Same as its northern neighbour Mosel, Nahe is the name of both the river – a tributary of the Rhine running parallel to Mosel – and the wine region. The river stretches some 125km west-east from Saarland to Rheinland-Pfalz, 2 of the 16 Bundesländer (Federal States) of Germany, but the wine region is almost exclusively in the latter. A picturesque town famed for the medieval Benedictine abbess and polymath St. Hildegard of Bingen, Bingen am Rhine is not only the confluence of Nahe and the Rhine, but also the linchpin of 4 of Germany’s 13 wine regions, including clockwise Rheingau (NE), Rheinhessen (SE), Nahe (SW) and Mittelrhein (NW).
With over 4,000ha under vine, Nahe is the 7th largest wine region of Germany and, along with Franken (over 6,000ha, or 6th largest) and Rheingau (over 3,000ha, or 8th largest), occupy the mid-table in the national ranking. What they may lack in quantity, they more than offset by quality. Nahe, in particular, enjoys a remarkably benign climate by German standards, with mild temperature, ample sunshine, moderate rainfall and, above all, relatively little frostbite. This region of gently rolling hillside up to 300m is revered for its kaleidoscopic range of soil types, from volcanic to sandstone, limestone, clay to slate, effectively comprising the entire cycle of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, ideal for the ever terroir-expressive Riesling.
Albeit the most widely planted variety in Nahe, Riesling occupies just 30 percentof vineyards therein. Nahe has a notably diverse portfolio of varieties, and Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner, although gradually falling out of favour as elsewhere in Germany, can make very good wines. Due to its hugely diverse terroirs, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact style of Nahe Riesling, but the finest samples are said to encompass the allure and finesse of Mosel as well as the power and structure of Rheingau.
One of the leading VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter) estates in Nahe, Dr. Crusius can trace its family history back for more than 400 years, when members of the Crusius family settled in the village of Traisen. Over the past century, the estate has gradually grown from 7.5ha to 17ha, 65 percent of which is dedicated to Riesling, indeed some of the finest Nahe has to offer.
A cuvée of Riesling from two vineyards – Niederhäuser Kertz and Norheimer Kirschheck. Bright citrine with sunshine reflex, the refreshing nose offers lime peel, calamansi and crushed shells. With ample acidity and saline minerality, the citrusy palate delivers lemon peel, grapefruit and rock salt. Medium-bodied at 13%, the pungent entry continues through a lively mid-palate, leading to an appetising finish.
Dr. Crusius Traiser Rotenfels Riesling Spätlese VDP Große Lage 2012
Luminous citrine with light golden reflex, the adorable nose effuses clementine, Fuji apple, white peach, wet stone and frangipani. With sprightly acidity and crystalline minerality, the delightful palate emanates yuzu, Williams pear, apricot, crushed rock and daffodil. Daintily sweet and medium-full bodied at 8.5%, the succulent entry evolves into a chiselled mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish.
Dr. Crusius Black Dog 2012
A blend of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) in equal parts, sourced from two vineyards – Traiser Nonnengarten and Traiser Rotenfels. Dark garnet with carmine-crimson rim, the fragrant nose presents bilberry, blackberry and sous bois. With generous acidity and suave tannins, the tangy palate supplies cranberry, redcurrant and rooibos tea. Medium-bodied at 14%, the berry-laden entry persists through a focused mid-palate, leading to a tart finish.
To uncover the hidden gems of Nahe, contact Mr Martin Palmer; W: www.finegermanwines.hk; E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France,
and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages