The Ruwer

NottieHottie begun with the vineyards of the Saar, it seems most appropriate to continue this exploration of German wines by looking at the Mosel's other significant tributary, the Ruwer. Although it is of no doubt that this is an important wine region, let us not overestimate this waterway's size; whereas the Saar is a good sized river supporting a large industrial zone as well as a significant sweep of vineyards before it pours into the Mosel, the Ruwer is little more than a babbling brook, and the vineyards are few. There are, however, a number of notable similarities between the Saar and the Ruwer, and these serve to set both apart from the Mosel per se. The Ruwer joins the Mosel only a few miles downstream from where the Saar flows in, and so we are still quite far up the valley of the Mosel here; this has an obvious effect on the temperatures, which are cooler than for much of the Mosel. In addition, the body of water that is the Ruwer has nothing approaching the mass needed for it to have any significant moderating effect on temperature, and there are no great walls of slate to retain the heat of the day, each of these features being of tangible importance for the vineyards of the Mosel. As a consequence, the wines of the Ruwer can have the same issues with acidity and ripeness as those from the Saar, but not usually to quite the same extent. Even though the Ruwer is only a short distance downstream, that does mean the altitude is a little lower than the Saar; and the vineyards are sheltered by the surrounding hills, many of which easily top 300m in height. The wines may thus have a touch more ripeness, but it is a brave individual who feels they could distinguish them from those of the Saar when tasted blind.

Another similarity between the Ruwer and the Saar is that many of the vineyards here run up the valleys of the tiny streams that feed down into the Ruwer, the vines performing best on those slopes that have a more southerly exposure. This is true of the region's two greatest sites, Karthäuserhofberg and Abtsberg vineyards.

The Top Vineyards of the Ruwer
These are the two greatest vineyards of the Ruwer, the river's only genuine contenders for 'great growth' status. They lie either side of the water as it approaches the Mosel, Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg on the right, Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg and companions on the left. The former is a monopole, in the sole ownership of the Karthäuserhof estate, and lies on the hill above Eitelsbach and the Karthäuserhof monastery. The Abtsberg vineyard is part of a complex of three vineyards, each one a monopole, in the sole ownership of the von Schubert family. The other two are Herrenberg, which may approach Abtsberg in the quality of the wines it produces, and Bruderberg; like numerous other vineyards along the Mosel these were previously in monastic ownership (although the vineyards often predate the existence of the monasteries, having been established by the Romans). These vines were owned by the Benedictine monks of the St Maximin Monastery in Trier, and this explains some of the vineyard nomenclature; Bruderberg provided wine for the brothers and Herrenberg for the non-secular gentlemen, whereas the higher quality Abtsberg wine was reserved for the Abbot. The former monastic buildings, complete with extensive cellars, lie at the foot of the Abtsberg vineyard.

There are a few other vineyards along the course of the Ruwer that are worthy of consideration. Those in Waldrach are not of prime interest, but around the town of Kasel there are certainly two sites that should not go unmentioned; these are Kaseler Kehrnagel and Kaseler Nies'Chen, both lying on south-southwest facing slopes, one on either side of the valley where the village lies. The former is worked by Karlsmühle, the latter by both Karlsmühle and von Kesselstatt. And to the west, skirting the city of Trier is Avelsbach; here Avelsbacher Altenberg and Avelsbacher Hammerstein are both capable of producing good quality wines, the style of which is very similar to those from the true Ruwer vineyards.

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