Riesling grapes are very rarely blended with others in the development of wines, and for good reason. These pale grapes which originated in the cool Rhine Valley of Germany are notable for their 'transparency' of flavor, which allows the characteristics of their terroir to shine through in wonderful ways. The result of this is a wine which carries a wide range of interesting flavors quite unlike those found in other white wines, finished off with the distinctively floral perfume Riesling supplies so well. Many wineries in Germany and elsewhere tend to harvest their Riesling grapes very late â€“ often as late as January â€“ in order to make the most of their natural sweetness. Other methods, such as encouraging the noble rot fungus, help the Riesling grape varietal present some truly unique and exciting flavors in the glass, and the variety of wines this varietal can produce mean it is one of the finest and most interesting available anywhere.
It has long been recognized that the finest of Germany's distinctive white wines come from the steep valley sides of the region known as Mosel-Saar-Ruhr, a collection of three beautiful winding valleys in the ancient and fascinating Rhineland. If Germany's flagship grape varietal is the Riesling, then the true home of German wines must be Mosel-Saar-Ruhr, where wineries dotted across the region deal with thousands of acres of Riesling grapes every season. For thousands of years, since the time of the Romans, Mosel-Saar-Ruhr has been known as an important wine region, and the mineral rich soils which make up the steep sides of the green valleys provide plenty of nutrients and interesting characteristics to the grapes which grow there. Riesling wines from Mosel-Saar-Ruhr are renowned for their crispness, their lightness and drinkability, and have a unique aging potential, with some bottles even aging for over fifty years.
As in many Old World countries, the rise of viticulture in Germany came about as a result of the Roman Empire, who saw the potential for vine cultivation in the vast flatlands around the base of the Rhine valley. Indeed, for over a thousand years, Germany's wine production levels were enormous, with much of the south of the country being used more or less exclusively for growing grapes. Over time, this diminished to make way for expanding cities and other types of industries, but Southern Germany remains very much an important wine region within Europe, with many beautifully balanced and flavorful German wines being prized by locals and international wine lovers alike. The hills around Baden-Baden and Mannheim are especially noteworthy, as these produce the high end of the characteristic semi-sweet white wines which couple so perfectly with German cheeses and pickled vegetables. However, all of Germany's wine producing regions have something special and unique to offer, and are a joy to explore and experience.