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Wine Road Trip Mile 1,191: Germany

Switzerland is lovely. Its mountains are scenic, its water is pure, and I have fond memories of falling asleep one time in a Swiss meadow and waking up surrounded by cows (different story). But when you're trying to drive swiftly from Italy to Germany, Switzerland is just a big, mountain-filled problem.

Nevertheless, nine hours after leaving Piedmont, I arrived at the gates of Maximin Grúnhaus. One of Germany's greatest estates, it's in the Ruwer valley region (Germany's Mosel wine region is made up of a trio of river valleys—the Mosel, the Saar and the Ruwer). Dr. Carl von Schubert's family has owned Grýnhaus for five generations; originally it belonged to the Abbey of Saint Maximin, and there are written records of the property that date back over a thousand years.

The Ruwer is known for delicate, precise Rieslings, which is especially true in the 2010 vintage. The 2010 Maximin Grýnhaus Abtsberg Kabinett I tasted that evening (along with 15 other wines) was a sublime German Riesling—fragrant and polished, its sweetness and acidity in perfect balance. It was unexpectedly good with the wild boar stew that von Schubert served to me and the 25 wine salespeople from New Jersey who happened to arrive via minibus exactly when I did. (I suppose, from their point of view, I was the interloper.)

"I used to shoot about three boar per year in the vineyards," von Schubert said as we ate. "Now it's about 60. Perhaps it has to do with global warming."

"They destroy the vines?" I asked.

"They love the sweetest grapes. But if they penetrate the vineyard, they have to risk ending their lives as salami."

Next Stop: Austria»


 Video: German Wines