Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Nahe, wine region in germany whose total vineyard area had decreased to 4,187 ha/10,342 acres by 2013 scattered over a wide area on either side of the river Nahe (see map under germany). Vineyards begin upstream at Martinstein, with Monzingen being the first famous and ancient wine village, mentioned as early as 778. The region was defined in anything like its current form only as part of the german wine law of 1971, bringing together several geologically and climatically distinct areas.

First there is the by turns bucolic and geologically dramatic stretch of the river between Monzingen and Bad Münster am Stein. Here many of the vineyards have been modernized and reconstructed where necessary and practical (see flurbereinigung), and steep, often terraced slopes produce world-class riesling on a geologically complex mix including sandstone, porphyry, and slate. A single vineyard, such as the tiny Oberhäuser Brücke (a monopole of the Nahe’s foremost vintner, Helmut Dönnhoff), can incorporate four fundamentally different soil types, and it does not seem to be mere imagination that such geological complexity is mirrored in the taste of the wines. The general climatic tendency is to warm as the Nahe meanders downstream. Excellent ventilation, low precipitation, and balmy autumnal temperatures, in addition to the steep, southward inclination of vineyard slopes, offer ideal circumstances for late-ripening Riesling.