While German wine may not be as heavily marketed as wines from other destinations, Germany is actually one of the top producers of fine white wines in the world. With 13 different official wine regions to choose from, here are some of the best parts of the German wine trail.
Considered to be the king of German wine regions, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer encompasses steep hillsides that meander along the Mosel River. With some of the steepest vineyard slopes in the world, as well as a predominantly cool climate, the Rieslings created here are crisp and elegant, with a beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity. The wines from Mosel are also known for being some of the lightest in Germany, usually containing less than ten percent alcohol. While the Mosel wine route boasts numerous world-class vineyards and wineries, the very best can be found around the village of Bernkastel, so do make this your first stop.
While Franken produces quite a wide variety of wines, from the Pinot Blanc to the Riesling to the Silvaner, its most distinctive feature is the way in which its finer wines are bottled, making use of round Bocksbeutel flasks rather than standard wine bottles. The spicy Domina grape variety has become more popular in Franken in recent years, and this is well worth tasting, along with the various cuvees that are produced from the sumptuously sweet white Bacchus grapes.
The Rheingau area runs for about ten miles along the Rhine, and while it may be small, with just three percent of Germany’s vineyard plantings, it is one of the few German wine-producing regions that is known for a variety other than the Riesling, with the Spatburgunder being quite prominent here. This variety was brought over from France, where it is known as the Pinot Noir, and it has since thrived in the Rheingau. Another point of interest in the region is Schloss Johannisberg, which is a Benedictine monastery and vineyard, and is said to be the place from which the idea of a late harvest originated. This late harvesting technique means that the sugar level in the grapes is significantly higher, giving the wines quite a distinct taste.
Pfalz is the top-producing German wine region, even though it is just a relatively narrow area of land. Pfalz is home to the German wine Road, which was established in 1935 as a way to connect all of the local villages, and this is still a great route to take to explore the region further. With a warm and calm climate, harvest time is later in the fall here, and kicks off the largest wine festival in the world, Wurstmarkt, which is held each September in Bad Durkhelm.
The best time to set off on a German wine adventure is between April and the summer, and then again immediately after harvest season, when you will find several wine festivals and tastings. The German wine trail is an enjoyable one to follow, because in addition to visiting the numerous vineyards, you will also be rewarded with fascinating pockets of German history, culture and hospitality.