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  • November 26, 2013
  • A Hike from Lorch to Kaub

  • by Lars Carlberg

nolligOn the western edge of the Rheingau, bordering the Mittelrhein (Middle Rhine) is the village of Lorch, where Eva Fricke has her vineyards and is making a name for herself. Like the Mosel, this area is part of the Rhenish Massif, also known as the “Rhenish Slate Mountains.”

Lorch is more Mittelrhein than Rheingau. It has a different soil from most Rheingau wines. In this 65-km stretch of the Rhine Valley, the river flows north with steep slopes and some 40 hilltop castle ruins. It's part of the Rhine Gorge or Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last Sunday, my girlfriend and I hiked from Lorch to Kaub. It's part of the hiking trail known as the RheinSteig. The four-hour hike took us along the right bank of the Rhine River, up and down hills and into wooded side valleys.

The slate soil in these parts is primarily gray. There is plenty of quartz crystals as well. It reminds me of the slate soil on hikes in the Ruwer and Saar valleys. Some sections around Lorch, Lorchhausen, and Kaub are stonier than others. Yet much of the vineyard land is uncultivated. These south-facing slopes are quite steep with terraces of dry stone walls. The vineyards are difficult to cultivate in these parts, as there is no place for tractors here. The work has to be done by hand. Hence the costs of production are high.

Across the river is the left bank of the Mittelrhein. Most of its well-placed south-facing sites, around the town of Bacharach, like Bacharacher Hahn, are in small side valleys, where the vineyards get the maximum amount of sun and are protected from the wind. This is a beautiful area of the Rhine Valley, and the wines from here deserve more recognition. ♦

Photograph of the Nollig Castle ruin above Lorch.

  • The other day, I was reading Frank Schoonmaker’s Wines of Germany (Hasting House, 1956), and he says the same about the area around Lorch and Lorchhausen:

    Here, north of Assmannshausen, the official Rheingau comes to what con only be described, as a rather inglorious end. One excellent producer, Graf von Kanitz, makes excellent wine at Lorch, but the soil and growing conditions, even in the best Lagen (Pfaffenweis, Bodenthal, Krone), are quite different and, however good, these are Rheingau wines in name only and could be described and listed as the outstanding products of another and adjoining district, the Mittel-Rhein.

    I can highly recommend Schoonmaker’s book, especially the Hastings House editions from the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, it’s out of print.

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