German wines


GERMANY

 On the steep slate and shale banks along the Mosel, the pristine, castle-crowned vineyards of the Rheingau and the rolling hills of Rheinhessen, Germany produces some of the world’s most underrated wines.

Germany has a history of winemaking that dates back to 100 B.C. when ancient Romans, who conquered the region, began producing wines on local soil. It was the Romans, who already recognized the potential of sites like the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen and who cultivated grapes there. Researchers have found a wine press in Piesport that dates back to 400 A.D., making it the largest Roman wine press ever found north of the Alps.
Cellar in the Eberbach Monastery

During the Middle Ages, monks upheld the tradition of making wine and cultivated the vineyards that are famous today. Today, it is almost forgotten, but Germany and France were once revered as the two great wine producing countries in the world and German wines fetched top prices at auction.

In 1845, Queen Victoria of England visited the Rheingau, where she discovered her love for German Riesling and coined the term “Hock”, which is synonymous with German Riesling in Britain today, but originally referred to Riesling from the Rhine community of Hochheim.

Germany’s wine production lost its luster in the 1960s and 70s, when large quantities of sweet blended wines were created for export, among them the infamous Liebfraumilch and Blue Nun. While Germany continued to make and drink high quality wines (most Germans have never heard of either brand), sweet non-descript wines became synonymous with German wines internationally. Although still hard to find in your local wine shop, an increasing number of high quality German wines are now finding their way across the Atlantic, recapturing the reputation they once possessed internationally.

While today many great wines are found around the globe, it is the unique terroir and traditional production methods, which allow Germany to produce exceptional quality wines that are still some of the finest in the world.

A remarkable characteristic of German viticulture is the care and attention to detail that goes into the production of its wines. German vintners are extremely adept at blending centuries-old experience with the latest in modern viticulture and are exacting in their methods: They harvest the grapes for their best wines by hand, use “green” or sustainable production techniques, age their whites in stainless steel tanks and the reds in traditional aged oak barrels.
Winter Vineyards

What’s even more outstanding is the fact that wine of such quality is produced in one of the coldest and northernmost growing regions in the world. Because of the harsher climate, Germany’s vineyards are usually found on slopes facing southward to assure the longest exposure to the sun. They are also often found in river valleys, such as the Rhine and Mosel, because of the water’s ability to moderate night temperatures and reflect the warmth of the sun.

The naturally high acidity, outstanding fruit and transparent quality of German Riesling are its trademark around the world. Its long finish, complex flavors and crisp zest are the benchmarks that make German Riesling so unique and ideal for pairing with food.

 

Quality categories

 

The 1971 German wine law defines four overall quality categories:
1.    Deutscher Tafelwein, or 'German table wine'
    This is the equivalent to vin de table. It must be produced exclusively from allowed German-grown grape varieties in one of the five Tafelwein regions. Region or subregion must be indicated on the label. The grapes must reach a must weight of 44°Oe on the Oechsle scale (5% potential alcohol) in most regions, with the exception of Baden where 50°Oe (6% potential alcohol) must be reached. The alcohol content of the wine must be at least 8.5% by volume, and concentration or chaptalization can be used to reach this level. They must reach a total acidity of at least 4.5 grams/liter. Tafelwein (without "Deutscher") can be a so-called Euroblend, a table wine made from grapes grown in several European countries.
2.    Deutscher Landwein, or 'German country wine'
    This is the equivalent to vin de pays, and was introduced with the 1982 harvest. Regulations are similar to those for Deutscher Tafelwein, but must come from one of the 19 Landwein regions, the grapes must reach 0.5% higher potential alcohol, and the wine must be dry (trocken) or off-dry (halbtrocken) in style, i.e. may not be semi-sweet. "Landwein" can also refer to German fruit wines.
3.    Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA), or quality wine from a specific region.
    These wines must be produced exclusively from allowed varieties in one of the 13 wine-growing regions (Anbaugebiete), and the region must be shown on the label. The grapes must reach a must weight of 51°Oe to 72°Oe depending on region and grape variety. The alcohol content of the wine must be at least 7% by volume, and chaptalization is allowed. QbA range from dry to semi-sweet, and the style is often indicated on the label. There are some special wine types which are considered as special forms of QbA. Some top-level dry wines are officially QbA although they would qualify as Prädikatswein. It should be noted that only Qualitätswein plus the name of the region, rather than the full term Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete is found on the label.
4.    Prädikatswein, recently (August 1, 2007) renamed from Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) (superior quality wine)
    The top level of the classification system. These prominently display a Prädikat from Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese on the label and may not be chaptalized. Prädikatswein range from dry to intensely sweet, but unless it is specifically indicated that the wine is dry or off-dry, these wines always contain a noticeable amount of residual sugar. Prädikatswein must be produced from allowed varieties in one of the 39 subregions (Bereich) of one of the 13 wine-growing regions, although it is the region rather than the subregion which is mandatory information on the label. (Some of the smaller regions, such as Rheingau, consist of only one subregion.) The required must weight is defined by the Prädikat, and the alcohol content of the wine must be at least 7% by volume for Kabinett to Auslese, and 5.5% by volume for Beerenauslese, Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese.
Under the European Union wine quality grouping, Tafelwein and Landwein belong to the group of table wines, while QbA and Prädikatswein belong to the group of quality wines or VQPRD (Vin de qualité produit dans une région déterminée). In 2005, Tafelwein and Landwein only accounted for 3,6% of total production, QbA 49,6% and Prädikatwein (then called QmP) 46,8%.[3] In most European countries, table wines make up a much higher proportion of the total production. While there are many German wines of excellent quality, the difference in comparison to other countries lies more in the national wine law and how it is applied by the growers. A case in point is Liebfraumilch, which foreign wine drinkers often see as the "simplest" German wine, but which is considered to be a special form of QbA and therefore a quality wine.
Prädikat designations
The Prädikatswein (formerly QmP) category of the classification contains most high-quality German wines, with the exception of some top-quality dry wines. The different Prädikat designations differ in terms of the required must weight, the sugar content of the grape juice, and the level required is dependent on grape variety and wine-growing region and is defined in terms of the Oechsle scale. In fact the must weight is seen as a rough indicator of quality (and price). The Prädikat system has its origin at Schloss Johannisberg in Rheingau, where the first Spätlese was produced in 1775[4] where wines received different colour seals based on their must weight.
The different Prädikat (superior quality wine) designations used are as followed, in order of increasing sugar levels in the must:
Kabinett
    fully ripened light wines from the main harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity, but can be dry if designated so.
Spätlese - meaning "late harvest"
    typically semi-sweet, often (but not always) sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett. Spätlese can be a relatively full-bodied dry wine if designated so. While Spätlese means late harvest the wine is not as sweet as a dessert wine.
Auslese - meaning "select harvest"
    made from selected very ripe bunches or grapes, typically semi-sweet or sweet, sometimes with some noble rot character. Sometimes Auslese is also made into a powerful dry wine, but the designation Auslese trocken has been discouraged after the introduction of Grosses Gewächs. Auslese is the Prädikat which covers the widest range of wine styles, and can be a dessert wine.
Beerenauslese - meaning "select berry harvest"
    made from individually selected overripe grapes often affected by noble rot, making rich sweet dessert wine.
Eiswein (ice wine)
    made from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine, making a very concentrated wine. Must reach at least the same level of sugar content in the must as a Beerenauslese. The most classic Eiswein style is to use only grapes that are not affected by noble rot. Until the 1980s, the Eiswein designation was used in conjunction with another Prädikat (which indicated the ripeness level of the grapes before they had frozen), but is now considered a Prädikat of its own.
Trockenbeerenauslese - meaning "select dry berry harvest" or "dry berry selection"
    made from selected overripe shrivelled grapes often affected by noble rot making extremely rich sweet wines.
Very close to the Prädikat on the label is another feature unique to German wine, the Amtliche Prüfnummer. Understandably this is commonly abbreviated to just AP Nr, and it can also be extremely useful, particularly when searching for a particular wine.

The AP Number

 

 The top estates in Germany do not limit themselves to the six styles suggested above. From an individual estate there may be, in any one vintage, any number of different Kabinette, Spätlesen and Auslesen all from the same vineyard. Some producers have novel ways of distinguishing between wines, such as stars or numbered bottlings, and in many cases the colour of the capsule is important, a Goldkapsel (gold capsule) denoting a very special, rich Auslese. All this simply adds to the confusion, and it is why the Amtliche Prüfnummer (or AP number) is so useful. This code is unique to the wine in question, and all wines of note must, by law, bear their AP number.
For the wine illustrated above, the AP number (2 577 050 10 02) breaks down as follows:
•2 indicates the location of the testing station, in this case Wittlich, which is where wines from a section of the Mosel are tested (some Mosel wines, this being a large region, may go to stations 1 or 3 instead - see below for more on this).
•577 indicates the village, in this case Brauneberg.
•050 denotes the estate; this number will be unique to Fritz Haag.
•10 is the number unique to this bottling. In this case Wilhelm Haag (who was running the estate in 2001) has helpfully presented this in bold, as this is clearly an important element in the number for this wine; there will no doubt be several other bottlings at the Auslese level from the Juffer-Sonenuhr vineyard in this vintage. The number in this case matches the fuder (barrel) number, but this is only because Wilhelm will have numbered the barrels to match the AP number, rather than the AP number being governed by what lies in the Fritz Haag cellars.
•02 denotes the year of the assessment (2002). In most cases this will be the year after the vintage.
The testing stations, the first digit in the AP number, give the following locations for the testing stations:
•1: Koblenz, for wines from Ahr, the Mittelrhein and some Mosel wines, including those from Koblenz, Mayen-Koblenz and Cochem-Zell.
•2: Wittlich, for wines from the Mosel around Bernkastel-Wittlich.
•3: Trier, for wines from the Mosel around Trier-Saarburg.
•4: Alzey, for the Rheinhessen.
•5: Neustadt, for wines from the Pfalz.
•6 & 7: Bad Kreuznach, for the Nahe.

Color

There are also color designations that can be used on the label:[
Weißwein - white wine
    May be produced only from white varieties. This designation is seldom used.
Rotwein - red wine
    May be produced only from red varieties with sufficient maceration to make the wine red. Sometimes used for clarification if the producer also makes rosés from the same grape variety.
Roséwein - rosé wine
    Produced from red varieties with a shorter maceration, the wine must have pale red or clear red color.
Weißherbst - rosé wine or blanc de noirs
    A rosé wine which must conform to special rules: must be QbA or Prädikatswein, single variety and be labelled with the varietal name. There are no restrictions as to the color of the wine, so they range from pale gold to deep pink. Weißherbst wines also range from dry to sweet, such as rosé Eiswein from Spätburgunder.

GRAPE VARIETIES

1) Riesling is a late ripener, has ability to withstand very cold winter temperature i.e. -22°C (44°F). It has good balance of sugar and acidity.
2) Sylvaner grape ripens earlier than Riesling produces mellow and soft wines.
3) Traminer are small and late ripening grapes like Riesling but produce highly aromatic wines with lasting bouquet.
4) Muller-Thurgau is a grape variety, which is cross between Riesling and Sylvaner. It has Sylvaner's early ripening ability, combined with the flavour of the Riesling. It is a popular grape variety because of high yields. It is used for blending purpose.
5) spatburgunder (pinot noir) most notable black grape for red wines.
Sussreserve
It is unfermented grape juice used for rounding off unharmonious acidity of wine. It is used by winemaker to improve their quality of wine. It reduces the alcohol level of wine and adds sweetness.
Germany produces 85% white wines, although red wine production is increasing. Oak barrel ageing technique has been introduced.

WINE REGIONS

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Moselle wines are those grown in the valleys of the Moselle and its tributaries, the Saar and Ruwer. The Mosel river runs from Luxembourg down to Koblenz. In this district subsoil is mostly slate, few grapes other than Riesling are grown. The Mosel is a Riesling area but the old variety of Elbling is now reviving. Elbling, because of its acidity, was used for making base wines for the German sparkling wine sekt.Moselles have lighter body and low alcoholic content; infact, they carry less alcohol than any other acknowledged wine of Europe. They have greenish hue, exceptional clarity and fine bouquet. They can be drunk when quite young, reach maturity in about four years, seven years is considered by many to be the maximum age for a Moselle without affecting its qualities. They are perfect summer drink and are served cold, not iced.
Moselles comes in flute shaped green bottles.
The wines which are considered best from Lower mosel
(i) Bruttig (a) Cobern  (iii) Cochem (tv) Senheim (v) Winnigen
The best ones from Middle mosel are;
Bernkastel, Brauenberg, Dhron,  Erden, Graach, Kues, Neumagen, piesport, Traben, Trarbach, WehKen, Zelltingen
Best From Riiwer valley
 Kasel, Eitelsbach,  Grunhaus, Waldrach
Best From Saar valley
Ayl, Ockfen, Saarburg, Wiltingen, Serrig, Oberemmel
Mosel also boasts of some of germany’ finest vineyards like Bernkasteler Doctor.
The Bereich is also one of the famous villages comprising bereich mosetor, Bereich-obermosel, bereich bernkastel bereich zell bereich saar—ruwer etc.

FAMOUS FOUR OF RHINE VALLEY

I. Rheingau
The Rheingau is a home of Hock which is traditionally sold in brown bottles. Hock is regarded as generic name. The word Hock is derived from Hochheim, a wine growing centre on the right bank of Mainz, from where some of finest German wines come. The grape varieties used are:
Riesling            white
Sylvaner            white
Portugieser            red
Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir)    red

The wines produced are white, from dry to sweet with delicate flavour.
One of the famous Rheingau wines is Steinberger, which comes from a vineyard near Erbach centre of Rheingau. Other important places are Eltville, Hochheim, Rauenthal, Erbach, Steinber, oestrich, Mittelheim, Rudesheim, Winkel and Hallgarten. Hallgarten is famous because the famous garten family from Spain came and settled in the village of Hallgarten in 1500.
The famous producers of Rheingau are
(i) Schloss Vollrads d) Schloss Johannisberg
II. Rheinpfaiz
The wines of this region have good balance between the acidity of the north (Mosel and Rheingau) and the alcohol of the South (Baden). The area is protected by Haardt mountains and vineyards in shade i.e. shadow of these mountains produce best wines. A variety of grapes grown in this area are:
Riesling
Muller Thurgau
Kerner
Morio muskat
Grauburgunder
Spatburgunder

III. Nahe
This region is situated near Nahe river, a tributary of Rhine. The grape variety used in Reisling, muller Thurgau and Sylvaner. This area produces soft aromatic wines which are cross between acidic winesof Rheingau and the fuller, more alcoholic wines of Rheinpfalz. It is a home of Schlossbockel heim, Nieder hausen Wines.
IV.Rheinhessen
It is contained within a loop of the River Rhine during its course from Worms past Mainz to Bingen is bounded on its west side by the Nahe river The main grape variety is Muller Thurgau, closely followed by Sylvaner, The vineyards directly on the Rhine, known as Rheinfront, are some of the best in the region particularly Oppenheim and Guntersblum. One of the best wines from the region is Niersteiner.
V. Liebfraumilch
This is originally a wine from Rheinhessen. It means beloved woman’s milk i.e. mothers milk, since it is slightly sweet. Now it is a generic term referring to wine coming from Rhine valley

The rest of Germany

AHR: the Ahr produces red wines from Spatburgunder and Portugiesser grapes.
Baden: it stretches from foothills of blackforest in the north, right down to Basel in Switzerland. It is a warm region with lots of sunshine. Main grape variety used is Muller Thurgau and Spatburgunder. Baden produces red, rose and white wines. The wines are full bodied, high in alcohol and fruity, the ones made from Reisling.
Over 90 percent of Baden production comes from a huge co-operative ZBW (Zentralkellerei Badischer Winzergenossenschaften)
Franken (Franconia): This is north easterly region of Bavaria known for its beer and wine. Sylvaner and Muller Thurgau are most widely used grape varieties. The wines are made by co-operatives and are sold in squat flask shaped bottles known as Bockbeutel. Example of excellent wine is Sylvaner with its earthy, vegetal and smoky flavour, another one is Steinwein flinty dry wine.
Wuttemberg wine is made by co-operatives, half vineyards have red grape varieties. Riesling is also planted here- Wines of this area are used more by locals then being sold outside.

Wines from germany

Mosel

Year                            name                                      size
Ackermann
2008     Riesling Spätlese Zeltinger Sonnenuhr     750 ml
Jos. Christoffel Jr.
2010     Riesling Spätlese Ürziger Würzgarten     750 ml
2001     Riesling Auslese Ürziger Würzgarten     750 ml
1992     Riesling Auslese Ürziger Würzgarten     750 ml
1994     Riesling Auslese* Graacher Domprobst     750 ml
1994     Riesling Auslese*** Ürziger Würzgarten     750 ml
2006     Riesling Auslese** Ürziger Würzgarten     750 ml
2007     Riesling Auslese*** Erdener Prälat     750 ml
1995     Riesling Beerenauslese Wehlener Sonnenuhr     750 ml
Heymann-Löwenstein
2006     Riesling Röttgen 1. Lage     750 ml
2008/09     Riesling Uhlen - Laubach 1. Lage     750 ml
2009     Riesling Uhlen - Roth Lay 1. Lage     750 ml
Kees-Kieren
2008     Riesling     750 ml
2006     Riesling Spätlese* Graacher Himmelreich     750 ml
Pazen
2008     Riesling     750 ml
2008     Riesling Spätlese Zeltinger Himmelreich     750 ml
2009     Riesling Spätlese Zeltinger Himmelreich     750 ml
Schmittges
2010     Riesling dry - Gray Slate     750 ml
2010     Riesling Spätlese** Erdener Treppchen     750 ml
2006     Riesling Auslese*** Erdener Treppchen (Auction Wine)     375 ml
Selbach-Oster
2008     Weissburgunder dry     750 ml
2007     Riesling Kabinett     375 ml
2008     Riesling Kabinett Zeltinger Schlossberg     750 ml
2009     Riesling Spätlese - Estate     750 ml
2009     Riesling Auslese Zeltinger Schlossberg     750 ml
2008     Riesling Spätlese Zeltinger Schlossberg - Schmitt     750 ml
2009     Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg - Schmitt     750 ml
2007     Riesling Auslese Zeltinger Sonnenuhr - Rotlay     750 ml
2009     Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr - Rotlay     750 ml
2007     Riesling Eiswein Bernkasteler Badstube     375 ml
Selbach
2009/10     Riesling     750 ml
2009/10     Riesling     1000 ml
2010     Riesling dry Blauschiefer     750 ml
2009     Saar Riesling Spätlese     750 ml
WWE. Dr. H. Thanisch
2008     Riesling     750 ml
2007     Riesling Spätlese Berncateler Doctor     750 ml
Vollenweider
2008     Riesling feinherb     750 ml
2007     Riesling Spätlese     750 ml
2007     Riesling Spätlese Wolfer Goldgrube     750 ml

Saar

Von Hövel
2009     Riesling Kabinett Scharzhofberger     750 ml
2009     Riesling Spätlese Scharzhofberger     750 ml
Van Volxem
2010     Saar Riesling     750 ml 

Ruwer

Karthäuserhof
2007     Riesling feinherb Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg     750 ml
2009     Riesling Kabinett feinherb Schieferkristal     750 ml
2009     Riesling Spätlese Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg     750 ml

Rheingau

Domdechant Werner
2010     Riesling Kabinett dry Hochheimer Hölle     750 ml
Langwerth von Simmern
2009     Riesling Kabinett feinherb Eltviller     750 ml
Schloss Schönborn
2009/10     Riesling feinherb     750 ml
2010     Riesling Kabinett Erbacher Marcobrunn     750 ml
2009     Riesling Spätlese Pfaffenberg - Jubiläumsabfüllung     750 ml

Rheinhessen

Eugen Wehrheim
2009     Gewürztraminer Spätlese Niersteiner Paterberg     750 ml
2009     Dornfelder dry     750 ml

Baden

Shelter winery
2008     Pinot Noir     750 ml

Nahe

Emrich Schönleber
2007     Riesling dry "Lenz"     750 ml

Pfalz

Diehl
2009     Riesling Sekt extra trocken     750 ml
2010     Grauer Burgunder (Pinot Gris)     1000 ml
2010     Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc)     1000 ml
2008     Merlot rose     750 ml
2009     Dornfelder dry     750 ml
2009     Dornfelder     750 ml
2010     Gewürztraminer Kabinett     750 ml
Wachtenburg Winzer EG
2006     Secco White     750 ml

Franken

Juliusspital
2010     Silvaner dry Würzburger     750 ml
2010     Müller-Thurgau Kabinett dry Wüzburger Stein     750 ml

Würtemberg

Ernst Dautel
2009     Lemberger** Bönningheimer Sonnenberg     750 ml
2009     Spätburgunder** Bönningheimer Sonnenberg     750 ml
2009     Trollinger - Besingheimer Wurmberg     750 ml

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