Nierstein is a famous wine-growing town in Rheinhessen, Germany. It sits on the banks of the Rhine river between Mainz and Worms, to the north-west of Oppenheim. This area is the second-largest wine-growing center in Rheinhessen, with 1935 acres (783ha) planted in vines. Of these, the vast majority are white wine varieties, with Riesling dominating the best sites.
It is impossible to talk about Nierstein wine without mentioning the Rheinterrasse sub-region's famed Roter Hang (Red Slope). The iron-rich clay and sandstone soils of the slope give the formation its name, and are prized for the influence they exert on local vineyards. Typical descriptors used in conjunction with Nierstein wines are 'fragrant', 'delicate' and 'mineral', all of which can be attributed to the wines' ancient and unique terroir.
As a result of the favorable growing conditions and generally high caliber of producers based in Nierstein, the VDP has issued five vineyards in the area with the Erste Lage classification – Brudersberg, Pettenthal, Hipping, Oelberg and Orbel.
Brudersberg is a tiny einzellage vineyard, owned by Weingut Heyl zu Herrnsheim and planted entirely in Riesling. Its extreme steepness contributes to a microclimate that produces complex, mineral-highlighted wines that are known for their longevity.
Immediately to the north lies Pettenthal, on an east-facing slope next to the Rhine. Its deep red soil retains the heat, and its wines often show exotic fruit flavors and are known for their freshness.
To the south of Brudersberg, but still north of the township, are Hipping and Oelberg. These vineyards mark the Roter Hang's shift inland away from the Rhine, with racy acidity and intense aromas developing in the grapes. Olberg in particular is noted for its small yet powerful fruit.
At the southernmost point of the Roter Hang, on the western outskirts of the village, rests Orbel. This old vineyard was first mentioned in local chronicles in 1386 and probably takes its name from the regional dialect, in which 'Orbel' means 'a person of strong and vigorous will'. Its wines are said to reflect this character, as the terrain begins to change from the rich mineral Roter Hang into the loam and loess of the Rheinhessen.