Saxony, the third-smallest German wine region, is primarily located along the banks of the Elbe River. It is also one of only two German wine regions located within the boundaries of former East Germany. Officially located within the German federal state of Saxony, this wine region is sometimes referred to as “the Elbe Valley.”
Geographically, Saxony is located in southeastern Germany, near the border with the Czech Republic. It has a relatively temperate climate (especially for Germany), thanks primarily to the moderating influence of the Elbe. In terms of soil quality for wine grapes, Saxony is most similar to Austria’s Wachau region. The microclimate, however, is decidedly northern, and that has largely dictated which grape varietals to plant along the hillsides of the Elbe Valley.
While Riesling is a popular white grape varietal in Saxony, it is not the most popular. That honor goes to Müller-Thurgau, which accounts for 18.4% of all wine production, as compared to 14.5% for Riesling. Other popular grape varietals include Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), at 11.9%, and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), at 8.1%. Nearly all wines (90%) from this region are characterized and labeled as dry wines.
The winemaking tradition in Saxony dates back to 1161, when winemakers gathered in the city of Meissen. For nearly 1,000 years, then, the wine has been part of the unique cultural and socio-economic life of Saxony. Wines from this region might not be well known internationally, but they have a ready domestic market for German wine drinkers who are fans of Riesling and Müller-Thurgau wines.
Here is a brief audio guide on Saxony wine region. Check it out.