Sponsored content by ING • Brand Voice •Expat Corner• 03.12.2020
Photo: ING Luxembourg
2020 is ending and it has been special in many ways. A pandemic, lockdowns and all the consequences for the economy. More and more people want to favour local. For Christmas and New Year celebrations, why not support local commerce by buying Luxembourg wines? They are excellent and have an international reputation.
Luxembourg's wine culture goes back to the time of the Romans, who brought the first vine plants in the Moselle region. Due to the founding of numerous abbeys during the Middle Ages, vineyards spread rapidly all across the country and even up to the most northern regions. But this growth came to a halt with the harsh winter of 1709. The 'Great Frost" destroyed almost all vineyards, except those in the Moselle Valley. Nowadays, Luxembourg's vineyards stretch from Schengen to Wasserbillig over 1,280 hectares and 42 kilometres in length. In 2019, it produced 13.5 million litres of wine, i.e. 0.05% of world production.
White wines for all tastes
The Luxembourg Moselle region produces the best white wines in the world. They come from eight grape varieties and are divided into two major categories. The lively and classy ones are made from Ebling, Pinot Blanc and Riesling grapes. Due to their low alcohol content, Ebling wines are very popular. They have aromas of citrus fruit, redcurrant, green apple and pomegranate. Pinot Blanc wines are delicately fruity and mineral and match perfectly with fish, white meat and egg dishes. Complex and expressive, with notes of citrus, apple and quince and spicy aromas, Riesling is probably the most famous of the Grand Duchy’s wines.
Rounder and more aromatic are wines made from Rivaner, Auxerrois and Pinot Gris grapes. Rivaner wines have a delightful acid structure, which brings out notes of apple, mirabelle plum, apricot and peach after maturation. They go well with traditional Luxembourg cuisine and are suited for uncomplicated, day-to-day enjoyment. Auxerrois is a less frequent variety. It is used to produce highly diverse and gastronomic wines. They are fresh and fruity but also complex with an aromatic pallet from melon, citrus and floral notes to exotic fruits and melting honey (particularly in top-level wines matured in oak barrels). Pinot Gris is one of the varieties most appreciated in the country. The area planted with this variety has doubled in the last twenty years. Pinot Gris wines stand out for their fresh acidity and mineral notes.
Chardonnay, a variety from Burgundy, has been recently introduced into Luxembourg’s vineyard and produces wines with a pleasant light fruitiness. When matured in barrels, they are intensive with vanilla flavour and notes of toast and roast. Gewurtztraminer presents a multitude of aromas: rose, lychee, peach, apricot, orange, grapefruit and honey. It can be drunk as a stimulating aperitif or with a cheeseboard.
Crémant: a must-have for festive occasions
Since 1991, the name “Crémant” may be used for Luxembourg sparkling wines, either wine or rosé, provided that the legally prescribed conditions are met. According to these conditions, the grapes must be harvested by hand, and pressed whole, and the vintage must be stored on its lees for at least nine months without interruption in the same winery. Over the past thirty years, Luxembourg’s winegrowers have managed to create a quality sparkling wine at the highest level. In October 2020, at the year’s Concours des Crémants de France et du Luxembourg, sparkling wines made in Luxembourg won 16 gold, eight silver and two bronze medals. The Grand-Duchy produces around 3,5m bottles of crémant annually.
Red wines: a big surprise
Although Luxembourg is well known for its white wines (90% of its production), two varieties of grapes are used to produce red wines. Pinot Noir has aromatic notes of red fruits and a touch of vanilla and roast if matured in oak barrels. Saint Laurent, a variety of the Burgundy family, is far more complex and powerful than Pinot Noir. These high-quality wines have a strong aroma and a dark colour. They contain aromatic notes of wild berries, sour cherries, plums, and a hint of bitter chocolate when matured.
New speciality wine labels were introduced in 2001: the late vintage (vendanges tardives), the straw wine (vin de paille) and the ice wine (vin de glace). To produce the late vintage, the winemaker deliberately pushes the harvesting date as far as possible as it increases the grapes’ sugar content. The making of straw wine involves drying mature and healthy grapes on straw mats (hence the name) for at least two months. The ice wine is highly concentrated and sweet, made from grapes naturally frozen at a temperature at least -7°C and then immediately pressed out.
In 2015, a new quality label system was put into place. The new labels are called lieu-dit (terroir wines characterized by their origin), coteaux de (premium wines from top-quality vineyards) and côtes de (entry-level wines).
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