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Nahe 

Nahe is a region (Anbaugebiet) for quality wine in Germany, and is located around Nahe River in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. On the region's 4,155 hectares (10,270 acres) of vineyards in 2008, white wine grapes dominate with 75% and Riesling is the most common variety with 27.2%. A characteristic of Nahe is that the soils are very varied due to the region's volcanic origins.

Although the region was populated already in Roman times, and the village of Monzingen was mentioned as a wine village already in the year 778, the wine region of Nahe was defined only with the 1971 German wine law. Before that, the wines were sold as plain "Rhine wine". In recent decades, several Nahe producers have created a name for themselves with Riesling wines that have been rated very highly by international wine critics, and have come to be seen on par with the best wines of Mosel and Rheingau.

History

The Nahe river near Bad Kreuznach in 1900. - wikipedia.org

The Nahe was one of the last few German wine regions to develop significant plantings, being planted nearly six centuries after the Romans first cultivated the Mosel region. By the Middle Ages, viticulture was flourishing the region under the care of Church ran vineyards. During the 19th century, the Nahe was considered one of Germany's finest wine regions and continued its prosperity till experiencing economic downturns following the world wars of the 20th century. While other German wine regions became more industrialized, the more rural Nahe fell behind and its presence on the world's wine market was dramatically reduced. Towards the ends of the 20th century, reforms and renewed optimism among the Nahe wine produces would usher in a period of renaissance in the Nahe wine industry.

Climate and geography

The Nahe wine region follows the path of the Nahe river in its northeasterly descent towards the Rhine river. The river helps moderate the temperate climate of the region and the valleys of the Nahe's tributaries help foster diverse microclimates through the region. The Soonwald ranges to the northeast and rocky foothills to the east help retain heat and moderate the amount of rainfall that the region receives. Some south facing vineyards have microclimates that are similar to a Mediterranean climate and are being experimented with for red wine grape cultivation. The Nahe river flows parallel to the Mosel river and is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the southeast of the Mosel wine region. The Mittelrhein and Rheingau wine regions are located to the north/north east with the Rheinhessen former the region's eastern border. Vineyards are located on steep, slopes along the Nahe and its tributaries typically at altitudes of 100-300 meters (330-985 feet.

Subregions

The majority of the vineyards in the Nahe wine region are found along the banks of the Nahe river from Martinstein, near the historic village of Monzingen and then down stream to its confluence with the Rhine at Bingen am Rhein. The region is broadly divided into 3 three subregions, though there are quality wines that carry the "Nahe" designation that are produced outside of these. The main regions are the Upper Nahe, Bad Kreuznach and Lower Nahe. The wine producing areas outside of these subregions includes the Alsenz river area that meets with the Nahe at Bad Munster am Stein-Ebernburg and the villages of Bockenau, Roxheim, Sommerloch and Wallhausen located several miles northwest of the Nahe.

The Nahe formally has only one overlapping district Bereich Nahetal that includes 7 Grosslagen (collective sites) and 328 Einzellagen (vineyards). The 7 Grosslagen are-

  • Grosslage Burgweg-Located in the Upper Nahe and shares a name with Grosslagen in the Rheingau and Franconia. Most noted for its Riesling wine production.
  • Grosslage Paradiesgarten-Located in the Upper Nahe and includes the historic village of Monzingen. Some producers here are noted for their Rieslings of cult wine status.
  • Grosslage Kronenberg-Located in the Bad Kreuznach region and considered one of the best quality Grosslagen in the Nahe.
  • Grosslage Pfarrgaten-Located northwest of Bad Kreuznach around the village of Wallhausen. One of the Nahe's smallest Grosslagen.
  • Grosslage Rosengarten-Located northwest of Bad Kreuznach and shares a name with a Grosslage in the Rheingau. The region is highly planted with Muller-Thurgau and Silvaner.
  • Grosslage Schlosskapelle-Located in the Lower Nahe and is one of the Nahe's most promising Grosslagen for Weissburgunder and Grauer Burgunder.
  • Grosslage Sonnenborn-Located in the Lower Nahe and centered around the village of Langenlonsheim.

Upper Nahe

The Upper Nahe region include the westernmost and oldest vineyards in the Nahe. The region begin with the villages of Martinstein, Monzingen and follows the river to Bad Munster am Stein-Ebernburg where it meets with the Alsenz. The area is noted for its vast diversity of vineyard soils, particularly in the area near Oberhausen where a single vineyard can include soils of sandstone, slate, melaphyr and porphyry. This region of the Nahe was modernized during the flurbereinigung reforms of the late 20th century and is now characterized by steep, terraced vineyards along the banks of the Nahe planted mostly with Riesling. The climate of the region gets progressively warmer downstream with low amounts of annual of rainfall that is favorable for the production of late harvest wines.

Wine villages of the Upper Nahe include-(moving downstream)

  • Monzingen-Including the Fruhlingsplatzchen and Halenberg vineyards
  • Meddersheim-Including the Rheingrafenberg vineyard
  • Schlossbockelheim-Including the Felsenberg and Kupfergrube vineyards
  • Oberhausen-Including the Brucke vineyard
  • Niederhausen-Including the Hermannshohle and Kerz vineyard. A 1901 classification of Nahe's vineyard carried out by the office of the Royal Prussian Surveyor listed the Hermannshohle vineyard as the highest ranking vineyard of the Nahe.
  • Norheim-Including the Dellchen and Kirschheck vineyards
  • Traisen-Including the Bastei and Rotenfels vineyards

Bad Kreuznach

The sub-region of Bad Kreuznach include the vineyards north of the city that are dominated with clay and loess based soils. The area has been traditionally lead by large family own estates, such as those of the Anheuser family (of which the brewer Eberhard Anheuser was a part of) and the Reichsgraf von Plettenbergs that are still producing wine today. These families were instrumental in the years after World War II in sustaining the reputation of Nahe wine but the Bad Kreuznach region, as a whole, has seen a steady decline since the end of the 20th century with very few vineyards participating in the VDP organization. The region still has some quality vineyards with the Kahlenberg and Krotenpfuhl being the most significant.

Lower Nahe

Riesling - wikipedia.org

The Lower Nahe sub-region follows the Nahe past Bad Kreuznach north to the river's confluence with the Rhine at Bingen. Vineyards in the area tend to be planted quartzite and slate. In addition to Riesling, Scheurebe, Silvaner and Weissburgunder all have significant plantings in this area. The wines of the Lower Nahe tend to have more similarities to the wines of the Mittelrhein rather than the wines from other parts of the Nahe. This include characteristic flavors of wet stones and minerals with citrus and stone fruit notes.

Wine villages of the Lower Nahe include-moving north

  • Dorsheim-Including the vineyards of Troll-Bach, Burgberg, Goldloch and Pittermannchen
  • Munster-Sarmsheim-Including the vineyards of Dautenflanzer and Pittersberg
  • Laubenheim-Including the vineyard of St. Remigiusberg
  • Windesheim-Including the vineyard of Rosenberg

Grapes and wine

VDP auction of Nahe and Ahr wines at Bad Kreuznach. - wikipedia.org

The Nahe is a predominate white wine region with Riesling being the most significant planting. Riesling's prominence is due in part to the reforms of the flurbereinigung and the decline of Muller-Thurgau which was once the Nahe's most widely planted variety but now accounts for around 16% of plantings. In the 1960s, Silvaner occupied more than half of all vineyards in the Nahe but fell in favor to plantings of Muller-Thurgau and Riesling to where it is now accounts for a little less than 10%. Plantings of Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder and the red Spatburgunder have been increasing. Overall, red grape varieties account for around 23% of the Nahe's vineyards with Dornfelder, Blauer Portugieser and Spatburgunder being the most popular plantings. Other varieties found in the Nahe include Bacchus, Faberrebe and Kerner.

For a large part of the Nahe's history, grapes from the region were blended with other German wine grapes and labeled as "Rhine wine". Today the majority of Nahe wine is consumed domestically with the nine member estates of the VDP having the largest export market of the region. Unlike other German wine regions, co-operatives have a smaller presence that pales in comparison to the influences of the large German supermarket chains that form a large sector of the Nahe wine market.

The most cultivated grape varieties, by area in 2008, were:

Data provided by wikipedia.org