Known for: Along with Mosel, one of the most famed Riesling regions in the world. Riesling is the most important grape here. The wine styles vary based on vintage and site, but tend to be more pear-like and spicy yet softer in acid and less overtly fragrant than wines from Mosel.
- White v. Red Breakdown: 85% white, 15% red
- Top 3 Grapes: Riesling (78.6%), Spätburgunder (12.3%), Müller-Thurgau (1.6%)
Along with Mosel, this is the most famous wine region in Germany. Rheingau isn’t big — it has about 1/3 the vineyard land of Mosel — but it’s important. Just 20 minutes from Frankfurt, 80% of the region is planted to Riesling. For this area of the world, which is really far north and cold, they’d never be able to grow grapes, but for a little quirk in the Rhine River: it takes a jog from its northerly flow for a bit and flows West for a stretch in the Rheingau region. This shift provides a nice southern slope for grapevines. Insulating the grapes even more are the Taunus Mountains to the north, which deflect nasty polar winds.
That warmth means Rheingau grapes have got it made and for 150 years, the folks living here have taken special pride in that knowledge. 35% of all Rhingau’s vineyards are considered top quality (erstes gewächs). 13 are first class, including two you may have seen before — Schloss Johannisburg and Marcobrunn. Rheingau was developed mostly by monks and has been wining it up since the 980s. The Riesling here is different from Mosel – a bit spicier, more pear-like and minerally, with good acidity, yet softer feeling than wines of Mosel.