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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.
The beautiful German wine region of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (nowadays commonly referred to simply as ‘Mosel’) is surely the country’s star attraction when it comes to viticulture. Dramatic, historic and sensational, the wines which come out of this special region are renowned for their ability to beautifully express their unique terroir, as well as the fine, traditional methods which go into their production. One of the main features of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer is the extremely steep slopes on which the vines are grown. They are perilous to negotiate, extremely difficult to maintain, but there’s no doubt in the local vintner’s minds that the results are absolutely worth the effort. The superb drainage these vineyards benefit from, along with the cool climate they receive, help to produce wines of remarkable character and balance which have an enormous global fanbase.
The most popular wine produced in Mosel-Saar-Ruwer is surely Riesling, the noble germanic grape which produces such fascinating, mineral characteristics in the bottle, and which can be drunk young or aged to create stunning results. Over fifty percent of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer’s fine vineyards are planted with Riesling, so popular are the wines made from this fruit. However, other white varietals such as Weissburgunder do very well here too, and red grape varietals like Pinot Noir also produce impressive wines.
The Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris grape varietal is now one of the most widely grown vines in the world, due to the surge in popularity of Pinot Grigio wines over the past twenty years or so. These grayish-blue fruits, which hang in their distinctively conical bunches, are responsible for a very broad range of wines famous for their variety of color tones and flavors Pinot Grigio varietal grapes are highly influenced by terroir, climate and particularly the skill and expertise of the vintners who process them. As such, there are full bodied, amber colored wines made from this grape, and there are equally delicious yet far leaner, paler, lighter bodied and crisp white wines made from the same species in other parts of the world.