscape. At last, in 1930, the Nahe was recognized as an independent winegrowing region, but the fame of the top growers was always greater than that of the region itself. From the late 1980s, the Staabweingut failed to play the leading role for which it was established and is now, as Gut Hermannsberg, rebuilding both its cellars and reputation in private hands. The major beneficiary of this turmoil has been the exceptional Helmut Donnhoff, based in Oberhausen, who put this stretch of vineyards – in some cases recuperating them from almost unworkably steep scrub – on the map. He has been able to add some of the old Staatsweingut’s most valuable holdings in the Hermannshohle to his estate, and has more recently been recuperating the Hollenpfad vineyard above Roxheim, northwest оf Bad Kreuznach. Many other vineyards have been sold off by the once-great, estates of Bad Kreuznach. But south of the town, just upstream of the Bad Munster bend, the red precipice of the Rotenfels, said to be the highest cliff in Europe north of the Alps, can still yield fine wine from the strip of fallen rubble at its foot. Dr Crusius is the principal custodian of the short ramp of a red-earth suntrap that is the potentially great Traiser Bastei.

Downstream of here, and north of the area mapped in detail below, is an increasingly vibrant wine scene. In Langenlonsheim, Martin Tesch captures the essence of enviably mature vineyards in dramatically labelled bottles of ultra-modern, single-vineyard dry wine. Wine writer Armin Diel and his daughter Caroline of Schlossgut Diel have put Dorsheim on the map with w range of sometimes dazzling wines, while Kruger-Rumpf makes exciting wine from holdings in Munster-Sarmsheim, almost on the outskirts of Bingen, where the Nahe meets the Rheingau.

TНЕ WINE CENTRES OF NAHE

Nahe
Nahe

The vineyards of the Nahe arc particularly widely dispersed, as tnis map of all significant wine towns and villages shows. Vineyards cluster not just on the banks of the River Nahe but also seen those of the Alsenz, Ellerbach, Grafenbach, and Guldenbach.

MONZINGEN

Monzingen
Monzingen

The sprawl of Fruhlingsplatzchen is clear when compared with the much more restricted Halenberg – although is also looks very odd that Halenberg has a bite taken out of it. This is the section from which Emrich-Schonleber makes its A de L (Auf der Lay, or “on the slate”) Riesling.

SCHLOSSBOCKELHEIM TO BAD MUNSTER

Schlossbockelheim
Schlossbockelheim

The town of Bad Munster and other townships have been encroaching on old vineyards in this stretch of glorious south-facing sites, typically overlooking the river and, often, caravan sites on the other side. Hermannshohle is the prime site, on a steep slope of dark slate with limestone and porphyry.

Categories
Uncategorized

Middle Mosel: Bernkastel

The view from the ruined castle above Bernkastel is of a green wall of vines 700ft (200m) high and 5 miles (8km) long. Only the Douro, in Portugal, in the whole gazetteer of rivers to which the vine is wedded, has anything approaching a comparable sight. From Brauneberg to the Bernkastel suburb of Kues many of die hills are relatively modest – the wines, too. One of the more notable products of this stretch is the Eiswein regularly gathered by Max Ferd. Richter from the Helenenkloster vineyard above Mulheim. The top sites are exceptionally steep, however, in Lieser, a village perhaps best known for the grim mansion owned by Thomas Haag’s excellent Schloss Lieser estate at the foot of the Rosenlay. In the Niederberg-Helden, Schloss Lieser has a perfect south-lacing slope.

The period charm, and myriad Weinstuben, of Bernkastel-Kues act tike a magnet for the crowds of tourists who flock to the Mosel Valley from spring to summer. The vineyards surrounding the town are too steep to attract any but the fittest visitors.
The period charm, and myriad Weinstuben, of Bernkastel-Kues act tike a magnet for the crowds of tourists who flock to the Mosel Valley from spring to summer. The vineyards surrounding the town are too steep to attract any but the fittest visitors.

The Mosel’s most famous vineyard starts abruptly, rising almost sheer above the gables of the tourist mecca that is Bernkastel – dark slate frowning at slate. The butt of the hill, its one straight south elevation, is the Doctor vineyard. From its flank the proudest names of the Mosel follow one another in unbroken succession. Comparison of the first growths of Bernkastel with those of Graach and Wehlen, often with wines from the same growers in each place, is a fascinating game. The trademark of Bernkastel is a touch of flint. Wehleners, grown on shallow stony slate, are rich and filigreed while those grown on the deeper, heavier slate of Graach are somehow earthier.

The least of these wines should be something with a very obvious personality. The greatest of them, long-lived, pale gold, piquant, frivolous yet profound, are wines that beg to be compared with music and poetry.

Among all the overachieving craftspeople represented here, the one whose wines test longest, is Job. Jos. Prum, currently run by Dr Manfred and his daughter, Dr Katharina Prum.
Among all the overachieving craftspeople represented here, the one whose wines test longest, is Job. Jos. Prum, currently run by Dr Manfred and his daughter, Dr Katharina Prum.

Many world-famous producers cluster here, although a hike through the vineyards (too steep for a stroll) quickly demonstrates that not all the growers are equally conscientious. JJ Prum has long been the leading grower of Wehlen. Markus Molitor (also of Wehlen) has won his reputation more recently, not just with fine Riesling but with some unusually excellent Spatburgunder, too. Erni (Dr) Loosen of Bernkastel, Selbach-Oster, and Willi Schaefer also command worldwide respect, while von Kesselslalt continues its excellent work this far downstream. Controversy rages meanwhile over a huge bridge: Europe’s highest, planned to cross the river at Urzig, bringing a highway through the sensitive drainage area of these superlative Riesling sites.

Zeltingen brings the Great Wall to an end. It is the Mosel’s biggest wine commune, and among its best. Al Urzig, across the river, red slate, in rocky pockets instead of a smooth bank, gives the Wiirzgarten (spice garden) wines a different flavour: more penetrating and racy than Zeltingers. Erden’s finest vineyard, the Pralat, is probably the warmest in the entire Mosel Valley, sandwiched between massive and precipitous red slate cliffs and the river. Dr Loosen makes some of his best wines here. Wines from the Treppchen vineyard are usually more austere.

It used to be thought that the drama of Mosel wine ended al Kinheim, but a new generation of producers such as Swiss-born Daniel Vollenweider of Wolf, Martin Mullen of Traben-Trarbach. Weiser-Kunstler with the Enkircher Ellergrub, Thorsten Melsheimer in Reil, and biodynamic Clemens Busch in Punderich (the latter two off the map to the north) are proving otherwise in a delicious and indeed dramatic way.

Just downstream from here at Zell, the landscape changes dramatically, with most of the vineyards planted on narrow terraces, inspiring this lower section of the Mosel Valley’s name, Terrassenmosel. Of the many excellent sites here the most important today are Europe’s steepest vineyard, Calmont in Bremm, Gans in Gondorf, and the Uhlen (an exceptional site) and Rottgen Of Winningen. Such exciting producers as Heymann-Lowenstein and Knebel in Winningen, Franzen in Bremm, and Lubentiushof in Niederfell provide the proof in bottles of Riesling both sweet and dry.

BRAUNEBERG TO ENKIRCH

Braunberg to Enkirch
Braunberg to Enkirch

This map of some of the finest sites of the Mosel, such as the Bernkasteler Doctor, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Urziger Wurzgarten, and Erdener Treppchen, also shows that the proposed row motorway and controversial bridge across the Mosel almost grazes them.

Categories
Uncategorized

Middle Mosel: Piesport

The spectacular river walls of slate mapped here, rising over 700ft (200m) in places, were first planted with vines by the Romans in the 4th century. They provide perfect conditions for Riesling, introduced here in 15th century and firmly rooted in the best sites during the 18th.

The wines of the river vary along its banks even more than, say, the wines of Burgundy vary along the Cote d’Or. But all the best sites face south, held up to the sun like toast to a fire. So hot are these vineyards in midsummer that working in them after noon is unthinkable. The vineyards also benefit both from the hill north of Minheim, which effectively closes this stretch of the valley to cold eastern winds, and the wooded slopes above the vineyards, which exude cold air at night, encouraging dramatic differences between day and night temperatures and retaining acid and aroma in the wines.

The Mittelmosel (Middle Mosel) is generally accepted as virtually identical tо the legally delimited Bereich Bernkastel, from Trier in the southwest to Punderich in the northeast. Here and overleaf we map beyond the central and most famous villages to include several whose wine is often underrated.

One obvious candidate is Thornich, whose Ritsch vineyard has been brought to glorious life by Carl Loewen. Another in this category is Klusserath just downstream, where Kirsten and Clusserath-Eifel have been making exceptional wines from the Bruderschaft vineyard, a typical Mosel steep bank curving from south to southwest. There is an important difference between delicacy and faintness; these wines are delicate. The long tongue of land that ends in Trittenheim is almost a cliff where the village of Leiwen jumps the river to claim the vineyard of Laurentiuslay. Fine examples abound, thanks to a concentration of ambitious young vintners in this area.

This view of the famous Goldtropfchen vineyard across the Mosel from Piesport shows vividly how much light may be reflected from the river on to the vines. The foreground suggests just how painful it can be to work these stееp vineyards.
This view of the famous Goldtropfchen vineyard across the Mosel from Piesport shows vividly how much light may be reflected from the river on to the vines. The foreground suggests just how painful it can be to work these stееp vineyards.

The best exposed site of Trittenheim is the Apotheke vineyard, which lies over the bridge next to Leiterchen, a monopoly of Weingut Milz. Like many sites here the vineyards are so steep that a monorail is necessary to work them. The town of Neumagen-Dhron, a Roman fort and landing place, keeps in its little leafy square a remarkable Roman Carving of a Mosel wine ship, laden with barrels and weary galley slaves. Reinhold Haart, St Urbans-Hof, von Kesselstatt, and Hain are outstanding producers here, all with fine holdings in the south-facing bowl of vines that is Piesporter Goldtropfchen. Its dramatic amphitheater gives Piesport a standing far above its neighbours. Its honeyed wines have magical fragrance and breeding, which can, thanks to the particularly deep, clay-like slate here, exude almost baroque aromas. According to our classification, half of the slopes can be regarded аs exceptional, the other half as excellent.

Michelsberg is the Grosslage (amalgam of vineyards) name for this part of the river, from Trittenheim to Minheim. “Piesporter Michelsberg”, therefore, has not normally been Picsporter at all typical of how Grosslagen names, fortunately now in retreat, have misled the consumer.

Like almost all good Mosel wine producers, those whose labels are shown here own vineyards within only a walk or short drive of their cellars- except for von Kesselstatt, whose headquarters are all the way upriver in Trier and which owns vineyards as far east as Bernkastel.
Like almost all good Mosel wine producers, those whose labels are shown here own vineyards within only a walk or short drive of their cellars- except for von Kesselstatt, whose headquarters are all the way upriver in Trier and which owns vineyards as far east as Bernkastel.

Wintrich and Keslen call all make fine wines. with Ohligsberg probably the best. But there are no perfectly aligned slopes in this stretch until the beginning of the great ramp of vines that rises opposite the village of Brauneberg. In Kesten it is called Paulinshofberg. In Brauneberg it is the Juffer and Juffer Sonnenuhr (the part of Juffer with the sundial). Fritz Haag-Dusemonder Hof and Max Ferd. Richter has made glorious golden examples in both parts of the Juffer.

THORNICH TO BRAUNEBERG

Braunberg
Braunberg

What a procession of great vineyard names! Yet note now all the deeper-purple sites face either south or west. Look at the contour lines and see how flat some banks are – good only for Muller-Thurgau.

Braunberg
Braunberg
Categories
Uncategorized

Saar

German wine, its problems and its triumphs, is epitomized nowhere better than in the valley of the Saar, the Mosel tributary. The battle for sugar in the grapes hits raged most tie fiercelу in this cold corner of the country where, until the climate began to grow wanner, it was won only perhaps three or four years in 10. Recent years, however, have delivered a succession of glorious successes: some of the least potent but most thrillingly nuanced wines in the world. They are all Rieslings of inimitable delicacy, most of them vibrating with fruit and extract.

A mere 1,775 acres (720ha) of vines share the valley with orchard and pasture. This is calm, open agricultural country. The map shows more clearly than any other the way the south-facing slopes – here nearly all oil sleep hillsides at right angles to the river – offer winegrowers the greatest chance of enough sunshine to reach full ripeness. Unlike the Mittelmosel, the Saar Valley is in many parts open to cold easterly winds. You can taste the resulting frisson in the wines.

These cellars, underneath the Vereinigte Hospitien in Trier, would have looked quite remarkably similar 1,600 years ago when they were built by the Romans. A little less electric light, perhaps, and the wines in barrel would probably have tasted rather different.
These cellars, underneath the Vereinigte Hospitien in Trier, would have looked quite remarkably similar 1,600 years ago when they were built by the Romans. A little less electric light, perhaps, and the wines in barrel would probably have tasted rather different.

As in the best parts of the Mosel, the soil is primarily slate. The qualities of Mosel wine – apple-like freshness and bite, a marvellous mingling of honey in the scent and steel in the finish – can find their apogee in Saar wine. It is drier here than on the Rower, resulting in lower yields and more restrained aromas. If anything, the emphasis here is more on the steel than the honey.

In unsuccessful vintages (there are a few) even the best growers may have to sell their produce to the makers of sparkling Sekt, who need high acidity in their raw material. But when the sun shines and the Kiesling ripens and goes on ripening far into October, even November, the great waft of flowers and honey which it generates would be almost too lush, were it not for the rapier-like acidity. Then the Saar comes into its own. It makes sweet wine that you can keep for years and never tire of; the balance and depth make you sniff and sip and sniff again.

Superlative sites are lew. Most are in the hands of rich and ancient estates that can afford to wait for grapes to ripen and make the most of them. The most famous estate of the Saar is that of Egon Muller, whose house appears on the map as Scharzhof at the foot of the Scharzhofberg in Wiltingen. Muller’s sweetest Trockenbeerenauslesen are among the world’s most expensive white wanes. Egon Muller also manages the Le Gallais estate, with the famous Braune Kupp vineyard, at the other end of Wiltingen.

All of thesе classics are guile sweet - in the case of the Eiswein very sweet - yet feather-light in terms of alcohol - only about 7 or 8% - except tor Van Volxem's Gottesfuss, in which vines planted in 1880 produce a hugely dense wine that is just off-dry.
All of thesе classics are guile sweet – in the case of the Eiswein very sweet – yet feather-light in terms of alcohol – only about 7 or 8% – except tor Van Volxem’s Gottesfuss, in which vines planted in 1880 produce a hugely dense wine that is just off-dry.

Geltz Zilliken singlehandedly demonstrated the greatness of the Rausch vineyard across the river from Saarburg, while rising stars include the uber-traditionalist Roman Niewodniczanski of Van Volxem (Muller’s neighbour in Wiltingen; he makes only what he calls “harmonic” dry wines), Claudia Loch of Weinhof Herrenberg in Schoden, and von Othegraven in Kanzem (now owned by TV star Gunther Jauch). Von Kesselstatt owns part of the Scharzhofberg vineyard, while St Urbans-Hof downstream in Leiwen, Peter Lauer of Ayl (a Feinherb specialist), von Hovel at Oberemmel, and Schloss Saarstein near Serrig make marvellous Saar Rieslings too.

Almost 320 acres (130ha) of the Mosel’s vineyards, many of them in the Saar and Rower, belong to a group of religious and charitable bodies incorporating the estates of Hohe Domkirche (the cathedral), Bischofliches Konvikt (a Catholic boarding school), Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium (Karl Marx’s old school), and Bischofliches Priesterseminar (a College for priests). Another spiritual organization with sizable vineyard holdings is the Vereinigte Hospitien (an almshouse) at Trier. In its deep, damp Roman cellars under the city one has the hiding that wine is itself an act of charity rather than mere vulgar trade.

STAR OF THE SAAR

Saar
Saar

The most famous vineyard here by far is the 69 acre (28ha) Scharzhofberg, a south-facing site some way from the river but one that manages, esресially in the hands of an Egon Muller (IV in currently in charge), to produce wines that are truly ethereal.