Germany produces some of the greatest white wine in the world – as even the French reluctantly concede. And most of that really good German wine is produced in two areas of the country, both named after the rivers along whose banks the vines are cultivated. One of these rivers is the Moselle.
Moselle wine is easily identifiable. It is, first of all, marketed in a recognizable slender green bottle. Almost all of it is made from the Riesling grape and is refreshing, somehow spring-like and young to taste. It is also the lightest, alcoholically, of the major white wines, rarely containing more than 10 per cent alcohol per bottle.
Although vineyards exist along almost the entire length of the river, from the time it enters Germany from Luxem-bourg and France to where it meets the Rhine at Koblenz, most of the best Moselle wine grapes are grown in what is called the Middle
Moselle, a thirty-mile stretch of the river between Trier and Reil, and in a few villages along the banks of the Saar, the Moselle’s most important tributory.
Since most German wines take the name of their village of origin (although one or two of the most famous vineyards, such as Scharzhof berger, the most famous of the Saar wines, do not), the important thing to learn if you want to read a Moselle wine label is a little geography. The best known of the wine villages of the Middle Moselle and the places where, consequently, the best wine is produced are Zcltingen, Picsport, Wehlen and – most famous of all – Bernkastel. Bern-kastcl produces several wines, including the best known wine of the region, Bern-kasteler Doktor – so called because a medieval bishop of Trier is leputed to have been cured of a fever by drinking the beverage.
On the Saar, the villages to remember are Wiltingen (the village of origin of Scharzhof berger wine), Ayl and Ockfcn.
Few of the wines of the Lower Moselle (the part of the river nearest to Koblenz) are exported, but of the few that are, the wine from the village of Zell (Zeller Schwartzc Katz) is worth looking for.
Moselle wine goes beautifully with salads, all light meat, and fish and egg dishes. It should be drunk young.