Eberbach Monastery. The former Cistercian monastery in Eberbach dates back to a foundation in 1136. Already in the Middle Ages, the monastery had a stately vineyard estate of over 300 hectares, which was essentially leased out. Little is known about the grape varieties of this time. In the middle of the 15th century, the cultivation of the red grape varieties Pinot Noir and Blauer Hängling is documented. Before Riesling began its triumphant advance in the Rheingau in the 18th century, the white grape varieties Heunisch, Gelber Orleans and Traminer probably predominated. With the secularisation, the monastery's vineyards became state domains. Today, the Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach form the largest wine estate in Germany. Eberbach Monastery also became famous as the location for the filming of Umberto Eco's classic novel The Name of the Rose.TastingTerra preta for the vineyardAndreas Huppert and the black earth of the IndiesResearchers stumbled upon a mystery in the Amazon region at the end of the 19th century. They discovered a deeply dark but extremely fertile soil that did not at all fit the natural conditions. The soils of the tropical rainforests are anything but rich in nutrients. The researchers found answers among the Indians. Already thousands of years ago, the indigenous people practised shifting cultivation with slash-and-burn methods. To improve the fertility of the soil, they mixed plant residues, composted waste, human faeces and plant charcoal. Through fermentation, this resulted in terra preta, the black earth.CommentRegion Badstube?Major vineyards in the new German wine lawThe major vineyards (in German: Großlagen) were and are a nuisance. They disguise themselves as single vineyards and thus pretend to be something they are not. In fact, Großlagen usually extend over several villages. For example, the grapes for a Piesport Michelsberg do not only have to come from Piesport, but can also come from Rivenich, Neumagen-Dhron or Trittenheim. Quite rightly, the Großlagen are labelled as deceiving consumers.TastingFrom green to scarletThe geologically unique vineyards of Prinz SalmAs Germany's oldest family-owned winery, Prinz Salm looks back on a history dating back to the year 1200. Until the beginning of the 21st century, the winery concentrated on vineyards in and around Wallhausen. In 2008, Michael Prinz Salm-zu Salm took over the vineyards of the former winery Villa Sachsen in Bingen. This means that the current owner, Felix Prinz zu Salm-Salm, not only has top vineyards on the Nahe, but also in neighbouring Rhinehessen. The green slate in Wallhausen and the scarlet soil of the Bingen Scharlachberg are unique.TastingTypicality trumps handwritingStefan Steinmetz: From insider tip to top producerStefan Steinmetz owes his rise to the top of Germany's best winemakers not least to his sure instinct for what the French call terroir, which in this country has unfortunately degenerated into an empty word bubble. There is hardly anyone else who works out differences between vineyard sites and vintages as transparent and comprehensible as he does.TastingIt does not always have to be Champagne!German sparkling wine producers on the upswingGermany is and remains the world champion. Not in soccer, but in sparkling wine consumption. Around 3.2 million hectolitres of sparkling wine flow down German throats every year. This corresponds to a per capita consumption of 3.8 litres. It's not as good as beer, but it's not bad. No wonder that more and more wineries in the country are increasingly focusing on sparkling wine production and producing better and better sparkling wines. It is also no wonder that German sparkling wines no longer have to fear comparison with French champagnes in terms of quality.KnowledgeWe like to say no to DiamWine merchant finds scientific proof for the lack of sensory neutrality of Diam press corksRolf Cordes is a wine merchant from Mühldorf am Inn. In numerous tastings, he repeatedly observed the negative influence of the pressed corks of the southern French manufacturer Diam Bouchage on the taste of the wine. Since then, he has repeatedly questioned the sensory neutrality promised by the manufacturer.TastingOn the trail of the RomansThe resurrection of the Vinum HadrianumIt was his grandfather who once awakened Piero Pavone's fascination for Roman history. In Pavone's hometown, the small town of Atri at the foot of the Abruzzi, the ancient Hadria, this history is still omnipresent and alive today. As a young man, Piero Pavone was initially drawn away from Atri to the big city. But twenty years later he returned to his roots, with the idea of reviving the Vinum Hadrianum, the wine from Roman times.TastingHarteneck reinvents himselfNatural wines from the MarkgräflerlandAs in other regions of Baden, viticulture in the Markgräflerland is primarily carried out by the winegrowers' cooperatives. Unfortunately, the cooperatives still have a hard time with the topic of ecology. Anyone who drives along the vineyards through the region during the growing season can hardly miss the consequences of blanket herbicide application. Thomas Harteneck takes a different approach. Born in the Palatinate, he settled in Schliengen in 1997 and is one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticulture in Baden.TastingFoam from the shore of Lake GardaFour remarkable sparkling wines from Northern ItalyLake Garda is the largest inland lake in Italy. While it is surrounded to the north, west and east by the foothills of the Alps, which reach up to 2000 metres, the southern shore already lies in the lowlands of the Po. Three wine-growing regions border the lake, and sparkling wine production has a long tradition in all of them. We present four sparkling wines for everyday domestic use. Three rosés and one single-varietal Chardonnay. From extra dry to extra brut.TastingIn Loreley's landSleeping Beauty Middle RhineThe Rhine covers 130 river kilometres between Bingen and Bonn. Along this stretch, in the Middle Rhine and its side valleys, there are currently only around 470 hectares of vineyards still in production. Because the steep slopes were difficult to cultivate and land consolidation was hardly possible, a good two-thirds of the original vineyard area disappeared by the end of the 1970s. For some years now, however, the situation seems to have stabilised. At the same time, there is hope that a young generation of winegrowers will breathe new life into the Middle Rhine again. Here and there, the recultivation of old, abandoned terraced sites on the steep slopes has already begun and is counteracting the loss of further acreage.CommentNaturals conquer the wine worldFormerly critically eyed, now establishedToday, natural wines, also called naturals, form an independent and recognised wine category. Hardly anyone would have seriously expected that this would one day be the case ten or twenty years ago. And rightly so. For a long time, many of the wines were simply faulty. In the meantime, however, the picture has changed decisively. A comment by Werner Elflein.TastingFinally ortsweine!Paradigm shift at Dr. HegerUnlike some others in the industry, Joachim Heger from Ihringen has always strictly and consistently separated his wine lines. While the Dr. Heger winery almost exclusively offers wines from the single vineyards of the Kaiserstuhl, which are characterised by volcanic rock, the Weinhaus Joachim Heger primarily processes the grapes grown on loess soil from a producer association. Recently, however, the winery put four bottlings on sale for the first time as Ihringer ortsweine without indicating the single vineyard. We have tasted them.TastingGermany's first “climate vintner”Our discovery in the Kraichgau: David KlenertDavid Klenert is Germany's first “climate vintner”. His winery in Kraichtal-Münzesheim, founded in 2015, is not only certified organic, the young winemaker even goes one step further. His approach to improving the quality of the soil and thus helping to reduce global CO2 consumption initially led him to a farmer friend. From there he adopted ideas from regenerative agriculture, with the aim of gradually increasing the natural humus content of his vineyard soils from the current 1.5 to up to four percent. Depending on the soil type, this corresponds to a binding of an additional 70 to 130 tonnes of CO2 per hectare.TastingPascal Oberhofer takes offGeneration change in the traditional Palatinate wineryAt the time of the French Revolution, they were almost 200 years old. The vines in the Rhodt Rosengarten, mainly Gewürztraminer, are still standing today. The phylloxera and two world wars could not harm them. The Oberhofer family, whose ancestors once came to the Palatinate from South Tyrol, owns what is probably the world's oldest vineyard still in production. The Oberhofers have been cultivating their vineyards organically since 2008. This is not to change in the course of the current generation change – step by step, the 25-year-old junior Pascal is taking over the business.TastingNiederberg's Helden (Heroes)Schloss Lieser and Thanisch in blind tastingThey live in the same village, cultivate their vines in the same vineyards and are even friends with each other. In the past decades, both have played a significant role in polishing up the reputation of the Lieser vineyards. We tasted a representative cross-section of this year's Riesling collection, the 2018 vintage, from both wineries. However, the question was less about which winery would end up on top of the winner's podium. Rather, it was about recognising individual strengths, stylistic differences and different concepts in dealing with a hot-climate year that in a few decades could be representative of viticulture in the second half of the 21st century.TastingMartin Gerlach's restart on the Lower MoselleA first stocktaking after the merger of Gerlachs Mühle and von SchleinitzMartin Gerlach was and is the owner of the Gerlachs Mühle winery on the Lower Moselle. When the possibility of a merger with the traditional von Schleinitz estate presented itself to him two years ago, he jumped at the chance. The “merger on trial” planned for the first few years, however, already promises to be a complete success. With the first vintage of the two united wineries, Martin Gerlach has already made a remarkable new start.TastingMosella patria vini sicciMoselle Rieslings with a dry flavour profileA good 150 years ago, when Rieslings from the Moselle achieved higher international prices than red wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy, noble sweet top wines played only a secondary role. Auslesen, Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen were extremely rare. At the time, it were mainly Rieslings with a dry flavour that made the winegrowers of the Moselle, Saar and Ruwer successful. It was not until after the Second World War that the region gained great importance as a source of outstanding fruity and noble sweet wines. The production of great dry Rieslings largely came to a standstill. But after the end of the sweet wine wave, the focus is increasingly back on dry Rieslings. We look into the question of whether the Moselle region can resume its old tradition.TastingCool StyriaWhite wines from Austria's southeastIn Styria, south of Graz, the majority of white grape varieties grow on 4200 hectares of vineyards. The cool hilly sites produce elegant and highly mineral wines that do not appear fat and correspond to what many wine lovers appreciate. Sauvignon Blanc in particular sets international standards. Mind you, we do not mean the representatives of the Steirische Klassik, which often look like overseas Sauvignons in terms of style, but rather selected terroir and site single vineyard wines that are more reminiscent of the French Loire than of New Zealand, without sacrificing their distinctive flavour. In addition, great wines are also produced from the Chardonnay called Morillon here.TastingGermany turns redPinot Noir on the riseAs recently as 2002, American wine critic Robert M. Parker claimed, “German Pinot Noir is a grotesque and ghastly wine that tastes like a flawed, sweet, faded, watered-down red Burgundy from an incompetent producer.” This statement was already absurd and wrong at the time. Today, more than ten years later, it is even more so. More and more producers can score with their Pinot Noirs in this country. We introduce you to some new stars in the German Pinot Noir sky.TastingPinot Noir speaks GermanFour countries – one varietyThe fact that world-class Pinot Noirs are now occasionally produced in Germany, the land of white wines, is nothing new to many connoisseurs of the subject, even if wine drinkers, especially those with a Francophile bent, often elevate the supposed original from Burgundy to the dubious measure of all things. They tend to ignore the fact that, in addition to the chalky soils of Burgundy, the slate slopes of the Ahr and the red sandstone soils of Franconia, for example, also produce impressive and very distinctive Pinot Noirs that have no need to hide on the international stage. The Pinot Noirs from Switzerland, which also have a say in the race among the best “German-speaking” representatives of the grape variety, are mostly completely unknown in this country and were virtually unavailable in Germany until recently. But not only in Germany and Switzerland, also in parts of Austria and South Tyrol excellent Pinot Noirs are produced.