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Piesport Roman Wine Press

Piesport Roman Wine Press


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Meandearing along the mosel

Decanter Staff August 19, 2008

Germany’s most famous region offers more than just some of the world’s best Rieslings. Campbell Jefferys ventures out on two wheels to explore the villages and vineyards of the Mosel by bike

The Mosel’s vineyards cling to the steep cliffs, extending upwards in harmonious symmetry, shimmering with green and gold. Paths lead to medieval hamlets crammed onto hairpin river bends. Clicking through the gears, the river bank rolls by. There’s a tempting route through a vineyard, perhaps to taste another drop made by a 10th-generation local. A fine dry Riesling it will be, evidence of the recent shift towards dry whites with a mineral soul. The radwege (cycle paths) here are flat and smooth. They hug the river or meander through vineyards, each with its own name, its own particular taste, character and history. Ancient villages, some with winemaking heritage dating back two millennia, appear around each bend. The blue-grey slate church towers rise from the centre and the ruins of a castle sit on the hill above.

‘The roots run deep into the soil,’ says Raimund Prüm of SA Prüm. He should know. His family have owned vineyards here since 1156. For the Mosel, where the Romans were the first vintners, this is not unusual. Doors are open for tastings and vintners talk eagerly with visitors – often passing cyclists – about heritage and harvests, and the new dry Rieslings of which they are so proud. Yes, global warming has had an impact, but the next generation is paying closer attention to detail and balance – the shrill wines of a decade ago are long gone. The proliferation of cyclists means more traffic. Winemakers look out for approaching pedal-pushers and litter the paths with signs pointing to their estates. For those of us on two wheels, these worthy diversions make the kilometres drift away, and each day leads to something undiscovered. What follows is a south-to-north meander through the valley.

Day 1: Trier to Trittenheim

Trier, in the south, to Koblenz, in the north, requires four relaxed days of cycling. The Mosel cycle route begins in Metz, in France, but the most popular stretch starts in Germany’s oldest city. The former capital of the West Roman Empire has a bevy of sites, including the 2nd-century Porta Nigra. Our day began with a few lazy loops of the old town, before the path left Trier to run through industrial wastelands. Past Mehring, the Mosel began to reveal its beauty…

It’s so peaceful. The only motors are small tractors and monorail trains going up and down the steep hillsides. Small specks of workers weave between the vines, their heels digging into the slate. It’s tempting to stop at each village and vintner, but Trittenheim awaits. There, wine from the south-facing vineyard of Trittenheimer Apotheke (pharmacy) is reputed to have therapeutic qualities.

The village sits on a thumb of land. The steep cliffs across the bank have been carved into terraces. There are dozens of estates, but Niko Schmitt, who at 34 is part of the young generation of local winemakers, says competition raises the level of quality. ‘We’re friends,’ says the manager of Claes Schmitt Erben. ‘We always taste the wine together. When one of us makes a good wine, the rest of us learn, that’s good for all of us. That’s good for the image of the Mosel.’

Route essentials

Hotel Deutscher Hof Südallee 25, Trier

www.hotel-deutscher-hof.de. Three-star superior located close to the old town

Weinstube Kesselstatt Liebfrauenstr 10, Trier www.weinstube-kesselstatt.de.

Restaurant that serves regional specialties

Hotel and Restaurant Krone Riesling, Moselpromenade 9, Trittenheim www.krone-riesling.de. Directly on the Mosel, serving traditional local cuisine creatively

St Laurentius Leiwen – www.st-laurentius-sekt.de

Claes Schmitt Trittenheim – www.weingut-schmitt-erben.de

From Ehrang on the left bank, a path follows the Kyll River up to the ruins of Castle Ramstein

The Mosel tourist board offers bicycle tours ranging from four to seven nights. Tours include accommodation, baggage transfer, bicycle rental and wine tastings. The five-day tour from Trier to Koblenz costs around €350

(£275) per person (May to November). The trip can also be done independently. Many wineries offer overnight stays, and bicycles can be taken on trains and ferries. An excellent guide book for the region is Moselle River Trail

(£11.98, Cycline). The nearest international airports are in Luxembourg and Frankfurt, while there are small airports in Saarbrücken and Koblenz. A good alternative is the low-cost hub Frankfurt-Hahn, between Koblenz and Trier. Mosellandtouristik, Kordelweg 1, Bernkastel-Kues, +49 (0)6531 973 344 www.mosellandtouristik.de

Day 2: Trittenheim to Traben-Trarbach

The Mosel turns and bends back on itself while villages – often two are joined as one – straddle straight stretches or are wedged onto bends. The first hyphen is Neumagen-Drohn, Germany’s oldest wine town. The epicurean Romans left their mark here. There is a replica of a Roman wine ship, while a stone version adorns a wine dealer’s 3rd-century grave. Across the river in Piesport, discover the Roman wine press at Piesporter Goldtröpfchen (drops of gold).

A rare straight section leads past Castle Lieser, then down to the Mosel’s most popular hyphen of Bernkastel-Kues, where the steep cliff vineyards, entitled Bernkasteler Doktor, are home to the esteemed estate of Dr Loosen, overseen by Ernst Loosen, Decanter’s 2005 Man of the Year. The coming vineyards boast wonderful names: Graacher Himmelreich (kingdom of heaven), Wehlener Sonnenuhr (sundial), and Kröver Nacktarsch (naked bottom).

Raimund Prüm, who has his estates on the sundial, is quick to say that the bikers have been good for business. ‘Of course,’ he says smiling, ‘but they need to learn something about wine or there’s no reason to stop.’ At Staffelter Hof, one of the oldest wineries in Germany, first mentioned in 862, the topic is climate change. ‘We don’t really have bad vintages any more,’ says Jan Klein. ‘We have the problem that the grapes get too ripe. In 2005, we made dry whites with up to 14% alcohol.’ The late-afternoon sun shines on the village’s distinctive art nouveau buildings. On the terrace of the Hotel Bellevue, the glasses of Riesling glimmer and sparkle dry whites with slate at their heart.

Route Essentials

Hotel Bellevue Am Moselufer, Traben-Trarbach www.bellevue-hotel.de. Historic 4-star art nouveau building with modern rooms

Schloss Lieser Lieser www.weingut-schloss-lieser.de

Dr Loosen Bernkastel-Kues www.drloosen.com

SA Prüm Wehlen www.sapruem.com Staffelter Hof Kröv

The Lieser River path reaches Märing-Noviand and a reconstructed Roman winery with 2nd-century treading tank

Day 3: Traben-Trarbach to Cochem

From Marienburg, a ferry crosses to 16th-century Pünderich, a chocolatebox town much like Zell, home to Zeller Schwarze Katz (black cat). Further north in Bremm is Europe’s steepest vineyard. ‘The vineyards are special because of the slate,’ says Ulrich Franzen of Weingut Reinhold Franzen, ‘and because they’re 65 degrees steep.’ In Beilstein, the cliffs are just as dramatic, and skirting round the last bend to Cochem takes the breath away. Sitting on a vineyard-covered hill above town, Castle Reichsburg could be the setting for every fairytale ever written. The narrow alleys are quaint and packed – it attracts more than 2.5 million visitors a year – and the incredible setting is a just reward for the day’s ride.


Piesport wine press

The municipality Piesport always belonged to those towns of the Moselle Valley that could look back on a relatively early tradition of vineyards. According to this source, which is dated to the year 776/777, a certain Walac the Prümer bequeathed, among other properties, two small vineyards on the Moselle, in Piesport: “… vineolas duas super Fluvium Mosella (!) ad postage pigontio…” to the Abbot Assuerus. In 1985 a lucky new find not only confirmed of this document, but also archaeological evidence that wine was processed in Piesport since the 4th century CE.

During extensive studies by the Rhineland State Museum, done on the western outskirts (meadow “In Briesch”) in the years 1985/86, evidence of more than ten rooms and seven pools or tubs of a larger Roman wine press could be produced. The continuously extended building covers a width of more than 44 m and a depth of at least 20 m at the most. The front of the building complex could not be completely studied, as it probably reached down to the banks of the Moselle originally and fell victim to recurring flooding in the post-Roman period.


Piesport Roman Wine Press - History

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Roman wine press

EvThe Romans already made wine from the best vineyards of the Moselle. Their wineries were located at the foot of the vineyards and close to the Mosel, so that the young wine could be shipped without much effort. It couldn't have been simpler. This is why archaeologists also came across the remains of an ancient winepress in Piesport near the world-famous "Piesporter Goldtröpfchen" vineyard. It has been faithfully restored and partially rebuilt with mash and must tanks, a wine press and a smoke chamber. You can visit the site, which has an open protective structure.
Once a year there is even a winepress festival with a demonstration of Roman winemaking based on ancient sources. Curious now? Then take the opportunity to taste the wine from the "Piesporter Goldtröpfchen" vineyard. Perhaps the reconstructed Roman wine ship "Stella Noviomagi" from Neumagen-Dhron will be passing by. But you really should combine your trip with a visit to the neighbouring village and learn a little more about everyday Roman life there.


Wein-Wandern Detailseite

This magnificent hiking route is certainly not an easy one. After all, it is important to master no less than 600 vertical meters over a distance of a good 20 kilometers. Even experienced hikers should plan 5 to 6 hours for this tour.

But don't worry, what we will see along our route will make you forget all your efforts. We will also be taking a journey back 2,000 years or more.

History already greets us in Trittenheim: in the vineyards above the village are the Laurentius chapel from the 16th century and the famous Hinkelstein Eselstratt, a witness to the megalithic culture that disappeared in a long distant past. The Trittenheim Bridge, where the only surviving pair of ferry towers on the Mosel stand, is the starting point of our journey.

Heading up behind the ferry tower on the right bank of the river, the so-called " Apotheken-Weinlage", first leads steeply up to where a burial site from Roman times can be visited. Further on are the slate caves and a lookout point, from where we can enjoy an excellent view of the lovely Mosel landscape, be careful however, on the narrow path that requires some sure-footedness. We continue on an agricultural track, past a solar energy site, downhill to the "Martyrs' Chapel", the construction of which is said to be based on a Roman legend.

After about 5 kilometers we reach Neumagen-Dhron, which is called "Germany's oldest wine town". Not without reason, because around two millennia ago, the Romans, who had one of their castles here, were winegrowers in this place. The famous relief sculpture of the “wine ship”, whose cast has found its place at the Peterskapelle in Neumagen-Dhron, is a testimony to this. Further replicas of local finds from Roman times can be viewed along an archaeological path around the town center. The town also has a special attraction, the “Stella Noviomagi”, the working replica of the Roman wine ship. When the ship is not on the Mosel with passengers, it is moored in a small harbor.

Before the next strenuous section, we could gather our energies by savouring the local gastronomy, for example, in the restaurant "Römerkastell" (Pelzergasse 7), "Hotel Zum Anker", (Moselstraße 14), or "Käpt'n Cook" (Moselstraße 21).

We continue to the Mosel Bridge, where the "Römersteig" changes to a bike path on the other side. We hike around two kilometers along the banks of the Mosel River. Then we climb the steps of an old vineyard staircase and hike halfway through the famous vineyard "Piesporter Goldtröpfchen". On the outskirts of Piesport, Roman antiquity catches up with us again - there you can visit a faithfully reconstructed wine press from the 4th century AD. This and another wine press found in Piesport, as well as valuable additions to an ancient burial site, testify to the 2000-year-old wine-growing tradition of this place, which has remained unbroken to this day. In Piesport there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy excellent regional wines in an idyllic setting.

The last stage requires stamina again as it serpentines up the vineyards. The "Römersteig" leads us over the impressive rock massif of the "Moselloreley" to Minheim. We pass the small "Plague Chapel", which stands as a reminder of the epidemic in the early 16th century. After descending through the vineyards, we arrive at the destination of our 20-kilometer route. In the dreamy wine town of Minheim we can finally rest and contemplate the 2000 years of history we have just walked through.

In the summer months there is an opportunity to end the long hike by taking a ship from the Mosel fleet back to the starting point in Trittenheim.


Vineyard map

Piesport lies in an impressive south-facing, U-shaped Mosel River bend. The ideal exposition is reminiscent of an open amphitheater. On one end of the grand slope is the craggy section, known as the Moselloreley (named after the better-known Loreley in the Middle Rhine), which optimally protects the vines of this great site from the cold north winds. The spicy, subtly sweet Rieslings from the deep-slate soil develop an animating freshness and can be be cellared for many years.

In 371, Ausonius, a Roman poet from Bordeaux and a top aide to the emperor in Trier, raved in his paean “Mosella” of the picturesque Piesport panorama.

Profile

Total area:

65.4 ha, from which 1.5 ha belong to Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier

Height:

125–160 meter above sea level

Exposition:

Slope:

Very weathered blue-gray slate deep topsoil with good water reserves some parcels have more fine soil

Features:

In the summer and in late autumn, the site is less prone to drought, as it receives plenty of sunshine and has good water supplies from the earthy soil and from the woods above

Wine type:

Pronounced minerality, the wines are very concentrated and have a very good aging potential


Piesporter - History

In 371 A.D, the Roman poet Ausonius described the steep hills surrounding the river bend at Piesport as a natural amphitheatre covered with vines. Archaeological excavations have found several Diatretgläser (ornate glass Roman drinking vessels that served as status symbols of wealth and importance in Roman times.)

At the foot of the Goldtröpfchen vineyard in Piesport, a 4th century AD Roman press house was discovered in 1985. With 7 basins, it could handle grapes from 60 hectares (148 acres)-making it the largest found north of the Alps.

In 1763, Lutheran pastor Johannes Hau, convinced the local growers to plant Riesling grape exclusively and donated vines from his own vineyard. Today Riesling is still the dominant grape of the Piesport region.

The slate-blue Devon slate soil is soft, light and stony, ensuring good water supply and is especially apt at absorbing the sunshine reflected by the Mosel River upon the steep south facing slopes. This helps to produce an optimal climate for Riesling grapes, giving “true” Piesporter wine a great finesse, a plethora of aromas, and a crisp & exotic finish.

Read more about this topic: Piesporter

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Piesport Roman Wine Press - History

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Wein-Wandern Detailseite

This magnificent hiking route is certainly not an easy one. After all, it is important to master no less than 600 vertical meters over a distance of a good 20 kilometers. Even experienced hikers should plan 5 to 6 hours for this tour.

But don't worry, what we will see along our route will make you forget all your efforts. We will also be taking a journey back 2,000 years or more.

History already greets us in Trittenheim: in the vineyards above the village are the Laurentius chapel from the 16th century and the famous Hinkelstein Eselstratt, a witness to the megalithic culture that disappeared in a long distant past. The Trittenheim Bridge, where the only surviving pair of ferry towers on the Mosel stand, is the starting point of our journey.

Heading up behind the ferry tower on the right bank of the river, the so-called " Apotheken-Weinlage", first leads steeply up to where a burial site from Roman times can be visited. Further on are the slate caves and a lookout point, from where we can enjoy an excellent view of the lovely Mosel landscape, be careful however, on the narrow path that requires some sure-footedness. We continue on an agricultural track, past a solar energy site, downhill to the "Martyrs' Chapel", the construction of which is said to be based on a Roman legend.

After about 5 kilometers we reach Neumagen-Dhron, which is called "Germany's oldest wine town". Not without reason, because around two millennia ago, the Romans, who had one of their castles here, were winegrowers in this place. The famous relief sculpture of the “wine ship”, whose cast has found its place at the Peterskapelle in Neumagen-Dhron, is a testimony to this. Further replicas of local finds from Roman times can be viewed along an archaeological path around the town center. The town also has a special attraction, the “Stella Noviomagi”, the working replica of the Roman wine ship. When the ship is not on the Mosel with passengers, it is moored in a small harbor.

Before the next strenuous section, we could gather our energies by savouring the local gastronomy, for example, in the restaurant "Römerkastell" (Pelzergasse 7), "Hotel Zum Anker", (Moselstraße 14), or "Käpt'n Cook" (Moselstraße 21).

We continue to the Mosel Bridge, where the "Römersteig" changes to a bike path on the other side. We hike around two kilometers along the banks of the Mosel River. Then we climb the steps of an old vineyard staircase and hike halfway through the famous vineyard "Piesporter Goldtröpfchen". On the outskirts of Piesport, Roman antiquity catches up with us again - there you can visit a faithfully reconstructed wine press from the 4th century AD. This and another wine press found in Piesport, as well as valuable additions to an ancient burial site, testify to the 2000-year-old wine-growing tradition of this place, which has remained unbroken to this day. In Piesport there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy excellent regional wines in an idyllic setting.

The last stage requires stamina again as it serpentines up the vineyards. The "Römersteig" leads us over the impressive rock massif of the "Moselloreley" to Minheim. We pass the small "Plague Chapel", which stands as a reminder of the epidemic in the early 16th century. After descending through the vineyards, we arrive at the destination of our 20-kilometer route. In the dreamy wine town of Minheim we can finally rest and contemplate the 2000 years of history we have just walked through.

In the summer months there is an opportunity to end the long hike by taking a ship from the Mosel fleet back to the starting point in Trittenheim.


Watch the video: Recreating the wine of the Ancient Romans (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Arashishicage

    I think you are wrong. I'm sure. Let's discuss this.



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