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  • August 1, 2016
  • Tranchot Map

  • by Lars Carlberg

©GeoBasis-DE / LVermGeoRP (2016), dl-de/by-2-0,

Between 1803 and 1813, Jean Joseph Tranchot and his team began to topographically map the Rhineland, including the Saar and Mosel, as instructed by Napoleon. Karl Freiherr von Müffling completed the series of maps under Prussian rule from 1816 to 1820, including other sections in 1826 to 1828. A total of 264 sheets were hand-drawn on a scale of 1:20,000.

The Tranchot map (Tranchotkarte) shows all the vineyard land during this time. On the earlier sheets, these are marked in pale red with a capital "V," for vignes, or vines. The white areas, marked with a capital "T," show terres labourables, or farmland. The yellow areas with a "B" stood for bois, or woods, and so forth. Other sheets had a different set of color codes. Many of today's vineyards had first been planted in the latter half of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century. In other words, growers planted the most privileged sites first and cleared and planted vines in other sections—whether further across or up the slope as well as on other hillsides—later on. The best sites, including most of the new plantings, were often on south-facing slopes.

The Left Bank of the Rhine was under French control from 1795 till 1814 (see "Wine and War – 1814 till 1914" for more on this). It should be noted that some of the sheets, such as the one titled Trier-Ost (Trier East) from 1816/17, which includes Maximin Grünhaus, don't show the vineyards as clearly as other sections of the map. Von Müffling oversaw these.

I recently discovered that the survey of the Rhineland from Tranchot and von Müffling (1803–1820) can be superimposed on the cadastral maps, thus indicating the exact plots of land and if they were planted with vines back then. On the Saar, one can search a place, like "Ayl" or "Scharzhofberg," and zoom in and out and go back and forth between the two maps.

In the image above, one sees the village of Krettenach (Krettnach) and the main south-facing slope of the present-day Krettnacher Altenberg. A large section of the hillside was planted to vines, and only the tail end was uncultivated at the time of the map (1812, to be precise). The part of today's Altenberg between Krettenach and Ober-Mennich (Obermennig) is marked "F," for friches, or fallow. The italic letter "F" is right on a slate slope facing south, but growers had yet to plant this hillside. A little further up and past Ober-Mennich is Kruschock (Großschock), better known as Euchariusberg. Großschock is both the name of the hill itself and the place-name of the best part of the present-day Euchariusberg, and pretty much only this section—up to the crest—was cultivated with vines. (For more on the esteem of Euchariusberg, you can read this comment. It had a total of about 5 ha when Tranchot and his team drew the map—namely, the engineer-geographers Kolb and Bagetti. The wines were called simply Euchariusberger. See Weinlagen for a map of this sub-vineyard.)

"The finest vineyards of the Saar are on the right bank of the river, from Geisberg in the south to Euchariusberg in the north," André L. Simon says in Wine and the Wine Trade (Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1921). Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt and Hofgut Falkenstein have sizeable holdings in the core sector of Euchariusberg. The southwest-facing place-name listed as "Euchariusberg" on the cadastral map is shaped like a cake slice and mostly owned by von Kesselstatt, which replanted this vineyard several years ago. The Webers have holdings on the prime south-facing hillside in the place-name Großschock, which, altogether, add up to a contiguous 1.8-ha block in the core sections with the Roman numerals III and IV. Simon goes on to say: "Not far from Geisberg is Bockstein, and a little further on the famous Scharzhofberg, the finest growths in the Saar valley. Two other celebrated bergs are Scharzberg and Agritiusberg, whilst excellent wines are also made a little further north at Wiltingen and Oberemmel." He gets this right, but he forgets to mention some of the top sites on the left bank, namely the best-known sites in Ayl (Ayler Kupp) and Wawern (Herrenberg). In the Ruwer Valley, he only lists Grünhaus.

In the postwar years, most of the south-facing slopes had vineyards. This was the same in other parts of the Saar. "On every slope that faces south, or nearly south, you can see the orderly green pattern of perfectly tended vines," writes Frank Schoonmaker in his Wines of Germany (Hasting House, 1956).

Another website, with a cultural data bank of the Trier region, also has the Tranchot map and is easier to navigate than the one from the State Office for Surveying and Geobasisinformation Rhineland-Palatinate. One can also search an address. It's best to use a village name. But there is no cadastral map to switch back and forth. The site has other maps, including a Prussian survey (1843–1878) of the region, and shows little squares with links. These squares indicate cultural objects, including many of the bunkers that were built in the Saar region during the Second World War as part of the "Westwall," or Siegfried Line. I've heard about a number of these bunkers from the Webers of Hofgut Falkenstein. Frank Schoonmaker says:

The whole district was nevertheless the scene of heavy fighting during the early spring of 1945. The anti-tank defences, the so-called "dragon's teeth" of the Siegfried Line, ran through some of the best vineyards, and when I visited the Saar for the last time before the War, in the summer of 1939, pill-boxes were even being constructed in the gardens of my good friend, Herr Koch, of Wiltingen. I remember that I congratulated another friend, in Oberemmel, on the completion of a magnificent new barn, which looked most impressive from a distance; he winked and whispered to me that it was a very wonderful barn indeed, with "walls of concrete one and a half meters thick."

When I returned in 1946, the pill-boxes, like the "barn," had been destroyed, both the whole Saar Valley was still littered with ugly debris of war. There were still brass cartridge cases in the grass along the roadside, and there was still a fighter plane [P-47 Thunderbolt] which had crashed and miraculously not burned, smack in the center of Scharzhofberg vineyard. A good many of the villages had been damaged by shellfire, many of the vines overrun by tanks, and there was plenty of others that had been neglected and seemed lost beyond repair.


©GeoBasis-DE / LVermGeoRP (2016), dl-de/by-2-0,

On the Tranchot map, the Scharzberg—that is, the hill—is listed as "Chartzberg." Not all the slope in what is today Scharzhofberg was vineyard land. The eastern flank was marked "T" for farmland, and the top half, including Pergentsknopp, was listed with the letter "F" for fallow. If one looks at the cadastre, the section known as Oben im Alten Scharzberg (above in the old Scharzberg) was the eastern edge of the vineyard in 1812—namely, the "V" under "berg" on my photo. (The bordering place-name Oben im Neuen Scharz was not planted to vines.) The heart of Scharzhofberg is called, appropriately enough, Im Besten Scharzberg (in the best Scharzberg), which includes Egon Müller's block of ungrafted old vines in "Dem breiten Weinberg" (the wide vineyard), located nearby the manor. The vineyard area in what is now Scharzhofberg was only about 13 ha instead of 28. It was the section from the foot of the hill to mid-slope.

In Ayl, the two hillsides planted with vines were Ayler Kupp and Scheidterberg. Rauberg, Lambertskirch, and Schonfels had no vines when Tranchot mapped the area. In addition, the original pre-1971 Ayler Kupp had vines mostly in the place-name Im untersten Berg. (See "Ayler Kupp: A Short History" for more details.) Today's Saarburger Rausch, which includes the former Antoniusbrunnen and Bergschlossen, was entirely planted to vines in 1812. In contrast, the upper half of the present-day Bockstein had no vineyards back then. This includes the place-name Heppenstein, which was cleared of coppiced oak (Lohhecken), like many other south-facing hillsides in the region (most notably Serrig), at the turn of the 20th century.

The Tranchot map shows what areas were planted to vines before Franz Josef Clotten's 1868 Viticultural Map of the Saar and Mosel. This doesn't mean, however, that the new plantings are of lesser quality. Geisberg is a perfect example. At the same time, a number of vineyards from the time of Tranchot, as well as those planted much later during the periods of expansion, have since been abandoned and lay fallow. These were often sites that were too costly to farm over time. ♦

Photos by Lars Carlberg.

  • According to the map titled Trier-Ost from 1816/17, Abtsberg and Bruderberg were planted to vines at Grünhaus. This would make sense, as the estate “only” had 11 hectares of vines in 1898. By the mid-19th-century, a large portion of today’s Herrenberg had vines. This can be seen on the Prussian survey from 1843 to 1878. Like the Ayler Kupp, the planting of vines began on the dome-shaped part of the hillside first and moved west and further away from the main valley with each new planting, hence the name Neuberg (“new hill”) for many sites. On the Scharzberg, the more southwesterly exposed Vols and Braunfels were already planted with vineyards. But these are closer to the Saar River than the Scharzhofberg, as the side valley is on the right bank. Both Ayler Kupp and Grünhäuserberg are on the left bank of the Saar and Ruwer, respectively.

    Pergentsknopp is the top section of the Scharzberg hillside. The place-names are called In Pergentsknopp (which is at the bend of the hill above Vols and adjacent to Braunfels) and further east Höchste Pergentsknopp (which is the part just below the peak of the Scharzberg hill). The upper area on the eastern side of Höchste Pergentsknopp doesn’t have a place-name listed on the cadastral map. These sections were planted later and are not part of the core Scharzhofberg (see “The Nearly Forgotten Scharzberg” for more details). Egon Müller has old vines in the place-name In Pergentsknopp, and Van Volxem owns the vineyard located in Höchste Pergentsknopp.

  • This evening, Daniel Deckers gave a lecture on Tranchot at the Stadtbibliothek Weberbach Trier. I would have missed this date if Franz Irsigler hadn’t told me earlier that day during the harvest.

    Before the lecture began, it was announced that Zilliken, in Saarburg, is “Winzer des Jahres” (Winegrower of the Year) by Gault&Millau Weinguide Deutschland 2017, which hit the shelves the next day. I can highly recommend this wine guide for my subscribers, though it’s in German. The last two editions have very good wine critics—namely, Christoph Dirksen and Andreas Lelke—covering the Mosel region. They’re not afraid to give their honest opinion. Dirksen, who went to viticultral school and apprenticed on the Saar many years ago, is a fan of old-school Saar Rieslings. (Dirksen and Lelke now write for Vinum Weinguide Deutschland.)

    Deckers explained that Tranchot was an engineer-geographer who was instructed by Napoleon to map the Left Bank of the Rhine, which was considered, even by Victor Hugo, as rightfully belonging to France. The Rhine was the natural border.

    These maps were supposed to have military importance. It turns out that Napoleon wasn’t too pleased by Tranchot’s work. In 1809, he said, “I wanted an extension of the Cassini map and you give me a smaller scale. The Dépôt de la Guerre is badly managed.”

    The French, who had expert engineer-geographers, were the leaders in hand-drawn survey maps. The map of Cassini of the entire kingdom of France was the first based on triangulation. Later on, under Napoleon, the first cadastral maps were drawn by the Dépôt de la Guerre, the corps of engineer-geographers, mapping parcels of land, including their usage, tax value, and so on. As Deckers pointed out, the work of Tranchot was an extension of the work from Jacques Cassini and unique in its detail and beauty, as well as showing the vineyard land of the Saar, Mosel, and Rhine regions.

    The French started drawing the maps of the Rhineland in 1801. Tranchot and his staff began with the sections along the Lower Rhine region first. He later moved his office to Trier, where in 1808, he got married. His wife gave birth to two children in Trier. Tranchot never saw his second child, as he died of a stroke in Linas, near Paris, on April 30, 1815.

    Afer the Treaty of Paris, in 1815, Deckers said that the French were required to hand over all the maps to the Prussians in Berlin, where, to this day, the originals remain. The French were given only a short deadline to make copies of their work as fast as they could. Under Karl Freiherr von Müffling, the Prussians continued the work of Tranchot. These were for the military and not made public.

    Deckers showed various slides during his lecture, including sections of the Tranchot/von Müffling map of Winningen, Wehlen, and the Saar. He also had slides of the Ahr, Mittelrhein, Nahe, and parts of Rheinhessen. (Unfortunately, the mapmakers didn’t quite reach Rheinhessen’s Roter Hang at Nierstein. The border of the map ends just before reaching the Rhine.)

    I made a note to myself that the Prussians also made a map of the Rheingau. This was a little different from the earlier Dünkelberg map of the Rheingau (1867), which Deckers discovered in Wiesbaden. He also mentioned a book by a Herr Bärsch, who rated Grünhaus as having the best wines of the Mosel. Later on, under Napoleon, Brauneberg was ranked alone at the top.

    Deckers briefly talked about Otto Beck’s painstaking work in classifying the vineyards of the Mosel region for the Prussian government. This was the basis for Franz Josef Clotten’s 1868 Viticultural Map of the Saar and Mosel.

    After the lecture, wines were served from the following VDP estates: Maximin Grünhaus, Zilliken, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Piedmont, Schloss Saarstein, Fritz Haag, and S.A. Prüm. I tasted a Spätlese from Grünhaus and then headed home for the evening.

  • On December 19, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a piece by Daniel Deckers about Napoleon and the Tranchot map.

  • In The Wine Connoisseur’s Catechism (1934), Simon wrote: “The best wines of the Saar Valley are those of Geisberg, Euchariusberg, Bockstein, Scharzberg, Agritiusberg, Wiltingen, Oberemmel, and the finest of all, Scharzhofberg. The best wines of the Ruwer Valley are the wines of Maximin Grünehaus [sic], Eitelsbach, and Casel.”

  • Simon wrote in Wine and the Wine Trade (1921), “Below the ancient city of Treves, rich in Roman remains of great beauty, the Moselle receives, on the right, another small river, called the Ruwer. In the valley of the Ruwer, some very delicate and fascinating wines are also made, none better known nor more excellent than those from the ancient ecclesiastical vineyards at Grunehaus [sic].”

  • It should be noted that all of the present-day Saarburger Rausch (Saarburgerberg) was planted to vines in the early 19th century. The same cannot be said of the Scharzhofberg, Grünhaus, or Ockfen, which back then were all more highly rated sites. For whatever reasons, the wines from Saarburg were largely underappreciated. This didn’t change during the Saar and Mosel’s heyday in the 1890s, even though Geltz and Wagner, both based in Beurig at this time, produced wines from this impressive hillside. As mentioned in an earlier comment, Grünhaus comprised the main part of today’s Abtsberg and Bruderberg, not Herrenberg.

    On the Saar and Ruwer, the Scharzhofberg and Grünhausberg (Abtsberg) have historically been rated tops, with a class 1 rating by the Prussians for the tax on wine. (It’s questionable whether the more east-facing Bruderberg should be classifed as a VDP.Grosse Lage today. The best wines from Grünhaus come from Abtsberg and Herrenberg.)

  • On the Tranchot map, today’s Krettnacher Altenberg was only the main south-facing slope. None of the other sections were planted at the time of Tranchot. Where the main dome-shaped hillside begins to face more southeasterly was the old border. (At the far end, it faces more to the southwest.) In other words, a Krettnacher, or a wine from Krettnach, was just this slope, also known as Krettnacherberg (Crettnacherberg). The designation “Silberberg” for a section of the hillside came much later and is not on the cadastre.

  • Großschock is not only a place-name for a certain sector on the south-facing slope of Euchariusberg but also another name for the hill itself. That’s why Tranchot wrote “Kruschock,” which, at the time, was the only part of the hill that was planted to vines. It was about 5 hectares and comprised the place-name Großschock and a small section of the place-name Euchariusberg.

    Kleinschock (or “Schock” on the first edition of Clotten’s Viticultural Map of the Saar and Mosel) is the next large hillock further north.

    This is really no different from Scharzberg, which designates both the hill and certain place-names (as well as a site) on the south-facing slope. Tranchot listed the hill as “Chartzberg.”

  • It is also worth noting that on the Tranchot maps of Oberemmel, the once famous site of Raul had yet to be planted, whereas Hütte and Altenberg were under cultivation. I wonder why the Raul sector, which is a well-exposed part of the slope that is closer to the village, had no vines at this time. Likewise, on the other side of the village in the site of Rosenberg, only a small part of the place-name Vordere Rosenkamm—which, like Hütte, belongs to the von Hövel estate—was planted to vines. The main vineyard on the Tranchot map was a little to the west, and it includes the place-names Mittlere Rosenkamm, a section of the south-facing slope owned by von Kesselstatt, and Hinterste Rosenkamm. My guess is that the slightly more southern exposure was a little better for ripening the grapes. But then why would Raul be left unplanted? And why would the rest of the Raul–Hütte–Altenberg slope that runs deeper and extends higher in this cool side valley be full of vines? Today, much of Altenberg has been abandoned and is fallow because of its steepness.

    On Clotten’s tax map, most of the Rosenkamm sector was colored red, but the nearby Agritiusberg was ranked even higher and colored dark red.

  • On Clotten’s 1868 tax map, the dark-red areas on the Raul-Hütte-Altenberg slope in Oberemmel include the entire official site (Einzellage, in German) of Raul, comprising the place-names (Gewanne) Raul and Im Raul, and most of today’s Hütte—namely, the place-names Lautersberg, Hütte, and Auf dem Elzerberg, but not Unterm Peterweg or the western edge of Hütte (towards Raul). The former site of Junkerberg is in the present-day Altenberg, just to the east of the enlarged Hütte.

    The large dark-red area on the south-facing slope of Scharzberg in Wiltingen stretches from the easternmost part of Braunfels—which includes various Gewanne with the name Vols—to the current eastern border of the Scharzhofberg, which includes two adjoining parcels at the foot of the hill that aren’t in the dark-red area.

  • The Kulturdatenbank der Region Trier has an updated and even better site for superimposing the various maps, including Tranchot.

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