The Thirteen Wine Regions of Germany – Part 2:
Nahe Valley Wine Region
Although the Nahe Valley vineyards are some of the oldest wine regions in Germany after the Moselle, it would be fair to say that the Nahe wine region itself is not well known to most outside of Germany. Located in the south-west of Germany, the region covers 4,000 hectares of vineyards lining the Nahe River valley from Martinstein to where the Nahe joins the Rhine near Bingen. Seventy-five per cent of the vineyards is devoted to white wine varieties.
Riesling, müller-thurgau, silvaner and kerner dominate, although pinot blanc and pinot gris have also become popular in recent years. Of the reds, dornfelder leads the pack, followed by pinot noir, portugieser and regent.
The Nahe Valley Wine Route offers visitors the opportunity to explore the area and enjoy Nahe region wines at the same time.
The Palatinate Wine Region
The Palatine wine region is tops for riesling and is also famous for its scenic German Wine Route, one of the oldest wine routes in the world. Half of the vineyards lie in the Mittelhaardt German Wine Route and the other half are in the Southern Wine Route region. Alongside the Moselle, the Palatinate region is one of the largest riesling producers in the world. Other white specials include gewürztraminer and scheurebe. Approximately 40 per cent of the Palatinate vineyards are used for red wine grapes, making the Palatinate one of the larger red wine regions in Germany. Red grapes are mainly dornfelder, portugieser, pinot noir and regent.
Rheingau Wine Region
About 78.5 percent of the Rheingau wine region’s 3,000 hectares of vineyards are used to cultivate riesling grapes with pinot noir rising in popularity. Other grape varieties such as müller-thurgau, ehrenfelser, pinot blanc and pinot gris, as well as dornfelder, portugieser and pinot madeleine are also produced here. Increasingly wine growers are also turning to international varieties such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
The Rheinsteig Trail and the Rhine Cycle Routeoffer visitors the opportunity to explore the Rheingau region and enjoy its wines.
Rheinhessen Wine Region
The Rheinhessen Wine Region is Germany’s largest wine-growing region with 26,300 hectares of vines. The region is famous for its rieslings although interest in silvaner wines is increasing as are pinot wines. Red wine grape production has doubled over the last ten years with dornfelder as the number one variety. Pinot noir and portugieser are also doing well here.
For the active, the Rhine Cycle Route may be of interest.
Saale-Unstrut Wine Region
The Saale-Unstrut wine region is spread across three states – Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Brandenburg. About 75 per cent of the vineyards here are used to grow more than 30 grape varieties which are used to produce dry wines. Top of the white wine list is müller-thurgau, followed by pinot blanc and silvaner. Riesling drinkers will find crisp riesling or rare chasselas on offer here. The red wines grapes such as portugieser, blauer zweigelt and pinot noir are full-bodied and fruity. It seems that German wine connoisseurs rave about some of the more exotic local varieties such as kernling or andré and the rare sweet wines.
Saxony Wine Region
The Saxony Wine Region is the smallest in Europe and the most north-easterly region in Germany. Grape cultivation here is carried out by more than 3,000 small independent growers. Of the 472 hectares, 80 per cent is dedicated to white-wine grapes such as müller-thurgau, riesling, pinot blanc and pinot gris. The majority of wines produced here is consumed locally.
Württemberg Wine Region
The Württemberg Region is the biggest producer of red wine in Germany with 80 percent of its 11,289 hectares of vineyards dedicated to red wine production. A wide variety of grapes are produced here and this is one of the few regions where lemberger and trollinger are grown. Lemberger is the very finest of the red wines produced in Württemberg. Growers here have also started planting ‘new’ red wine varieties such as acolon, cabernet dorio, cabernet mitos and cabernet dorsa which are particularly suited to producing red wine cuvées.