A few days of riesling in Germany and France

Just back from a week in Europe and got some good advice here so figured I’d report back for anyone interested in something remotely similar.

My wife and I did friday to friday recently, with two nights in the Pfalz, two nights in Alsace and two nights in the Mosel. A great trip. Not enough time, but we have young children to get back to. Went like this, roughly:

Flew from Dulles to Frankfurt and rolled into Germany on no sleep at 7:30 a.m. Had breakfast in Mainz and then walked around Oppenheim until it was time for an appointment I had made at Fritz Ekkehard Huff in Nierstein. I had read about the winery in my “Wines of Germany” book by Anne Krebiehl, and then saw people saying nice things about them here, so asked if we could arrange a tasting. Christine Huff welcomed us and must have opened 12 bottles of truly excellent wine. Some of these bottles cost all of 7 Euro or so, and even the higher end material was running about 20 euros. Wish I had walked out with two cases instead of two bottles, but left with a sauvignon gris and the 2020 rabenturm riesling. Even on no sleep had the clear sensation of Holy crap, these wines are delicious. I believe Christine said she and her husband import a small amount into the U.S. through Vom Boden. Great wines. (I brought my Wine Check, and it really does turn heads and prompt questions.)

Stayed at a very nice Airbnb in the Pfalz located at/above Hirshhorner Hof Frank John Weine - Hirschhorner Hof - Neustadt Königsbach, which is also in my Wines of Germany book and happens to be a GREAT place to stay if interested in exploring the German Wine Route–just south of Forst between Deidesheim and Neustadt. After some sightseeing and hiking we drove into Deidesheim and sat for a tasting at Von Winning. Told the guy pouring we were interested in riesling and asked what he recommended, and he said “I recommend you try them all.”
Sold. Tried some of the regional bottles and seven local single vineyards. Wow, also incredibly tasty. I’ve never had the opportunity to taste through a range of Pfalz rieslings like this, and the rich, sunny interpretation was really something. These wines were uniformly great.
Walked out with an Ungeheuer GG, which had no small amount of oak on it, but handled it well. Can’t wait to open that bottle. Then walked across the road and bought the same vineyard GG from Von Buhl.

Next, a couple of days in Alsace, based in Kayserberg. Made an appointment at Binner, where they pour a variety of natural and idiosyncratic wines. Loved them all. Walked out with what is essentially a grand cru edelzwickwer (“kaefferkopf”). Other stops in Alsace included the Ribeauville Coop, which unlike some coops actually poured a variety of excellent wines, Gustave Lorents and Domaine Mure. Very good wines all. Some great. A few of the places I emailed were not hosting tastings due to harvest, which makes sense.

After Alsace, up to the Mosel for two nights just outside of Bernkastel. We stayed at the S.A. Prum guesthouse, and when we arrived they asked if we’d like to do a tasting in the cellar. I was not familiar with these wines beyond knowing they were one of the non JJ Prums, but wow, these were rock solid wines. As I understand it the family owns a significant amount of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard directly across the river from the guesthouse, and their Sonnenuhr wines were great. The tasting was led by Saskia Prum, daughter of the owner and one of the winemakers, and sitting in the cellar with a Prum, drinking excellent rieslings, it was hard not to love all the wines.

Time got away from me so we didn’t do some of the tastings I had anticipated. We did stop by the Mosel wine museum in Bernkastel where they offered ~120 wines on offer for 16 euros. This may be a tourist trap, and many of the best producers were not represented, but my wife and I were the only people in the cellar, so it was pretty damn fun to walk around pouring our own tastings for an hour or so. They had stuff from Molitor, Max Ferd Richter, Thanisch, etc.

I haven’t mentioned the food at every stop, which was uniformly excellent, but for riesling nuts, I would think the Zeltinger Hof would be must stop. Mosel Restaurant | Hotel Zeltinger Hof
Ridiculously deep list, but I went with the four courses and eight wines for 73 euros, and the pairings included a 1981 Bernhard Jakoby Spatlese, a 1982 Thanisch Kabinett and a 1992 Kallfelz. Great wines? Probably not. Is it incredibly fun to drink 40 year old riesling in Germany on a Wednesday night? It is.

Anyway, stayed at great places and had uniformly great meals and great lodging for relatively modest sums in every stop. The Pfalz, Alsace and Mosel were incredibly beautiful, and the scenery alone was worth the plane ticket. Did not do half of the wine tasting I had anticipated, but by the time I was actually there, I didn’t actually care what we did, as it was so much fun just to be on vacation and to be outside with so much to see. Everyone we encountered was so friendly and tolerant of my nonexistent German and French.

If I could do it again, I would change very little except eke out another day in the Mosel and try to secure bicycles or E-bikes at every stop, because in hindsight we could have done literally all of our of daily tourism via the well maintained bike trails paralleling the major wine routes. I can’t wait to go back.


Thanks for the great write up Hendrik. Pre kids, we usually stayed at SA Prum when visiting the middle Mosel. Big rooms, fair prices, friendly people, and close to everything we wanted to do. I’m glad to hear the wines have improved. One of my favorite meals in that area was our group grabbing take out Indian food from Bernkastel and drinking a bunch of kabinett and spatlese while watching soccer in our room. After all, one can only eat so much Pfifferling mit Rahmsosse.

Thanks again

So happy you visited Huff. Christine is an impressive winemaker. We offered her wines at source | material in the Golden Generation case that was selected by none other than Klaus Peter Keller.

What a lovely trip, thanks for the write up. Wine tasting in Germany is incredibly fun. So casual, so easy, so inexpensive, and so often you get to taste with the wine makers themselves.

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YES, Christine Huff makes great wines for little money. I love her „Rabenturm“ Riesling.

Super report, glad every stop was a success for you Dave. Were they pouring a spectrum of vintages? Just curious :wink:

Again, bravo for a lovely read.


Thanks so much. It was fun to recall while it was still fresh. I would say every place we tasted had a variety of vintages to pour, and I’m not sure the rhyme or reason behind what was available or open. Binner had a 2015 and 2012 of its Kaefferkopf open to show vintage variation, I guess, while Huff opened the 2020 Rabensturm and then the 2012 (I think?) so we could get a glimpse of its potential evolutionary path.
The grand cru gewurtz (Altenberg) being poured at Gustave Lorents was a 2015, while the Clos St. Landelin Pinot Gris we tried and bought at Mure was a 2016. Other places were pouring 2018s, 19s and 20s. I think all the Von Winning single vineyard rieslings (GGs aside) were 2020.
Aside from Prum, where 15 euros per person were rolled into my final room bill, none of these tastings cost me a penny. I gladly would have paid, too, but it was just a notable occurrence. The guy at Von Winning literally said, when I asked about the fee, “This isn’t like California. Taste what you want and buy or don’t.” (That said, I know some places do have more typical tasting fees, we just never happened to stumble upon any.)
I bought something everywhere we tasted, but never felt pressure to buy something mediocre as a show of good faith, as there was always something good to great available.

Hah, yes, I totally forgot about this. I was only charged for a tasting once, and it was modest - maybe €15 to taste 8 wines at Molitor? We ended up tasting 24 wines, mostly current vintages but some older things, including a 1987 Rivaner Trocken. It was a near epic experience - and I think the fee was waived when I bought some bottles.

If I had to pick three places to stay in Germany for a US wine geek, it would be the Hotel Kaisergarten (in Deidesheim, right across the street from Von Winning, within easy walking distance of Reichsrat von Buhl, Dr. Bürklin-Wolff, Bassermann Jordan, etc.), SA Prum (see post above), and Burg Schwarzenstein (Geisenheim/Johanissberg). The fall-back accomodation would be Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss, but they always seem booked out whenever I want to go. Plan early, reserve months ahead, and bring your hiking shoes and credit cards.

Sounds amazing! Definitely on my list of to-do’s.