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  • May 8, 2013
  • Tips for First-Timers on the Mosel

  • by Lars Carlberg

Keith Morrison of Boston, Massachusetts, says,

We are taking our first trip to the Mosel, and we wondered if you have any recommendations for first-timers. We are planning on staying in one of the villages in the Mosel around Bernkastel, as well as stopping in Trier for a few days. We'd also like to visit the Nahe. Is a car necessary for this? Any advice on accommodations and restaurants in the area, as well as tips on getting appointments with producers, would be appreciated. Also, is there any etiquette to wine tasting in Germany that we should know about that might be different from other places we've been?

  • It’s best to have a car, especially to get around and to visit producers on the Mosel and Nahe. I don’t own one, but I’m less flexible. One piece of advice, don’t book too many appointments. I’d recommend no more than three producer visits per day. As for accommodations and restaurants, it depends on your budget and where you want to stay and eat. Trier has a number of hotels. Hotel Deutscher Hof seems to be a good choice. Becker’s is more fancy and has a highly rated restaurant. Other top restaurants include Schloss Monaise and Bagatelle. Brasserie is worth noting, too. I do the wine list at Brunnenhof, near the Porta Nigra. In Traben-Trarbach, I can recommend the hotel-restaurants Cavallerie and the beautiful Jugendstilhotel Bellevue. If you’re on the Saar, I’d stay either in Trier or at Peter Lauer’s Hotel Ayler Kupp. It’s best just to email or call the producers for appointments. I’d indicate your interest in their wines. If you’re polite and sincere, there’s no special etiquette.

  • Alex Kohse says:

    I’d like to add a little note as a fellow Bostonian. I haven’t visited German wine country (yet), but I have had the great fortune to chat and taste with a good number of German vintners in the states.

    If I were in the Saar, Lauer and Zilliken would be top priorities for me. Both are producing amazing wines and Florian and Dorothee are both very smart, passionate people. I’m still struggling to match up the German stereotype with every single German winemaker I’ve met. In my experience, it’s comically inaccurate.

    • The Saar is idyllic. Both Peter Lauer and Zilliken are great places to visit. The latter now has a new tasting/conference room and arguably one of the most impressive cask cellars in the region, along with Dr. Wagner and Dr. Siemens. Dorothee Zilliken is sweet and likes to laugh. Her father, Hanno, who still makes the wines, takes great pride in his work. Saarburg is a quaint town as well. I’d recommend Hotel-Villa Keller, which is on the banks of the Saar River with a wonderful view of the castle ruin above. They have a good restaurant and beer garden. In the town center, Saarburger Hof has an affordable and good wine list with older vintages from well-known Saar producers. Florian Lauer is friendly and laid-back. The Lauers have a small, stylish tasting room. Of course, there are a number of top producers to visit on the Saar, including Van Volxem, Loch/Weinhof Herrenberg, von Othegraven, Dr. Siemens, and von Hövel, among others. You might not get an appointment at Egon Müller, but it’s worth driving by the Scharzhof.

      The Ruwer is also close to Trier. I’d see about getting appointments at both the Karthäuserhof and Maximin Grünhaus, which are esteemed estates and across the valley from each other.

      The bucolic Nahe reminds me of the Saar and Ruwer. I’d recommend visiting the Big Three: Dönnhoff, Schäfer-Fröhlich, and Emrich-Schönleber. But there are other producers worth seeing, such as von Racknitz.

      Alex, I forgot to mention in my reply to Keith the three-star Michelin restaurant Waldhotel Sonnora, in the Eifel, as well as a new restaurant in Piesport called Schanz, also a hotel. I’ve never been to Schanz. The owner and chef once worked at Sonnora. For more simple fare in Trier, I’d recommend Aom Ecken, Alt Zalawan, and Fischer Maathes. The former isn’t open on weekends. These are good places to drink Bit Pils or Viez and eat steak or schnitzel. Brasserie is another with perfectly chilled Bit Pils on tap, plus it has a very good Mosel wine list. One of my favorite locales, where I always took friends and guests, who wanted authentic local food, was Zur Glocke. Unfortunately, the family-owned restaurant was bought by a local businessman, who owns places that lack soul. At the moment, the original location is being renovated.

      Weinhaus Porn in Bernkastel is the best wine shop on the Mosel. I like the front facade and dark wooden shelf. It has Mosel Rieslings from many of the top producers. The owner Frau Kropf is a real character and tends to favor the fruity wines; the dry Mosels are often in cases on the floor.

  • Matthew Cohen says:

    If you are tasting a lot of wines, ask for a spit bucket. Arriving at a top estate half drunk is not a good idea.

  • My favorite place for eating out in Trier and drinking top-notch Mosel wine is Yong Yong.

  • Another top choice is Hotel Villa Hügel. I forgot to mention it earlier.

    There’s also the Pentahotel in the Kaiserstraße, where Keith and another subscriber stayed.

  • I forgot to mention the Trabener Hof, which is part-owned by Olaf Schneider of Weingut O.

  • Brian Stotter says:

    Planning a week-long trip to the Mosel with my wife. We were thinking of staying in Bernkastel or Zeltingen so we can explore more of the middle Mosel wineries with ease, but I’m interested in venturing down to Trier for sightseeing and to visit wineries in the Saar. Which town(s) in the Mosel tend to be busy or have more active nightlife?

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