The Middle Mosel for wine lovers


Bernkastel from the vineyards above, Middle Mosel, Germany
Bernkastel from the vineyards above.

The Mosel River gets its start in the lower elevation Vosges mountain range in eastern France, flowing through Luxembourg before making its way to western Germany. It joins with the Rhine in Koblenz, but its middle section, known in German as the Mittelmosel, is where a series of conditions come together to produce some of the greatest white wines in the world.

Between the riverbanks and the steep slate slopes that jut skyward at seemingly impossible gradients, villages of varying degrees of bucolic charm dot the Mosel Valley. These sites offer wine lovers travelling the region plenty of places to stay, eat and explore one of Germany’s true treasures.

The history of wine cultivation in the Mosel Valley goes back to Roman times. Vineyards were planted along the river to provide wine for troops stationed in the region rather than transporting it from further afield. While the Mosel Valley represents Riesling royalty, for many Germans, the region stands out as a vacation spot for camping, cycling and gourmet dining in the valley’s quaint and quiet villages.

Looking across the Mosel from Wehlen. Credit: Clive Pursehouse

A river runs through it

The Mosel (along with the Douro Valley) may be one of the only wine regions in the world where you can see all of the valley’s top vineyard sites from the water. One of the best ways to get a real sense of the Mosel’s Grosse Lagen (equivalent to grands crus) is by riverboat. While there are several multi-day Mosel cruises, you can opt for a much shorter trip. A slow-winding, one-hour boat ride leaves from Bernkastel-Kues almost hourly in the high season and will take you past many of the most famous Riesling vineyards in all the world.

From the famous Bernkasteler Doctor above the town of Bernkastel-Kues with its legendary wines, the boat cruise passes Graacher Domprobst and Wehlener Sonnenuhr. It winds its way north to the steep red slates of Ürziger Würzgarten and Erdener Prälat. From there, you can disembark and visit the ruins of an ancient Roman wine press near the town of Erden, at the base of the region’s top vineyard sites.

The main square in Bernkastel-Kues. Credit: Clive Pursehouse

Base camp in Bernkastel-Kues

The town of Bernkastel-Kues is well located for the Mosel Valley’s wine highlights, top vineyards and charming villages that dot the valley. The Bernkastel side of the river is particularly charming. It has a bustling character that lasts into the evening when some of the Mosel’s sleepier villages have shuttered for the day. The town has adorable half-timber architecture, a picturesque atmosphere, tiny alleyways and a lovely market square right out of a storybook; it’s a great place to station yourself to explore up and down the river.

Bernkastel-Kues sits in the shadow of the ruins of the Landshut castle that looms tall over this part of the Mosel dating to the 1200s, and some of the region’s most famous vineyards like Bernkasteler Doctor and Bernkasteler Lay. Pass through the Graach Gate, and you can wander the legendary hillside vineyards within 10 metres or so of town.

Bernkastel-Kues is complete with a number of great local restaurants, hotels and wine shops that carry some of the hardest-to-find Rieslings in the world.

Top tastings

Let’s face it: you came to the Mosel to taste some of the world’s best Rieslings, so you likely have a few places in mind. There is such a range of Riesling producers in the region and they can vary greatly in their size and accessibility. Do not plan to arrive without a prior appointment, or you may be greatly disappointed.

Weingut Willi Schaefer

In the tiny village of Graach, the iconic Willi Schaefer has been making wines for generations. The ethereal Rieslings are some of the most sought-after and still reasonably priced in all the world. It is a family operation (of two people), so appointments are required, and you should reach out as far in advance as possible. They…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/the-middle-mosel-for-wine-lovers-520200/