It is known that, thanks to the previous generation’s love of sweet and fruity wine, the Germany section of the wine rack in your local supermarket or wine store is about as representative of Germanic viticulture as Coronation Chicken is of British Cuisine – once very popular, these days a bit…out of touch. The truth, as I and many other bloggers have screamed at you for the last few years, about German wine is that, most wineries produce dry, mineral-rich and fruit-balanced wines, none of which resemble Blue Nun, Black Tower or medium-sweet Riesling with seven and half per cent alcohol by volume. If you do find a wine that is dry, has a realistic level of alcohol in it and doesn’t immediately induce you with a severe case of diabetes, it’s very likely that it will come from the Mosel production region and even more likely that it will come from Dr. Loosen.
Now, it’d take a brave and rather silly man to attack either Loosen or Mosel but, these words represent only a tiny fraction of German winemaking and only one of the many grapes on offer. However, seeing that this one grape is the most popular both inside and outside of Germany when it comes to wines that originate from the land in question, I’ll stick with it and have got something to tell you: whilst Mosel is fantastic (one of my favourite production regions in the world for white wine), it really isn't the be-all and end-all of German wine.
In fact, the Rheingau is probably the most important production region for Riesling, one of the first places in which it was planted by those sober, wine-craving Romans a thousand or so years ago and, unlike in the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer valleys, it is pretty much the only grape that is grown in the region. You might find Dornfelder, Rivaner, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a few other varietals grown in Rheingau but they’re as rare as a truth in a politician’s words – Riesling is king in Rheingau and Rheingau is king of Riesling.
But it isn’t just in Rheingau where Riesling is prominent. In nearly all of Germany’s 13 production regions, Riesling is a major player. Even in the red-wine dominated Ahr and Württemberg appellations; Riesling is a common product of nearly every winery.
In the Pfalz, the popular white grape is also sought-after for its beautiful citrus fruit, in the Rheingau it’s all about minerals and in Rheinhessen, where the traditionalism of the VDP doesn’t dictate over nearly every aspect of production, young and talented winemakers are turning Germany’s old-fashioned grape in new, modern and exciting wines – often following new trends such as biodynamic and organic winemaking – real pioneering work.
But if Tesco, Sainsbury and even(!) Waitrose continue to stock sugar syrup with just about enough alcohol to intoxicate the family dog simply because Nan likes a drop of Riesling, Hock or Piesporter once in a while, none of this is particularly helpful to you.
However, I have been taking a look at various wine stores online in the UK over the past few days and have come to the conclusion that some of the wines I enjoyed over the summer last year are available for purchase in my homeland. In the dumping ground for all of Germany’s bad wine, there are a number of great bottles up for grabs and some of these are available for under £15! I’ve included a few Mosel wines to show that I don’t have a single problem with the region – I’ll let you into a little secret though: some of the best wines to come from Mosel are indeed dry contrary to popular belief and the teachings of supermarket's shelves.
So, get out there and try some Riesling. Remember that Germany is composed of thirteen different production regions and its fourth largest isn't the whole story. Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Rheingau and Nahe are also prime locations for the growth of Riesling - in some cases they even represent better value for money!
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