Pfalz is about embracing the juxtaposition of modernity and tradition. I spent my first afternoon in this region strolling through the quaint village of Deidesheim. It is classic Germany – storybook houses, window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers, and a welcoming fountain surrounded by cafes in the town square.
As this was my first visit to a German wine region, I assumed I would be enjoying a bounty of Riesling (presumably with an abundance of sausage and sour kraut) all week. I was wrong. Pfalz is a dynamic region full of surprises – most notably a tension between tradition and modernity.
A quarter of all vineyard plantings in Pflaz is Riesling. But the dynamic winemakers in Pfalz make great wines from a wider variety of grapes than anywhere else in Germany. Dornfelder, Müller-Thurgau, Spätburgunder, Grauburgunder, Portugieser, Weißburgunder, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnay are all seen in portfolios throughout Pfalz. Sadly, not many of these varietals make it to the United States (or South Africa, for that matter), making Pfalz a vacation must.
Pfalz lies within Germany’s Rhineland. However, its climate is less influenced by the Rhine River and more by the Haardt Mountains, allowing for extended sunlight and resulting in wines that are fruitier and more approachable, while still maintaining high levels acidity. This means two things – in Pfalz trocken means bone dry, yet rather than austere and piercing the wines are relaxed, round, and approachable.
Throughout the week in Pfalz, my experiences kept taking me to the intersection of tradition and modernity.