Latitudes: Mosel, Germany
Slate, slopes and old vines create a unique terroir in Mosel
The Mosel is one of the world’s best examples of terroir in action, with a unique combination of climate, soil, geography and tradition, which produces wines of a matchless style.
Mosel's Northern Vineyards
At 50°N, the region is home to some of the hemisphere’s most northern vineyards, at the limit of where vinifera grapes can ripen. The region stays frost-free for most of the year, allowing the grapes to gain extra maturity. The key to growing great riesling is hang time, letting the grapes ripen slowly on the vine. Other regions further south can also leave their grapes on the vine, but because it is hotter in the summer and fall, grapes ripen too quickly and lose their precious acidity.
Steep Slopes in Mosel
Other factors help keep the region from frost. Some of the world’s steepest slopes can be found in Mosel. They jut out from the river systems, which act as heat sinks, tempering the cold evenings. But what gives also takes away, and the region can be affected by hailstorms; this past summer, some wineries lost up to 50 percent of their crop.
Mosel's Multicoloured Slate
The multicoloured slate also captures the daytime heat. Each hillside has a variation of the two main types of slate — Devonian or red — which can be red, blue or gray. Each type produces subtle differences in grape flavours, but always with that characteristic, intense minerality.
The slate has another benefit. The Mosel is one of the few places where phylloxera is not an issue, as this little insect — the scourge of the wine industry — seems to hate the rocky subsoil. It is not uncommon to find vineyards with riesling vines that are more than 100 years old, producing intense, balanced wines.
Traditional Winemaking in Mosel
Many vineyards have been passed down from generation to generation and with that tradition comes expertise. While a few winemakers are trying barrel fermentations and allowing for malolactic fermentation to soften up the wines, they are very few. The Mosel style is about riesling with high acidity, low alcohol and balancing things off with residual sugar.
Riesling is grown in many places, but nowhere but the Mosel can do Mosel.
Mosel Facts and Figures
Latitude of Mosel
Size of Vineyards in Mosel
9,000 hectares of vineyards.
Regional Styles in Mosel
Riesling, müller-thurgau, small amounts of elbing, kerner and pinot varieties.
Soil in Mosel
Slate; limestone in upper Mosel.
The region used to be referred to as Mosel- Saar-Ruwer, the names of the three river valleys, but was shortened in 2007 to Mosel.
Top Wine Producers in Mosel
JJ Prüm, Egon Müller, St. Urbans-Hof TOP
Mosel's Top Vintages
2009, 2007, 2004, 2002
Wine Production in Mosel
689,000 hectolitres in 2010.
How to Get to Mosel
Fly to Frankfurt. From there, rent a car and drive, or take the train west to the Mosel region.