Page images



Steinberg, which is situated between Hattenheim and Erbach. This magnificent vineyard was formerly the property of the monastery of Eberbach ; but its present proprietor is the Duke of Nassau, who does his utmost to uphold its character.

The Steinberg produces about twice as much as the Johannisberg, and is planted exclusively with Riesling grapes.

The most beautiful and most extensive of all the hills on the Rhine is the Rüdesheimer Berg. It is 400 acres in extent, and covered almost to the summit with vineyards. As it is very precipitous, it is divided into a large number of terraces, supported by thick walls. Many of the grapes are Orleans, and the wine from this hill is in great repute.

The Rüdesheimer Hinterhaus is also much esteemed; the grapes are chiefly Riesling, producing a very aromatic wine. The vineyards are divided among numerous proprietors, who can generally afford to keep them in good order.

About two miles farther up the Rhine is the Geisenheimer Rothenberg, not nearly so extensive, but of similar quality to the Rüdesheimer Berg. The soil is red, and hence the name.

The Marcobrunnen, in the upper Rheingau, is also of first quality. Its principal proprietor is the Count of Schönborn.

Hochheimer is usually considered among the finest of the Rhenish wines; the Hochheimer Dom Dechaney is especially noted. The village is not on the

[ocr errors]

Rhine, but on the Maine ; its produce is included among the Rhenish. It is supposed that our English name of Hock' is derived from Hochheim.

The principal wine districts in the Rheingau are Rüdesheim, Geisenheim, Winkel, Mittelheim, Oestrich, Hallgarten, Hattenheim, Erbach, Eltville, Assmannshausen, and Lorch.

These places produce in good years a great quantity, both at low and high prices. The wine is everywhere white, with the exception of Assmannshausen and Ingelheim. The latter place has a high reputation in Germany for its red wines. As the quantity is not very great, it sometimes realises exceedingly high prices.


The wines of Rheinhessen, or the Palatinate, grow on the left bank of the Rhine.

This district produces twice as much as the Rheingau, but, as regards quality, is not to be compared with it. Those of Hesse, which grow in Nierstein, Oppenheim, Bodenheim, Laubenheim, and on the Scharlachberg, near Bingen, are classed among the second quality of Rhenish wines. The rest are considered third quality ; but are, nevertheless, very agreeable, though deficient in body.


A large quantity of wine-good, but not firstclass—is grown here. The Riesling and Traminer

[blocks in formation]

growths are very excellent. The inferior wines, on the other hand, have often an earthy taste. The principal wine districts are, Deidesheim, Dürkheim, Forst, Wachenheim, and Ungstein.

The Stein, or Leisten wines—the former generally kept in peculiar-shaped bottles, called Bocksbeutel’ —are from the neighbourhood of Würzburg. They are well known for their body, strength, and sweetness, but possess little flavour.


The wine territories on the Moselle, properly speaking, extend only from Coblentz to Trèves ; but it is customary also to include amongst them a few places which lie above Trèves, on the Saar, under the designation of the Saarwein land. The soil consists of small slate, which, with the vines, is not unfrequently swept away by heavy rains.

It is only in good years—that is to say, hot summers and warm autumns—that the quality is fine.

The grapes are Kleinberger, Rieslinge, and Klebroth. The Kleinberger are the most abundant throughout the whole district. In Zeltingen and Brauneberg, Rieslinge are principally grown. The Klebroth produces red wines at Kersten, and on the lower Moselle.

Moselle is known as the oldest German wine. It is bright, with a somewhat greenish-yellow colour, like the small young wines in Rhenish Hesse-never gold-coloured — with a certain amount of freshness,

the sun.

and is generally very dry. It has a light, agreeable flavour, and is well adapted for a cool, refreshing summer drink. Its flavour is principally developed from grapes which have not been much exposed to

Both the red and the white begin to give way when eight or ten years old.

As the Palatinate wine can be had much cheaper than Moselle, it is frequently sold under the name of the latter.

On both sides, from Lorch to the Ahr, a great number of pleasant wines grow, which are, nevertheless, little known in the trade. The Ahr may be called the lower boundary of the Rhine growths.

Baden, Wurtemburg, and Austria produce a great quantity, scarcely known beyond their localities.

There are few who have not heard of the twelve large casks in Bremen called the twelve Apostles, said to contain the most exquisite Rhine Wine, of extraordinary age. I am very incredulous about the quantities, and still more so about the age ; but one thing is certain, that the town council of Bremen, about forty years ago, announced the sale of all these Apostle Wines, and I remember tasting some that had been bought at the sale, and thinking it very middling indeed.

Bearing this in mind, it is amusing to see the following extract, which is now running the round of the German press




The municipal wine vault of Bremen is the most celebrated in all Germany. One section called the Rose, from the bronze bas-relief of roses over it, contains the famous Rosenwein, which is now two centuries and a half old. There, six large casks of Rhine wine, Johannisberg, and as many of Hocheimer, were placed in 1624. In the adjacent parts of the same division of the cellar are twelve large casks, bearing the names of the Apostles, and containing wines not less precious, but not so aged by a few years; the wine bearing the name of Judas, is considered the best. The other parts of the cellar are occupied with wines of a subsequent growth. By degrees, as a few bottles of Rosenwein are drawn off, the casks are filled up with Apostle wine, and that, with some sort still younger, and so on, in such a manner that the different casks are always kept very nearly full. A single bottle of Rosenwein now represents an immense value. A cask of wine containing 1,000 bottles, cost, in 1624, 1,200 francs. Calculating that sum at compound interest, with the expense of cellarage, a bottle would positively cost 10,895,232 francs; and a glass or eighth part of a bottle, about 1,361,904 francs. The Rosenwein and Apostle wines are never sold but to citizens of Bremen. The burgomasters alone have permission to draw a few bottles, and to send them as presents to sovereigns. A citizen of Bremen may, in case of serious illness, procure a bottle at 20 francs, on his obtaining the certificate of his doctor and the consent of the municipal council. A poor inhabitant of Bremen may also obtain a bottle gratis, after having fulfilled certain formalities. A citizen has also the right of demanding a bottle when he receives any celebrated personage at his house as a guest. A bottle of Rosenwein was always sent by the city of Bremen to Goethe on his fête day.

The following pretty lines describe the progress of wine, from the state of grape till it has gone into the

« PreviousContinue »