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Frankfurt Wine – or the wines I found within Frankfurt are both well stocked internationally and well supplied locally. Frankfurt wines consist of popular, and mostly Tuscan, Bordeaux and Burgundian reds and the white wine on offer is almost exclusively locally produced (Rheingau or Mosel) Riesling. In every decent restaurant you have a good supply of local whites including Rieslings from all harvest periods (Kabinett thru Eiswein) as well as some Müller-Thurgau wines. The only red of any note in the area is produced on the Rhine at a bend in the river at Assmanshausen, this Pinot Noir red called Spatburgunder (late Burgundy) has a tiny production and cult following. The Spatburgunder I tried was nothing to write home about but if you’re interested in trying a German red then one of the best exponents of this varietal is August Kesseler.
Through my 3 days in Frankfurt I was on something of a Riesling mission and sampled all the Prädikat designations several times and I can say, for my palate, not loving the Eiswein. For those who don’t know the German Prädikat designations are basically an order of the required must weight, the sugar content of the grape juice, and the level required is dependent on grape variety and wine-growing region. Basically its all to do with the time of year the wines are harvested and the ripeness of the grapes. Eiswein is harvested in the middle of winter, December and sometimes January, and only a small amount of wine can be extracted from these grapes. This explains the high prices, around 60kgs of grapes go into one 500ml bottle of Eiswein (compared with a standard 10-15kgs for a regular ripe harvest bottle of wine). Eiswein is sweet, really sweet, to my palate and thru many producers I was only reminded of cough syrup for children, taking the sweetness down a level my favourite sweet Riesling consistently was the Auslese but even this could only be taken as an after dinner wine. For every day, drink it with your salad the Spatlese Rieslings were favourite, as above.
I took a tour of the Rheingau and got to try, in the tiniest glasses known to man, a range of locally produced wines. What immediately strikes you about this part of the Rhein, between Assmanshausen and Lorelei is the amount of area covered by vine. I’ve never seen anything like it, the south facing slopes are complimented by the wide Rhein and protected by the hills facing the vineyards, it really is perfect terroir and they’ve taken advantage in the most efficient way. Not only is every spare meter under vine but the use of the space is also awesome, the symmetry of the vineyards is almost poetic. Take a look. The area is set up for wine tourism, while I was there it was the 900th anniversary of the production of red wines in Assmanshausen and the town was decorated with banners. Every other building is a wine shop offering tastings and tours. If you have taken tours of the Italian or French wine growing regions you will really appreciate the effort the Germans take to be both informative and open!
What surprised me, in the shops of Frankfurt and the wine lists of the better restaurants was the abundance of Italian wine. I shouldn’t really be surprised, a particularly good, famous and well stocked website like http://www.superiore.de/ is catering specifically for the German speaking language who are simply in love with Italian wine, and all things Italian in general. Some great shop bought prices on some famous Super Tuscans, including 2004 Tignanello (which you find very rarely now in the Italian stores) makes Frankfurt a great place to spend time for an Italian red lover.
Unlike Italy, Germany only has great white wines and in their whites they are as nationally selective as the Italians are about all their wines! I didn’t see a Soave or Pinot Grigio all weekend! The hotel I stayed at, Intercontinental Frankfurt, was as magnanimous about International brands as the rest of the city allowing myself and my travel partner to have a hotel room tasting session. On offer were about 10 different wines by the glass, 3 of these being German, the rest being Kalifornian, Italien, Französisch, Chilenischen und Australian. Tasting notes to follow.
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Ever been to Frankfurt, what is your favourite German wine?