The weather is pretty grey while we drive along the river Nahe. It’s one of the first days of January. The sky is cloudy, raindrops are falling. No other car is driving with us. The Nahe is very different from the Rhine valley or the Moselle valley. Hardly any tourists. Only beautiful nature. In winter, it means that you can be alone on the streets. Silence can be a great thing. Everything fits: The nature. A region that feels down to earth. And a winemaker that is very focused on this nature and the unbelievable geology and needs of his vineyards.
What would you do if you were asked to manage one of the best known wineries of German Riesling tomorrow? Especially, since you are not a winemaker but a journalist. Whatever your answer would be, it would be a great story to tell at parties…
The vintage 2017 at PJK is vital and has good grip. The vintage 1703 might have been the same. Who knows… But since then the winery Peter Jakob Kühn from Rheingau makes Riesling. Unbelievable! Always in the family, from one generation to the next.
The man who designed one of the best wine lists in Germany is a big Riesling fan and a fantastic cook. What a perfect combination for us! Together with his wife and a great team they created not only a comfortable restaurant and a charming historic hotel – but a true “Riesling Place”.
There are different kinds of heroes in the winemaking business: the trendsetters and the youngsters, the price champions and the quality masters, the traditionalists and the innovators. But there is one special category that needs to be opened for winery Markus Molitor from the Moselle area. We would like to call it “Master of the thousand vineyards”.
Famous Heinrich Heine said once: “If I only had enough belief to move mountains - the Johannisberg would be just the mountain I would have me follow everywhere” (our translation). We couldn’t agree more. The Riesling of winery Schloss Johannisberg in the beautiful Rheingau is world-famous.
When we started to fall in love with Riesling, the winery Joh. Jos. Prüm from the Moselle region gave the first and most important impulse. We were sitting in a nice restaurant in Stuttgart and a talented sommelier convinced us to blind taste a Prüm Riesling. This is where it happened. We were in love. Hopelessly lost. You can imagine how exited we were when we received the invitation to visit this winery and enjoy a special tasting.
Do you know the feeling of being really welcome? It is amazing. Do you know people that truly have a heart that can give you the feeling? There are only a few on this world. One of them is Theresa Breuer. She is “Da Boss” of famous and well-known winery Georg Breuer in the Rheingau.
Rheinhessen is a great place for Riesling shooting stars – the last years have proven it. But, there is one special couple, that a true Riesling rockstars already (even though they don’t like to hear that): It is Oliver Spanier and Carolin Spanier-Gillot. They own two wineries in Rheinhessen which both have been awarded with four red grapes in the Gault Millau. Which means, they are almost on the international top with both of them. That itself is an amazing achievement. But let’s start at the beginning…
You cannot tell the story of Riesling without mentioning a few places where the story gets magic. For us, these places are not just Restaurants or Hotels. They are cornerstones of the Riesling history – its past and its current hype. One of these places is the famous Hotel Kronenschlösschen at the beautiful river Rhine in Hattenheim/Germany.
As winemakers the family Zilliken seems to have achieved all they possibly can: The fifth vine maple of the Gault Millau is fixed. The history reaches back hundreds of years. Quality across all levels is amazing. Their forefathers were co-founders of the VDP organization. The family is well-known and highly respected around the world of winemaking.
If you ever stumble into the beautiful village of Niedermennig – close to Saarburg at the beautiful river Saar close to the boarders of France, Luxembourg and Germany – please do not miss to visit the amazing Hofgut Falkenstein.
After amazing discussions with Emmerich Knoll and Franz Hirtzberger at the Riesling Symposium in Rheingau, we decided to learn more about Austrian Riesling. And there is one great place to do that – Schloss Gobelsburg close to Langenlois. The place itself is living history. In the year 1171, the monks that live in the abbey nearby the castle got their first vineyards. And ever since than, great wine was made here.
One of our favorite stories of finding our everlasting love for Rieslings is this: We decided to drive to the Saar – a river in Germany where great Rieslings grow. Especially one is very famous: Egon Mueller and his Scharzhofberg. This man can ask for 300 Euros for a bottle of Auslese wine – from the latest vintage. And his old Trockenbeerenauslese is trade for more than 12.000 Euros per bottle.
If you want to know where the Riesling comes from there is no better place than Schloss Johannisberg in the middle of the Rheingau region. It is not only a beautiful place where you can have a fantastic view to the river Rhine, where you can sit outside when the sun is shining and where you can eat and drink the local wine. It is also some kind of the birthplace of todays Riesling.
It was a foggy day, when we went to Rheingau in late December. You couldn’t even see the river Rhine – although it was right in front of you. We decided to visit Peter Jakob Kuehn – right after he was awarded with five grapes from Gault Millau. On the same tour we went to see the vineyards of Leitz, Künstler and Spreitzer. They are all located around the same spot.
There is a lot of great Riesling in Germany. But the rise of the Nahe region in the last years is really tremendous. The Nahe is a very beautiful river in the heart of Germany that forms a beautiful valley. Still not a touristic region like the Mosel – where in some time of the year you can hardly walk because of all the people – but it is really worth travelling there also because of ist beautiful nature and rocks.