I used to have a serious distaste for Riesling. I just absolutely despised it...and now I refer to it as the only still white wine I truly care about! The dry Rieslings of Alsace are what first drew me in (at first, I never knew that "dry" Riesling existed), then I moved over to the dry German Rieslings. It has now come to a point that a bit of residual sugar is actually welcomed and the thought of aging these white wines is very appealing to me.
Starting in Trier, Germany, I drove a tiny Volkswagen on the beautiful route to Bernkastel-Kues, which is a picturesque town on the Moselle river and also right in the heart of the Mosel Valley wine region (home of the famous Dr. Loosen winery, among many others). This area is known for its steep vineyard slopes and it seems that every available inch of land is covered in grapes. I tasted some fantastic Spätlese Riesling, including Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Doctor, Fritz Haag, and Willi Schaefer. The 2011 Bernkasteler Doctor Spätlese Riesling became one of my favorites since it started with a hint of sweetness but finished dry. It had a great balance and was the only wine that I ended up ordering more than once.
I can't forget the dramatic Burg Eltz, which is about 45 min. from Trier by car. For me, nothing beats the interior of a nice English castle, but the exteriors of a lot of German castles are seriously beautiful - and unique.
From Bernkastel-Kues, I drove about an hour and a half east (towards Frankfurt) to Assmannshausen and Rüdesheim on the Rhine river. This area is home to, you guessed it, more Riesling, which seems to have more depth and minerality than some I tasted in the Mosel Valley. It is also home to some great quality German red wine, Spätburgunder, which is better known as Pinot Noir. I am told that August Kesseler is the go-to for a consistently good Spätburgunder, but I also tasted a decent one from Georg Bruer and Krone. I wanted to try drier Riesling, which Georg Bruer did have several of - I ended up, of course, liking their Spätlese Riesling and also ended up buying a bottle of Auslese Riesling to age.
*all photos by Shauna Burke