Known for: Being the most famed Riesling region in the world. Mostly off-dry Rieslings grown on incredibly steep slopes in slate soils. Peachy, honeyed, floral, citrusy wines with a little petrol note (gasoline), spritz, and high, sharp acidity.
- White v. Red Breakdown: 90% white, 10% red
- Top 3 Grapes: Riesling (61%), Müller-Thurgau (12.2%), Elbling (5.8%)
The most famous of all German wine regions, this cool area has a continental climate and is near the border of France and Luxembourg. The best sites are on the twisty-turny Mosel River and on its smaller tributaries, the Saar and Ruwer (the region used to be called Mosel-Saar-Ruwer but that was a mouthful so now it’s just Mosel). The top vineyards are on steep, south-facing hillsides that reach a 70% gradient. The coveted slate topsoil washes down the slopes during the rainy season and vineyard workers spend time in the spring retrieving slate pieces to lay back on the vines, since they believe it imparts flavor.
As you can imagine, hand-harvesting is necessary, a practice that is much easier on the grapes and usually results in clean, pure flavors – which is the hallmark of Mosel Riesling. Expect these wines to be light in color, light to medium in body, super aromatic — floral, honeyed, citrusy and peach with petrol (gas station!) notes too — with a touch of spritz and a tooth-enamel stripping acidity that often requires the winemaker to add a touch of sugar back in the form of unfermented grape juice from the same vineyard, to balance out the tartness. Not much has changed here since the Romans started vineyards in the 2nd century AD, except winemaking has gotten better and better.