Netherlands: Wines from Mergelland (PDO)

Netherlands: Wines from Mergelland (PDO)

Quality wines from Limburg

Way too often we see people raising eyebrows when we talk about the knowledge of making wines in The Netherlands. But did you know for example that it was the Dutch that drained the swamps in the French Médoc region in the 17th century?

So the growth of viticulture in the Médoc and the produce of all those famous top quality wines was made possible by… right, the Dutch. Besides that, viticulture in the southern province of Limburg is proven from the year 968, the early Middle Ages!

Vineyards of Wijngaard Apostelhoeve near Maastricht

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)

Mergelland (Marl country) receiving the quality status of a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in 2018 is a great step forwards in recognizing the potential of wines from the Netherlands. In this particular case wines from the culinary province of Limburg. The PDO status is similar to the perhaps more well known French AOC or AOP status and ensures that wines are produced according to strict standards.

Mergelland is suited to wine cultivation because of its unique soil that is composed of a layer of loess (light soil with an airy structure) with marl underneath. And where as the rest of the Netherlands has a mainly flat landscape, the south of Limburg has its rolling hills. The vines here take advantage of the late afternoon sun and in case of periods of rain (this is still the Netherlands after all) they dry out quickly after.

Wijngaard De Apostelhoeve

Mergelland grape varieties

Both still and sparkling wines are produced in the south of Limburg. The most important grape varieties that are used for winemaking in this region are classical Northern French varieties like Chardonnay, Auxerrois and Pinot Gris, Blanc and Noir. German varieties include Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Rivaner and Dornfelder.

This is quite a difference from the rest of the Netherlands where hybrid grape varieties are predominant. Hybrid (or modern) varieties are also cultivated in the south of Limburg but wineries that do so are not included in Mergelland PDO.

Chardonnay grapes at Domein De Wijngaardsberg

Wineries in Mergelland

Probably the most well known wine estate with the Mergelland PDO status is Wijngaard Apostelhoeve just outside Maastricht. Only white wines are produced here in the oldest commercial winery in the Netherlands. The vineyards are located on the Louwberg hill and border the vineyards of Hoeve Nekum, another respectable Mergelland winery.

But also Domein De Wijngaardsberg, situated in the municipality of Ulestraten, produces quality wines at a location where evidence has shown that vines were planted here as early as in the early Middle Ages. Other wineries with the Mergelland PDO status include a.o. Wijngoed Fromberg, Landgoed Overst Voerendaal and Domein Steenberg.

Jules Nijst, winemaker of Domein De Wijngaardsberg

Accommodation in and around Maastricht

Like to stay overnight in the region so you get the chance to taste some of these fruity, elegant and mineral Mergelland wines? How about a luxury and romantic stay at gorgeous Château St. Gerlach that even has its own vineyards! If this is not your piece of cake, in and around Maastricht and Valkenburg you will find numerous more affordable accommodations. Trendy concept hotels, boutique hotels, design hotels and a wide choice of bed & breakfasts. 

Author: Johan de Ligt