The Outer Limits: The Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP

Vineyards near Wormeldange

Luxembourg: It is one of Europe’s smallest countries, yet it is among the wealthiest—by most accounts, it has one of the highest gross domestic products (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita in the world.  It is the world’s one-and-only remaining sovereign grand duchy, and yet its capital city—also known as Luxembourg—is one of the four institutional seats of the European Union.

The leading industries of Luxembourg include banking and finance, high-tech start-ups, chemicals, rubber, and steel. Agriculture employs only about 2% of the population, with an emphasis on dairy cattle, barley, oats, and potatoes.

And then there is the wine. While less than 1% of the arable land is planted to vines, it makes sense that this tiny country tucked between Germany and France—two vinous powerhouses—could make some mighty fine wine (and they do)!

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The eastern edge of Luxembourg is defined by the Moselle (Mosel) River. The southern portion of Germany’s Mosel Region—one of its best and most famous quality wine areas—lies just across the border.  Luxembourg’s one-and-only protected designation of origin—the Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP—is located on this international border, stretching along the winding Moselle River for just over 26 miles/42 km.

This is a tiny production area, with less than 1,300 hectares (/3,200 acres) of vines. Of these, the great majority–90%—are planted to white grapes. Dry white wines are the leading product (by far), but the appellation also allows for red, rosé, Crémant de Luxembourg (quality sparkling wine), Vin de Paille (dried-grape wine), Vendage Tardive (late harvest wine), and Vin de Glace (icewine).

The Luxembourg side of the Mosel has more rolling hills than steep slopes, so Riesling often has a difficult time ripening here. As such, the #1 spot in terms of vineyard acreage goes to Rivaner (the local name for Müller-Thurgau), which accounts for as much as 25% of the region’s total. Pinot Gris takes the number two spot, being planted in 15% of the area’s vineyards.

Photo via: Caves Bernard Massard

The white wines of the Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP are typically produced as varietal wines using Rivaner/Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, or Elbling grapes. White blends are allowed as well. Reds and rosés may be produced using Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Précoce, St. Laurent, and/or Gamay. Chardonnay is often used in crémant, and sweet wines (though rare) may include Gewürztraminer.

  • The country of Luxembourg uses the EU-approved label term Marque Nationale to refer to a wine that is made from 100% Luxembourg grapes. (Like many other cool-climate countries, wine is sometimes made with imported grapes). To qualify for Marque Nationale status, a wine must be awarded a minimum of 12 (out of a possible 20) points, as determined by a panel of expert tasters. This score may be reflected on a wine label via the following terms:
    • Marque Nationale Vin Classé: for a minimum of 12 points
    • Marque Nationale Premier Cru: for a minimum of 14 points
    • Marque Nationale Grand Premier Cru: for a minimum of 16 points

Map of the Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP via: visitmoselle.lu

Most of the wine in the Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP is produced at cooperatives, but family-run wineries abound as well.  Good choices for a visit include Domaine Kox, Caves Bernard-Massard, and Domaines Vinsmoselle/Caves de Wormeldange.

One thing to note: compared to most European wine regions, the Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP is tiny in area and tiny in production. Most of the wines are consumed in Luxembourg; those that are exported find their way mainly to Germany or Belgium. While it may be possible to find a Luxembourgeoise wine outside of Europe, your best bet is a wine-fueled road trip to Luxembourg.

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

3 Responses to The Outer Limits: The Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP

  1. Great article Prof Jane. 👏👏

  2. Aixa says:

    Lovely article. I did not know much about The Moselle Luxembourgeoise AOP. Thanks

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