A journey to classic wine regions is nothing short of a pilgrimage for wine lovers, and when such a sojourn is complemented by a combination of exploring the hidden vinous treasures and local gastronomic delights, it certainly becomes a once-in-a-lifetime event. My recent visit to the Mosel and Nahe wine regions of Germany, as part of a small group of wine enthusiasts from India, was one such experience. A first-hand exposure to the wine-growing nuances of the country’s two most famous wine regions was both invaluable and exhilarating.
Germany has all the hallmarks of a quintessential wine country where rich tradition plays a major role in dictating its overall wine profile. Be it the wine-grower’s passion for the vineyards and their terroir, the age-old (but fast-evolving) wine-making practices which follow least-invasive techniques of production, highly refined wine laws or the intrinsic part wine plays in its culture and folklore; everything about the country is a wine aficionado’s delight.
We stayed in a chalet-styled hotel in the quaint and sleepy but stunningly pretty wine town of Trittenheim on the famous Mosel Weinstrasse (Mosel Wine Route), a perfect place to set up base for exploring wine regions of both Mittelmosel (middle Mosel) as well as the adjoining areas of Saar and Ruwer (the two tributaries of Mosel and highly recognised wine districts).
The four-day trip took us to many famous vineyard sites synonymous with some of the most acclaimed wines of Germany; the likes of Piesporter Goldtropchen, Juffer Sonnenuhr, Trittenheimer Apotheke, Scharzhofberger, Ockfener Bockstein and Oberemmeler Hutte (I know, German names can be real tongue-twisters :)), to name a few. For someone who rates German Rieslings as the epitome of quality and sensual pleasure, it was nothing short of a tremendous sense of fulfillment for me to visit their birthplaces and understanding the unique growing conditions.
These wines are some of the most distinct styles in the world and time spent in these vineyards are without a doubt one of the most practical ways to appreciate their quality. The slate-rich soil, steep slopes overlooking the gently meandering river, the vineyards’ orientation (exposure to the sun), sunlight reception by the vines, overall vine management practices, grape ripening pattern depending on a vine’s location etc. – each has a role to play in their distinctive character.
Our visit to the vineyards was followed by the exploration of the region’s winemaking techniques and conducted tastings of every style of Riesling possible…more on the local winemakers and reviews of some chosen wines in the second part of this post.
Apart from winery and vineyard hopping, we also managed to keep ourselves occupied with many other activities, two of which I strongly recommend if you ever happen to visit the region. First, make sure that you go on the Mosel river cruise without fail…you’ll love it, believe me. For wine lovers, a trip here minus this cruise is like visiting Venice and not taking a Gondola ride. You will be spoilt for choice in terms of photo opportunities, for there are iconic vineyards dotted all the way on the canvas-like slopes overlooking the river, plus nature’s other un-spoilt splendours. And yes, do not forget to carry an assortment of local Rieslings…they will not only keep your vinous senses active but will also give you a sense of how being in paradise might feel!
The region’s rich wine offerings are complemented by exquisite cuisine made from fresh local produce. Be it the light-textured but somewhat sweet Mosel Trout and other fishes, juiciest of meats, tangy and smoky cured meats, flavourful berries or a range of cheese, this part of Germany surely measures up to any other top gastronomic destination of the world.
To savour the local food and wine you can either head to the historic town of Trier with its myriad of road-side cafes or one of the fine dining restaurants (like the Russell’s) in Trittenhiem. But nothing can beat the experience of sampling the best of local food and wine surrounded by lush green vines, like the one that was organized for us by the Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt winery in the middle of their Scharzhoffberger vineyard.
Here are some more chosen images from my trip: