We Brits don’t know much about German wine. Claudia Pech from German Wine Agencies brings us up to date.
Back in the 1970s, many of Germany’s best wine-growing regions were cultivated for mass production, with familiar names like Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch aimed particularly at the British market. It was big business, and it was not necessarily run with quality in mind.
However in time, as palates became increasingly more sophisticated, those wines were shunned by the majority, and they started to disappear from the supermarkets.
In the 1980s young and dynamic winemakers started to take over the family estates, many of them having studied wine-making and travelled wine regions of the world to see other vinifying techniques. They set about repairing the worldwide damage that had been done to the reputation of German wines by starting to modernise, building new cellars, introducing new equipment, and they also began to plant international grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer very successfully. Also red varieties such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon were cultivated alongside the more indigenous grape varieties such as Riesling and Sylvaner.
The winemakers are now the shining stars in wine production today, particularly in the Palatinate Region, that 80km stretch of land that is a continuation of the Alsace’s Vosges mountains from France, along the banks of the Rhine.
The climate here is much like that of Alsace and with it being one of the sunniest and driest of all wine regions in Germany one can indulge not only in an awe-inspiring array of beautiful handcrafted wines but also tropical fruits such as figs and citrus fruit and beautiful almond trees which are a sign of a mild climate. The vineyards are planted on various soil formations and a combination of sandstone and volcanic soil and with the Mediterranean climate it is no wonder that beautiful wines are made here, full bodied, big and robust and there is almost no soil here that vines cannot be cultivated on.
Even the Romans discovered the advantages of such a mild climate by cultivating vines alongside the slopes of the Palatinate Forest. Roman cellars and pressing houses have been discovered in the region, and have made it a very rewarding destination for tourists of all interests, and not just for wine enthusiasts.