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An Introduction to German Wines

A short and concise introduction to German wines, especially Riesling. I wrote this back in 2007, therefore vintages have obviously changed.

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An Introduction to German Wines

  1. 1. Life ! too "o# to $ink bad win% - Johann Wolfgang von Goe&e  German Wines 
  2. 2. For their generous support in the creation of this booklet I would like to thank my friends and family, Liberty Wine Merchants and the seven vineyards that I visited in May 2007. Without them I would not have been able to learn first hand about this fabulous wine region. This booklet is dedicated to my Aunt Maja and Uncle Bob All the information contained within this booklet has come from the sources given at the end as well as through my personal experiences and visits to German vineyards. All the photographs are original and copy protected. This work has been peer edited by my co-workers at Liberty Wine Merchants Point Grey. © Christian Langenegger, July 2007.
  3. 3. 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 wines. 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. Introduction: Wine rejoices ( hea# of man and joy ! ( mo&er of all vi#ues. - Goe&e
  4. 4. 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: Emperor Probus champions wine in the Roman provinces.
  5. 5. 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 documented. 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!
  6. 6. 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 world. 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 same vineyard. 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.
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. a German Wine Label:
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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 than 12%. Some German Wine Terms:
  11. 11. 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 estate bottled. 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%.
  12. 12. 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, Trockenbeerenauslese. 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
  13. 13. 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 cooperative. Comprom!es are for relation"ips, not win% - Sir Robe# Sco0 Caywood
  14. 14. Riesling (‘rēzliŋ): 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
  15. 15. 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 hand-harvested. 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
  16. 16. 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 Pfalz Kabinett. 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 Mosel Riesling. 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
  17. 17. 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 gamy reds. 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, naturally Riesling. 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 the richness.
  18. 18. 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 well. 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 sauce. 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.
  19. 19. 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 excellent. 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
  20. 20. Germany and its Wine Regions: 2. 1. 3.
  21. 21. 1. 2. 3.
  22. 22. Wine Region Characte*1ics: Region Major Varietals Soil Character Ahr Spätburgunder, Portugieser Volcanic slate Light & fruity Mittelrhein Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner Slate covered slopes Crisp, fresh, & fragrant Mosel-Saar- Ruwer Riesling Blue, red, and grey slate. High minerality Elegant, delicate, minerally, racy Rheingau Riesling, Spätburgunder Loess, loam, weathered slate Refined & ripe fruit flavours Nahe Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner Loess, loam, quartzite, porphyry Fruity, crisp Rheinhessen Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Portugieser Loess, limestone, sand Soft, mild, fruity Pfalz Riesling, Gewürztraminer Spätburgunder Loam, weathered limestone Full, round, & aromatic
  23. 23. Region Major Varietals Soil Character Franken Silvaner, Dornfelder Loess, sandstone limestone Dry, full, & spicy flavour Hessische Bergstrasse Riesling Loess Elegant, fruity, & nice acidity Württemberg Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Spätburgunder, Trollinger Shell- limestone, marl, loess Hearty, full, rich Baden Grauburgunder, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer Spätburgunder Loess, loam, volcanic soil Full, aromatic, & spicy Saale-Unstrut Weißburgunder, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner Shell- limestone, sandstone Dry, fruity, & soft Sachsen Weißburgunder, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer Sand, porphyry, loam Dry, crisp & unique
  24. 24. Recent Vinta2s: 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 nice quantity. 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.
  25. 25. 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 best. 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
  26. 26. 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
  27. 27. Aroma Wheel for German White Wines: These wheels were developed by the German Wine Institute.
  28. 28. Aroma Wheel for German Red Wines:
  29. 29. 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 vintages. Domdechant Werner’sches Weingut:
  30. 30. Schloss Reinha#"ausen: 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.
  31. 31. Weingut For1me!ter Gel4- Zilliken: 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 and Auslesen).
  32. 32. Weingut Mönchhof-Robe# Eymael: 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 constantly increased. 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 plus years.
  33. 33. 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 very sweet. 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 can be. Weingut Selbach-O1er:
  34. 34. 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:
  35. 35. 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- Scharzhof:
  36. 36. More of Germany’s Best: Here is a list of some of Germany’s other top estates: Mosel: Dr. Loosen Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium Fritz Haag Joh. Jos. Prüm Sankt Urbans-Hof Rheingau: Prinz von Hessen Schloss Johannisberg Toni Jost Ruwer: Pfalz: Von Schubert - Maximin Grünhaus Lingenfelder Reichsrat von Buhl Saar: Dr. Fischer Bocksteinhof Vereinigte Hospitien
  37. 37. ,e Straußi: 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 more common. 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, and cheese. Flammkuchen: Wood oven thin crust Alsatian-style pizza. Gschwellti: boiled potatoes. Zwiebelwaie/Zwiebelkuchen: Onion quiche.
  38. 38. S3rces: Books: 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, 2005. Robinson, Jancis ed. The Oxford Companion to Wine 3rd Ed. Oxford, Oxford UP, 2006. Internet: Deutsches Weininstitut. Deutsches Weininstitut. June 15, 2007. <> 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. <>