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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Germany might not be well known in the UK for its wine making, but it certainly should be.
The Mosel is one of 13 German wine regions where viticulture began 2,000 years ago. The Riesling grape variety dominates and is grown along the steep picturesque valleys overlooking the Moselle and Rhine rivers.
The area was ideal for cultivating grapevines, with its sheltered areas on the slate soil mountains giving Riesling wines their clean, crisp flavour, brimming with minerality.
An aromatic variety, it is used to make dry, sweet and sparkling wines which are a far cry from the cheap, mass-produced wines such as Liebfraumilch, which saturated the British market in the 1970s.
Indeed, even uttering Liebfraumilch or Blue Nun in the company of a German wine producer is not a wise move and they will be quick to educate you on the true history of German viticulture.
There are plenty of places to go wine tasting, from small family-run estates to larger commercial vineyards.
Reinhold Franzen in Bremm is a particularly impressive vineyard, run by 25-year-old Kilian Franzen and 22-year-old girlfriend Angelina Lenz. Offering a full range of white wines to sample, they also lay on a small banquet for groups of visitors to help soak up the delicious wines which are too good to spit out.
They claim to harvest the steepest slate-soil vineyard in Germany, which produces their delicious semi-dry Bremmer Calmont and comes highly recommended.
One thing all the wine producers in this region have in common is their enthusiasm and passion for their work, and you will quickly start to understand the care and commitment that goes into every step of the process.
Also worth a visit is the Georg Mueller-Stiftung estate close to the city of Mainz where visitors can sip wine and admire estate owner Peter Winter’s impressive modern art collection commissioned exclusively for his cellar.
If you fancy a break from all the wine, the Mosel also has a lot of history worth exploring, including Trier – Germany’s oldest city – which feels as though it has more pieces of Roman architecture than Rome itself. The Porta Nigra – a black city gate – marks the entrance to the city, while the remains of a large Roman bath complex and a colosseum are also worth a visit.
It is also the birthplace of Karl Marx, whose house has been turned into a museum.
If you’re feeling flush, the two-Michelin-star restaurant Becker’s is a must. In one of Germany’s prestigious “design hotels”, the restaurant menu includes contemporary dishes such as goose liver and quail with dandelion and lamb cooked three ways with black garlic. All dishes come accompanied by local wines recommended by the staff.
The best way to see the beautiful landscape of the Mosel is a river cruise along the Rhine, dotted with ancient castles and the endless neat terraces of vineyards.
From St Goar, the Schifffahrt Untersee stops in Bacharach, where the streets are lined with charming houses which look like they’ve all been modelled on the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel.
One of them is home to the Toni Jost wine family. Inside a cosy, wooden-panelled room visitors can sample wines made from grapes grown on the narrow section of the Rhine valley.
The estate – now in its sixth generation – is managed by Cecilia, who will talk you through, in perfect English, their range of wines, including Devon Riesling – dry, clean and mineral-rich – and characteristic of the slate soil vineyards of this region.
Even if you are not a wine connoisseur, after just a handful of tasting sessions you will be able to go home and impress your friends with your new-found knowledge and even give those French wine purists a run for their money.
For more information about German wines and travel visit www.germany.travel