Germany’s wine growers did themselves no favours when, in the 1970s, they responded to growing demand from abroad by exporting the cheapest and worst of what they produced. German wine was saddled for decades with a reputation for poor quality.
All that is now changing. A new generation of wine makers is eschewing high technology, chemicals and the mass market in favour of organic production that reflects the terroir, or soil and climate conditions of the region. It helps that Riesling – Germany’s most popular grape – strongly reflects the conditions in which it has been grown. The result is a resurgence of light, drinkable, dry white wines that range from elegant crispness to the subtly mineral. German wines are increasingly common on wine lists in North America and in parts of Asia, where they match the cuisines well.
Germany’s major wine regions are mostly in an arc that follows the course of the Rhine from the Mosel in the west to Baden in the south. To the east, wine is grown in more challenging climatic conditions in Franconia, Saale-Unstrut and along the Elbe near Dresden.