The Mosel River is the sinuous spine of the region formerly known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and now just as the Mosel. The river changes direction frequently as it flows northeast toward the Rhine, meandering nearly 150 miles as it covers a linear distance of only 75 miles. Together with its two small tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer, the Mosel composes one geographical entity. The best wines come from the mineral-rich, slatey slopes and are made from Riesling, which accounts for some 60 percent of total plantings.
Although each river’s vineyard area produces a wine with its own distinctive personality, the three share a family resemblance: a fragrance reminiscent of spring blossoms, a pale color, light body and a refreshing, fruity acidity. To add to their charm, they often have the slightest hint of effervescence. Most display their finest charms in youth; the late- and selectively harvested wines merit aging.
Along the serpentine route of the Mosel, the river banks rise so sharply that the vineyards carpeting these slopes are among the steepest in the world. Some vineyards are planted at an astounding 70-degree gradient. On these precipitous inclines, nearly all labor must be done by hand. That includes tying each vine to its own eight-foot wooden stake, and carrying up the slate soil that has washed down with the winter rains.
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