In preparation for my Court of Master Sommeliers (hereafter known as CMS) exam, there’s a lot of practical knowledge study I need to be doing. I’m going to be rolling some of that study into this blog. Writing about topics always allows them to stick in my mind a little more than when the information is free-floating, so in the interest of my retention, I’m going to presenting the “Book Report” series.
Warning: This may bore some of you to tears. It will be terribly esoteric and nerdy. For lovers of Riesling, press on, dear comrades. Hold fast to the sticking point!
Germany is definitely not a weak point for me, but not a topic I’m feeling super strong about currently, so today I’m going to touch on the Mosel sub-region, the Ruwer.
There are thirteen Anbaugebiete (major wine growing regions) in Germany. The Mosel is one of the most famous, particularly for its Riesling grown on ridiculously steep, slate-soil vineyards. The Saar and Ruwer (pronounced “Roo-ver”) are tributaries of the Mosel river, and accordingly are recognized sub-regions of the Mosel. In fact, the Mosel is often referred to as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. The Ruwer is the second-furthest south sub-region, located directly above the Saar. The source for today’s Book Report is The World Atlas of Wine, Sixth Edition by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson.
Global warming has definitely helped this cool region reliably achieve more successful vinages, but the wines are still incredibly feminine (in an Amazon-archer sort of way) expressions of Riesling. I always like to say that Mosel Rieslings have this laser-esque precision, kind of like drinking a lime-green lightsaber. They don’t have the intense zesty qualities that I associate with Riesling from the Rhinegau or Rhinehessen (also heralded Anbaugebiete).
Waldrach is the furthest village upstream on the Ruwer, which runs generally north and slightly west to join the Mosel. Germans label their wines by the village as well as a single vineyard sites. So, a wine from this village would be probably labeled with “Waldracher”. The village has about 8 einzellage (single vineyard sites, of which there are about 3200 in all of Germany) but none of them are phenomenal.
Kasel (wines labeled “Kaseler”) is the next village downstream and, according to Jancis and Hugh, it can produce marvelous wines in hotter vintages. There are about six einzellage here.
Mertesdorf(er) and Eitelsbach(er) are the two next villages downstream, and they contain the two most famous vineyards in the Ruwer. Mertesdorf has the Maximin Grunhaus, of which the best plot is Abtsberg (or the “Abbot’s Parcel”, reflecting the monastic heritage of German wine making). Likewise, just downstream in Eitelsbach, the southern half of Karthauserhofberg vineyard is very highly regarded. Although apparently common in the Ruwer, these vineyards are relatively unique (on a global scale) in that they are both monopoles, or vineyards under single ownership.
The town of Ruwer is the furthest downstream, right where it connects to the Mosel, and contains just a few einzellage.
Although closer to Trier, the Mosel’s capital, the village of the Avelsbach to the southwest (below the Gunhauser Wald) produces wines from a few einzellage which are spiritually close to the featherweight, delicate wines of the Ruwer.
The Ruwer is tiny, (smaller than some villages in Burgundy’s Cote D’Or, apparently), so there’s not a ton to say, but I learned something. I hope you did too!
*This picture stolen from McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail