Daily Archives: April 21, 2013

Sunday Read: The Saar and Mosel Map of 1868

The Saar and Mosel map framed (Photo links to Lars Carlberg’s website, where it is uploaded)

I feel like I owe an explanation for my week long silence, but there really is not much to it. There are weeks when writing this blog is easy, and weeks were it is harder. Last week was one of these. I wrote a lot (work related) last week and so my eagerness to write more diminished. I also didn’t drink much wine last week, to be precise: none, so there was nothing I felt particularly strong about sharing. Let’s see how next week works out.

Today, for my Sunday Read, I want to point you to a particular article but also to a website in general: Lars Carlberg’s page. Lars is an American living in Trier, where we used to live, and he is a wine writer, worked as an importer or winery representative and loves the small estates that dot the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer. I have had the good fortune of meeting him several times and he is knowledgbale and a great conversation partner: thoughtful, witty, never boring. He started a Mosel wine, restricted access database last year in which he profiles wineries and posts his tasting notes. I don’t have access to it, but I like whatever he posts publicly and highly recommend you check his website out.

The article I am sharing today is about the Mosel and Saar Tax Map of 1868. When the Prussians took over the Rhineland and Mosel after the Napolenic Wars, they really had not much of a clue of this heavily Catholic area (the Prussian Kings were Protestants). So they established their administrative system and over the decades decided to streamline taxation etc. In 1868, the Prussian government commissioned this tax map. The commissioner, a Mr. Clotten, divided the vineyard properties in eight categories, or tax brackets, according to the net profit made from wines whose grapes came from the vineyard, and for the map purposes made three different brackets. This way, he identified the profitability of the vineyards on the map (from light red to dark red). This in turn, is now seen as marking which vineyards had the best growing conditions or reputation. Looking at the map today, many of the vineyards we now consider prime spots are dark red on the map. It is pretty awesome, and much more a testament to the idea of terroir than the Bordeaux ranking of estates.

Lars teamed up with the Trier Public Library to produce a reprint of the map. Nina and I own one from the second batch of reprints. It is very high quality and gorgeous to look at. We still need to get a custom made frame for it (it is VERY long), but are looking forward to having it on our wall sometime this year. In his article, Lars explains more about the map, a fascinating piece of history. And you can have it shipped to the US as well…just sayin’ for you fellow Mosel Riesling nuts.

And happy Sunday! It’s a sunny but cold day in Ann Arbor.

Sunday Read: Saar and Mosel Taxation Map

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