Riesling is a true phenomenon, with experiences ranging from infectious cheer to challenging intellectuality. It is the most important grape variety in Rheinhessen, accounting for 18% of vineyard space across 4,855 hectares of land – and counting.
Riesling ripens slowly. The grapes have to stay on the vine for a long time to produce their characteristic aromas. In the relatively cool climate of the 50th parallel north, Riesling can create its fine and fruity aromas, fully ripen in the late autumn sun and develop its fresh acidity. Riesling is excellent at interpreting the characteristics of the soil in which it grows. Various world-famous Riesling varieties are cultivated on the “Roter Hang” slope between Nierstein and Nackenheim – the Riesling hotspot in the “Rheinterrasse” vineyard area. Riesling was first documented in Rheinhessen over 500 years ago.
Silvaner is another established grape variety; it does not date back quite as far but has been around for 350 years. Rheinhessen is now the largest Silvaner-growing area in the world. The wine country on the banks of the Rhine is steeped in Silvaner history, enriched by Silvaner culture and enhanced by classic Silvaner wines. Silvaner has an exciting, regional profile that offers a nice contrast to the uniform styles of many fashionable white wines. It goes wonderfully with pasta, fish, poultry, asparagus and much more.
Silvaner might be the perfect accompaniment to many dishes and a real virtuoso in the world of fine cuisine, but it is a pain in the neck to grow. The grape has special requirements on the vineyard and the finished wine presents its own challenges in the cellar. Winegrowers really have to make an effort – a good bottle of Silvaner requires quite a sacrifice from its maker.
Let us move on to the Reds, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is the benchmark for the art of red wine in Rheinhessen. Charlemagne is said to have brought Pinot Noir to Ingelheim (Rheinhessen) on the banks of the Rhine. Pinot Noir experienced a surge in popularity 150 years ago when the production of sparkling wine was expanded and pure Burgundy wines were cultivated for this purpose.
Pinot Noir is traditionally developed in Rheinhessen as a dry red wine or rosé. When the healthy grapes are pressed immediately after harvest, the light juice becomes a white wine made from dark grapes (a “blanc de noirs”). Internationally acclaimed varieties of Pinot Noir are stored in new wooden barrels and have intense aromas of red berries, often interspersed with fine roasted aromas that are reminiscent of vanilla, mocha or chocolate. The varieties of Pinot Noir grown in Rheinhessen go excellently with red meat, game and a variety of cheeses.
Learn more about our grape varieties: www.rheinhessen.de/en/varieties-2
Copyright: Rheinhessenwein e. V.
Photo credit: Rheinhessenwein e.V. // Robert Dieth