Quick Recipes and Easy

I Love German Wine and Food – A Mosel Riesling

If you are looking for fine German wine and food, consider the Mosel region of central western Germany on the border of Luxembourg. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a local white Riesling tasted with several meals and paired with imported cheeses.

The Mosel Valley has long been considered one of the most gorgeous river valleys in the world. This region, previously known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer for its three rivers, is proud of its Riesling wine. Some of the greatest Rieslings in Germany and in fact in the entire world come from the Mosel Valley. Experts can often identify Mosel Rieslings because of the slate in the local soil, which may impart a taste of flint. Mosel vineyard slopes are among the steepest in the wine-producing world, sometimes attaining 70 degrees. The soil is so precious that every spring local workers lug pails of soil up these slopes, reversing temporarily the effect of the rains that wash the soil down every winter.

Mosel is fifth among the thirteen German wine regions with respect to both vineyard acreage and total wine production. Slightly more than three quarters of the wine produced here is QbA and somewhat less than one quarter is higher quality QmP wine. Only one percent is table wine. Over half of of all Mosel wine is Riesling. The German hybrid Müller-Thurgau represents about 20% of the wine production. In third place is the historic variety Elbing that dates back to Roman times and is the major grape variety in the neighboring country of Luxembourg. Only about 2% of Mosel wine is red.

Basically the Mosel Valley runs from Koblenz not far from Germany’s former capital Bonn to the city of Trier that sits very close to the border. These two cities are linked by the Mosel Weinstrasse (Mosel Wine Road) which is about 140 miles (224 kilometers) long on the eastern side of the river and somewhat less on the western side. Of course, you could take the autobahn to get between Koblenz and Trier at breakneck speed. If you do, you’ll miss the fascinating small towns and vineyards along the way.

Bernkastel-Kues is a town of about eight thousand that sits astride the Mosel River with Bernkastel on the east bank and Kues on the west bank. Bernkastel is about seven hundred years ancient but the area itself was first inhabited thousands of years ago. Bernkastel’s medieval town square is lovely with numerous half-timbered houses, some of which were built in the Fifteenth Century. St. Michaelsbrunnen (St. Michael’s Fountain) is right on the square and other historic fountains are nearby. Make sure to see the ruins of Burgruine Landshut (Castle of Landshut) for an brilliant view of the city and surrounding vineyards. The first weekend of September marks the annual Weinfest der Mittelmosel (Wine Festival of the Middle Moselle River Valley) that includes a festive procession and a fantastic fireworks show.

Bernkastel is home to the Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard producing one of Germany’s most expensive wines. According to well loved legend a Fourteenth Century Archbishop of Trier was too sick to be helped by traditional medicine. He tasted some of the local wine, recovered, and said, “The best doctor grows in this vineyard in Bernkastel.” Due to questionable changes in German wine laws wine bottles labeled Bernkasteler Doctor may now be made by thirteen producers instead of three as previously. Let the buyer beware.

Kues was home to the Fifteenth Century theologian and philosopher Nikolaus Casanus who founded the St.-Nikolaus-Hospital that operates a wine estate and the Mosel-Weinmuseum (Mosel Wine Museum). The museum’s library is open for tours and its wine cellar is open for tastings. Several local winemakers hold Tage der offenen Weinkeller (Open wine cellar days) in which they present and sell their wine in their own wine cellars.

Before reviewing the Mosel wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to buy at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this gorgeous region.
Start with Gaensestopfleher (Foie Gras).
For your second course delight in Entenbrust an Brombeerjus (Duck Breast in Blackberry Juice).
As a dessert indulge yourself with Schokoladencreme (Chocolate Mousse).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are bought at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett 2005 8.6% alcohol about $20.00

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. The 2005 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett – still manages to show right Kabinett delicacy on the palate, which Weis attributes in part to earlier harvest and frankly in part to this site’s compatibility with higher yields. Skin contact and minimal clarification in the cellar help compensate for any danger of dilution. (Lower-yielding parcels nowadays must result in Spätlese or Auslese.) Pineapple, grapefruit, black currant, and Golden Tasty apple dominate the proceedings, suffused with an aura of smoky, crushed stone, and mouthwatering acidity. This is once again a ‘small’ Mosel archetype and a terrific value … And now for the review.

Before the meal I thought to taste this wine on its own. It was delicately acidic and palate cleansing with light bubbles. Then I started with sweet and sour bought barbecued chicken wings. The wine was fine with light acidity. Now I was ready to start, so to speak. My first pairing was with a commercial barbecued chicken leg with the paprika-coated skin, potatoes roasted in chicken stout, and some disappointing pickle slices. The wine’s fruit intensified to meet the chicken’s stout. This Riesling was quite round when dealing with the melt-in-your-mouth potatoes.

The next meal was an omelet with a local Provolone cheese and Turkish salad. The wine was round, thick, and pleasantly sweet. The word feathery came to mind. It sort of floated especially after the Turkish salad. Then I savored a high-quality, chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bar. The wine retained its acidity; it was nearly a excellent match.

The final meal was more of a snack. I ate some packaged Texas corn fritters with generous dollops of 14% sour cream. The wine was bold, sweet, and pleasantly acidic but frankly wasted on such plebian fare. I did end the bottle with home made barbecued chicken to which the wine did honor. Even though the barbecue sauce wasn’t sweet the combination was brilliant.

The initial cheese pairing was with a Dutch Edam that was nutty, a bit fatty, and somewhat sour. The Riesling’s sweetness seemed to step up a notch and it showed tingling acidity. It’s been a long time since I loved a wine and cheese pairing this much. Then I went to a mild-tasting Italian Friulano. The wine was acidic with sugar in the background.

Final verdict. This Riesling is a winner. I wouldn’t hesitate to pair it with a top of the line German poultry dish, the kind that you pay huge bucks for over there. At 8.9% this is one of the least alcoholic wines that I have tasted in a long, long time. And you know what, I didn’t miss it a bit.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine German, French, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His major wine website is theworldwidewine.com www.theworldwidewine.com and his major article website is travelitalytravel.com www.travelitalytravel.com

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