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Mosel

The Mosel Valley, one of Germany's thirteen quality wine regions (QbA and Prädikatswein), is capable of producing the finest, most sublime Rieslings of any viticultural region in the world - wines to be savoured accompanied solely by the drinker's own meditations. This white wine region was formerly known as the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, referring also to the vineyard bearing slopes of the Mosel's two most important tributaries, but its name was shortened for marketing reasons. The most famous Riesling wine villages are in the Mittel Mosel (Middle Mosel) namely Piesport, Bernkastel and Graach whose best wines display a combination of finesse, acidity and a pronounced slate-influenced minerality. 130 hectares of the best vineyard sites in the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer are still owned by religious and charitable organisations.

harvesting by hand is the only option in the Mosel valley vineyardsVineyards have been cultivated in the Mosel Valley for more than sixteen hundred years since Roman times. The convoluted twists and turns of the river valley result in many precariously situated vertiginous vineyard locations the best of which, with thin grey-slate soils, present a southerly aspect to maximise exposure to the sun which is reflected back mirror-like by the water below to maximise ripening conditions for the grapes. This region's cool northern continental climate is therefore able to turn what is an extremely marginal location for the cultivation of fine wine grapes into a veritable asset. The back-breaking labour-intensive work on these steep slopes is such, however, that prices are never cheap although the wines nevertheless often represent good value for money such is their outstanding quality.

The Riesling grape, first planted here in the 15th century, rules in the Middle Mosel where it has enjoyed primacy in the very best sites since the 18th century. The premium sites all face south taking advantage of the twists and turns of the river valley. Further advantages are conferred by hills such as that north of Minheim near Piesport, which protect against cold, easterly winds. Many vineyards also benefit from wooded areas above the slopes providing shelter and cool night temperatures – the diurnal range during the growing season preserving freshness, acidity and aromatics in the grapes.

Up river the Saar is the most important tributary valley of this white wine region. Ripening has traditionally been difficult but recent warmer years have been somewhat kinder to wine-makers. The best vineyard sites here are all extremely steep, facing south and, as in the Middle Mosel, produce great Riesling wines from thin slate soils. Often the grapes continue to ripen into November and the floral and honeyed notes are counterbalanced by striking levels of acidity. Alcohol levels are low on average (7% - 8.5% a.b.v) indicative of the difficulty of achieving sufficient levels of sugar in the grapes. The best Beerenauslese wines command some of the highest white wine prices in the world.

The Ruwer is a tiny vineyard area which barely equals the area occupied by half of one commune in Burgundy's Cote d'Or. Just like the Saar until the recent trend of warmer summers the grapes often struggled to ripen here as well making viticulture uneconomical with the result that the less prestigious vineyards were abandoned as the young local population sought better paid work in the cities. At their best though these wines combine great delicacy with complexity and subtlety being highly valued by connoisseurs of fine Riesling wines.

  1. Wegeler Estate, Mosel Riesling, 2007

    Wegeler Estate, Mosel Riesling, 2007

    This 2007 Mosel Riesling with flavours of apple, a floral nose, some minerality and a crisp acidity making it a delicious Riesling which, due to its naturally low alcohol content, is a great quaffing wine.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Riesling
    Country Germany

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