Or perhaps “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” is more appropriate for the Moody’s this week with Rob, Heather, Lucy, AND Emma meeting up in Germany (as you do!). Emma successfully ran the Berlin Marathon last weekend, so the family made the journey halfway around the globe to cheer her on.
Here is an action shot of said cheering… I’d like to bring your attention to Lucy’s running “thongs”!
So, what are the Moody’s drinking while they are in Germany?
Given communication has been few and far between (and rightly so I guess given they are officially on holidays!), I’m going to have to make some assumptions here. And, despite what this one photo I’ve received from Lucy suggests, I have a feeling that a few glasses of Riesling have been consumed.
How do I know?
Well, other than it being a favourite (particularly for Lucy who has been hounding her Dad to make one for some time now!), Germany takes its white wines very seriously. So much so, that white varieties make up 65% of the country’s vineyards.
And the variety it is best known for is…
About two-thirds of the world’s production of Riesling comes from Germany and is its premier grape variety in terms of area. In 2017 23.2% of all plantings in Germany were Riesling. It is widely planted across many of the 13 wine regions across Germany, particularly Mosel, Rheingau, Nahe, and Pfalz. (Click here for more information on each of the growing regions in Germany).
It is a variety which can do well even in stony soil and can survive on a minimum of moisture. It is also frost-resistant and a very dependable producer of high-quality grapes. Berries have a high acidity level that gives the wine a freshness and contributes to its long life.
To reach its full potential, Riesling needs extra days of sun; ripening is very late. Riesling grapes are usually picked at the end of the harvest.
Riesling produces elegant wines of rich character with a distinct fragrance and taste. Think peaches or apples (especially if the wine is young).
In the past, sweet German Riesling was all the rage. But these days Germany is producing more dry Riesling.
Not that there is anything wrong with the sweet version. In fact, one of the most collectable white wines in the world is a tiny half-bottle of Trockenbeerenauslese (or TBA). It is made from noble rot grapes grown in the Mosel Valley. Grapes are left to hang on the vines long past harvest time. Water is removed from the berries through infection with Botrytis cinerea (“noble rot”). These concentrated wines have more sugar (in extreme cases hundreds of grams per litre), more acid (to give balance to the sugar), more flavour, and more complexity.
Germany’s famous “ice wines” are made using the same principle – but using freezing to dehydrate the berries.
One of the greatest things about Riesling is its exceptional aging potential. With age, they can develop smokey, honey notes. Aged German Riesling, are often described as having petrol or diesel fuel characters. Now if this doesn’t sound good to you, then you may be amongst those who believe this is actually a fault in the wine. Some people love it, others hate it.
As with all things wine… it’s a matter of personal taste I guess!
Buying German Riesling – what to look for…
Well, first look for the region – as I mentioned above, Mosel, Rheingau, Nahe, and Pfalz tend to produce the best Rieslings.
The VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats) is an invite-only association of around 200 estate wineries across Germany. They focus on exceptional quality estate wines. This is a great place to start looking for high-quality German wine. You can find out more about member wineries here.
Also, I learned that 2015 was an absolutely stupendous vintage for white wines in Germany and a great year to taste the true potential of this region. So, if you come across any 2015 German Rieslings… stock up!
What about buying local?
We’re spoilt for choice here in Australia when it comes to good riesling.
And spoilt for choice, too, when it comes to style: more and more adventurous winemakers across the country are moving away from the classic dry-riesling and experimenting with a huge variety of techniques. It’s now possible to find everything from sparkling riesling to luscious, late-harvested, botrytis riesling and all the imaginable permutations in between.
Whichever style you prefer the place to find them is here in South Australia. Eden Valley and Clare Valley, in particular, produce exceptional Rieslings.
So, forget everything I said about German Rieslings – gets some South Australian Riesling today! Or better still, join Lucy and start hounding Rob to make one!
Tune in next week to find out where the Moodys are headed on Part 2 of their European adventure!