In Uncategorized on May 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Despite being one of the highest latitude growing regions in the world, the cultivation of vines in Germany can be traced back to before the Common Era, but Vitis Vinifera didn’t arrive until the Romans brought it in the 3rd century. Riesling and Spatburgunder are currently the most widely planted white and red varieties, respectively, but they didn’t actually arrive until the 14th and 15th centuries. One could consider the 18th century to be the dawn of the modern era of German winemaking; the scale of sweetness designation began to be codified, and the benefits of Edelfaüle (botrytis) were discovered. Also in the 18th century, an increase in demand for other foods pushed vine cultivation off the more fertile flat soil, and into the rugged, rocky slopes that are now synonymous with quality German wine. So, by the 19th century, Germany entered a real golden era for winemaking. The top-quality Rieslings often drew prices higher even than First Growth Bordeaux. To put that in perspective, if the same were true in today’s world wine market, that would be $1,500 or more for a bottle of Riesling.

Little did the winemakers of the 19th century suspect what calamity lay in store for them. Everybody in Europe was of course affected by the arrival of Phylloxera and powdery mildew, but hard on the heels of these problems in the vineyard, came the sociopolitical turmoil that literally tore the country in two. Even during the separation years, winemaking slowly began to improve in Germany, growing from the mass production of unremarkable Liebfraumilch. Of course, it’s not easily to directly compare a wine from Germany’s winemaking golden age to those produced today, but by all accounts, the best producers in Germany today are producing wines that would make their ancestors proud.

There are 13 Anbaugebeiten (Growing regions) in Germany.

2 of them are in the former East Germany: Sachsen and Salle-Unstrut

The remaining 11, in kind of counter-clockwise order, because that’s the way I visualize them best: Mittelrhein, which is long and narrow, proceeding southeast past Ahr,. The Mittelrhein then runs past the Mosel, and ending butted up against the Nahe and Rheingau. South of the latter and east of the former is the Rheinhessen, which sits atop the Pfalz. Just east of the Pfalz is Baden, with the diminutive Hessische-Bergstrasse playing the part of top hat. East of there is Wurtemburg, and just north of there is Franken. At some point I will write a mnemonic for these, but at the moment I’m sleepy.

Oh, and I started a tumblr. I don’t really know what is the most effective way to use it, so up to this point I’ve just been posting pictures on it. Click here to check it out.

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