Among all wines, those from Germany stand out with their floral and perfumed aromas, delicate balance, light body, and particularly pleasant after taste. Germany is the northernmost quality-wine-producing country in the world, with approximately 100,000 hectares under vines.
Rheingau, one of the finest wine regions in the country, is located on the same latitude as Winnipeg, but enjoys a warm enough climate to grow fully ripe and delicious grapes. The Rhein River contributes largely to the mild climate, due to its slow flowing waters and the vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean.
German vineyards were first planted by Roman legionnaires, and to this day, the best sites are still those first chosen by the commanders of the Roman Empire.
Around the Middle Ages, German wines routinely fetched higher prices than French wines, but of late, the North Americans have abandoned drinking these light, off-dry, fruity and aromatic wines. While it is true that best German wines are either off dry or sweet, when tasting wine, one must always consider the balance between residual sugar and acidity. A wine with two percent residual sugar and appropriately high acidity will be perceived as balanced and not at sweet. As a bonus, German wines tend to be low in alcohol.
Understandably, quality German wines tend to be expensive because Germans prefer their wines to those of many other countries, and they have the funds to buy the best. Since the production of first class wines is an expensive proposition and Germans enjoy their classic wines exports of such products remains small and expensive.
Many large volume wineries in the export trade have been too willing to blend low quality wines to meet low cost demands of importers much to the detriment of perception. Quality Riesling wines from Rheingau or the MoseI region display flavour and texture characteristics no other wine region in the world can offer.
Johannisberg Riesling also known as Rheinriesling is an excellent grape with perfumey, floral, fruity aromas high, fragrance and deep flavour.
All these depend much on the composition of soil and prevailing weather conditions (terroir). Due to its acidity Riesling wines, particularly German Rieslings of high quality cellar well. There are still sweet German wines in fine condition from the 19th century. Well made Rieslings possess elegant taste, is light in texture, and a lingering aftertaste; all characteristics expected by wine enthusiasts.
In addition to RiesIing, Sylvaner, Morio-Muskat, MuIler-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Muellerebe, Morio-Muskat, Rivaner, Gutedel, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Gewurztraminer, Traminer, just to name a few, are planted, and in many locations produce fine wines.
Due to climatic conditions, most German red wines are Iight-bodied and pale in colour except spatlese and beyond quality. They are fruity and meant to be enjoyed a year or two after bottling at best.
At one point Liebfraumilch (a.k.a Liebfrauenmilch) was very famous but over time poor blends of many competing brands damaged the good reputation of this generic wine. The most famous of all Liebfraumilch wines was the brand Blue Nun once owned by the Sichel family. Today the brand is in the ownership of a huge German wine conglomerate.
In Ontario, better German wines are available in Vintages releases of the L. C. B. O. and from agents specializing in German wines, and who endeavor featuring fine wines through their consignment programmes.