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WSET Diploma: Unit 3: Germany > Germany > Flashcards

Flashcards in Germany Deck (321):

Katherina Thanisch

1865- 1924
German widow who made the Mosel's first TBA in 1921


Napoleon Bonaparte

1769- 1821
French emperor who secularised many of Germany's finest vineyards


What is the maximum yield for Erste Lage VDP wines from 2012 forward?

60 hl/ha


In which Anbuagebiet does the message in a bottle producer consortium operate?



Where is the village of Westhofen?

Rheinhessen, Germany


What is Testerbrand?

German pomace spirit


Lieblich (Ger)

Sweet Wine


Lese (Ger)



Jahrgang (Ger)



Integrieter Pflanzenschutz (Ger)

Type of viticulture that threats the ground and planet as humanly as possible


Hefeabzug (Ger)

On the lees


Hauptlese (Ger)

Main harvest


Flachbogen (Ger)

Guyot Trellis System


Flurbereingung (Ger)

Remodelling of vineyards to make them easier to harvest, this reduced the overall number of vineyards but not the size practiced on a massive scale.


Gemeind (Ger)

Commune or village


Gerbstoff (Ger)



Flasche (Ger)



Fass (Ger)



Erzeugerabfullung (Ge)

Estate Bottled


Einzelpfahlerziehung (Ger)

A vine trained to an individual stake, this is used on very steep slopes


Einzallage (Ger)

Individual vineyard site


Edelfaule (Ger)

Botrytis Cinerea Infected Grapes


Ausbau (Ger)

Maturation of wines


Anreicherung (Ger)

Sweetening the must before or during fermentation, enriching the must.


Alte Reben (Ger)

Old Vines


Alleinbesitl (Ger)



Absetzen (Ger)



Oeschsle (Ger)

German scale for measuring must weight


Qualitatswein regions (Ambaugebiete)

Mosel- Saar- Ruwer, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Rheinpfalz (Phalz), Nahe, Mittelrhein, Franken, Hessiche Bergstrasse, Ahr, Baden, Württemberg, Sachsen, Salle- Unstrut,


Place the following in order from largest to smallest: Anbaugebeit, Bereich, Einzallage, Grosslage

Anbaugebeit, Bereich, Grosslage, Einzellage


What are the Mosel, the Saar and the Ruwer?

Mosel= river, Saar and Ruwer are tributaries of the Mosel


Define Hochgewachs

High growth, a Kabinett that has been chaptalized to increase the alcoholic strength


What is Germany's largest wine growing region according to acreage planted/ according to production number? According to physical size?

Physical size= Baden
Production= Pfalz
Planted= Rheinhessen


What two German wine regions were formally located in East Germany?

Salle- Unstrut and Sachsen


What is the barrel used in the Rheingau and its capacity?

Stuck 1200L


What is the minimum g/L Rs in Halbtrocken?

9 g/L


What is Perlwein?

German wine that is slightly sparkling, due to the carbonation method


What is the most Southernly producing QbA in Germany?



List 3 villages of the Pfalz

Bad Durckheim


What is the largest red wine region in Germany?



Which Northernly German wine region is best known for its Red wines?



Define Weissherbst

Rose made from Spatsburgunder


What does Gutsabfullung indicate on a German wine label? What does Erzeugerabfullung indicate?

Both basically mean estate bottles, Gutsabfullung from an Einzellage, Erzeugerabfullung from Grosslage


Why are most German vineyards located near rivers or lakes?

For ambient heat, sun reflecting off of rivers.


Which German wines are bottled traditionally in green glass, brown glass and Bocksbeutels?

Green= Mosel, Bocksbeutel= Franken, Brown= Rhine wine


Define the following terms: suss, trocken, Halbtrocken, Feinherb, Classic Selection

Suss= sweet, trocken= dry, Halbtrocken= half dry or off dry, Feinherb= off dry, or half dry, classic= dry wine from a traditional grape varietal, selection= hand selected dry wine from Einzellage


What is the difference between a QbA and a QmP?

QmP may not be chaptalized


What is Edelfaule?

Noble rot, botrytis affected grapes


What is the German wine for sparkling wine?



What is the difference between Deutscher Tafelwine and Tafelwine?

Deutscher means all of the grapes grown in Germany


Eiswein is always influenced by botrytis, true or false?



What does Erzeugerabfullung mean?

German word meaning producer bottled


13 QbA regions

Ahr, Baden, Franken, Hessiche- Hegstrasse, Mittelrhein, Mosel- Saar- Ruwar, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Rheingau, Salle- Unstrut, Sachen, Wuttemberg


Where would you find the villages of Forst, Ungstein and Diedesheim?

Pfalz, Germany


What was the better vintage for German Riesling: 1957, 1958 or 1959?



Germany's Ahr valley is best known for what variety?



What is Obstler?

A German spirit made from two or more types of fruit, historically produced from fallen fruit in traditional mixed orchards.


What is the minimum must weight required to produce Spatlese Riesling in the Mosel?

80 degrees Oeschle


What is Tresterbrand?

German pomace spirit


What does Halbtrocken indicate on a German bottle?

Half dry, with a maximum 18 grams per litre of residual sugar


What does classic mean on a German wine label?

Harmoniously Dry


What % of wine must come from the selected source if a Bereich, Grosslage or Einzerllage is mentioned on the label?




Commune, does not have legal status in Germany


What region in Germany are Kaiser Stuhl and Tuniberg located in?




District within a quality region, consisting of several communes.



Group of adjusting v/yard


In what region and country are Forst and Deidesheim?

Pfalz region, Germany


What region/ country is Nierstein located in?

Rheinhessen region


Define Trocken and Halbtrocken

Trocken- Dry
Halbtrocken- Off- Dry


Rudesheim, Geisenheim, Johannisberg

Rheingau region


Pradikatswein Catgories



Beerkastel, Piesport, Saar, Ruwer

Mosel region of Germany


Germany winemaking (allowable must adjustments)

Chaptalisation allowed for all but QmP wines.
Sussreserve (sterile grape juice) can be used @ bottling


Germany grapegrowing (ie Best v/yards sites)

Best v/ yards sited near rivers to aid frost protection, planted on steep south- and Sth- East facing slopes to maximise exposure to the sun. High yields for v/ yards planted on plains.


Name main grape (white) and one other white grape

Muller- Thurgau
Rulande (Pinot Gris)


Germany- Name 1 of 2 Main Black Grapes

Spatsburguner (Pinot Noir)


Climate/ Weather/ Soils

Climate- Cool, Continental
Weather- Variable, annual vintage variations due to spring frost, insufficient warmth during growing season and heavy rains in July/ August. Long autumns encourage formation of noble rot.
Soils- Best have heat retaining soils w/ good drainage. Mosel= slate.


What is Grauburgunder?

Pinot Gris


Where is the white varietal Bacchus planted?



Name some of the big, infamous brands of cheap, sweet, unchallenging (but at least consistent) wines in Germany?

Niersteiner Gutes Dumstal
Piesporter Michelsberg


What is a "Goldkapsel"?

Bottles topped with a gold capsule, found particularly in the Mosel, usually contain a wine deemed superior by the producer to his or her regular bottling. These are typically Auslese wines and will usually display more richness intensity and flavour that the regular bottling. They are also usually more expensive, and have great potential for aging.


Climate in Germany

EU climate Zone A, except Baden. Continental gives warm summers, cold winters.
Rain year long in July and August. Late spring frosts are regular.
Heavy rain and hail during summer. Long autumns, cold Sept slows ripe.


When did Germany's wine laws come about



Where is the bulk of Germany's quality (Riesling) wine produced?

Vineyards that yield the greatest wines are concentrated around the river system in the West of Germany near the border with France, the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine, fed by their tributaries the Saar, Ruwer and Nahe.


Describe AP number.

Amtilche Prufungsnummer:
Adorns every bottle of QmP and QbA.
10 to 12 digit #. It tells the tasting station, vine location, bottlers code, year tasted.


What are the two categories of quality wine in Germany?

1. Pradikatswein (QmP)
2. QbA



Nahe Region


What's unusual about the location of Germany's wine producing regions?

They are in the most Northernly wine region of Europe, crossing latitude 50 degrees north (some as far as 51 degrees north)


What are the levels of geographical classification in Germany.

Einzellage (Individual Vineyard), Grosslage (Group of Vineyard), Gemeinde (commune), Bereich (District within a quality wine region consisting of several communes), Anbaugiet (designated quality region)


What is the German equivalent of Vin De Pays in France?



What are the two categories of German table wine?

Deutscher Tafelwein- from Germany
Euro Tafelwein- From anywhere in EU


What kind of wine is Ahr best known for?



Baden wines are identical to wine of which other Anbaugebiete?



Where are the steepest vineyards in the world?



What are the two most important varietals in Hessische Bergstrasse?

Riesling and Muller- Thurgau


What is the most important grape of Saale- Unstrut?

Muller- Thurgau


What is the most important grape of the Mittelrhein?



Name some of the best villages in bereich Saar?



Name some of the best villages in bereich Ruwertal?



Name some of the best villages in bereich Bernkastel?

Wehlen, Bernkastel, Brauneberg, Erden, Graach, Neumagen, Piesport, Trittenheim, Urzig, Zeltingen



Because of the small amount of carbon dioxide gas in the wine when bottled, Mosel wines usually have this quality (German term)


What kind of soil is found in the Mosel and how does it benefit the grapes?

Red slate. Radiates heat onto the grapes day and night helping to ripen them.
Increases drainage.
Imparts own character to wine.


What is Fleubereinigung?

Relocation of vineyards to improve accessibility of vines


What are the two best single vineyards of the Rheingau?

Schloss Johannisberg and Schloss Volrads


What are where are Bingen, Nierstein and Wonnegau located

Bereichs in Rheinhessen


What is the main wine produced in Rheinhessen?



Where is the bereich Mittelhaardt- Deutsche Weinstrasse?



Which Anbaugebiete is divided into 3 bereichs: Maindreieur, Mainviereck and Steigerwald?



Where are the bereichs of Bernkastel, Burgand, Cochem located?



What are the names of two outstanding vineyards in Franken?

Stein and Leiste


The best Franken wines are produced from vineyards around which town?



Which varietal produces the best Franken wine?



What is the most planted varietal in Franken?

Muller- Thurgau


What are the two most important towns in Nahe?

Bad Kreuznach and Schloss Bockelheim


Nahatel is the single Bereich in which Anbaugebiete?



What is the most planted varietal in Nahe?



The best wines of the Pfalz come from a few villages

Bad Durkheim, Deidesheim, Forst, Kallstadt, Neustadt, Wachenhein, Ungstein


What's the largest producing region in Germany?



What the largest region in terms of land mass in Germany?



What is Liebfraumilch?

Blended QbA wine from the Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz or Nahe. Must contain 70% of Riesling, Muller- Thurgau, Silvaner or Kerner. Semi sweet.


What's the main grape varietal of Rheinhessen?

Muller- Thurgau


What are the best wines produced in Rheinhessen?



Where is Bereich Johannisberg located?



Which Anbaugebiete is Assmanshausen located?



Which regions of Germany can legally produce Liebraumilch?

Rheingau, Rheinhesse, Pfalz and Nahe


The temp. at which grapes used to make Eiswein are picked

7.8 degrees


TBA wines are made from these grapes.

Dried up, selected grapes affected by Edelfaule which have been left to shrivel on the vine.


What is Weissherbst?

A rose wine from Baden


BA wines are made from these grapes

Specifically selected grapes chosen from the ripest bunches which have been effected by Edelfaule


Auslese wines are made from these grapes

Selected bunches of grapes which have been left on the vine to become over- ripe.


Spatlese wines are made from these grapes

Late- gathered grapes which have been left on the vine to ripen.


Where is Rudeisheimer?



Where did Saale Unstrut get its name?

Germany's Northern most region. It's where the Saale and Unstrut rivers meet


List 3 villages of the Pfalz?

Bad Durkheim


An Anbaugebiete is.......

A wine growing are for qualitatswein


Where is the bereich of Saar located?



Where is the bereich of Ruwertal located?



Where is the bereich of Moseltor located?



German wines were.....

The first wines really deemed age worthy. Due to great acidity in varietals. Big estates built big barrels (less contact with oxygen). Plus they have been using Sulphur since 1487.


Schloss Johannisberg

19m south facing slope of Riesling that is the Rheingau. Site picked out by Charlemagne in the 8th Century. 1775 Prince- Bishop Fuida in charge. Sent a courtier to look over the vineyards. Took longer than 14 days and grapes were shrivelled. Stop fermenting following year. Was fantastic even though seen as a horrible mess. Thus late harvest (Spatlese) was invented.



Left on the vines three months after should be picked.


German Riesling....

Will improve in quality over the years.


German Wine Market

Stuffed up by selling sweet riesling to the rest of the world. German wines used to command higher prices than Ch. Lafitte.


AP Number, or Amtliche Prüfungsnummer

Adorns the label of every bottle of German qualitätswein. This 10- to 12-digit number is an outward sign that the wine has passed germany’s much-vaunted official testing procedure, which involves submitting samples of the wine to analysis and a blind tasting test in which the wine is checked for faults by a changing panel of fellow winemakers and other tasters. The test is hardly the most stringent procedure; the pass rate is well above 90%. The first digit signifies which of the country’s testing stations awarded the AP number (1 for Koblenz, 2 for Bernkastel, 3 for Trier—all three in the mosel-saar-ruwer—4 for Alzey in rheinhessen, 5 for Neustadt in the pfalz, 6 and 7 for Bad Kreuznach in the nahe, where wines from saale-unstrut and sachsen were also tested in the mid 1990s). The next code signifies the location of the vineyard. The penultimate pair of digits is the most significant, the bottler’s own code, which supplies a unique identification of the particular lot. If a vintner has bottled two or more wines of otherwise identical labelling (same site, Prädikat, and degree of dryness) this number is often used to distinguish them. The final two digits signify the year in which the wine was tested.


Grosses Gewächs

(pronounced ‘guh-vex’) is a prestige wine category devised by Germany’s vdp and in use (though no longer exclusively by its members) since 2002. Wines so designated (but not necessarily so labelled, as the terminology is not recognized by the german wine law) are from traditional grapes and vineyard sites classified (by the VDP) as (superior) grosse lagen. The sites in question are typically einzellagen but occasionally subdivisions thereof (whose names are not technically allowed on labels). Grosses Gewächse (pl.) must be cropped at yields of no more than 50 hl/ha, be hand harvested, at no less than the must weight required for spätlese (although Grosses Gewächs wines are nowadays labelled without prädikat), and be subjected to sensory review. Besides attempting to classify, protect, and promote the best vineyard sites of Germany, the VDP regulations for Grosses Gewächs were also intended to stipulate a recognizable style of relatively full-bodied, legally trocken wine (though that designation is also absent from their labels). Grosses Gewächs wines must be bottled in glass embossed with a logo featuring a grape cluster and the numeral 1 and (since vintage 2007) are labelled with the initials GG. In a departure from conventional German labelling practice, and to emphasize continuity with the Burgundian notion of a grand cru, vineyard names on the labels of Grosse Gewächse are not preceded by the names of their respective villages, with the result that some names—Herrenberg and Schlossberg, for example—can be found on wines from several different sites. Within the VDP, Grosses Gewächs encompasses Rheingau wines formerly labelled erstes gewächs.



Literally ‘individual site’ in the wine regions of germany. Almost all of Germany’s vineyards are officially registered as one of these approximately 2,600 Einzellagen, which can vary in size from a fraction of 1 ha to more than 200 ha/494 acres. The average size of an Einzellage is about 38 ha, about the same size as a typical bordeaux estate. As in burgundy, for example, the vines may be divided among many different owners, who are allowed to put the name of the Einzellage only on qualitätswein. Such names must usually be preceded by the name of the village in which they were produced; thus a wine from the Mandelring vineyard in the village of Haardt is called Haardter Mandelring. The same formula of town + vineyard name is also followed for so-called grosslagen, which are in reality collections of many individual sites in the vicinity of—but by no means always clustered around—the town in question. The result is one of the most misleading features of the German Wine Law, since unless the consumer knows that a designation such as Piesporter Michelsberg refers to a wide range of generally undistinguished sites, they will be deceived—by intention, sadly—into thinking that the wine in question was grown on the steep slate terroir immediately around Piesport. In a few instances such as schloss johannisberg and Schloss Vollrads in the rheingau, the name of the property itself legally suffices as provenance, and the Scharzhofberg vineyard in the saar is considered so important that it dispenses with the prefix Wiltinger, but such official exceptions are rare. Recent practice, though, among vdp members (some would say affectation, but intended to ape Burgundian grand cru labelling conventions) is to dispense with the names of villages in front of any site deemed worthy of bottling as a grosses gewôchs.



Collective vineyard sites delimited by 1971 german wine law Sometimes co-opting a traditional place name but often made up for the occasion, a Grosslage designation is conjoined to the name of a particular wine village, but typically covers vineyards (each officially known as an einzellage) in far-flung and far less prestigious villages, the thinly disguised intent being, by means of the German labelling template village+vineyard, to trade on the prestige earned by sites outside the Grosslage. Thus, Niersteiner Gutes Domtal, in fact, refers to vast acreage spread across 15 disparate villages and 32 Einzellagen of which a mere one—tiny and obscure—happens to be within the communal limits of the Rheinhessen’s justly famous wine village Nierstein. Another notorious example is Piesporter Michelsberg in the Mosel. A Wiltinger Scharzberg Grosslage was even registered to trade deceptively on the prestige of the Saar’s famed Scharzhofberg vineyard. Grosslage names are frequently applied to blends of lesser grapes in areas best-known for their fine Rieslings. Thankfully, the use of Grosslage designations has greatly diminished since the 1990s and is largely confined to inexpensive wines destined for sales in supermarkets. A very few Grosslage names—most notably Bernkasteler Badstube—are widely used even by the most quality-conscious among growers, because they incorporate solely high-quality sites, many of whose individual names have never been well-known. Grosslage is still an officially recognized term in Austria but is not used on labels.



German for dry, a legally defined term when applied to the wines of germany. Wines so-labelled first appeared in the 1970s and in the decade following became the overwhelming preference of German consumers. By the late 1980s, German vintners of all regions were selling largely trocken or halbtrocken wines in their domestic market although there has been a gradual return of consumer interest within Germany in sweeter styles of Riesling. It took the produce of riper vintages to win over foreign lovers of German wine to trocken styles. The term can be applied in German-speaking countries within the eu to a still wine with a maximum of 4 g/l residual sugar, or up to 9 g/l if the total acidity is less than the residual sugar by no more than 2 g/l (9 g/l residual sugar and total acidity not less than 7 g/l). The proportion of German still wine that is described as trocken (as opposed to halbtrocken) varies considerably between regions (with a higher proportion in southern regions) but averages about 28% (from just 16% in the mid 1990s). This legal definition of dryness should not be confused with an organoleptic impression that most tasters would describe as dry. A Riesling halbtrocken would commonly be described as tasting dry; whereas, for example, a low-acid, high-alcohol Baden Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) that has undergone malolactic conversion and harbours 4 g/l of residual sugar would probably be described as slightly sweet, just as would an analytically comparable white burgundy or California Chardonnay. Because carbon dioxide reduces the impression of sweetness, a sparkling wine containing between 17 and 35 g/l residual sugar may be described as trocken. Many of the big-volume sparkling wines produced in Germany (see sekt) are trocken, while top-quality versions are usually drier and labelled brut or extra brut.



A traditional term of approbation permitted on German wine labels since 2000 that is neither amenable to intelligible literal translation nor legally defined. Many growers use it successfully as it was envisioned by most of those who lobbied for its instatement, as a substitute for halbtrocken, a concept whose appeal to German consumers fell significantly towards the end of the last century. Others use it for wines of overt, albeit modest, sweetness.


Germany: History and Trade

Wine producing country since Roman times. The French Revolution of the late 1800s saw German wine regions falling to the French and this along with the depression in the early 1900s saw a large decline in vineyard area. The Second World War had and extreme negative effect on exports and the future of the German wine industry looked bleak after this period. From the 1950s till the 1990s amount of wine made increased significantly, mainly due to an increase in yields. More recently, there has been a focus on branded dry wines for mid- market exports (especially UK), and on dry terroir- driven wines aimed at the Premium sector in the local and export markets (especially USA).


Deutscher Tafelwein

Lowest classification. One of four designated regions, must state region of production on the label.



Equivalent of the French Vin de Pays system. Seventeen specified areas must be displayed on the label. The wine must be trocken or halbtrocken.
5% of the total German production comes under the two classifications


Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA)

Wine produced from 13 Anbaugebiete with blending from other regions forbidden. Label must state the region plus the style of wine. Chaptalisation is permitted.



Wine with special attributes. From the 13 Anbaugebiete and from a single Bereich within the Anbaugebiete. Chaptalisation not allowed but sweetening with Sussreserve is permitted. Wines are further classified on the amount of sugar the must (not finished wine) contains.



Individual vineyard site, classification similar to French premier cru or Grand Cru. Quality of these wines is very high with individual vineyard nuances.



Group of adjoining vineyards. Groupings can be misleading. Often named after the top village in the group, leading to some excellent reputation vineyards being grouped with some vineyards producing substantially more average wine.



A group of several communes within a Quality Region. One or more with a region. Can be confusing as a town can give its name to a Bereich, Grosslage or an Einzellage



Designated Quality region, of which there are thirteen. 85% of the wine must come from the specified region if a Bereich, Grosslage or Einzellage is specified on the label.



Delicate Riesling, light bodied, crisp acidity and flavours of green apple or citrus fruit. Lightest must weight, can be dry through to medium sweetness.



Late harvest wine with more body, concentration and riper flavours than Kabinett. Grapes are picked with a higher level of sugar than Cabinet. Finished wine of similar sweetness to Kabinett.



Hand selected bunches of extra ripe grapes. Large range of styles produced, off-dry through to sweet. Harvested at the same time as Kabinett and Spatlese, but separated in the vineyard for special treatment.


Beerenauslese (BA)

Made from individually selected grapes affected with noble rot. The sweet wine produced is rare and expensive.



Usually equivalent sugar levels to Beerenauslese. Grapes picked at temperature lower than -8 degrees which freezes the water in the grapes, concentrating the sugars. Ice crystals subsequently removed at pressing.


Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA)

Rare and expensive; minute quantities are produced from individually selected grapes affected by a high degree of noble rot that have become shrivelled. Minimal potential alcohol of 21.5%, but will be balanced by high levels of acidity.



Wine from a specific region, must weight 1% abv. higher than minimum for particular variety and category. At least 12% (OR 11.5% in the Mosel) alcohol with a maximum of 15g/L residual sugar. Region, variety, vintage and the word Classic must appear on the label. Trocken and Halbtrocken are not permitted on the label.



Grapes must come from an Einzellage. Must weight of at least 90 degrees Oeschsle or Aisles level ripeness. 60 hl/ha maximum yield and must be hand harvested. Maximum 12 g/l residual sugar. Region, variety, vintage and the word Selection must appear on the label. Trocken and Halbtrocken are not permitted on the label.



Produce only in Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Rheingau or Nahe, with the Rheinhessen and Pflaz the most important producers. Blending across the regions is not permitted. Must contain at least 18 g/L residual and be of QbA quality. Label states the region of production only.


Riesling Hochgewachs

QbA Riesling with a must weight at least 10 degrees Oechsle above the minimum for QbA.


Verband Deutscher Praditkatsweinguter (VDP)....

Introduced new regulations and classifications systems based on the Charta movements proposals.

Erstes Gewächs (Rheingau only)- Riesling and Pinot Noir from a grand cru Einzellagen.

Erste Lage and Grosses Gewächs- Similar meaning to above in the Mosel and in the other Anbaugebiete.

Strict regulations given the terms above:
Vines must be planted in optimal soil and climatic conditions for viticulture. Only riesling and pinot noir are permitted. 50 hl/ha maximum yield of fruit, hand harvesting only. Grapes must be ripened to 83 degrees Oeschle and 90 degrees oeschle for riesling and pinot noir respectively. The wine must pass a stringent sensory evaluation. The label must state the site, vintage, grape variety and logo depicting Romanesque arches surrounded by the words 'Estes.......Gewachs'.
The wine is not to be released for sale before 1st September following the harvest.



Less than 1% of German viticultural area. Rieslings can rival the Rheingau for quality.


Hessische Bergstrasse

Tiny region, sold on the local market.



Bavarian region, highest quality wines are full bodied Silvaner, Riesling, Spatburgunder and Dornfielder grown predominately



Large quantities of light fruity reds, wine making dominated by co- operatives.


Sachen and Saale- Unstrut

Part of former East Germany, starting to recover after years of neglect.


Riesling- Germany

Most widely planted variety, a quarter of all plantings. Late ripening and hardy, ideal for late harvest wines. High levels of acidity, good ageing capacity. Floral, citrus and stone fruit when young developing petrol hints with age. Parent variety of many crossings developed.


Muller- Thurgau (Rivaner)- Germany

Crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royale developed in the 1880s. Early ripening with high yields, but is prone to rot and first damage. Used predominately in Liebfraumilch.


Silvaner- Germany

Plantings declining, now found in regions where it has been traditionally strong, such as Franken. Wines are low in acidity and have neutral fruit.


Scheurbe- Germany

Crossing of Silvaner with Riesling. Strong grapefruit aromas when fully ripe, suitable for sweet wines.


Other White Varieties- Germany

Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer and other grown in small quantities


Spatburgunder- Germany

Late ripening grape producing full bodied fruity wines. Predominant in the southern vineyards of Pfalz and Baden. Plantings increasing as Germany is having success with international quality barrel aged Spatburgunder.


Dornfelder- Germany

A result of a crossing in 1955 between two vinifera crossed parent vines. The grape is deeply pigmented resulting in a deep coloured wine. Perceived to have great potential and also capable of producing high yields.


Crossings- Germany

Much research has been conducted into crossings; these are now in decline as the have become unfashionable.


International Varieties- Germany

Syrah and Cabernet Sauv are minimally planted. Chardonnay is planted in approximately 650ha.


Viticulture- Germany

Differing typography wine regions, therefore widely different styles of viticulture.

Higher quality wine on steep slopes in the river valleys. Close planted terraced vineyards with work done by hand and little access for equipment. Production costs are high leading to a high price for labour- intensive styles.

Moderate to low quality wine in valley bottoms and plains. Wire trained, rows up to 3m apart to allow mechanisation. Emphasis on higher yields and simple, easy drinking styles.

Offical vintage start date announced by local trade organisations. Vineyards are closed to all (including owner) in days leading up to harvest. Weather depending, viticulturists may leave grapes on vine to achieve a higher Pradikatswein rating but will take into consideration sugar/ acidity balance, general grape health and presence/ absence of noble rot.

Minimum must weights for Praditkatswein vary from region to region, e.g. Mosel Riesling Cabinet must achieve 70 degrees Oe but a Baden Riesling Cabinet must be 76 degrees oeschle.

From 1990 yield controls have been in place. Three methods of control:
- By grape variety as practiced in the Mosel. Different yields for different varieties.
- By quality category, in the Rheinhessen QbA and Pradikatswein have a permitted yield of 105 hl/ha and Ditcher Tafel Wein is 135 hl/ha.
- By region, other regions have individual hl/ha yield limitations.

The above limitations apply to grapes turned into wine, not actual harvest yields. Surplus wine must be distilled into industrial alcohol within one year.


Vinification- Germany

Fermentation in stainless steel or traditional large wood casks Stuck (Rheingau) of Fuder (Mosel). Chaptalisation and must enrichment permitted for all wines up to (but not including) Pradikatswein level. Up to 4.5% abv may be added in northern regions in exceptional years. De- acidification permitted by addition of calcium carbonate. A permit must be obtained to carry out the above procedures.

Grapes are weighed and sugars assessed for quality grading in the winery. Growers are paid based on weight, sugar level and variety.

Some juice will be reserved for sussreserve, which is filtered and stored at a low temperature.

Most wines are fermented as dry as possible to make them as stable as possible for storage. Suss reserve added before bottling to sweeten is permitted for all quality levels including Pradikatswein. Juice must before the same site, variety and quality of the wine. Some producers interrupt fermentation using SO2 and racking if they wish to retain unfermented sugar.

Three quarters of German wine is made in co-operative cellars. Wine from a grower/ producer is labelled Guts- or Erzeugerabfullung, meaning estate- or producer bottled. The term Weingu means wine estate.

High quality Riesling has great capacity for long bottle ageing but is dependent on quality, variety and vintage.



German word meaning ‘producer bottling’, applicable to all the finest wines of Germany. As in France (see mis en bouteille), the term may be used by co-operatives to describe blends of wines from many different member-producers over whose viticultural techniques the bottler may or may not exercise significant control. The terms gutsabfüllung and Schlossabfüllung are officially defined in slightly more restrictive terms and are nowadays seldom used.


Blue Nun

The most successful German wine brand, and for most of the 20th century a liebfraumilch owned by H. sichel Söhne of Mainz. It was launched with the 1921 vintage in 1923 as a more accessible product than the host of German bottles adorned with Gothic script and long, complicated names. A label was developed for the easy, medium-dry style of young white wine sold in inns throughout Germany which initially showed several nuns in brown habits against a bright blue sky. The label, and subsequently the brand, became known as Blue Nun, featuring a single, alluring nun in a blue habit. Long before mateus Rosé, Blue Nun became a substantial commercial success as a result of heavy investment in advertising which preyed on the fears of what was then an unsophisticated wine drinking public. Blue Nun was advertised as the wine you could drink ‘right through the meal’, thereby solving the awkward problem of food and wine matching. It began to grow rapidly, mainly in Britain and America, in the 1950s when German wines enjoyed greater prestige than they do today and Blue Nun commanded about the same price as a second growth red bordeaux. At its zenith, in 1984/5, annual sales in the US alone were 1.25 million cases, with a further 750,000 cases sold elsewhere. Quality was reliably high, despite the quantities needed to satisfy world sales, and blending at the Mainz headquarters was conscientiously undertaken. A static wine market, economic recession, and increasing sophistication on the part of wine consumers saw worldwide sales fall to well under a million cases in the 1990s. H. Sichel Söhne and the Blue Nun brand were bought by F. W. Langguth Erben in 1995. The brand was relaunched and by 2014 its principal variants were Riesling (in bottle and box), ‘Authentic White’, and Sweet Red.



Quintessentially mild, slightly sweet white wine from germany’s rheinhessen, pfalz, nahe, or (rarely) rheingau regions known almost exclusively in export markets where it weaned many a potential wine drinker off soft drinks but is now in steep decline. In its heyday in the 1980s, it accounted for an extraordinary, some would say horrifying, 60% of all German wine exported. These wines were generally dominated by silvaner, müller-thurgau, or kerner grapes, but the Liebfrauenstift-Kirchstück (Our Lady’s Cloister) in Worms from which the name Liebfraumilch was derived continues to be a source of good Riesling.



Former research institute for viticulture, horticulture, beverage technology, and landscape architecture and, since 2013, known properly as Hochschule Geisenheim University. Founded in 1872 by Eduard von Lade to improve the science of growing fruit, particularly apples, it has continued a tradition of combining education with applied research. In 1876 Professor Müller joined Geisenheim as a biologist and in 1882 developed the cross müller-thurgau, which later became one of the most planted in Germany.

Today research in viticulture and oenology focuses on environmental stress effects on grapevine physiology and fruit maturation, with particular emphasis on the possible effects of climate change on viticulture and on biotic stresses such as diseases; quantifying ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions from viticultural soils; studying the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on all aspects related to grapevine development and fruit quality; the development of new biological and technological strategies to minimize the use of pesticides in both organic and conventional viticulture; molecular and physiological studies of pests and diseases; secondary metabolites formed during fruit development, focusing on aromatic precursors and phenolics and their dynamics during fruit processing and winemaking; water stress and the use of new technologies to guide irrigation for grapes and horticultural crops; molecular and traditional genetics, including vine breeding for disease resistance, clonal selection for improved quality and vine health, plant regeneration in vitro, research on the adaptation of rootstocks to different soil and climate conditions, the genetics of phylloxera resistance and of yeast and bacteria, and the detection of genetically modified organisms; all aspects of wine microbiology; steep-slope viticulture (see hillside vineyards) and the development of new technologies for mechanization such as remote sensing, global positioning systems in machine guidance, efficient soil water management, as well as an economic evaluation of vineyard management under these conditions; new technologies in juice and wine production and their effects on wine ageing; the allergenic potential of wine additives; and alcohol management in the vineyard and winery. Other areas of activity include identifying and describing objective parameters for wine quality as well as developing criteria for cork and alternative closures. Other studies focus on wine economics and market research, including studies on consumer preferences, the dynamics of the global wine market, success factors in marketing, enterprise management, and economic analyses of different segments of the wine industry.



Means literally ‘German’, thus Deutscher Wein is what appears on the labels of Germany’s wine without geographical indication (once called Tafelwein); Deutscher Sekt is that relative rarity, a sekt or sparkling wine made in Germany that is actually made of German wine; and the Deutsche Weinstrasse is a particularly famous route through the vineyards of the pfalz region in Germany. The Deutsches Weinsiegel, or German Wine Seal, is a significant award made to superior bottlings assessed by blind tasting panels, but only after the wine has been awarded an official ap number. Award-winning bottles can be identified by a large, round paper seal on the bottle-neck: a yellow seal for dry wines, green for medium dry, and red for other styles. These awards, and a national competition, are held under the auspices of the Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft, or DLG, an agricultural society formed in the late 19th century to encourage quality and agricultural expertise. Prize-winning bottles carry gold, silver, or bronze strips across the neck.



Rarely seen PGI category of dry Austrian or German wine. In germany, Landwein must have an alcoholic strength of at least half a per cent more than the minimum level for German wine without geographical indication. Austria’s much higher minimum is 14 °kmw (68 °oechsle), reflecting the warmer climate.



Designates German wines that have between 5 and 18 g/l of residual sugar depending on the total acidity. Levels above 12 g/l are permitted governed by the formula: maximum residual sugar equals total g/l of acidity plus 10, up to an absolute limit of 18. maximum residual sugar equals total g/I ofacidity plus 10, up to an absolute limit of 18.Among Riesling wines, which are most often encountered in halbtrocken format, 8 g/l of acidity is routinely reached, so that effectively halbtrocken refers to wines with between 10 and 18 g/l residual sugar. Among the top German producers in this century there has been a tendency to bottle fewer wines that fit the criteria for halbtrocken, as well as labelling those that do as feinherb or without any reference to degree of sweetness. In Austria, any wine is officially halbtrocken (and then labelled as such, albeit in tiny print) if it exceeds the maximum residual sugar set for trocken (which varies with total acidity) but does not exceed 12 g/l.



(pronounced ‘vine’) means ‘wine’ in german and is therefore how a wine without geographical indication would be described in Germany and Austria. It is also the first syllable of a host of important German wine names such as Weinbau (vine-growing), Weinbrand (basic brandy), and Weingut (wine estate) as distinct from a Weinkellerei, which buys in grapes, must, or wine but probably owns vineyards only if it describes itself as the all-purpose Weingut-Weinkellerei. A Weinprobe is a wine tasting, Weinsäure is tartaric acid, some of which may eventually be precipitated as crystal tartrates, or Weinsteine. A wine made by blending ingredients from more than one eu country is a Wein aus der europäischen Gemeinschaft.


German Wine Law

Was once a source of pride for German wine producers but many now do their best to amend or ignore it. The German Wine Law of 1971 substantially revised the 1930 Wine Law (see german history), particularly in vineyard rationalization, and was precipitated by the demands of the eu wine regime. Compared with the anarchic chaos of Italy’s wine-labelling habits, and the convoluted geography of France’s appellation contrôlée (AOC) system, the German Wine Law of 1971 was a marvel of precision. Each vineyard was delineated and registered (see einzellage), and collective sites, or grosslagen, were also delineated, in a manner that it is hard to deny was designed to deceive consumers. Their produce could be used to make wine at any quality level, depending not on yields but exclusively on the ripeness, or must weight, of the grapes. The least ripe grapes qualify for the bottom rung, once known as Deutscher Tafelwein, now simply as Deutscher Wein, which represents less than 5% of all wine produced in a typical German vintage. All the rest is graded as qualitätswein according to the generous terms of the German Wine Law. German officials make much of the fact that every quality wine is analysed and tasted and has to earn its ap number, but the failure rate is so low as to cast doubt on this highly bureaucratic ‘control’. The lower layer of Germany’s quality wine is made from grapes whose ripeness qualifies for qba status, a ‘quality wine from a specified region’. This is the category which may be chaptalized and under which most German wine is usually sold. Wines made from riper grapes, however, are qualified as Prädikatswein, ‘wine with distinction’: the official prädikat categories being kabinett, spätlese, auslese, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese, and eiswein. The volume produced in each of these categories varies tremendously according to the weather. In 2003, for example, more than half of all German wine produced had a Prädikat, while the cold, wet 1984 vintage yielded less than 6%. This emphasis on must weights was understandable in a country where the perennial challenge was, until the effects of climate change, to ripen grapes fully, but did little to encourage real quality and harmony in Germany’s wines (see germany and german history). Many quality-conscious producers themselves declassify wines from one Prädikat to a lower one, or from Prädikatswein to QbA, because the wine does not reach their own personal evaluation of what constitutes, say, an Auslese. The German Wine Law has been substantially amended since 1971. In 1982 the little-used landwein category was introduced, and at about the same time Eiswein, with its entirely different production technique, was admitted as a Prädikat in its own right alongside Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. In 1989, the German parliament agreed to comply with EU regulations to limit yields, but a measure of how much progress was still to be made was that the maximum yield proposed for the noble riesling vine in the supposedly noble wine region mosel was 120 hl/ha (6.8 tons/acre) (more for other grape varieties). During 1993, much more stringent amendments were proposed, for enactment in time for the 1994 vintage, with stricter controls on yields. More significantly, the minimum must weights required for various Prädikats in the Ahr, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Saale-Unstrut, and Sachsen were raised, and there were moves, albeit limited, to substitute a much clearer labelling system whereby the consumer could tell at a glance whether a wine comes from a single site or Einzellage, or from one of the collective grosslagen. As if German wine categories were not numerous or confusing enough, several new ones have been added to the Wine Law—hochgewächs, classic, and selection—but none has had a significant lasting impact in the marketplace. Two even more recent amendments to German Wine Law that represent signs of their times are permission to irrigate vines and to acidify musts or wine in years of drought and extreme heat. The prestigious vdp growers’ association has long imposed much more stringent requirements on its members than the German Wine Law, and continues to refine its requirements.



one of six so-called prädikats applying to German wine that has not been chaptalized, and designating—depending on growing region and grape variety—must weights between 67 and 82 °oechsle. As such, Kabinett designates the lightest end of the German wine spectrum, and Mosel Kabinetts that have residual sugar are often as low as 7 or 8% alcohol. The term Kabinett, like the pegging of quality designations to minimum must weights itself, is entirely a product of the 1971 german wine law. The name was chosen for its association with the English word cabinet, widely used in Germany prior to 1971 as a general term of approbation for wines in all styles. It still has resonance in the German marketplace even for wines from regions such as baden and the pfalz where dry Kabinetts may significantly exceed 13% alcohol, and where among reputed producers most vintages since 1987 have involved no chaptalization. In the early 2010s many of the regional vdps elected to eliminate the use of the term, while others have decided to limit its use to non-dry Rieslings.
Austrian wine law enshrines the term ‘Kabinett’ for unchaptalized, dry Qualitätswein of up to 13% alcohol and from grapes of at least 17 kmw (84 °Oechsle), but the term is little used, particularly since the advent of dac status for much of lower austria, whereby ‘Reserve’ on labels of Riesling or Grüner Veltliner effectively replaces ‘Spätlese trocken’ and non-Reserve DAC bottlings are those that would formerly have been labelled ‘Kabinett.’



A Prädikat is a ‘distinction’, awarded to pdowines on the basis of increasing grape must weight: either kabinett, spätlese, auslese, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese or eiswein. Long collectively known as Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP), the wines are now officially known simply as Prädikatsweine. Depending on region and grape variety, the minimum must weights in oechsle (and equivalent potential alcohol) set by german wine law for each Prädikat range as follows (with the low end applying in each case to the minimum for Riesling in the Mosel):
Kabinett 70–82 °Oe / 9.1–10.9%
Spätlese 76–90 °Oe / 10–12.2%
Auslese 83–100 °Oe / 11.1–13.8%
Beerenauslese and Eiswein 110–128 °Oe / 15.3–18.1%
Trockenbeerenauslese 150–154 °Oe / 21.5–21.9% In practice, quality-conscious producers set their own estate-specific standards for what counts as Spätlese, Auslese, etc. These generally entail far higher must weights than the legal minima, which is unsurprising in this era of climate change. What counts as Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese etc. is nowadays largely a matter of individual convention. One grower’s Spätlese may be another’s Auslese, and the choice of Prädikat is often made on the basis of intended style from among musts of nearly identical sugar content.
Germany’s most prestigious growers’ association, the vdp, may have ‘Prädikatswein’ in its name, but it took the lead in eliminating designations of Prädikat from the labels of dry wines, including those of their prestige class known as grosses gewächs. The idea is that a Prädikat designation should immediately indicate significant sweetness, typically increasing with must weight. Dry German wines are more likely to be described as qualitätswein.



official German wine designation introduced in 2000, though little used outside Germany, for dry-tasting wines (maximum 15 g/l residual sugar) vinified from traditional grape varieties, harvested at at least 12% potential alcohol (11.5% in the Mosel). See also german wine law. Not to be confused with the term klassik as used (principally) in austria.



was introduced into german wine law in 2000 as a class of estate-bottled dry-tasting wine hand harvested at no less than 12.2% potential alcohol and subject inter alia to the unusual stipulation that the vineyard surface to be utilized had to be declared by 1 May before the harvest, ostensibly to permit greater administrative oversight. To say that this category failed to catch on appears to be an understatement



means literally ‘late harvest’ but, as a so-called prädikat, is officially defined by grape sugar at harvest. In Germany, specific minimum must weights are laid down for each combination of vine variety and region and range from 76 to 90 °oechsle. In Austria, where the designation is no longer used for dry wines and seldom for sweet, the minimum across the board is 19 °KMW (approximately 94 Oechsle). Since the mid 20th century, many German growers have considered a Spätlese the ideal vehicle for conveying the complexity of ripe Riesling and its influence by site. It is thus not surprising that during the 1980s revival and subsequent domination of dry wines in domestic markets, the conjunction Spätlese trocken would be treated as a mark of excellence. When the term grosses gewächs was introduced by the vdp growers’ association as its prestige dry wine category, such wines were usually also labelled as Spätlese trocken, but from vintage 2011 that option was discontinued.



a prädikat that means literally ‘selected harvest’ but is officially defined by the must weight at harvest. In Germany, specific minimum must weights are laid down for each combination of vine variety and region, and range from 83 to 105 °oechsle. In Austria, the minimum is 21 °kmw(approximately 105 °Oechsle). By the letter of the german wine law, grapes for Auslese should have been picked at least one week after a preliminary picking of less ripe grapes but in practice an Auslese may well have been picked early in the harvest. At their finest, German Auslesen are long-lived, sweet, often botrytized wines, and the finest botrytis frequently occurs early on. In Germany, high-alcohol, dry wines have occasionally been designated Auslese trocken, but with decreasing frequency. Many vintners long preferred to use the designation spätlese even if the must weight on which their dry wine was based far exceeded the minimum for Auslese; and the trend (now official policy within the vdp growers’ association) is to dispense entirely with Prädikat designations for dry wines.
In Austria not only botrytized sweet wines but also most other wines that meet the minimum must weight for this Prädikat and harbour more than 9 g/l residual sugar (i.e. are not legally trocken) are labelled, if inconspicuously, as Auslese



literally ‘berry selection’, refers to sweet Austrian or German wines, usually made from botrytizedgrapes. By german wine law, minimum must weights are laid down for each combination of vine variety and region and vary from 110 to 128 °oechsle. The iconic examples, often prodigiously long-lived, are complex and rich yet exhilarating Rieslings. In Austria, a minimum of 25 KMW (approximately 105 °Oechsle) is stipulated, and wines bearing this prädikat are commonly grown only around the neusiedlersee in burgenland(and then from diverse grapes), being rare elsewhere.



sometimes known as TBA, the highest must weight prädikatdefined by Austrian and german wine law. Trockenbeeren refers to grapes (Beeren) shrivelled on the vine, typically under the influence of noble rot. Many vintages have yielded no Trockenbeerenauslese wine at all in Germany (it is more frequent in Austria’s Neusiedlersee region), but warmer weather and scrupulous standards of selection have dramatically increased the frequency of TBA bottlings by many top German estates since 1988. An even higher minimum potential alcohol is required than for sauternes, generally produced in a much warmer climate. It is inevitable therefore that these rarities command exceptionally high prices, which go some way to compensating the producer for the many passages (see tri) through the vineyard, the risk of losing all the grapes to grey rot or rain, and the difficulty of vinifying such viscous juice. High must weight TBA (and musts in the upper 200s of oechsle are no longer freakishly uncommon) can sometimes take a year or more to ferment to the 5.5% alcohol requisite for wine—all the while risking the acquisition of excessive volatile acidity—and a significant share of any TBA is lost to the filter pads in the process of bottling it in stable condition.



designates German wines produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen. The deliberate picking of Eiswein with any significant frequency seems to have originated in the 1960s, and from the 1980s the practice became routine at the majority of top estates, excepting those that farm vineyards not prone to deep frost. Freezing concentrates not just the sugar in the grapes, but also acidity and extract, and Riesling Eiswein is routinely the highest in acid (as well as some of the highest-priced) of any German wines. For best results, a frost of at least −8 °C/18 °F is required, for which grapes are generally harvested between five and eight in the morning of the first sufficiently cold November or December days. Eiswein picked in January or even February is not unknown, but is seldom of as high a quality. Such a wine is labelled for the calendar year of the growing season. Before 1971, Eisweine were frequently labelled for the date of picking or nearest Saint’s Day (Nikolauswein, for example, designated a wine harvested December 6), but such information is currently not permitted on the label. Since 1982, Eiswein has been a separate prädikat with the minimum must weight of a beerenauslese, namely 110–128 oechsledepending on the region and variety in question. In austriatoo, the requisite must weight is the same as that of a Beerenauslese, 25 KMW (approximately 127 °Oechsle). The harvesting of Eiswein has become much more routine as a result of the widespread (if controversial) use of semi-permeable plastic sheeting that hugs the vines to protect grapes from birds and rain while waiting for a suitably deep frost. (Protection from wild boar is another matter, and more potential Eiswein is lost to these marauders than to any other cause.) While the classic concept of Eiswein for most growers is a wine from botrytis-free grapes, this is not a legal requirement, and the use of film in fact often promotes humidity and thus a low level of botrytis in the shrouded grapes. If the harvest does not achieve the requisite ripeness or the character deemed appropriate to Eiswein by the individual vintner, the wine usually ends up being bottled as an auslese or subsumed into another wine, even though this practice is technically legally questionable.



Is what pdo wines are called in German. This is Germany’s largest wine category and in practice includes all those wines once known as QBA (as opposed to QMP wines which have been renamed prädikatswein). The grapes must originate in one of germany’s 13 official wine regions and reach minimum must weights specified for each region, and which may vary by grape variety. In the cool Ahr, Mittelrhein, Mosel, and Saale-Unstrut, for example, Riesling need reach only 6% potential alcohol, in other regions 7%, while in Baden QbA must meet a minimum of 8% regardless of grape variety. Wines in this category may still be chaptalized but, thanks to climate change and improved viticultural techniques, chaptalization has become much rarer. Encouraged by vdp protocols, an increasing number of producers are selling all dry (trocken and halbtrocken) wines as Qualitätswein, reserving Prädikatswein designations for noticeably sweet wines. Austria sets a national minimum for Qualitätswein equivalent to 9.7% potential alcohol.


QMP is now known as....




The most influential and prestigious German growers’ association, incorporating 202 (in 2014) of the finest wine estates in germany. In 1910, just two years after consolidating the top mosel estates into the grosser ring, the mayor of Trier persuaded like-minded organizations in the rheingau and pfalz to band together to form a national association for the purpose of selling its members’ wines at auction. Over the years, other regional groups joined the VDP and by the late 1990s its membership included estates in all 13 wine-growing regions. Although its collective holdings account for a mere 3.5% of Germany’s total vineyard area, this group produces a remarkable proportion of its finest wines. In their effort to preserve German wine culture, the national and regional branches of the VDP still maintain their tradition of wine auctions, although auction prices today, prestige notwithstanding, have little bearing on market prices. The VDP’s contribution to the image of fine and rare German wines is based on its members’ uncompromising dedication to high quality, starting with stringent, self-imposed regulations. These stipulate that members must have holdings in the top vineyard sites; produce lower yields and higher must weights than required by the german wine law; plant at least 80% of their vineyards with varieties traditionally associated with their regions; practise environmentally sound methods; be established as full-time growers of sound reputation; and submit to regular (at least every five years) VDP compliance inspections. Members’ labels and capsules carry the VDP name and logo, an eagle and grape cluster. The VDP’s efforts at vineyard classification and quality control as well as its labelling practices are influential beyond its membership, transcending the categories and minimal qualitative stipulations of the German Wine Law, even if the organization has been unable to effect significant changes in the law itself.



One of the smallest wine regions in germany better known to the outside world for its cliffs and castles than its Rieslings, which however can be outstanding. Most of the 469 ha/1,158 acres of vines planted in 2013, 67% of them Riesling, grow within sight of the river rhine, often looking down upon it from a considerable height. The first commercial vineyards start just south of Bonn and none is found on the west bank of the river until Koblenz is reached, 58 km/36 miles upstream. Thereafter, they climb both sides of the Rhine gorge, wherever site, the mesoclimate, and much hard work make vine-growing a more or less viable exercise. The temperature is raised by the large volume of water in the Rhine, and in summer there is usually enough rain to maintain the health and strength of the vines on their porous, steep, heat-trapping slate and quartzite slopes. Most of the good wine comes from about 12 km south of Koblenz, around Boppard (the Hamm vineyard), and from the far south near the rheingau at Bacharach and adjacent Steeg, whose most notable vineyards are Hahn, Posten, Wolfshöhle, and St Jost. Because of climate change, top growers have been relying on vineyards in nearby Oberdiebach to produce dry Rieslings of 12% alcohol or less, thus saving some of the region’s dwindling treasure of old vines. Just upstream from Bacharach, Oberwesel also harbours some well-sited Riesling. At their best, Mittelrhein Rieslings combine the minerality and tension of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Nahe Rieslings with tropical fruit flavors. spätburgunder—which accounts for just 9% of Mittelrhein’s vineyards—can also yield serious quality around both Boppard and Bacharach. While the top growers of this region make up in quality for what they lack in numbers, it is only tourism that sustains the Mittelrhein’s part-time or hobby vine growers in a wine region that has been shrinking for a century.


Hessische Bergstrasse

The northern vineyards on the western slopes of Germany’s Odenwald have formed one of Germany’s smallest wine regions since 1971. They comprised just 450 ha/1,111 acres in 2013, geologically diverse although dominated by loess, of which close to half in 2012 was planted with riesling, some capable of making distinguished dry wine, notably in Hambach’s Centgericht and Steinbach vineyards. The largest and most prestigious estate is the Hessische Staatsweingüter (known nowadays for their fabled headquarters as kloster eberbach) while a majority of the region’s growers deliver their crops to the co-op in Heppenheim known as Bergsträsser Winzer.



Known in English as Franconia, distinctive wine region in central germany, with a total of 6,176 ha/15,255 acres of vineyard in 2013. Severe winters and autumns as well as spring frosts are among the challenges that result in some of Germany’s most variable yields, but this has not deterred a near tripling of total vineyard area since the 1960s. The features for which Franken wine is best known are arguably neither its grapes nor its distinctive soils and wines, but the fact that nearly all of it is marketed in squat, flattened bocksbeutel bottles at prices most German growers can only dream of, and most is consumed within the region itself. While representing slightly less than one-quarter of planted surface (still significantly surpassed by müller-thurgau), silvaner is nonetheless rightly considered Franken’s flagship grape, yielding robust, ageworthy, and minerally complex results. riesling and pinot noir are also capable of excellence in selected sectors and sites. Several of the many vine crosses prominent in mid-20th-century Germany—notably bacchus, kerner, scheurebe, and rieslaner—are, like Müller-Thurgau, more successful than usual in Franken, whose soils high in active lime seem to tame these grapes’ less appetizing characteristics. Dry wines not only dominate in this region, but already did so during the 1970s and 1980s when Germany’s Riesling-centric growing regions were only moving in that direction. Nobly sweet elixirs are relatively rare but can be stunningly complex and long-lived, like their Riesling relatives in other parts of Germany. South of the city of Aschaffenburg along the right bank of the Main, Franken’s westernmost vineyards Mainviereck and Miltenberg feature dramatically steep sandstone terraces whose late-20th- and early-21st-century revival has resulted in some of Germany’s most impressive Pinot Noirs (as well as distinctive Riesling), notably from the Schlossberg and Centgrafenberg vineyards of Klingenberg and Bürgstadt respectively. Some 25 km east but still along the Main, vineyards around Marktheidenfeld mark the transition from Triassic sandstone to fossiliferous muschelkalk, Riesling sharing space with Silvaner. Vineyards dominate the eastern half of a huge northerly bow inscribed by the Main, as well as a plunge to the south that embraces the city of Würzburg, whose Stein, Innere Leiste, and Pfülben vineyards are among Franken’s most celebrated sources of Silvaner and (in rather austere renditions) Riesling. Eastern viticultural Franconia includes numerous smaller outposts, but many vineyards are near the Main. Eschendorf, not far west of Würzburg is especially notable for its Lump vineyard, where Muschelkalk intersects with the distinctive Triassic marl known as Keuper, a geological formation that dominates vineyards in the Steigerwald of Franken’s southeast whose best-known wine village and site are, respectively, Iphofen with its Julius-Echter-Berg.



small wine region in eastern germany of terraced and sometimes isolated vineyards, starting to recover from the forlorn condition in which they were left by the former East German regime. The main producers in the 735 ha/1,816 acres under vine in 2013 are the cellars at Naumburg belonging to the state of Sachsen-Anhalt, and the co-operative cellar at Freyburg. As in nearby sachsen, white wine grapes dominate: Müller-Thurgau (with 17% of vineyard area), Weissburgunder (13%), Riesling (8%), and Silvaner (7%) although both Dornfelder and traditional Portugieser also hold significant shares. The decidedly continental climate entails frequent, dangerous frosts. The result is wines that are naturally light in alcohol but relatively rich in extract. The calcareous soils are thought to encourage body and balance in the overwhelmingly dry wines made here.



Saxony in English, and one of germany’s smallest wine regions. Formerly in East Germany, it is also known colloquially as the Elbtal, and established the first German viticultural training institute (in Meissen) in 1811–12. The vineyard area, which had 499 ha/1,232 acres by 2013, follows the course of the river Elbe, from Pillnitz on the southern outskirts of Dresden, to Diesbar-Seusslitz north of Meissen. Sachsen and saale-unstrut are the most northerly wine regions in Germany (see map under germany) and have very similar climates. The granite and gneiss-dominated soils are not unlike those of Austria’s wachau, albeit with less dramatically steep slopes. Yields are low, usually under half the national average, and local demand for an extremely limited supply guarantees prices that should make reviving Saxony’s neglected terraces and its reputation for fine wine attractive. It was in Meissen, known for its porcelain factory, that viticulture in Sachsen was first documented in 1161. White wine grapes that collectively dominate this region’s almost entirely dry wines are Müller-Thurgau (17% of vineyard area), Riesling (14%), Weissburgunder (12%), and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris, 10%). A majority of the region’s grapes are processed by the regional co-operative and state domaine (Schloss Wackerbarth), but two private estates account for over one-third of the region’s production.


Must Weight

Important measure of grape ripeness , indicated by the concentration of dissolved compounds in grape juice or must. Since about 90% of all the dissolved solids in grape juice are the fermentable sugars (the rest being acids, ions, and a host of other solutes), any measurement of these solids gives a reliable indication of the grapes’ ripeness, and therefore the potential alcohol of wine made from them. Must weight may be measured approximately in the vineyard before harvest using a refractometer, or in the winery, using a refractometer or a hydrometer, calibrated according to one of several different scales used in different parts of the world for measuring the concentration of dissolved solids. This variation is not so surprising when one considers how crucial this statistic is to the winemaking process and therefore how early in the evolution of each country’s wine industry a scale will have been adopted. Each scale merely requires a different calibration of the hydrometer, usually with a reading of zero indicating that the density of a solution is exactly one, as in pure water. baumé is the scale most commonly used in much of Europe, including France, and in Australia. The number of degrees Baumé indicates the concentration of dissolved compounds in a solution calibrated so that it indicates fairly well the potential alcoholic strength of a wine made by fermenting the must to dryness, although the figures in the table above are approximate. In the United States, and increasingly in Australia, ripeness is most commonly measured in degrees brix, also sometimes called Balling, both terms borrowed from the sugar-refining industry. The Brix reading simply indicates the percentage of solids (of which about 90% are sugars) by weight. Winemakers in Germany most commonly use the oechsle scale, which simply indicates the density of the juice: a grape juice with a specific gravity of 1.085 is said to be 85 °Oechsle. This scale is much discussed since the german wine law has tended to equate quality with degrees Oechsle. Austria has its own, similar scale, devised at klosterneuburg, which measures ripeness in degrees KMW (or Babo). Since it takes about 16.5 g/l (0.6 oz/1.76 pt) of sugar to produce 1% alcohol by fermentation (in white wines, closer to 18 g/l in reds, depending on the efficiency of the yeast strain), it is possible to calculate approximately the potential alcohol using any of these scales. All of these must weight measurements can be roughly converted among themselves, with Baumé values about five-ninths of Brix/Balling values, and 14.7 °Brix/Balling = 60 °Oechsle. Some equivalences are outlined in the table above, although, according to published scales, the relationship between the different measurements is not a strict one. See nomograms in Hamilton and Coombe. A typical dry wine is made from grapes which measure between 12 and 14 °Baumé, between 22 and 25 °Brix or Balling, and between 93 and 110 °Oechsle. Grapes grown in england in particularly cool years, however, may reach a natural must weight of around 50 °Oechsle, while some grape varieties in the san joaquin valley of California can easily reach 30 °Brix, as they gradually dehydrate under the intense heat. One German wine harvested at Nussdorf in the pfalz in 1971 was picked at 326 °Oechsle and was still fermenting 22 years later, having reached just 4.5% alcohol; another picked in 2011 in Rheinhessen came in at 338 °Oechsle but the volume was too small and the sugar too high to ferment.



German term for sweet reserve, the unfermented or part-fermented must much used in the 1970s and 1980s to sweeten all but the finest or driest German wines. Its use has declined considerably because germany is making an increasing proportion of dry wines (see trocken and halbtrocken) and because better producers of sweeter wines prefer to stop the fermentation while there is still some residual sugar in the wine rather than add unfermented juice.



Refers to wholesale restructuring to which most of Germany’s vineyards have been subjected since the 1950s, involving improved accessibility, grading, consolidation of growers’ highly fragmented holdings, and of course replanting. Without this restructuring, many vineyards would long since have been abandoned as not economically viable to till. But the process—which must be agreed to by a majority of landholders who share its costs with the state—is often contentious. Owners of vineyards marginally located or extremely difficult to access are offered the opportunity of opting out, and some entire vineyards have been deemed too onerously steep and rocky to be amenable to restructuring. It is largely as a result of these two situations that ancient terraces and vines, some ungrafted, remain in certain sites, especially along the saar and mosel.



Term of approbation applied to German wines from the 18th century until 1971, when its use was outlawed by the new german wine law. A wine labelled Auslese Cabinet, for instance, signified an auslese especially prized by its producer. The term was also used for precious works of art and, implying a piece worthy of enshrining in the proprietor’s cabinet, it was occasionally spelled with a K; Kabinettstück is still used in German in the sense of pièce de résistance and its cachet was borrowed by the 1971 Wine Law for the technically defined prädikat known as kabinett.


Germany- 2015

Yields across the country met the ten-year average, though they varied from region to region. In the Mosel, for instance, quality is especially promising but yields were 8% down on 2014. The Rheingau is also tipped for excellence, while reds from Baden are expected to be powerful and dark.


Germany- 2014

‘Too cold and too wet’ is the general summary for Germany in 2014. Yields were higher than the much smaller preceding vintage, but quality is surmised as 'good, bad and ugly' by Michael Schmidt, with the proviso that the better producers are inevitably the better performers.


Germany- 2013

A chill spring and fine, mild summer gave way to wet weather in September and October which proved many producers’ undoing. Astute vineyard management was essential to coax grapes to ripeness and avoid rot. Low yields and fair quality across the board.


Germany- 2012

A cool, wet summer in Germany, saved by late warmth in September and October. Yields were overall in line with long term averages, although the Mosel lost up to 25% of its crop. Quality is widely agreed to be very good indeed, and possibly the best vintage in recent memory for Spätburgunder. Dry Rieslings are excellent too, but noble sweet wines are in even smaller supply than usual.


Germany- 2011

Extremely good quality, with yields back at average after two more depressed years. There is palpable excitement about these wines, with top quality examples across the board from trocken Riesling and Spätburgunder and record-breaking noble whites.


Germany- 2010

A tricky, high-acid vintage, with low sunshine and high rain. Despite this, July was extremely hot, skewing the average temperature to well above average. Yields were devastated, but Riesling quality is nonetheless promising when in expert hands


Germany- 2009

Amongst the greatest vintages, 2009 is proving very alluring at a very early stage. The growing season was dry, warm and reliable. The wines are ripe and appealing but 12% down on volume compared to 2008.


Germany- 2008

A very late-ripening vintage marked by cool autumn temperatures. Acidities are therefore high, and only the best-exposed sites produced truly great wines. Very few botrytis wines were made, but there was a reasonable crop of Eiswein.


Germany- 2007

Unusual vintage during which a hot April and record early flowering was followed by a very cool summer but then the grapes were ripened, after a suitably extended growing season, by a very fine autumn. A distinct shortage of Kabinett.


Germany- 2006

A less than glorious summer and autumn rain bounced many growers into picking earlier than they would have liked, as rampant rot threatened. Very careful selection was needed and it is even more important than usual to stick to the top producers.


Germany- 2005

Exceptional vintage combining the luscious fruit of 2003 with the minerality and structure of 2004. Quantities were low but, to compensate growers financially, noble rot took hold very rapidly in the autumn so that large quantities of Beerenauslese and TBA were made, of especial note in the Saar.


Germany- 2004

Yet again autumn rescued the wines after a less than wonderful summer. Yields were relatively high but the wines have good crisp acidity and fine focus. Start drinking these around 2008.


Germany- 2003

Uncomfortably hot year for the Riesling vine, and even more of an assault on varieties such as Grauburgunder and Weissburgunder with their naturally lower acid levels. But some exceptional wines were made at the top of the tree.


Germany- 2002

German growers were in general much happier than their French counterparts throughout the summer but many were finally caught out by rain before harvest in October which meant that very few wines above Auslese quality resulted and the rather soft wines have aged relatively rapidly.


Germany- 2001

A very great, long-term vintage with remarkable levels of both grape ripeness (thanks to a wonderful Indian summer) and acidity (thanks to a nerve-wrackingly wet but cool September). A high proportion of botrytised sweet wines were made - in fact there was such a shortage of basic QbA wine that considerable amounts were declassified to satisfy market demand.


Germany- 2000

Very difficult vintage. Early optimism was finally dashed by September rains which severely compromised the health of the grapes. In many cases the earliest-picked grapes were the best because they were the least affected by rot. Early-picked Spätburgunders were relatively unscathed.


Germany- 1999

Everything was going so well...until the rains which began on 20 September and continued throughout the harvest. Careful selection was needed and in some cases yields were too high for real quality. Acids were generally low but some delicious wines for relatively early drinking were made by the best producers.


Germany- 1998

Despite a wet growing season the wines showed vibrant acidity and bright fruit. Eiswein was made in some quantity.


Germany- 1997

Early, large crop of very attractive wines – generally clustered around Spätlese level of ripeness, although there are some lovely Mosel Auslesen.


Germany- 1996

Attractive, lightish Mosels and southern wines with more stuffing. A very good year for Eiswein.


Germany- 1995

An unusually warm summer was followed by a cold, wet late August and September so that the bulk of wine produced was rather ordinary, but the late, great Riesling showed its stuff in the Mosel after a very warm October.


Germany- 1994

Horribly variable, but Riesling showed its class with superb quality from the good estates.


Germany- 1993

A nerve-racking year. Rain hit the early harvests but patient growers picked grapes with welcome botrytis. Some fine wines still showing well.


Germany- 1992

Not bad, particularly in the Rhine. Estates had to control yields to overcome dilution from the rains and maintain balance.


Germany- 1991

Ripe, crisp, even slightly austere wines, just the stuff for Kabinetts!


Germany- 1990

Europe's wonder year: a perfect autumn with plenty of late-picked sweet wines after a botrytis bonanza.


Germany- 1989

A phenomenal harvest. The late-harvested Rieslings show profound complexity. Probably best in the Mosel.


Germany- 1988

Overshadowed by two remarkable years, this is still an excellent vintage of elegance and fruit.


Germany- 1985

Classy and stylish, these show how well Riesling ages.


Germany- History

276-82AD: Emperor Probus believed to be the founder of viticulture in Germany.

370: Ausonius, roman author, describes the steep vineyards of Mosel in the Mosella tract.

4th-8th century: wine-growing concentrated west of the Rhine i.e. modern Pfalz & Rheinessen

Late 8th-9th century (Charlemagne era): extension of wine-growing to the Nahe valley, Mosel & Ahr.

11th-16th: rapid expansion of viticulture, via the Church, the aristocracy but individual merchants too, is helped by the recovery in population, the rise of towns. Cologne & Frankfurt dominated the trade.

11th: foundation of the Johannisberg Bendectine abbey by Archbishop Ruthard that will become Schloss Johannisberg.

Late 13th: spread of wine-growing further from main towns into Rheingau, Baden, Wurttemberg & Franken.

1500-1650: viticulture retreated from the cooler more remote valleys to focus on better sites & grape varieties before the 30 years war (early 17th) ravaged most viticultural regions

1650-1800: slow and painful recovery in most regions with a focus on quality via new sites with better-quality grapes and prevention of low potential new sites.

19th: left bank of the Rhine ceded to France -> administrative regions established & change of ownership

1815: Congress of Vienna sees Mosel becoming a province of Prussia and the wine regions changing hands and thence competing against each other. Devt of transport network (esp. railways) -> rapid development of the better wines. Wurttemberg & Franken massively down while other regions contributed to increase in quality and fruit ripeness.

1830s: Oechsle designs a scale of measuring grape sugars (-> grape ripeness) based on the density of grape juice. 1850s: creation of regional grower’s associations + state authorities push for research in quality.

1881: first appearance of Phylloxera in Ahr valley

1900-45: area under vine halved (90,000ha to 50,000ha) with wars causing damage to the trade, the vines & the export

1950-90: large increase in production due to mainly higher yields accompanied by a radical restructuring
(Flurbereinigung) with improvements to access, drainage & workability of the high quality site vineyards. 1971: German wine law introduces a quality system based on grape ripeness.


Germany: Climate and Weather

- Cool & damp continental climate w moderate rainfall (500-800mm) + long autumns both allowed by the protection of mountains & rivers.

- Important vintage variation


Germany: Soils and Typography

• Max altitude around 400m but mountain ranges (Black Forest in Baden, Haardt in Pfalz) & proximity to rivers (Rhine, Mosel & tributaries) contribute to elongate the growing season

• Most of the key regions are situated alongside river valleys (excl. Pfalz). Varied soils (slate in Mosel)


Germany: Reds

1. Spatburgunder (11%)
- 1/3 largest planting in the world w 11,000ha
- Suited for Germany as it is early ripening & retains more flavours in cooler climates
- Mainly in Baden-Wurttemberg

2. Dornfelder (8%)
- Crossing Helfensteiner x Heroldrebe
- Good depth of colour, acidity & oak affinity
- Easier to grow vs. Spatburgunder & better
resistance to rot vs. Portugieser
- Good examples in Rheinhessen & Pfalz
with velvety texture, slightly floral & a hint of sweetness

3. Portugieser (4%)
- Extremely prolific (up to 120hl/ha)
- Low acidity for easy drinking light wines
- Mainly found in Pfalz

Others: Trollinger, Regent, Merlot, Cab Sauv


Germany: White

1. Riesling (22% of all plantings)
- 2/3 of the world Riesling plantings are in GER
- Suitable in GER as has hard wood ->more resistant to frost
- Latest ripening German grape variety so needs good autumns & best exposed sites

2. Muller-Thurgau (13%)
- Crossing Madeleine Royale x Riesling developed by Dr Muller from Thurgau in 1882
- Earlier ripening vs. Riesling (safer), can be grown anywhere and produce high yields but softer wood vs. Riesling (winter damage) & susceptible to rot
- Lo yields -> elderflower aromas Hi y. -> damp cardboard aromas - 1st German grape from early 70s to 90s
- Often blended into Liebfraumilch

3. Silvaner (5%)
- Early ripener
- Medium acidity and rather neutral wines

4. Grauburgunder (5%)

5. Weissburgunder(4%)

Others: Kerner (early ripener hi sugar), Chardonnay, Sauv blc


Germany: Viticulture

• 102,000ha of vines (


Germany: Winemaking

• Fermentation in stainless steel or traditional large wood casks (Stuck in Rheingau, Fuder in Mosel)

• Chaptalisation & must enrichment allowed for all wines up to (but not) Pradikatswein level. Max +4.5% in bad years De-acidification by addition of calcium carbonate common too but permit required

• Most wines fermented to dryness to make them stable.

• Sussreserve: unfermented grape juice added before bottling to sweeten/soften acidity. Allowed for all wines incl. Pradikatswein. Juice must be from the same site, variety and quality of wine. Less common as producers prefer to stop fermentation with addition of SO2 to retain sugar level.


Germany: Wine Classifications

1. Deutscher Wein – 2% of production
- Lowest classification; must state region of production on label

2. Landwein
- Equivalent to French VdP; 17 areas specified that must be displayed on the label; trocken or halbtrocken.

3. Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) – 75% of production
- From 1 of the 13 Anbaugebiete allowed; adorns an AP number on bottle
- Region & style must be on the label; Chaptalisation allowed

4. Pradikatswein / Qualitatswein mit Pradikat – 23% of production
- From 1 Bereich within the 13 Anbaugebiete w special attributes; has AP number on the bottle
- Min must weights level vary by region e.g. Riesling Kabinett min 70 Oe Mosel vs. 76 Oe in Baden
- Chaptalisation not allowed but sweetening w Sussreserve ok.
- Different styles according to level of sugar in the must (≠final wine):

I. Kabinett
􀂃Made from grapes just ripe enough for wines with no need for enrichment; dry to medium sweet

II. Spatlese
􀂃‘Late Harvest’ i.e. picked +2 weeks after main harvest -> more concentration & flavours vs. Kabinett. 􀂃Dry to Medium sweet

III. Auslese
􀂃Select harvest i.e. hand selected of extra ripe grapes either at main or late harvest; off dry to sweet

IV. Beerenauslese
􀂃Made from individually selected grapes affect by noble rot; sweet wines; rare & expensive

V. Trockenbeerenauslese
􀂃Made from grapes that have dried on the vines and with high proportion of noble rot; min 21.5% potential alcohol; noble rot does not split the grapes

VI. Eiswein
􀂃-8C for 8h minimum on the vine before picking; grapes pressed while still frozen (higher sugar concentration); same sugar level as Beerenauslese.


Germany: Other Labeling Terms

o Trocken: max 4g/l of residual sugar and total acidity up to 9g/l as long as residual sugar +2g/l vs. acidity

o Halbtrocken: between 10 and 18g/l residual sugar

-Can only be made in Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Rheingau, Nahe; cross-regions blending not permitted
-Min 18g/l residual sugar; QbA quality level; 70% from Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Silvaner & Kerner.
-Only region of production required on the label; Represented 60% of German exports in the 80s.

o Riesling Hochgewachs
-Riesling with higher must weight vs. QbA level

o Classic
- From specific region w must weight +1% abv vs. minimum for grape & category;
- Min 12% abv w max 15g/l residual sugar; region, variety & vintage + ‘Classic’ on the label;
- Trocken & halbtrocken not allowed on label

o Selection
- From an Einzellage only;
- Min Auslese ripeness w max 12g/l residual sugar; region, variety & vintage + ‘Selection’ on the label;
- Trocken & halbtrocken not allowed on label


Germany: Geographical Areas (Large to Small)

A. Anbaugebiet (13): designated quality region; 85% of wine must come from specified region if any region

B. Bereich: group of several communes within a Anbaugebiet.

C. Grosslage: group of vineyards; often named after top vineyard/village in the group.

D. Einzellage: individual vineyard site (similar to 1er Cru / GC in France). Very high quality.

NB: a town can give its name to a Bereich, Grosslage or Einzellage e.g. Piesporter Michelsberg.


Germany: The Verband Deutscher Pradikatsweinguter (VDP)

o Growers’ association w 200 largest and most prestigious German wine estates;

o Initiated by the Mayor of Trier in 1910s; represents


Hessische Bergstrasse

Tiny region, which produce is only sold on local market.



Located in Bavaria (near Munchen); Hi quality full bodied Silvaner.



Neighbouring region to Baden. Produces large quantities of light fruity reds; dominated by Cooperatives.


What two wine regions were previously based in the DDR?

Sachen and Saale-Unstrut


Germany: Production and Business

• Average: 9-10m hl (Europe’s #4 biggest producers)

• 75% of wine produced by co-operative cellars.

• Key producers:
o Weingut Dr Loosen – Mosel
- One of the largest Mosel producer w 70,000btls/yr; famous for the quality of his Rieslings
- Run by Ernst Loosen; committed from the start to boost quality in all his top sites & sustainable and organic viticulture; Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Erste Lage Riesling one of the flagship wines; also owns Villa Wolf.

o Schloss Schónborn – Rheingau
- 50ha estate owned by the noble Schonborn for centuries; vineyards dispersed. Known for top sweet wines.

o Weingut Gunderloch - Rheinhessen
- Owns vineyards in top Nierstein sites; traditional winemaking (low yields, no cultivated yeasts) & unusually long aging in cask for complex Rieslings, from dry to lusciously sweet. Jean Baptiste is the export wine.

o Weingut Dr Burklin-Wolf - Pfalz
- Large private estate w vineyards in most top sites of Mittelhaardt; rebuilt reputation on dry Rieslings (≠sweet wines) after quality dropped in the 80s; biodynamic since 05;

• Vintages:
- 2010: poor crop due to bad weather conditions
- 2009/11/12: more typical years
NB: hi crops does not mean lower quality (e.g. 1982 – largest ever and good quality)

• Mature local market:
- Dominated by multiples (Aldi – 25%) w hi price sensitivity & limited growth opportunity
- Per capita consumption: 25l/yr; mainly red (63%)



The most popular German cross, bred in 1956 by August Herold, who had unwisely already assigned his name to one of its parents, the lesser heroldrebe, and so Dornfelder owes its name to the 19th-century founder of the Württemberg viticultural school. A helfensteiner×Heroldrebe cross, Dornfelder incorporates every important red wine vine grown in Germany somewhere in its genealogy and happily seems to have inherited many more of their good points than their bad. The wine is notable for its depth of colour (useful in a country where pigments are at a premium), its good acidity, and, in some cases, its ability to benefit from barrique ageing and even to develop in bottle. Producing wines that are velvety textured, slightly floral, and sometimes with just a hint of sweetness, Dornfelder is easier to grow than Spätburgunder, has much better resistance to rot than Portugieser, stronger stalks than Trollinger, better ripeness levels than either, earlier ripening than Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), and a yield that can easily reach 120 hl/ha (6.8 tons/acre) (although quality-conscious producers are careful to restrict productivity). It is hardly surprising that it continues to do well in most German wine regions, especially Rheinhessen and the Pfalz, where results are particularly appetizing. Germany’s total plantings had reached a national total of 8,197 ha/20,246 acres by 2012.



A moderately hard, very fine-grained metamorphic rock (see geology), the result of the burial of pre-existing rocks such as mudstone, shale, and volcanic tuff, with a marked propensity to cleave into thin sheets. With increased metamorphism, slate becomes schist.

Slate is found, for example, in the Cederberg Mountains, south africa, and the clare valley, South Australia. It is particularly celebrated in Germany’s mosel and rhine regions, where it makes famously stony slopes and is thought to hold moisture and heat and radiate warmth at night.



Is the French name for the eastern European variety known in German as silvaner (under which name details of all non-French plantings appear). In France, it is practically unknown outside alsace, where it was the most planted vine in the lower, flatter, more fertile vineyards of the Bas-Rhin until Riesling overtook it in the 1990s. Total plantings had fallen to 1,237 ha/3,055 acres by 2011.

Sylvaner may be an old vine and, at one time, an extremely important one in Germany at least, but in Alsace many of the wines are dull, even if quite full bodied with good acidity (unlike many Pinot Blancs). Only specific terroirs such as the Grand Cru Zotzenberg and old vines manage to imbue Alsace Sylvaner with as exciting a character as the best franken Silvaners.



The most successful german cross which, because of its Riesling-like wines, is still planted on 3,030 ha/7,484 acres of Germany, mainly in Pfalz and Rheinhessen. It is also relatively popular in Württemberg, where it was bred from a red parent trollinger (Schiava Grossa) × Riesling. The large white berries produce wines commendably close to Riesling in flavour except for their own leafy, sometimes candied and mawkish, aroma and slightly coarser texture. It is a cross which does not need to be subsumed in the blending vat but can produce respectable varietal wines, up to quite high prädikat levels, on its own account. Kerner is popular with growers as well as wine drinkers because of its late budding and therefore good frost resistance. The mere 82 ha/202 acres of Kerner noted in Italy’s 2010 vine census produce some widely admired wines in Alto Adige. It is also planted in Switzerland, England, Canada, quite successfully in japan, and to a very limited extent in South Africa.



Is the chief German synonym for pinot noir and the grape variety that experienced the most dramatic rise in popularity in Germany in the 1990s. Such is German enthusiasm for red wine that Germany’s total plantings increased from 3,400 ha/8,400 acres in 1980 to more than 11,000 ha by 2003 at which level it has remained. There is considerable dispute over the vine’s importance in Germany during the Middle Ages but in modern times, until the late 1980s, it was cultivated largely in parts of the rheingau (notably Assmannshausen) where it owes its toehold to the same 13th-century Cistercian monks responsible for its rise to fame in the Côte d’Or, and along the steep slate slopes of the ahr. Then the typical Spätburgunder was pale, sweetish (and all too often tinged with rot-related odours). Today it is at least as deep coloured, dry alcoholic, and well structured as a red burgundy, thanks to much lower yields, longer maceration, barrel maturation, and climate change. For many years demand in Germany was so strong that very little Spätburgunder was exported but the best bottles of the Ahr, Baden, and Pfalz, in particular, are increasingly appreciated abroad too.



Waning white grape variety which could fairly be said to have been the bane of German wine production but which is at long last on the wane there. This cross was developed in 1882 for entirely expedient reasons by a Dr Hermann Müller, born in the Swiss canton of Thurgau but then working at the German viticultural station at geisenheim. His understandable aim was to combine the quality of the great riesling grape with the viticultural reliability, particularly the early ripening, of the silvaner. Most of the variety’s synonyms (Rivaner in Luxembourg and Slovenia, Riesling-Sylvaner in New Zealand and Switzerland, Rizlingszilvani in Hungary) reflect this combination. Late-20th-century dna profiling by researchers at geilweilerhof established that the variety is actually Riesling × Madeleine Royale, a now extinct table grape of unknown parentage obtained from a cross made in 1845. The variety is all too short on Riesling characteristics, typically smelling vaguely peachy with a fat, flaccid mid-palate, too often with a slight suspicion of rot, to which its rather large, thin-skinned berries are prone. The vine certainly ripens early, even earlier than Silvaner. Unlike Riesling, it can be grown anywhere, producing prodigious quantities (sometimes double Riesling’s common yield range of 80 to 110 hl/ha (4.6–6.3 tons/acre)) of extremely dull, flabby wine. Müller-Thurgau was not embraced by Germany’s growers until after the Second World War, when the need to rebuild the industry fast presumably gave this productive, easily grown vine allure. In the early 1970s, it even overtook the great Riesling in total area planted (having for some time produced far more wine in total) and remained in that position throughout the 1980s. Typically blended with a little of a more aromatic variety such as morio-muskat and with a great deal of süssreserve, Müller-Thurgau was transformed into oceans of qba sugarwater labelled either liebfraumilch or one of the internationally recognized names such as Niersteiner, Bernkasteler, or Piesporter (see grosslagen). But by the late 1990s, Riesling was once again Germany’s most planted grape variety although at more than 13,000 ha in 2012, total plantings of Müller-Thurgau in Germany are arguably still (too?) significant. The wood is much softer than Riesling’s and can easily be damaged by hard winters. The grapes rot easily (as can be tasted in a number of examples from less successful years), and the vine is susceptible to downy mildew, black rot, and, its own bane, rotbrenner, but it will presumably continue to flourish while there is a market for cheap German wine. Outside Germany it can be much more exciting. In northern Italy’s alto adige, where extensive acreage of ancient vines testifies to the promotional success by early proponents of Dr Müller’s cross, bottlings from easily a score of today’s best domaines and grower co-operatives testify to the refinement, minerality, complexity and sheer refreshment value that is possible with Müller-Thurgau—just not, it seems, in Germany. Most of the best Alto Adige wines are grown on very steep, stony, high-elevation sites of which Tiefenbrünner’s Feldmarschall is an extreme example. Italy’s total area planted in 2010 was 1,312 ha/3,242 acres. The variety thrives all over central and eastern Europe. It is planted, appropriately enough, in switzerland, playing an increasingly important role in the vineyards of the German-speaking area in the north and east. In austria (sometimes called Rivaner) total area planted had fallen to 1,972 ha by 2012, mainly in Weinviertel where it makes generally light, inconsequential wines. Across Austria’s southern border, it is also grown as Rizvanec, in eastern slovenia and is even more important to the east and north of Austria in the czech republic and hungary. As Rizlingszilvani, it covers thousands of hectares of vineyard around Lake Balaton and produces lakesful of flabby Badacsonyi Rizlingszilvani. In the 1970s Müller-Thurgau was planted enthusiastically by New Zealand grape growers on the recommendation of visiting German experts as a preferable substitute for the hybrids that were all too prevalent in the country’s nascent wine industry but ‘Riesling-Sylvaner’ has now virtually disappeared. Elsewhere in the New World, most growers are not driven by the need for early-ripening varieties (and would find the flab in the resultant wine a distinct disadvantage), although some Oregon growers have experimented successfully with it, and credible examples have been produced in the Puget sound vineyards of western Washington state. Northern Europe’s two smallest and coolest wine producers, england and luxembourg, have in their time depended heavily on Müller-Thurgau, called Rivaner in Luxembourg.



Former research institute for viticulture, horticulture, beverage technology, and landscape architecture and, since 2013, known properly as Hochschule Geisenheim University. Founded in 1872 by Eduard von Lade to improve the science of growing fruit, particularly apples, it has continued a tradition of combining education with applied research. In 1876 Professor Müller joined Geisenheim as a biologist and in 1882 developed the cross müller-thurgau, which later became one of the most planted in Germany.

Today research in viticulture and oenology focuses on environmental stress effects on grapevine physiology and fruit maturation, with particular emphasis on the possible effects of climate change on viticulture and on biotic stresses such as diseases; quantifying ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions from viticultural soils; studying the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on all aspects related to grapevine development and fruit quality; the development of new biological and technological strategies to minimize the use of pesticides in both organic and conventional viticulture; molecular and physiological studies of pests and diseases; secondary metabolites formed during fruit development, focusing on aromatic precursors and phenolics and their dynamics during fruit processing and winemaking; water stress and the use of new technologies to guide irrigation for grapes and horticultural crops; molecular and traditional genetics, including vine breeding for disease resistance, clonal selection for improved quality and vine health, plant regeneration in vitro, research on the adaptation of rootstocks to different soil and climate conditions, the genetics of phylloxera resistance and of yeast and bacteria, and the detection of genetically modified organisms; all aspects of wine microbiology; steep-slope viticulture (see hillside vineyards) and the development of new technologies for mechanization such as remote sensing, global positioning systems in machine guidance, efficient soil water management, as well as an economic evaluation of vineyard management under these conditions; new technologies in juice and wine production and their effects on wine ageing; the allergenic potential of wine additives; and alcohol management in the vineyard and winery. Other areas of activity include identifying and describing objective parameters for wine quality as well as developing criteria for cork and alternative closures. Other studies focus on wine economics and market research, including studies on consumer preferences, the dynamics of the global wine market, success factors in marketing, enterprise management, and economic analyses of different segments of the wine industry.



Black grape variety common in both senses of that word in both Austria and Germany, its name suggesting completely unsubstantiated Portuguese origins. The vigorous, precocious vine is extremely prolific, easily producing 120 hl/ha (almost 7 tons/acre), thanks to its good resistance to coulure, of pale, low-acid red that, thanks to robust enrichment, can taste disconcertingly inconsequential to non-natives. Blauer Portugieser is synonymous with dull, thin red in lower austria, where it is particularly popular with growers in Pulkautal, Retz, and the Thermenregion. It covers about 1,500 ha of vineyard and is the country’s third most planted dark-berried vine variety after zweigelt and blaufränkisch. Such wines are rarely exported, with good reason, and are only rarely worthy of detailed study. Brought from Austria in the 19th century, Germany’s everyday black grape variety Portugieser overtook even spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) in the 1970s in terms of total plantings, thanks to the prevailing German thirst for red wine regardless of its quality. By 2012 Portugieser’s total area had fallen to 3,825 ha/9,448 acres, (Spätburgunder’s was almost 12,000 ha), mainly in Rheinhessen and pfalz, where a high proportion is encouraged to produce vast quantities of pink weissherbst. The variety is so easy to grow, however, that it has spread throughout central Europe and beyond (as portugais Bleu it was once grown widely in south western France). It was ingeniously named Oportó or Kékoportó (kék meaning ‘blue’) in romania and hungary, where its total area has fallen to below 600 ha but in the red wine region of Villány it can yield wines of real concentration in the right hands. It is also grown in northern Croatia as Portugizac Crni, or Portugaljka.



German synonym for pinot gris used for the increasingly popular dry wines made from this grape in Germany.(Sweeter wines are sometimes labelled ruländer.) Its success in producing spicy, full-bodied dry wine accounts for the marked increase in total area planted with the variety in Germany: its 5,402 ha/13,343 acres by 2012, an increase of 90% since 2000 make it the country’s fourth most planted white wine grape and far more popular than Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc). Only Italy grows more of this grape variety (see pinot grigio) than Germany. It needs a good site with deep, heavy soils to maximize the impressive level of extract of which it is capable. It is a particularly popular speciality of the warm baden region, although there are more than a thousand hectares in both rheinhessen and pfalz, too.


Pinot Blanc

French white vine variety, member of the pinot family and particularly associated with alsace, where most of its French 1,245 ha/3,075 acres in 2011 were to be found. It was first observed in Burgundy at the end of the 19th century, a white mutation of pinot gris, which is itself a lighter-berried version of pinot noir. Although its base is Burgundian, today it is found all over central Europe. For many years no distinction was made between Pinot Blanc and chardonnay since the two varieties can look very similar. No Pinot Blanc is notable for its piercing aroma; its perfume arrives in a cloud. Most wines based on Pinot Blanc are also relatively full bodied, which has undoubtedly helped reinforce the confusion with Chardonnay, not only in Burgundy but also in north east Italy, where it is known as pinot bianco. Although Chardonnay dominates white burgundy, Pinot Blanc is technically allowed into wines labelled bourgogne Blanc and into some white mâcon, but is no longer grown in any quantity in Burgundy. Even in Alsace, Pinot Blanc’s French stronghold, it is less important in terms of total area planted than Riesling, Silvaner, or even the white auxerrois with which it is customarily blended in Alsace, to be sold as ‘Pinot Blanc’. In luxembourg, on the other hand, the higher acidity of Pinot Blanc makes it less highly regarded than Auxerrois. While in Alsace it is regarded as something of a workhorse (and sometimes called Clevner or Klevner), it has been generally held in much higher esteem by the Germans, who have a much greater area planted, up to 4,449 ha/10,989 acres by 2012, than the French (although less in total than they have of the Pinot Gris they call Grauburgunder). Under the fashionable name Weissburgunder, it is now Germany’s fifth most planted white wine cultivar, with vinous personalities ranging from the full, rich, oaked examples of Baden and the Pfalz to relatively delicate, mineral-inflected variations along the Nahe and Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, and with quality aspirations ranging from a workaday norm to occasional brilliance. It is popular with growers seeking food-friendly wines that are softer than Riesling and can show local characters. As pinot bianco it is a popular dry white in Italy and is also grown in Switzerland but it is in Austria that, as Weissburgunder, the variety reaches some of its greatest must weights. Also the fifth most planted white wine grape on a total of nearly 2,000 ha/5,000 acres in 2012, it is grown in all regions. As a dry white varietal, Weissburgunder is associated with an almond-like scent, medium to high alcohol, and an ability to age, but it has achieved its greatest glory in Austria in ultra-rich, botrytized trockenbeerenauslese form, often blended, typically with welschriesling (acting out the respective parts of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc in Sauternes, according to top practitioner Alois Kracher of Burgenland). Pinot Blanc is widely disseminated over eastern Europe. In Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia, it is widely grown and may be called Beli (White) Pinot. It is also grown in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and is widely used in Hungary to produce full-bodied, rather anodyne dry whites more suitable for export than indigenous varieties. Vinegrowers in the New World recognize that Pinot Blanc has lacked Chardonnay’s glamour but there were still 444 acres/180 ha in 2012 of a variety called Pinot Blanc in California, mainly in Monterey, usually treated to barrel ageing and the full range of Chardonnay winemaking tricks, to creditable effect. Older vines bearing this name are almost certainly not Pinot Blanc but the Muscadet grape melon (now proven to be another member of the extended Pinot family). Viticulturally, if not necessarily commercially, Pinot Blanc seems particularly well adapted to the Okanagan Valley in Washington state. Elsewhere in the New World, Pinot Blanc is largely ignored in favour of the most famous white wine grape.



Common name in Ancient rome for the classical god of wine whom the Greeks called Bacchos but, more usually, dionysus. There was no official Roman festival of Bacchus: the Roman Senate suppressed the Bacchanalia in 186 bc because it saw them not only as a danger to the state, but also as a bacchanal in the modern sense, a scene of drunkenness and sexual licence. Bacchic poetry is verse with a vinous theme, a speciality of the arab poets. Because the Romans concentrated on the vinous aspect of this much more complex god, and possibly because the word Bacchus is considerably easier to say and spell than Dionysus, the Roman name is much more commonly used in modern times, and is regarded as a word rich in wine connotations. The United States has its Society of Bacchus for committed wine enthusiasts, and the word is used emotively around the world to conjure up various conjunctions of wine and pleasure.Dalby, A., Bacchus. A Biography (Los Angeles, 2003).

Bacchus is also the name of one of the most important german crosses. It was bred from a Silvaner×Riesling cross and the lacklustre müller-thurgau and in good years can provide growers in Germany with musts notching up the all-important numbers on the oechsle scale as well as powerful flavours and character, and is therefore useful for blending with Müller-Thurgau. Unlike the more aristocratic and more popular cross kerner, however, the wine produced lacks acidity and is not even useful for blending with high-acid musts in poor years since it too needs to be fully ripe before it can express its own exuberant flavours. Bacchus’s great allure for growers, however, is that it can be planted on sites on which Riesling is an unreliable ripener and will ripen as early and as productively as Müller-Thurgau. Total plantings in Germany reached a peak of around 3,500 ha/8,650 acres in 1990, about half in Rheinhessen, where its substance is valued as an ingredient in qba blends. This total had fallen to 1,841 ha/4,547 acres by 2012. In the UK, Bacchus is valued for its must weights and is the second most planted white grape after Chardonnay. With the UK’s generally lower yields and higher natural acid levels, it does not suffer from the flabbiness of warmer climate examples.



Is the one early-20th-century german cross that deserves attention from any connoisseur, and the only one named after the prolific vine breeder Georg Scheu, the original director of the viticultural institute at Alzey in Rheinhessen. Sometimes called simply Scheu, it was developed with specific, sandy, Rheinhessen soils around Dienheim in mind but has achieved its greatest popularity in the pfalz. dna profiling in 2012 showed that it is a cross of Riesling and Bukettrebe, a white-berried Silvaner x Schiava Grossa cross. It is much more than a riper, more productive replica of Riesling. Provided it reaches full maturity (like other such German crosses as bacchus and ortega it is distinctly unappetizing if picked too early), Scheurebe wines have their own exuberant, racy flavours of blackcurrants or even rich grapefruit. It is one of the few varietal parvenus countenanced by quality-conscious German wine producers, not just because it can easily reach high prädikat levels of ripeness, but because these are so delicately counterbalanced with the nerve of acidity—perhaps not quite so much as in an equivalent Riesling—but enough to preserve the wine for many years in bottle. Furthermore, for all its inherent aromatic exuberance, Scheurebe also follows its parent Riesling in reflecting soil and mesoclimate, generating some striking and site-typical variations not just in the Pfalz, but in Franken, and in rare instances along the Nahe, and around Boppart in the Mittelrhein. Despite its distinct virtues and distinctive flavours, Scheurebe has been in steady decline in Germany over recent decades, slipping to 1,503 ha/3,712 acres by 2012, of which more than half were in Rheinhessen. This may be because it is associated with sweet wine, which is unfashionable in Germany but such prejudice seems unwarranted. Estates such as Müller-Catoir, Pfeffingen, and Lingenfelder in the Pfalz and Wirsching in Franken have for more than 20 years vinified impressive, full-bodied dry Scheurebe. (Dr Becker even makes a respectable sparkling version in Scheurebe’s home base in Dienheim.) The variety is also grown in southern Austria, where it is known as sämling 88 and can make fine sweet wines such as those of Alois Kracher. It is also planted to a very limited extent elsewhere.



Name applied both to white-berried and pink-berried non-aromatic clones of the more famous, distinctly aromatic, pink-skinned grape variety gewürztraminer or Traminer Aromatico (see also savagnin). All are known in various parts of the world, particularly in central and eastern Europe, by names which are derivations of the word Traminer.



Is the most common German name for the distinctly ordinary black grape variety known as schiava in Italy, vernatsch in the Tyrol, and Black Hamburg by many who grow and buy table grapes. It almost certainly originated in what is now the Italian Tyrol (see alto adige) and its German name is a corruption of Tirolinger. In Germany, it is associated exclusively with württemberg, where it has been cultivated since the 14th century (see german history). This southern region’s 2,350 ha/5,804 acres sufficed as of 2003 to sustain the variety’s position as Germany’s fourth most planted red wine vine, a rather astonishing statistic when one considers that virtually all of the resultant pale red is drunk by thirsty Württembergers.



Is the marginal dark-berried german cross to which the prolific breeder August Herold of the Weinsberg in Württemberg put his name. This portugieser × lemberger cross yields regularly and prolifically, about 140 hl/ha (8 tons/acre), but ripens so late that it is suitable only for Germany’s warmer regions, particularly the Pfalz. Total plantings had fallen to 133 ha by 2012. It spawned dornfelder.


Morio- Muskat

Is Germany’s most popular muscat-like vine variety by far, although it is almost certainly unrelated to any Muscat. The precise identity of Peter Morio’s german cross remains a mystery but its obvious grapiness is not. It was particularly popular with the eager blenders of the pfalz and rheinhessen in the late 1970s, when its total German area reached 3,000 ha/7,410 acres, and demand for liebfraumilch was high: a drop of Morio-Muskat in a neutral blend of Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner was the cheapest way of Germanizing it. Total plantings are falling fast, however, and Germany had only 488 ha by 2012 as this aggressively blowsy cross has undoubtedly had its day. The grapes can rot easily and ripen a week after Müller-Thurgau, which means that bacchus can be a better alternative for Germany’s cooler northern wine regions.



Increasingly rare, late-ripening Silvaner × Riesling cross that was grown on a total of 82 ha of Franken and Pfalz in southern Germany in 2012. Provided it can reach full ripeness, it can produce wines with race and curranty fruit.



Modern German vine cross grown principally, like certain giant vegetables, by exhibitionists, Sieger meaning ‘champion’. In Germany it can break, indeed has broken, records for its ripeness levels, but the flabby white wine it produces is so rich and oppressively musky that it is usually a chore to drink. It was bred from savagnin rose and madeleine angevine and has been known to reach double the Oechsle reading required for a trockenbeerenauslese. Total German plantings had blessedly dwindled by 2012 to under 100 ha/250 acres in Pfalz and Rheinhessen. The variety has also been used to bolster some blends in england, Switzerland, Washington state, and British Columbia.



Was once popular as an oechsle booster in German wines, especially with the blenders of Rheinhessen. This cross of Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe produces extremely full-flavoured wines that often lack acidity but can reach high must weights, if not quite as high as the equally early-ripening but less widely planted optima. Varietal wines are made, but a little goes a long way. The vine does not have good disease resistance, however, and its susceptibility to coulure and rot leaves Optima the more obvious choice for the Mosel. Germany’s total plantings dropped from around 1,200 ha/2,960 acres in the the late 1980s to 561 ha in 2012. The variety is also quite popular in england, for obvious reasons.



Historic white grape variety today most commonly planted in German-speaking switzerland, where it can produce fine, crisp wines. In the Middle Ages, it was very widely cultivated in Germany, particularly Baden (see german history). dna profiling has shown it is a natural gouais blanc x savagnin cross.



Is an early-21st-century German vine cross that enjoys some popularity both in Germany and, on a much smaller scale, in england. Although like scheurebe and faberrebe it was actually bred by Georg Scheu at Alzey, this cross takes its name from its chief propagator, nurseryman Fritz Huxel. It was bred in 1927 from gutedel (Chasselas) and Courtillier Musqué (which is also an antecedent of the popular hybrid maréchal foch). The cross is capable of producing enormous quantities of rather ordinary wine—so enormous in fact that the vines can collapse under the strain. If pruned carefully, however, and planted on an average to good site, it can easily reach Auslese must weights even in an ordinary year and produce a fulsome if not exactly subtle wine redolent of honey, musk, and raisins for reasonably early consumption. In England, its ripeness is a useful counterbalance to naturally high acidity. In Germany, it is grown almost exclusively in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen and, although it continues to lose ground, there were still 548 ha/1,354 acres in 2012. Gysler and Seehof manage to spin gold from it.



White grape variety whose geisenheim creator Heinrich Birk maintained it was the first eu cross, with French, Italian, and German antecedents. In 1939 he developed this cross of müller-thurgau with a cross of the French table grape madeleine angevine and the Italian Early Calabrese. Its antecedents are hardly noble and both wine and vine most closely resemble its undistinguished German parent, but Reichensteiner with its looser bunches is less prone to rot and well-pruned plants stand a good chance of reaching prädikatswein must weights in good years. Just 70 ha remained in Germany in 2012 but it has also been planted in England and to a limited extent in Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, and British Columbia.



Is one of the more frost-resistant better german crosses, developed at geisenheim in 1929. Although it was said to be a riesling×silvaner cross, dna profiling has shown that the latter is not one of its parents. It is not nearly as versatile in terms of site as kerner, which became a more obvious choice as a flexible Riesling substitute. Total German plantings of Ehrenfelser had fallen to 67 ha/165 acres by 2012, mainly in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen.



Also called Optima 113, is a 1970 german cross, of a Silvaner×Riesling with Müller-Thurgau. It ripens very early indeed, sometimes more than ten days before Müller-Thurgau, and can notch up impressive ripeness readings, even if the wines themselves are flabby and undistinguished. It will grow on some of the poorest of sites and has been regarded as a useful but ignoble blending ingredient. Its late budding makes it popular in the Mosel and it is also grown in Rheinhessen. Germany’s plantings of Optima reached a peak of 420 ha/1,037 acres in 1990 but had declined, unlamented, to 45 ha by 2012.



Particularly successful dark-skinned disease-resistant variety bred at geilweilerhof in Germany and first registered in 1989. This complex hybrid of a silvaner×müller-thurgau cross with chambourcin makes wine with good colour, moderate acidity, and it reaches full ripeness easily. It is already grown on a total of more than 2,000 ha/5,000 acres in Germany, particularly Rheinhessen and Pfalz, and is also planted in Switzerland, England, Belgium, and Scandinavia.



Pink-berried, late-budding, rot-prone german cross of Gewürztraminer and Müller-Thurgau that can still be found in franken and, very occasionally England.



Is a 1940 cross of Silvaner × Gutedel (Chasselas) that has declined in importance even in Baden, where all its 56 ha/138 acres grew in 2012. Wines are relatively neutral.



Is a Gewürztraminer×Müller-Thurgau cross made at the German viticultural station of Alzey in 1932 and only planted in any significant quantity in the 1980s, peaking in 1995 at 121 ha/300 acres, mainly in Rheinhessen. Planted on only 61 ha/150 acres in 2012, it is overpoweringly heady, yields well, but a little goes a very long way indeed.



Müller-Thurgau × Silvaner cross bred at Alzey in 1927 of which only 31 ha/77 acres remained in 2012 because it does not yield well.



Pink-berried 1979 german cross with Pinot Noir, Chasselas Rose, and Muscat of Hamburg among its antecedents which has been more useful to the wine industry of england than to its native Germany, where it is hardly grown, although English plantings have been declining. Its wines are white, low in acid, and relatively full bodied.



White wine grape grown to a limited extent in the mosel. Possibly related to müller-thurgau.



White grape variety and one of the german crosses. A few vines linger, mainly in rheinhessen.



Is a 1951 Rieslaner × Silvaner vine cross grown to a very limited extent in Germany, notably Rheinhessen and the Pfalz. It inherits from Rieslaner both a firm core of acidity and good rot resistance while dehydrating to must weights above spätlese. The wine can smell more like a red, with black fruits and floral aromas, and Wittmann in Westhoven has high prices and complex old bottles to testify to the potential of this exotic but rare variety.



Is a very minor white-berried german cross bred from Müller-Thurgau × Chasselas Napoleon which has had some success in sheltered sites of england. Its main attribute is its ability to ripen in cool climates.



A rot-prone disease-resistant variety, a cross of bacchus and villard Blanc which produces attractive, herbaceous, elderflower-scented wine in England with a minimum of spraying. Despite its parentage, it produces remarkably vinifera-like wine so has been registered as a V. vinifera variety. Consequently, it may be used in the production of uk quality wine. Very little is grown in Germany.



Is famous principally as a parent of dornfelder, the more successful German red wine cross. The cross of frühburgunder × trollinger has all but disappeared, even from Württemberg.



Modern red cross of Portugieser × Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) that combines combines the productivity of the first with the ripeness, tannins, and colour of the second, if not its finesse and fruit. The total vineyard area in Germany, mainly Franken, had reached 388 ha/958 acres by 2012.



Once known as GM6494–5, red-fleshed disease-resistant variety grown to a limited extent in such northern European countries as denmark, england, netherlands, sweden, belgium, and poland, where it is treasured for its combination of early ripening and depth of colour. It was bred using some vitis amurensis genes to withstand cold winters, has small berries and makes light, fruity wines. It can occasionally suffer powdery mildew, however. Despite its parentage, it produces remarkably vinifera-like wine so has been registered as a V. vinifera variety. Consequently, it may used in the production of quality wine.


Disease-Resistant Varieties

Semantically expedient term for grapevines introduced by the German Bundessortenamt (Plant Variety Rights Office) in 1995 that were bred specifically to produce wines that taste like vinifera yet meet consumer demands for reductions in agrochemical use by incorporating some non-V. vinifera genes for resistance to various common vine diseases. The term replaces the previously pejorative terms hybrids or interspecific hybrids for some of their most promising results of vine breeding. The German term is Pilzwiderstandsfähige Rebsorten.

There had been substantial bias against such new varieties, especially those including genes from american vine species, because of historical associations with poor wine quality and foxy flavours. The bureaucratic hurdle of the eu’s ban on non-V. vinifera vines for quality wine (designed initially to exclude the old american hybrids and French hybrids) was bypassed by classifying these new disease-resistant varieties as V. vinifera subspecies sativa.

Merzling, the product of Seyve-Villard 5–276 and a Riesling × Ruländer cross, was the first variety so registered, and other German-bred varieties such as phoenix, rondo, orion, regent, Bronner, Johanniter, Saphira, Prinzipal, Hibernal, and Bolero have followed, all registered as Vitis vinifera. Thanks to this creative taxonomy, these disease-resistant varieties can be grown for quality wine production, though they still have to be registered for quality wine production in any given EU region. The Swiss are very proud of their new variety Divico, a gamaret × bronner cross said to be resistant to downy and powdery mildews and to grey rot.



Scale of measuring grape sugars, and therefore grape ripeness, based on the density of grape juice. Grape juice with a specific gravity of 1.075 is said to be 75 °Oechsle. This is the system used in Germany and it has its origins in a system of weighing grape must developed first by the Württemberg scientist J. J. Reuss, but much refined in the 1830s by the Pforzheim physicist Ferdinand Oechsle (see german history).

Like other scales used elsewhere (see baumé and brix), it can be measured with a suitably calibrated refractometer or hydrometer. A similar scale, devised at klosterneuburg, is used in Austria.

Each scale of sugar measurement relates to the others. For example, a grape juice of 14.7 °Brix has a specific gravity of 1.06 and an Oechsle value of (1.06−1.0)×1000=60. According to published scales, these relationships are not strict ones; see nomograms in Hamilton and Coombe.


German Crosses

An important group of vine varieties that are the result of vine breeding, an activity that was particularly vigorous in the first half of the 20th century but which continues to this day, most notably at geisenheim and geilweilerhof.

The man who bred Germany’s first commercially successful modern cross was in fact Swiss, Dr Hermann Müller (see müller-thurgau), whose eponymous vine variety was to become the most planted in Germany in the second half of the 20th century, almost 100 years after it was developed. A succession of new crosses followed in the 20th century, notably from research institutes at Geisenheim, Geilweilerhof, Alzey, Würzburg, and Freiburg, producing a large number of new varieties usually designed to achieve the high must weights encouraged by the german wine law. The most successful white wine varieties, in descending order of area planted in Germany at the beginning of the 21st century, are kerner, bacchus, scheurebe, faber(rebe), huxelrebe, ortega, morio-muskat, reichensteiner, ehrenfelser, siegerrebe, optima, and regner. Others include perle, nobling, würzer, kanzler, schönburger, freisamer, findling, rieslaner, juwel, albalonga, and, more popular in England than Germany, gutenborner and phoenix. Few of these crosses make distinctive, attractive, and characterful wines, although Kerner, Ehrenfelser and, particularly, Scheurebe and Rieslaner can make fine wines if sufficiently ripe. More typically, the vines have been planted to yield good quantities of high must weight wines.

Successful German crosses for red wine include dornfelder, heroldrebe, and helfensteiner, bred by Dr August Herold in the 1950s, as well as a host of others bred usually for their colour, often using red-fleshed teinturiers, including regent, domina, Deckrot, dunkelfelder, Dacapo, Carmina, Sulmer, and Kolor. rondo has proved very popular in England.


Sterile bottling

Is the technique of getting wine into a closed bottle without incorporating any micro-organisms (notably yeast and harmful bacteria). Borrowed from the pharmaceutical packaging industry, this technique does the job of pasteurization without the use of heat. Aseptic techniques have become the norm for wine bottling because the use of membrane filters (see filtration) has made the task very simple. Many everyday modern wines have small amounts of residual sugar and therefore require bottling in an aseptic manner, but the degree of care needed depends upon the levels of residual sugar and alcohol.

An aseptic bottling line involves the creation of a clean room, modifying the usual equipment so that it may be sterilized easily. The room is kept under a slight positive pressure of filtered air and entry is restricted to the few specially trained and clothed personnel required. Micro-organisms are removed from the wine by sterile filtration using membranes, and the corks or other closures are sterilized by gaseous sulfur dioxide or other chemical sterilizing agents such as peracetic acid. The bottling and corking machines are usually sterilized by steam, or by chemical sterilants. Frequent sample bottles are removed at random for microbiological analysis, and each bottling run is held in storage until it is certain that no organisms are growing.



Pinot Blanc



Pinot Gris


Technically there is two sets of wine laws in Germany....

The actual German wine laws and also the VDP (or Quality Growers Association)


In terms of production Germany....

Has less acres/ hectares under vine than Bordeaux. Far less.


Germany's production is only...

25% of France's


German Riesling accounts for?

About 22% of hectares under vine. It is made in a variety of styles and levels of sweetness


Muller- Thurgau used to be the most planted grape in Germany. Now...

It is mainly reserved for Blends or jug wines.


Silvaner- Germany

Originally from Alsace (spelt differently). Mainly in Franconia. A famous producer is Hans Wirsching.


Scheurbe- Germany

A Riesling- Silvaner cross, that seems to be like Gewurz and Riesling. Onthe decrease.


Weissburgunder- Germany

Pinot Blanc. Really increasing since the post sweet wine era. Increased in the last 15 years.


Spatsburgunder- Germany

German Pinot noir is now third in plantings of the grape worldwide. It has fast become a favourite the world over because the Germans are doing it so well.


The Oschsle Scale

The specific gravity or density of grape juice is compared to a similar amount of water. The difference- as in grape sugar and solids- is measured in degrees ochsle. Every quality level of German wine- from lowest to highest- has minimum oschle requirements.


Village- vineyard names (Germany)

Much like Burgundy top German Wines are labelled by both the village and vineyard of their origin. I.e. Bernkastler Doctor from the Mosel, Bernkastel is the name of the village and Doctor the name of the vineyard. German usually add "er" to the name of the vineyard.


AMP Number

Every German quality wine must undergo Government tasting panel approval before commercial release.  After approval each wine is assigned an 11 digit tracking number of sorts called an AMP number (amtliche prüfungsnummer).  The numbers identify the bottler’s village, individual code, application number, and year of application. All very precise—and very German.


Einzellage (2,715)

a single vineyard.  Ein is the German word for “one” and—this is so completely German—there are as of last count 2,715 of them.  Yes, unlike the Italians the Germans can tell you exactly how many vineyards there are in country.  I like that about them.


Grosslage (163)

A collection of vineyards. Grosslage as an appellation dates from the 1971 changes to German wine law. It’s also arguably the Achilles heel, the major loophole, in German wine law because there is little, if any way, for a consumer to tell the difference between a wine bottled from one of the world’s great vineyards (i.e. einzellage) vs. a bottle of dreck made from a blend of less than stellar vineyard sources.


Bereich (34)

A district made up of villages and vineyards.  Also dates from the ’71 wine laws.


Anbaugebiet (13)

A major region and there are 13 of them.  Anbaugebieten can easily be compared to the likes of Tuscany, Champagne, the Douro, and Priorat in their respective countries.  The Mosel and the Rheingau are the two most historic and important anbaugebieten.


VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter)

- Originally formed in 1910

- But came into prominence when the 1971 wine laws were introduced. This made more of a focus on ripeness levels of fruit than on sense of place

- Today the VDP has just 200 members from all 13 regions. Given that over 30,000 entities grow grapes and make wine in Germany it can easily be argued that the organization is the best of its kind in the world. It also goes without saying that the VDP’s regulations and classification are far more stringent that Germany’s laws.

- Originally the VDP promoted sustainable agricultural practices and un-chaptalized wines from member producers that were featured at an annual auction. But with the passing of the ’71 laws its mission expanded and the organization fought to return the Germany’s great vineyards to their former prominence as well as the reputation of the country’s great dry wines. Over time the organization created its own classification that would seek to accomplish both. In 2002 the VDP published the first version of their classification which was updated in 2006 and again in 2012. As it now stands the classification, called “Grosse Lage” (not to be confused with the grosslage described previously), is based on the Burgundian system of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards.

- The four tiered system is as follows:
• Grosse Lage: Grand Cru vineyards
• Erste Lage: Premier Cru vineyards
• Ortsweine: village level wines
• Gutsweine: traditional estate wines

- The best dry wines from top vineyard sites are called “Grosses Gewächs,” roughly translated as Grand Cru. Wines designated as such carry a “GG” embossing on the bottle and only the name of the vineyard vs. the traditional village-vineyard combination noted above. GG wines follow far stricter regulations than typical German wines including mandatory hand harvesting, minimum must weights (Spätlese level), and lower yields (50 hectoliters per hectare).

- Each regional VDP association is now in the process of reviewing sites in its own area to determine if they will be classified at the grosse lage or erste lage levels. It’s also important to note that not all 13 regions signed off on the four tiered classification vs. the previous three tiered version from 2006. Not a surprise given the fact that the VDP is a very political organization. It’s really no different than expecting the consorzios from Chianti Classico and Cerasuolo di Vittoria to agree on anything.