The history of wine in present day Germany dates back approximately 2000 years to Ancient Roman times. German wine regions are some of the most northerly in the world. Most wines are produced around the Rhine and its tributaries, and sheltered by mountains.
Because most vineyards are on steep slopes along water, significant manual labor is required, resulting in relatively small output. Many German wine producers harvest the grapes for their best wines by hand, use sustainable production techniques, age their whites in stainless steel tanks and the reds in traditional aged oak barrels.
Riesling, the benchmark grape among German wines, became the country’s most planted variety in the mid-1990s and is used for dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling wines. The naturally high acidity, outstanding fruit and transparent quality of German Riesling are its trademark around the world. Many German Rieslings are sweet and low in alcohol, light and unoaked. Red wines have also emerged in Germany, with demand for German red wine doubling since the 1980s, led by Spatburgunder, the domestic name for Pinot Noir. Here are five of our favorite wines of Germany.
Donnhoff Estate Riesling Nahe
Grown in the weathered volcanic soils of steeply sloping vineyards of the midd¬le Nahe region, this Riesling is fermented and matured in stainless steel vats and large oak barrels. The Donnhoff Estate Riesling is wonderfully fresh and well-defined, elegant with a tingling minerality. A delicious wine for every day with moderate alcohol and very soothing acidity.
Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett Nahe
The grapes are grown on the perfect vineyard for Kabinett wines – a steep, southeasterly facing slope with gray clay slate soil. The mor¬ning sun dries the grapes, keeping them healthy, while the afternoon sun is not so direct, allowing the grapes to ripen for a very long time without becoming overripe. This Riesling exhibits well-defined, spicy fruit. Very elegant with a wonderful balance between fine fruit sweetness and firm acidity.
Markus Molitor Riesling Spatlese Urziger Wurtzgardin Mosel
Strawberry preserves and vanilla icing in the nose of Molitor's 2009 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese create confectionary expectations for its palate performance that are not disappointed. Decadent lily and heady gardenia perfume seem to hang over this unabashedly sweet Riesling whose buoyancy approaches weightlessness. A lip licking, quickening streak of salinity helps counteract this lush yet delicate wine's finishing sweetness. Wine Advocate
Reuscher Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett Mosel
Practicing sustainable farming for the winery for 25 years, pesticides and insecticides are avoided while cover crops and wide spacing of rows to ensure optimum exposure to the sun have been implemented. Selective hand harvesting is done to limited yields of 6,000- 7,000 liters per hectare. Only natural yeasts are used during long cold fermentation which gives the wines their bold, distinctive character.
St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett Piesporter Goldtropfchen Mosel
The 2009 Vintage yielded bright, ageable wines of classic Riesling style, in lower quantities but of exceptional quality that will be remembered as one of the great vintages. Fine cut and delineation to the lime, vanilla cream and slate flavors in this expressive Riesling. It's balanced and vibrant, with a mid-palate succulence that cruises to a long, mineral, salt and floral tinged finish.