Pfalz is geographically rather small, stretching only about 75 km long and 15 km wide between the Rhine river and the Vorgos/Haardt mountain range. To the North is the Rheinhessen wine region, to the east the northern part of the Baden wine region and to the south in France lies Alsace.
In terms of quantity, however, because the density of vineyards Pfalz in so high, Pfalz actually comes in second place overall in Germany in terms of acres of land under vine. Only Rheinhessen has more land under vine.
More importantly, in terms of quality Pfalz is increasingly positioning itself among those regions in Germany that produce some of the finest Rieslings and Spätburgunder (as Pinot Noir is called in Germany) and the region shows great potential also for the future. Riesling is the leading grape in Pfalz – followed by Dornfelder, Müller-Thurgau and Spätburgunder.
The rise of Pfalz began about 40 years ago. The introduction of modern winemaking technologies and improved practices in the vineyard and cellar has since transformed the region of Pfalz from a producer of mostly uninteresting sekt (carbonised sparkling) and whites to some very serious wines that can take on the world.
Pfalz enjoys a sheltered location between east of the Vorgos/Haardt mountains. Summers are generally warm and sunny. Soils are diverse offering both loam, chalk, clay, sandstone and sand. Add to this winemaking skills and passion and you have a winning combination.
As a tribute to innovation it is interesting to note that two of the leading four grape varieties in Pfalz are new crosses of other older grapes varieties. The white Müller-Thurgau is a cross of Riesling and Madeleine Royale from the late 19th century, while the Dornfelder is a cross of Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe. Dornfelder was created in 1955 but was only released for commercial cultivation in 1979.
Dornfelder quickly rose to fame in Germany – not least because its’ dark skin provide darker fruit flavours and when oaked a more full-bodied wine. Dornfelders come in many styles. Lighter styles works perfectly with burgers and pizza and fuller-aged styles Dornfelders compliments also hearty foods. As for Müller-Thurgau, this pairs well with white meat such as roasted pork or poultry with mushrooms.