There’s a lot of good wine all around the world. Wine lovers can spend the whole of their
lives looking for the best varieties. And they say that one of the best can be found here in
Germany’s west, in what’s said to be the oldest winemaking region in Germany – the
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. The wine is Riesling. Having spent decades in the shadow of other
grape varieties and growing regions, this wine has now returned to wine’s premier league.
To the delight of vintner Hanno Zilliken:
OTON1: Hanno Zilliken – Vintner
„I think we’re going through a great period for German wine-making, this Riesling
Renaissance, and the renaissance of wine-growing in general – 20 years ago we could’ve
only dreamed about it.“
He cultivates Riesling exclusively, and he’s about to pass his vineyard on the Saar river
down to the 11th generation of his family, to his daughter Dorothee. She’s part of a new
generation of vintners in Germany, notable for one thing above all: their self-confidence.
She has the know-how, she’s convinced of the wine’s quality, and its potential on the
international wine market. 70 percent of the Zillikens wine is exported. Frequently, Riesling
enjoys a better reputation abroad than it does at home.
OTON2: Dorothee Zilliken – Vintner
„Since the 90s there’s been a boom at home and abroad. Many people first see our wines
on wine menus in America, South Africa, Australia or Japan, and they’re amazed that
German Riesling can be so varied.”
Riesling has always profited from the special mineral-rich quality of the slate soils in the
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer growing region. But the roots of Riesling go deeper still. Young German
vintners are very aware of the quality and tradition of the grape variety, and have started
an intitiative called Generation Riesling, to market the wine and their growing techniques
internationally. One of them is Kai Hausen, who runs a small Riesling vineyard with friends
in Ruwertal near Trier. In his day job, he works for a large winery.
But on the side he produces his own Riesling – to the highest standards, and stress-free:
OTON3: Kai Hausen - ...part-time vintner
„Our philosophy, especially in the casket phase is: don’t do anything. Less is more. We
just give it the time it needs.“
Project 156, and the vintner friends call themselves, is a time-consuming hobby, and the
result is that they’re making a name for themselves among wine aficionados. Their wine is
special.
OTON 4: Kai Hausen
„The more time you invest in the vineyard, the more you get back, in terms of quality,
volume and pleasure.“
It’s people like Kai Hausen and Dorothee Zilliken who are determined not to leave Riesling
to its fate, to the whims of the market or machines. They prefer to nurture careful
techniques to get the best out of their wines.
OTON 5: Dorothee Zilliken – Vintner
„You can really taste the fact that they’re from here, they’re not interchangeable and they
can’t be copied. That’s what’s so great about them.“
You can spend a long time looking for the best wine – so perhaps it’s worth starting with
Riesling.