Ahhh, the hills are alive…no, that’s Julie Andrews and Austria. Black cats and voodoo dolls…no, that’s Ricky Martin and Miami. Tiny bubbles…no that’s Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra or somebody.
I do know we were sitting at an outdoor café along the hills of the Moselle River. There were black katz on every bottle of wine we tasted. In fact, every signpost and even the hills boasted pictures of black katz. No voodoo dolls in this town square. Just a huge black katz statue proudly greeting visitors. Those tiny bubbles floated in every glass of wine we tasted. And what fine wine it was.
Swirling, tasting, and appreciating the golden liquid in our glasses, we stopped to visit multiple wine merchants along the main street in Zell, Germany. Shop owners were eager to talk about their wines…and even more willing to give a free taste and sell a bottle.
Gesturing to the steep hillside above the town, shopkeepers and wine makers proudly pointed to the Black Katz on their labels and on the hillside sign. The Schwarze Katz label and vineyard is famous around the world. One taste and we can see why.
Sandwiched between the MoselleRiver on one side and steep slopes of the river gorge on the other, Zell is a working wine town. Dozens of similar towns are nestled along rows of lush green vines that carpet these slopes.
You have quite the picturesque view looking up the 70% slope…until you realize someone has to harvest those grapes growing up there. By hand, that is.
Vines are tied to wooden stakes throughout the vineyards – stakes the harvesters hang onto. When the dark, glistening slate soil washes down the slopes with the winter rains, it has to be carried back up, again by hand.
Take another look at your glass of liquid gold and imagine all the hours that have gone into pleasing your palate. One would imagine the price would reflect all the hand labor involved. It doesn’t. For a few Euros you can buy a bottle of some of the best Riesling wine in Germany…some even say the world.
Riesling wines in this region are delicate yet expressive. Ranging from fragrant and fruity to those with a slightly mineral undertone, they are refreshing and slightly effervescent. Learn a few German words like “please”, “thank you”, “dry” or “sweet”, and you are on your way to a pleasant afternoon.
Ahh…those tiny bubbles. Who did sing that song?
Fall is a great time to taste wine in Germany. Most towns, large and small, have festivals celebrating harvest. If you go to Zell, one wine shop worth visiting is Weingut Heinrich Mayer at 56851 Zell, telephone # 116306542.