The Wines of Luxembourg: light, dry and delicious to drink

lx2.jpg The latest wines to come to my notice are from Luxembourg. The other night I had a deliciously dry and refreshing Riesling followed by an Auxerrois, one of Luxembourg’s most successful grape varieties. The Grand Duchy grows Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir, all of which are produced as varietal wines.

Well chilled and refreshing, the wines were perfect with paté on toast triangles, cubed pineapple, cheese and cherries on toothpicks, and cucumber sticks, not to mention some moist dhokla! Not one person asked for a beer, a nimbu pani or a diet coke. That says something… about the wines and our changing beverage preferences. Pictured above is Moselle Vineyards in Luxembourg.

Wine drinkers in India seem to prefer red wine because of its health benefits and full bodied flavour, but I would tend to concur with Jancis Robinson that “dry white wine can be every bit as ‘serious’ as red”. Indeed, during our long, hot summers I would suggest you drink more whites. And if a dry white from Alsace is hard to come by, try one from Luxembourg instead. Most of the varieties grown in Luxembourg are the same as those found in Alsace, but cheaper. (Alsace producers are making less dry wine in favour of sweeter varieties.) There is also a Crémant de Luxembourg to compete with Crémant d’Alsace. The Luxembourg vineyards stretch north to south in a narrow band along the Moselle river.
Describing the region, Ambassador Paul Steinmetz in Delhi told me, “Personally, I do believe that the Moselle vineyards are the loveliest part of our country. They form our border with Germany to the east over 30 km and with France to the south for four or five kilometers. At one point they even form a tri-border spot at a place called Schengen, where the famous treaties were signed and where Victor Hugo sought refuge from Louis Napoleon’s dictatorship.
“All along the Moselle river, the area is hilly just as on the German side till Koblenz. Gradients are very steep and sometimes difficult to work on. Romans introduced the vineyards in our region. One Roman house was even reconstructed and can be visited. The region however, as the rest of Luxembourg was very poor till the beginning of 20th century. Half of our population migrated, mostly to USA (around Chicago). The major part came from the then overpopulated Moselle area. However, the region is now transformed: all villages are charming, especially Ahn, Ehnen and Wellenstein. They are very well off.
“Most of the wine is sold to Belgium and Netherlands. We are entering the China market now and two or three individuals are talking of exploring the Indian market. However, our quantities are not that enormous.”
The quality of Luxembourg wines has improved considerably in recent years and the high value wines the ambassador mentioned are, Riesling, Gewürtztraminer, Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.
“Please do cool them adequately before drinking” he advised”Never drink at room temperature, especially not Indian room temperatures. We prefer to have them very chilled.”

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