Local vintners predict high-quality Mosel crop

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Wine harvesting season is currently in full swing in the Mosel valley, and Sabers are fortunate to be located at the doorstep of the region that produces some of the finest white wines in the world.

The Mosel is the fifth largest wine area in the Federal Republic of Germany and a distinctive product of this region is wine produced from the Riesling vine.

There are more than 25,000 acres of wine-growing land in the region and approximately 75 percent of that land is covered with Riesling vines. The remaining land is cultivated with Elbling and Burgundy grapes, such as Mueller-Thurgau, Auxerrois and Rulaender.

Mueller-Thurgau and Elbling grapes grow in the Upper Mosel region, producing rich yields due to the shell-lime soil in the area. The soil is responsible for the fine breeding shown in the wines here as well as their delicate and refreshing acidity.

The Upper Mosel includes land on the German side of the Mosel River, from Perl to Konz, where the Aar River flows into the Mosel. Light grapes are grown here to make table wines and Sekt, or sparkling wine.

Mueller-Thurgau or Elbling grapes harvest from September until mid-October. Grapes that need more time to ripen, such as Riesling, harvest from mid-October until mid-November.

Mosel wines are characterized by their fine bouquets, golden color and typical aromatic elegant piquant taste. Some Mosel wines are robust and lively with high acidity, others are stimulating with a fruity taste, and some are lighter in taste.

Although Mosel wines have a common basic character, they differ from village to village, and vineyard to vineyard, depending on the soil. Famous vineyards are located in Wehlen, Bernkastel, Uerzig, Zeltingen, Piesport, Graach and Trittenheim.

Riesling grapes are small and contain a large number of seeds. They need longer time to ripen, are harvested in late October, November and December, and do not produce as much juice as other types of grapes.

Riesling juice is very concentrated and produces a full and rich wine taste. Consequently, wines made from Riesling vines are more expensive.

Wines are divided into quality categories. They're continually controlled and must pass a critical examination before they can be sold. Quality wines with special attributes are top wines and bear a special name or domination, exactly defined by law.

Wines from the Saar and the Ruwer regions resemble those of the Mosel family.

An important thing to remember is the region where the grapes are grown. In the case of Mosel wines, labels read "Mosel-Saar-Ruwer," indicating the grapes were grown on the Mosel or in the smaller side valley regions of the Saar and Ruwer rivers, where the Riesling wine flourishes.

Among the best known vineyard sites of the Saar are Scharzhofberg, Wiltingen, Kanzem, Ockfen, Ayl, Serrig, Oberemmel and Niedermennig. The city of Trier, a metropolis of the Mosel wine area and scene of important wine auctions, is also a large center of wine growing. Its vineyards have earned a great reputation.

On the banks of the Ruwer, a small tributary of the Mosel, wines famous among connoisseurs are cultivated in vineyards that stretch for about four miles. Their peculiar earth and spicy taste distinguish them from Mosel wines.

The vast area from Trier to Koblenz, where the Mosel joins the Rhine, has too many wine-growing villages to mention. Each town and village has some very fine vineyards, many with a world-wide reputation for top quality wines.

Wine categories
The label indicates clearly the quality category. Denominations and their characteristics.

Kabinett: The elegant nature wine harvested during the general vintage time, usually October.

Spaetlese: Wine made from grapes picked after the completion of the normal harvest, giving special bouquet and fruitiness.

Auslese: The ripest bunches of grapes are individually selected, picked and pressed. These grapes produce noble wines for great occasions.

Beerenauslese:
Wine, made from over-ripe but sound berries selected from each bunch of grapes.

Trockenbeerenauslese: Wine made from a special selection of over-ripe raisin-like grapes. The richest, sweetest and finest wine.

Eiswein: Wine made from grapes picked and pressed while frozen. The pressing produces highly concentrated sugar-to-water content, retaining the frozen water as ice particles with the husks of grapes. Eiswein is a fascinating wine because of its very special character.

According to German wine experts, the increase in sunlight during the summer is expected to create an outstanding quality wine for 2012, although the harvest may be smaller compared to last years'.

The Mosel Wine Association originally estimated around 820,000 liters of wine to be produced from the Mosel region, but the association now estimates about 740,000 liters of wine will be produced this year.