Germany

The changes to the UK duty system coming into effect this August will benefit Germany, with their generally lower alcohol wines, more than any other major wine producing country and hopefully will encourage you to experience the great range of wines produced there.

The classic light, off dry, low alcohol, refreshing style epitomised by Mosel Riesling Kabinett is still very much there but there are also large numbers of crisp, dry, mineral Rieslings and fuller bodied wines from further south, particularly in areas such as Baden where there is very little Riesling and an increasing number of top-quality reds such as Pinot Noir. Full sweet wines are still made, although in smaller quantities and Eiswein has become particularly rare due to winter temperatures not being cold enough.

The Mosel is the classic area for elegant, balanced, off-dry Rieslings from its steep, slatey slopes. Appellation-wise it now includes the tributaries of the Saar and Ruwer. Try a floral Wehlener Kabinett for a great introduction to this style and then contrast it with a Kabinett from the deeper soils of Piesport’s Goldtröpfchen to appreciate the difference a few miles make. Brilliant wines – full of white pear fruit – are produced in the Saar Valley from lesser-known vineyards in Wiltingen and Oberemmel. Back on the Middle Mosel, Braunebergers are full and slatey then one goes down the river through Bernkastel to the very fine wines of Graach. Finally, the vertiginous slopes of Erden and Urzig – Prälat, Treppchen and Würzgarten – produce some tremendous wines, both dry and sweet.

Along the Rhine, the Rheingau is where the importance of late harvesting Riesling was first discovered. The story goes that the proclamation announcing the start of the harvest was delayed. For many years production was dominated by a small number of underperforming larger producers, but things are now looking up again. Round, full-flavoured wines are made on mostly gentle slopes going down to the Rhine. The River Nahe actually rises in the Hunsrück hills and flows northwards, away from France, through rocky escarpments before flowing into the Rhine at Bingen.

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