Unterfranken Wine - Unique Vineyards and Tastes
[ source: Wikipedia]
The Unterfranken Wine Region
When most people from outside Europe think of European wines, what immediately jumps to mind are the famous appellations of France, or perhaps even Italy. However, Germany's district of Bavaria is home to the Franconia wine region, and many of the wines produced in the northwestern area of Franconia, the Unterfranken, are gaining in popularity.
Geography and Soil
The Main River loops throughout the Unterfranken, and the path of the river combined with a variety of diverse landscapes and soil types make it a very interesting locale for grape growth. Limestone, sandstone and even clay have a hand in the soils in which the grapes grow, meaning even within this relatively small area of southern Germany can have tremendous differences in taste, color and aroma, even from the same type of grape.
The Silvaner Grape
Unterfranken wines are these days more varied than they ever have been in the past, but the most popular grape from which to make them remains the Silvaner, a distinctly German grape used to make white wines. Unterfranken wines made from the Silvaner grape hold a greater reputation than those produced in other German wine regions, where it is often felt the quality of Silvaner varietals has been in decline for decades. Unterfranken Silvaner wines are among few other German dry white wines which can compete in quality with whites made from the Riesling grape, the most famous of German wines outside of Germany itself. Though rarer, the Silvaner can also be used to make dessert wines, or sweet whites.
Grapes used for making dry red wines, such as the Pinot Noir, can and are produced in Franconia. As the most northern of the Franconian administrative districts, Unterfranken is more suited for red grape production than its sister regions. Red grapes however are still less than 20 percent of those grown in the region, and as such Unterfranken reds are much rarer, and more of a specialty item, than its white wines.
One of the unique aspects of Unterfranken wines -- and Franconian wines in general -- is the bocksbeutel, a distinctly shaped bottle used for the highest quality Franconian wines. Short and appearing "flattened", the bocksbeutel is a protected bottle shape, and only certain wines of specific qualities may be bottled in them. Though other countries and regions have, in very specific instances, used the bocksbeutel for their wines, its special shape and the connotations of the quality held within are most commonly associated with the Franconian wines and serve as a reminder of the unique environment and history that makes up both the region and the wines it produces.
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