by Fred McMillin
for November 17, 1999


Where Riesling Is King



Germany's best vineyards lie as far north as grapes can be persuaded to ripen. Most of the land is unfit for normal agriculture. Their chances of producing the world's best white wine look VERY slim. Yet, on occasion they do, and stamp it with a style that no one, anywhere, can imitate.

...Hugh Johnson, World Atlas of Wine, 4th Edition

The Rest of the Story

Scharzhof Riesling Germany's one and only great grape is the Riesling. It originated there a millennium ago, and has produced its greatest wines there. Hence, I tell my students, "Don't judge the Riesling grape until you taste a German version." So let's select one with a fine pedigree...

The Region

The Saar River, a tributary of the Mosel.

The Producer

Egon Muller, the most famous estate of the Saar. It is located at the foot of the Scharzhofberg ("berg" is mountain in German).

Wine of the Day

Name—Scharzhof Riesling, 1998
Tasting Notes—Watch for the cold-climate high acidity that will balance detectable sugar, and the unique flavor contribution of slate soil which I've never found to be duplicated outside of Germany.
Importer—Frederick Wildman
Contact—Odila Galer-Noel or Amy Mironov, (212) 355-0700, FAX (212) 355-4719
Food Affinity—Oysters, sole, chicken, etc.
Wine Enthusiast Appraisal of Earlier Vintage—Balanced acidity, medium body, well rounded, 'terrior' character.
Price—$15 range.


Egon Muller was not the first to recognize the merits of the Scharzhofberg site; Roman pruning knives have been found in Germany dating from the first century A.D., and it is likely Romans planted the first vines in the Scharzhofberg.

Note—For more about Muller Riesling, see the February 20, 1998 WineDay titled, George Washington and The Vine".

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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