Tuesday, 11 October 2011

German Wine Trip: Rheingau Day 1

My German wine trip has begun! Lady J and I will be touring the top wineries of Rheingau, Mosel and Ahr over a period of one week. The arrangements were made by German wine expert Frank Kämmer, who has more wine qualifications than you can shake a stick at.

The flight from Singapore to Frankfurt was smooth and uneventful aside from some turbulence. We rented a car from Hertz at the airport and were soon on our way to the touristy town of Rüdesheim, a quick 45 minute drive away. I am the designated chauffeur for this trip, so Lady J can enjoy the wines while I only get to sip and spit. 

The first winery on our list was Josef Leitz. The winery has grown exponentially over the past ten years, from 6 ha to the current 40 ha. It has an annual production of 400,000 bottles. Historical documents trace the establishment of the winery all the way back to 1744, but it was only in 1985 when current owner and winemaker Johannes Leitz took over that quality started to rise. He says, "I dream about terroir, I want to show where the wines come from." 

The steep slopes of Rüdesheim
The majority of Josef Leitz's vineyards are located on the Rüdesheim hill at different elevations and on different soils. They have names like Roseneck, Kaisersteinfels and Drachenstein (Dragonstone in English). The highest elevations are the most prized as they receive warmth and sunlight during the day, and at night cold winds blow from the forests up north and create the large temperature difference that is responsible for the development of fruity characters in Riesling. Anyone interested in learning about the soils and layout of the Rüdesheim vineyards should visit the website. It is incredibly detailed and easy to read. 

Winemaker Johannes Leitz
It's not just the website that is well designed, the wine labels are also done up in a very modern style. None of that old-fashioned Gothic script here, instead there is the name of the producer, vineyard, vintage and perhaps an indicator of sweetness. Easy to understand and market. Johannes is a very savvy winemaker who is not only a master of his craft but also shows an understanding of the consumer. In Singapore, you can find the wines through Beautiful Wine

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