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The Mosel Riesling: history, characteristics and classification

Background

In the central-eastern Germany, between the cities of Trier and Koblenz, along the river Rhine and its two main tributaries Saar and Ruwer, develops the most famous wine-growing district of Germany: the Mosel.

The “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer” region, located between the 47th and 50th parallel, the highest limit for the cultivation of quality grapevines, is characterized by peculiar climatic conditions: the stiffness of the climate and the insufficient exposure to the sun, meet close to the river, a very mild microclimate, allowing the production of a white wine among the most extraordinary, elegant and long-lived in the world.

The origins of Riesling are mysterious but some historical records show that it was widely cultivated in the areas along the Rhine River as early as the fifteenth century. According to some writings of the time, 1775 represents a turning point for the birth of Spätlese. In the Johannesberg castle, in fact, the monks who l

ived there, perhaps by mistake, gave life to this wine, vinifying very late the grapes completely covered with mold.

However, the importance of Riesling has been blurred for years, at least up to the severe winters that occurred in the Nineties, which have exalted its potential.

Characteristics

In fact, harvested between mid-October and early November, Riesling is a very cold-resistant grape and adapts perfectly to the microclimatic conditions of the “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer” region. Its berries develop elegant aromas and intense flavors while maintaining a high level of acidity.

The typical land of these areas, rich in slate, favors another characteristic of Riesling, its minerality. The thin, impermeable and weather resistant slabs, which cover the rocks, force the roots of the vines to seek their nourishment in depth, giving the wines a strong and characteristic mineral note.

Lastly it should be remembered that Riesling is a wine that presents itself with various degrees of sweetness. In fact, fermentation is often left incomplete to allow the wine to preserve a small part of the original grape sugars.

Classification

It is precisely the sugar level reached by musts at the time of the harvest that classifies the types of Riesling. First of all, the classification diversifies table wines, tafelwein and landwein, from quality wines Qualitätswein, which in turn are subdivided into two groups, those with predicate and those without. The predicate corresponds roughly to the denomination Doc. The wines without predicate are the Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA), come from a specific region, like the Igp ones.

Top quality wines with predicate can range from buckets, bites and sweets, of which the best representatives are certainly the Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). In the Moselle valley, those belonging to the categories Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese are mainly vinified. Finally, we recall the Eiswein, the “ice wine”, produced during the first winter frosts, by frozen berries.

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