This booklet is the result of not only my passion for
German wines, but also for German culture. I believe that
wines are a reﬂection of the culture that produces them.
German wines are no exception. In fact a German wine is
much like a German: easy to like from the start, but often
not fully understood, they tend to come off as boisterous
or forward, but these are just superﬁcial views. This idea
is demonstrated with the term ‘friend’, which in German
speaking countries is used differently than in English
countries. It entails more than an association with
someone, but duties and beneﬁts and lasts for life.
Similarly, German wines take a long time to fully
understand and appreciate and with age the wines
change as much as one’s idea about them. With time one
will learn to appreciate und understand these fabulous
My hope is that this booklet will aid the
reader in better understanding and
enjoying German wines. Through this I
hope interest in these wines is
awakened. Furthermore, I hope some
use this new found interest to better
acquaint themselves with such a
culturally rich country. Enjoy.
Wine rejoices ( hea# of
man and joy ! ( mo&er of
all vi#ues. - Goe&e
While there is evidence of grapes being
grown on the Mosel before the Roman
conquest of Gaul and Germania it was
the Romans who brought with them
vinifera (wine-yielding vine varietals).
The Emperor Probus (276-82 C.E.) is regarded as the
father of viniculture in Germany. The planting of
vineyards in areas where he had driven out Germanic
invaders was a way of re-establishing the economy of the
areas while also keeping the soldiers occupied.
In the Middle Ages the Church took control of many of
the best vineyard sites and the production of wine and
the spread of Christianity came hand-in-hand. It was also
the churches, convents, and monasteries that consumed
the most and best quality wines. Many of todays famous
vineyard sites like Schloss Johannisberg were established
in the Middle Ages. While the Church was a leading
producer of wine, the aristocracy of the
time also had a vested interest in
producing wines for their own estates.
However, it was the corporately and
individually owned vineyards that
produced wines for the common
townspeople. The rise in population after
1000 C.E. and poor water quality in cities
led to the mass production of wine in the Holy Roman
Empire as it became a staple drink, along with beer, of
those living in wine producing areas.
A B*ef H!tory:
champions wine in the
The Thirty Year’s War brought with it a decline in trade
and workers. With the rise of beer as the beverage of
choice for people living further north and the peasantry
coupled with a growing demand for
wines of Mediterranean and French
origin, many of the poorer vineyard
sights were abandoned. Starting in
the late 1600s much emphasis was
placed on quality wines as many vines were pulled out
and replaced by Riesling. In the 1700s speciﬁc village and
vineyard site names were given to wines of distinct
quality. During this time the terms Kabinett and Auslese
came into use and botrytis affected wines were ﬁrst
The French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic
conquest of Europe caused
drastic changes in wine
production. Vineyards were
secularized and sold off to the
new bourgeoisie class. It was through this secularization
that Mönchhof (Monk court) passed into the possession
of the Eymael family. After the defeat of Napoleon some
of the secularized sites were given to the ruling
aristocracy, hence Schloss Johannisberg was acquired by
Prince von Metternich of Austria.
The re-drawing of the map of what used to be the Holy
Roman Empire and the establishment of numerous tariffs
between different principalities caused economic
hardships and a decline in wine production. However,
the grounding of the German Empire in 1871 led to the
lifting of internal tariffs. The new Empire run based in
the Prussian capital of Berlin placed a great deal of
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
and Wine For All!
emphasis on quality and established institutes for
viticultural research and teaching. Of these the institute
at Geisenheim is world renowned to this day and attracts
winemakers and future winemakers from around the
A tradition from before Napoleon, the dividing of land
parcels amongst sons led to many wine producers
owning only a few rows of vines in any given vineyard
site. These sons not being able to economically produce
quality wines on their own
formed cooperatives, many
of which still exist today
while others have turned
into hobby-winemakers. A
tour through many
vineyard sites, especially on
the Mosel will see upwards
of twenty different owners
holding rows of vines in the
At the turn of the 20th Century, German Rieslings were
fetching prices on the world market at and above those of
Bordeaux. However, the two World Wars not only
ravaged the German economy, but also Germany’s
reputation. The result was less wine consumption in
Germany and less export. In order to build up viniculture
many vineyards switched to the Müller-Thurgau grape,
which grew fast, ripened early and produced large yields.
This led to the a mass production of very sweet,
noncomplex, unbalanced wines, giving German wines a
poor reputation on the world stage, as German wine
became synonymous with the name Liebfraumilch.
However, by the latter half of the 1990s Riesling had once
again taken its place as Germany’s most planted grape.
Today there are claims of a Riesling Renaissance, with
Riesling ﬁnding favour in many wine producing
countries including, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
On the world market, German wines have found an
enormous appeal with American wine lovers, as the USA
is the top consumer of German wines.
Quaﬃng wine ! a sin, $inking wine ! a
prayer. Let us pray. - ,eodor Heuss
1. Producer and certiﬁcation of estate bottling
2. Ofﬁcial control number (A.P. Nr.). The numbers have a
meaning, here the 2 is the control ofﬁce of the growing
region, 606 in the town/commune, 319 is the producer’s
number, 031 is the running number that shows how many
Rea.ng a German Wine Label:
wines were submitted for approval that year, and the 06
stands for the year (2006).
3. Alcoholic strength.
4. Vintage Year. That is the year that the grapes were
grown, not necessarily harvested, in the case of ice wine.
Grapes might be picked after January 1, but the vintage
still belongs to the previous year.
5. Town/Commune and vineyard sight where the wine
was grown. If one keeps tasting notes one can start to
notice the different terroire of the different sights. Using
books such as Hugh Johnston’s The World Atlas of Wine
can assist one in purchasing wines from the top sights
instead of poorer sights in well known commune areas.
6. The grape varietal(s) from which the wine has been
made and for QmP wines the speciﬁc designation.
7. The address of the producer of the wine. The D stands
for Germany, the numbers are the postal code and the
town are always mentioned.
8. The growing region. There are thirteen growing
regions in Germany and all QbA and QmP wines must
state the growing region from which the originate.
9. The volume of the bottle. Either found in liters (l) or
milliliters (ml). German bottles are standard sizes of 375
ml, 750 ml, 1500 ml.
Good wine ! a necessity of life for m%
- ,omas Jeﬀerson
Amtliche Prüfungsnummer (AP Nr): The number given to
wines after they have been ofﬁcially tested by the author-
ity in the Bundesland where the wine is made. The wine
undergoes both chemical and sensory testing and is allot-
ted the number containing the batch number and the year
the wine was tested.
Auslese: A wine made from hand-selected grapes. The
grapes are very ripe and thus can be affected by botrytis.
These wines often have some residual sugar. To
experience this wine at its optimal it should be aged (5+
years). (Min. 95º Öchsle).
Beerenauslese: The name given to wines made from only
botrytis affected grapes. These are rare and approach the
qualities of icewine.
Burgunder: Whether it is Schwarz- (noir), Blau- (noir),
Weiss- (blanc), or Grau- (gris), Burgunder is the German
word for Pinot.
Chaptalization: The process of adding sugar to the grape
juice or must to increase alcohol levels.
Classic: A new designation of dry single-varietal wines
made for everyday consumption of QbA level.
Deutscher Tafelwein: Very light and basic wines. These
are not generally exported and represent the lowest level
on quality. Alcohol must be more than 8.5% and no more
Some German Wine Terms:
Eiswein: Wine made from grapes that are frozen on the
vines, harvested and pressed frozen (-7º C). These wines
are marked by high sugar and acidity levels and are
considered the best ice-wines in the world. Climate
change has made it harder to produce these wines. These
are QmP wines. (Min 125º Öchsle).
Erzeugerabfüllung: A term found on the label meaning
Feinherb: A term for meant to be an alternative to
Halbtocken as “half-dry” seems to have a negative
connotation. However, this is broader than the
Halbtrocken designation so some wines that could
ofﬁcially be designated Halbsüß May ﬁnd this themselves
being labeled Feinherb.
Gutsabfüllung: Another term found on the label
specifying estate bottling.
Halbsüß: Wines with a residual sugar content between
18-45g/l fall under this designation. It May also be called
Lieblich and in English the words charming or lovely may
be used when describing these wines.
Halbtrocken: Wines with a residual sugar content
between 9-18g/l fall under this designation. However,
the residual sugar cannot be more than 10g/l off the level
of acidity. The closer the balance between the acidity and
sugar the dryer the taste.
Kabinett: The lightest non-chaptalized wines in the QmP
designation. Made with a minimum must weight of 73º
Öchsle. Alcohol content can be as low as 7%.
Landwein: The German equivalent of Vins de Pays. It is
not very common as the QbA designation is quite broad,
under which large heading these wines come.
Must: The name given to the liquid that will become wine
right after the grapes have been crushed to produce it.
Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA): A term
for wines from a designated wine region. These wines
are often chaptalized.
Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP): Wine that are made
of naturally ripe grapes. No chaptalization is allowed. In
ascending order the more speciﬁc designations for these
wines are: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein,
Selection: A term used on labels designating top-quality
single-varietal dry wines in the QbA designation.
Spätlese: The grapes for these wines are harvested after
those for Kabinett and are thus riper. They can be
anywhere from dry and fairly full to sweet and light.
They have a potential for aging. The must weight must
be a minimum of 85º Öchsle.
Süß: Also known as doce, dolce, dulce, dulce, sweet, édes,
glykos or sladko in other European counties this is an EU
regulated designation for wines with a residual sugar
content of more than 45g/l.
Trocken: The designation for wines with less than 9g/l
residual sugar with the acidity not less than 2g/l below
the residual sugar content. Thus a wine with a residual
sugar content of 8g/l must have an acidity content of no
less than 6g/l.
Trockenbeerenauslese: Wine made from grapes that have
been fully dried by botrytis. These are very rare and
hence very expensive. They are also very sweet as they
must have a must-weight of at least 150º Öchsle. The
grapes must also be hand picked.
Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP): An
organization similar to the VQA in Canada. It was started
at the turn of the century and incorporates 200 of
Germany’s ﬁnest wine estates. The organization is a free
association and imposes stricter regulations on its
members than the German Wine Law. It aims at
preserving German wine tradition, does not allow
chaptalization and demands environmentally sound
vineyard practices. The bottles of these estates are
marked with VDP and an eagle with a grape cluster.
Weingut: Wine estate.
Weinkellerei: Wine cellar or winery.
Winzergenossenschaft/Winzerverein: Wine growers
Comprom!es are for relation"ips, not win%
- Sir Robe# Sco0 Caywood
In the world of wine, Riesling is one of the most respected
grape varietals, though on the consumer end it may be
one of the least appreciated. This under appreciation is
due to the common belief that red wine is superior to
white wines, something I would
not say to a producer of German
Riesling let alone to a producer of
Chablis. White wines, like red
wines have a time and a place and
a quality that needs to be
understood and respected. The
other common belief is that fruity
wines, often associated with
sweetness, though the actual
sugar content is very low are
inferior to dry wines. Again this
is not the case. When the quality
of a wine, the questions one needs
to ask are: Does the wine show
characteristics of the grape? Does
the wine exhibit characteristics of the region it was
planted in? Is the sweetness and acidity balanced? If
these questions are asked, many German Rieslings will
receive the answer “yes” three times. Add to that the age-
worthiness of the wine and we have a winner.
As a vine Riesling is very woody and can easily
withstand frost and cold winters. It does however bud
later than most other varietals, which is the secret to its
intense ﬂavour. The small bunches of golden grapes are
also quite prone to botrytis, a fungus that dries out the
grapes. This allows for the production of some of the
ﬁnest dessert wines in the world. It also yields more per
hectare without loss of quality than most other varietals
(up 70 hl/ha). Riesling grows best
and ﬁnds its optimal expression in
Germany on the steep banks of the
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Rhine. The
different soil types here have a way
of embossing their unique
characteristics on the wine, usually in
terms of the “minerally” notes. The
grade of these vineyard locations (30º
and up) also mean that these grapes
all need to be taken care of by hand:
hand-pruned, hand-watered and
As a grape that mirrors the soil on which it is grown,
much like Cabernet Sauvignon, Rieslings are incredibly
complex and often ﬁnd their best expressions with food.
Here is a list of some foods that Riesling loves. The list is
based off experiences in the German culinary world and
Hugh Johnson’s suggestions, though there are many
other pairings. If you don’t feel comfortable
experimenting, ask wine shop employees for help with
wine-food pairings. First though, some tips to keep in
mind. The wine should balance the meal, not dominate
or be dominated. The balancing will depend on the ﬁve
virtues of the wine: acidity, tannins, sweetness
(fruitiness), body, and nose. Generally the sauces being
used will determine the wine more than the meat/
protein. If sugar is an ingredient in the sauce, sweet wine
with low acidity, as the sugar heightens acidity and the
double sweetness cancel themselves out. Acids do not
cancel each other! For acidic (acetic and lactic in
particular) side with a sweeter wine. Salty meals require
an acidic wine. Bitter meals are best offset by sweeter
wines. Acidity, tannins and high alcohol also make spicy
dishes spicier; to calm the spice use lower alcohol,
aromatic wines to bring out the ﬂavour nuances in the
spice without the burn. Try to have the nose and the
ﬂavour of the wines mirror each other. The nose might be
used to inspire the sauce for instance.
Asparagus: traditionally served with a hollandaise sauce
or with butter and lemon: most Spätlesen.
Avocado with prawns, crab or other seafood: Rheingau or
Cauliﬂower with cheese or sautéed bread crumbs: A Spätlese
will go well with this dish.
Chinese Food (Cantonese or Peking style): Try a Mosel
Kabinett or Spätlese. You can drink as much as you can
eat and the off-dry characteristics will play with the
cornucopia of ﬂavours in the numerous dishes.
Chowders: Rhine Spätlese.
Cod: Kabinett or trocken Spätlese.
Cold Meats: Think sausages, hams and Hochheimer or
Crab: Kabinett or Spätlesen are appropriate.
Curry: Depending on the spice level and ingredients a
Riesling can help to soften the spice and bring out the
complexity of the different curries used as well as the
different ingredients especially in vegetarian curry.
Duck or Goose: Try a Pfalz Spätlese for those not keen on
Fish Terrine: Pfalz Spätlese (trocken).
Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambée): This traditional Alsatian
style ‘pizza’, usually done with a cream, bacon, onion and
cheese goes wonderfully with German and Alsatian
Rieslings, Pinot Blancs or even Pinot Noirs.
Foie gras: Nice rich Riesling Spätlese to Auslese, if you
want to be extra elegant a Beerenauslese or Eiswein.
Frankfurters: A clear example of local cuisine to local wine,
Fruits: If the fruit is apple, peach, pear, or melon and is a
dominating ﬂavour of the dish (say apple pie), then
Rieslings are well suited based on the principle of
mirroring the nose and sweetness.
Gravlax: Mosel Spätlese.
Ham: If it is a sweeter honey or maple ham, a slightly
sweeter Riesling will take the sweetness of both down a
bit and really allow for the complexity of the wine to
come through and give the side dishes a place.
Lobster: When it is accompanied by a rich sauce try a Pfalz
Spätlese. If with salad pair with a Mosel Spätlese.
Mayonnaise: Pfalz Spätlese (trocken) to add a bit of bite to
Melon: Most Kabinett Rieslings. This is a perfect food for
mirroring nose and ﬂavour in the wine and food.
Oxtail: Not exactly a popular dish anymore, but worth
mentioning. Try a dry Riesling with this rarity.
Prawns or Shrimp: If they are done with a pepper, butter
and lemon sauce, a nice Kabinett or even Spätlese goes
Pumpkin/Squash: A nice Spätlese or Auslese if there is nice
traditional spice on it in the autumnal style.
Salads: Not generally a wine food on its own. Do not use
vinegar in the dressing, but substitute lemon, add a little
blue cheese for some richness. (Nice salad dressing:
virgin olive oil, crumbled blue cheese, garlic, lemon juice,
fresh ground pepper). Kabinett.
Salmon: For smoked salmon go for a Pfalz Spätlese to cut
through the fat, but enhance the ﬂavours. If it is fresh
either a Rheingau Kabinett or Spätlese will pair nicely.
Sashimi: A nice Rheingau Riesling will do wonders for
sashimi, especially with the wasabi, ginger and soya
Scallops in cream sauce: A very nice Spätlese.
Sushi: For sushi without sashimi a simpler trocken QbA
will do, though a Kabinett will add more to the meal.
Sweetbreads: In spirit of Vancouver’s culinary world such
an opulent and rare dish deserves mention as well as the
recommendation of a ﬁne Rhine Riesling.
Thai food: When seasoned with lemon grass and coconut
milk or even green curry, a Spätlese will unpack the
ﬂavours and enhance the dish.
Veal: Roasted veal goes very well with a Mosel Riesling,
not too fruity but mature. An aged Auslese would go
Venison: This strong gamey meat needs big rich wine to
go with it like a Pfalz Spätlese. The wine should have
some bottle age on it.
Beer ! a human creation, but wine !
from God. - Ma#in Lu&er
In the past six vintages Germany has had a series of,
while different, good to great vintages. This streak of ﬁne
yet unique vintages is in large part due to the weather
and the effects of climate change. But it is equally due to
the winemakers’ commitments to producing ﬁne wines
over mass-production wines. Asking one vintner I was
told that a normal summer with regular yields would be
nice again to produce some
2001: A generally good
growing season of early wet
season and a hot summer
were great conditions for a
great vintage. Rain and
cool weather in September
threatened this, and
eventually lowered yields,
however, a warm and sunny October helped to produce
excellent wines including many high end Kabinetts and
even Trockenbeerenauslesen and Eisweine. The wines
from the 2001 vintage exhibit varietal correctness and
pureness of fruit.
2002: Another good growing season dampened only by
October rains led to an increased production of wines
especially of the QmP designation. Production was up
7% over the ten year average and 19% over the 2001
production. Cold temperatures in December allowed for
Eiswein production in all of the thirteen growing areas.
This vintage is marked by higher fruit acid levels, making
them perfect candidates for longer aging.
2003: An exceptionally hot and dry summer led many to
believe that the 2003 vintage would be the best on record.
Harvesting occurred early and the grapes contained
balanced acidity levels and attained high must weights,
over 250º being not uncommon. Fruity wines and
premium QmP especially in the dessert wine sector came
out as the overall winners as did German reds that
received the light and heat they needed to show their
2004: After the stellar year
that was 2003, 2004 is an
over looked year by many,
however, this year offers
spectacular wines as well.
An overall average
summer of no super heat
or cold with regular rain
was not as welcomed by
people as by the grapes.
However, the summer
weather with a splendid sunny and warm October led to
an excellent harvest of ripe grapes. The fruit comes forth
in these wines and good acidity levels make them ideal
for aging. A cold snap in early December rewarded those
who chose to leave grapes on the vine for Eiswein.
2005: The weather in 2005 was a gift from nature. More
sun between March and October than is often received
during an average year with rain when it was needed
allowed the grapes to ripen perfectly. Yields were down
from 2004 though. However, must weights were up and
acidity was down, causing a high degree of QmP wines
again. The dry wines are superb as are the ﬁne selection
of Prädikats wines.
2006: An overall good growing season, meant that grapes
were once again ripe quite early. Harvesting began early
and was completed in record time as autumn rain and
storms threatened the crop. The result was an early onset
of rot and botrytis. This meant select harvesting with
lower than normal yields, but of a high quality. The fruit
and minerality are pronounced and the wines will exhibit
a lushness from the botrytis that is not as readily found in
the past few vintages. This vintage has also produced
reds of a great quality.
To take wine into 3r m3& ! to sav3r a
$oplet of ( *ver of human h!tory.
- Cliﬀord Fa.man
Aroma Wheel for German
These wheels were developed by the
German Wine Institute.
This vineyard is situated in Hochheim, a town Thomas
Jefferson visited and bought 100 Riesling vines, which he took
back to America to produce his own
“Hochheimer” Riesling. It was originally the
vineyard privately belonging to the deacon of
Mainz and was purchased by the Werner
family in 1780. Dr. Franz-Werner Michel with
less than ten other employees produce the
approximate 90,000 bottles each year. Of
those 98% is Riesling and 2% Spätburgunder.
The Geisenheim Institute has tested all of the soils and wines of
Domdechant Werner’sches Weingut and have classiﬁed 85% of
the vineyard as particularly suitable for the Erstes Gewächs (ﬁrst
growth or premier cru) designation. The top vineyard locations
are Domdechaney, Kirchenstück, Hölle, and Stein. The high
mineral content of the soils make these wines quite opulent.
Rich in extract with a reﬁned elegance of ripe fruit, a degree of
spice and a wonderfully long ﬁnish.
After a year of extremes in 2006 the wines that have been
produced are all of a high quality, Spätlesen and Auslesen are
in abundance while Kabinett
is almost nonexistant. The
result of the small harvest will
be a slight rise in prices, but
also a re-release of older
Schloss Reinhartshausen is beautifully situated in Eltville-
Erbach and was once the seat of the Knights of Erbach as
well as where Princess Marianne of
Prussia, born daughter of the
Wilhelm I of the Netherlands,
resided. Today this 77 hectare
vineyard is the largest privately
owned estate in the Rheingau.
Interestingly, the estate also owns
the Mariannenaue Insel, an island in
the middle of the Rhine, with a very
unique river sediment soil composition, which is perfect
for Chardonnay. However, the estate focuses on Riesling
(85% of the production).
The deep marl and loess soils give these wines a distinct
characteristic. The soil holds moisture well and allows
for the fruits to ideally develop, even under dryer
conditions. That results in a wine with more body and a
pleasant degree of spice. The top sites are Marcobrunn,
Schlossberg, Nussbrunn and Wisselbrunn.
Special care and attention during the season, at harvest
and in the cellar make these wines memorable. This
entails ‘green-harvesting’, the
process of cutting out fruit to
allow for a better quality to
develop. In the cellar this
means not releasing wines until
the tartaric acid has fallen out.
Weingut For1me!ter Gel4-
A vineyard that has ﬁrmly established itself as one of
Germany’s best is Zilliken, headed by owner/wine-
maker Hans-Joachim (Hanno) Zilliken. In true German
style Hanno’s daughter, Dorothee is also learning the
wine making trade and has already done work in South
Africa. Asking if she would change the Zilliken style or
start her own line of wines, she said that she enjoyed her
father’s style and would seek to maintain that. On a
streak of successful vintages since the 1990s, Hanno’s
wines keep improving.
The wine that Zilliken is best known for is the Butterﬂy,
an attempt to get away from the use of halb trocken or
feinherb to designate off dry wines. The name came from
the constant reference in wine reviews of the wines being
as delicate as butterﬂies.
Holding 10.5 hectares on the Saarburger Rausch and
Ockfener Bockstein, Zilliken produces only Riesling
(approx. 60 000 bottles a year). The Devon slate and
diabase soil give these wines a citrusy taste with plenty of
refreshing minerality. Zilliken does not produce a great
many wines and the focus is on quality over quantity. In
the past four vintages Zilliken has sent 14 to auction.
Perfect conditions in the cellar
mean the library wines are
brilliant (Look for 1993 Spätlesen
Hallmarked by the facade of the mansion that is the
winery, Mönchhof produces some very classic Mosel
Rieslings. Interestingly the Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben
wines are also produced by Robert Eymael. Since his take
over of the vineyard in the 1990s the quality has
With a total vineyard size of just 10 hectares Mönchhof
produces some 70 000 bottles a year. His top locations are
the Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Treppchen and Prälat
with their Devon slate, clay and sandstone composition.
The vineyard sites are incredibly steep and get plenty of
sun exposure and reﬂected light from the Mosel. Robert
Eymael only produces Riesling as his family has since
1804. Some of the oldest
vines are over 100 years old.
The wines are characterized
by a very nice acidity which
blends well with the orange-
tangerine citrus notes. These
wines typically have an
alcohol percentage of under
10%, but the acidity structure
will allow for cellaring of ten
Selbach-Oster is one of the top Mosel producers and has
been producing wines in Zeltingen since 1661. Today it is
still a family business headed by father and son Johannes
and Hans Selbach. The heritage
and philosophy of this vineyard
are the leading factor in why such
excellent wines come from this
estate, ranked highly both in
Germany and from wine critics
from around the world.
They produce Riesling on 17
hectares spread over the top
Mittelmosel sites: Zeltingen Sonnenuhr, Schlossberg, &
Himmelreich to Bernkastel Badstube. Their aim is to
produce low alcohol wines representative of the the soil
(grey-blue Devon) and the ripe fruit that goes into the
wine. This also means wines in all styles from very dry to
The wines are most memorable for their complexity on
the nose and palate. An earthiness matched by the
appearance of ripe fruit and the intricate play between
raciness and richness on the palate make these wines a
ﬂagship for what the Mosel produces. The 2005s should
be laid down until at least
2009 to experience
everything that these wines
Another estate steeped in tradition the Prüms have been
making wine on the Mosel since 1156. It was Joducus
Prüm who built the sundial (Sonnenuhr) that still today
gives its name to one of the best vineyard locations. In
1911 Sebastian Alois Prüm founded S.A. Prüm with his
inheritance plots. Since 1971 the estate has been led by
Raimund Prüm. Today the winery features a modern
cellar as well as a traditional cellar for the top end wines
as well as a guest house.
Planted on the top sites on the Mittelmosel: Wehlener
Sonnenuhr, Bernkasteler Graben, Graacher
Himmelreich & Domprobst, these wines receive
copious amount of sunlight and the Devon slate
is rich in minerals and holds heat well. Under
the sites are numerous water sources to supply
the vines with water even when there is no rain.
Added to that are non-grafted old vines (80+
years) with low yields that exemplify the wines
bouquet and ﬂavour.
The great diversity in vineyard locations result
in a great variety in wine styles. The Wehlener
Sonnenuhr wines tend to lean to the more feminine and
delicate side while the Bernkasteler
wines tend to be more masculine
and racy. A key note in these wines
is the beautiful bouquet of
elderﬂower and spice.
Weingut S.A. Prüm:
Egon Müller’s wines are some of the most celebrated in
Germany and abroad. They regularly fetch record
breaking prices at auction and have done so since the
1800s. The estate was founded by Egon Müller I in 1797
and each generation has been named Egon. Today Egon
Müller IV heads the estate.
The estate is located on the Saar, a tributary to the Mosel,
on the slopes of the Scharzhofberg. The decomposed
slate soil here is a secret to the magniﬁcent Rieslings from
this estate. In the words of Egon Müller: “the mountain
makes the wine”. This May be true for their unique
characteristic, but Egon Müller’s dedication to producing
the ﬁnest QmP wines also plays a role in the quality and
reputation of these wines. The drier styles come from the
estate belonging to his wife called “Le Gallais” and more
recently a project with Baron Ullmann to produce wines
in Slovakia has taken foot. However, the bulk of Müller’s
best wines come from his 8 hectares.
These wines are brilliant in clarity of ﬂavour and balance
between acidity and sweetness. With age the petrol nose
on these wines is beautiful, followed by a nice limey
citrus palate. These wines should be held on to and
Auslesen should be enjoyed on their own.
Weingut Egon Müller-
More of Germany’s Best:
Here is a list of some of Germany’s other top estates:
Dr. Pauly Bergweiler
Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium
Joh. Jos. Prüm
Prinz von Hessen
Von Schubert - Maximin Grünhaus
Reichsrat von Buhl
Dr. Fischer Bocksteinhof
When visiting Germany’s wine regions one ought to take
the opportunity to enjoy a little culture dating back to
Charlemagne: the Straußi.
In the year 800, the Emperor Charlemagne put forth the
decree that wincers could serve their own wine along
with meals for a sixteen week period of the year. The
locales were not to serve more than 40 persons and only
serve food and wine produced on the hosting estate. To
signal that these restaurants were open decorated besoms
were used. The term Straußi comes from the name
Straußwirtschaft, meaning besom restaurant. In the areas
of Baden and Alsace the term Straußi is often used, where
in the area of Württemberg the term Besenwirtschaft is
These restaurants are typically open eight weeks in the
spring and eight in autumn. They are excellent locations
to try wines from smaller wineries as well as local cuisine;
usually at very affordable prices.
Typical menu items include:
Bibliskäse: a soft, fresh, puddling-like cheese with chives.
Brägli: thinly sliced potatoes, roasted with onions, bacon,
Flammkuchen: Wood oven thin crust Alsatian-style pizza.
Gschwellti: boiled potatoes.
Zwiebelwaie/Zwiebelkuchen: Onion quiche.
Diel, Armin and Payne, Joel. Gault Millau: The Guide to
German Wines. Munich: Christian Verlag, 2005
Johnson, Hugh. Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Encyclopedia of
Wine 2000. New York: Fireside, 1999.
Johnson, Hugh and Robinson, Jancis. The World Atlas of
Wine 5th Ed. London: Octopus Publishing Group,
Robinson, Jancis ed. The Oxford Companion to Wine 3rd Ed.
Oxford, Oxford UP, 2006.
Deutsches Weininstitut. Deutsches Weininstitut. June 15,
German Wine Information Bureau. Wines of Germany -
Canada. June 15, 2007.
The Riesling Report. The Riesling Report. June 23, 2007.
The Wineman International. The Wineman. June 10, 2007.