German Wines

German Wines

Much of Germany’s reputation has often been based on wines made from the Riesling. However, this country has a more diverse and thriving winemaking tradition than is often thought. The northerly area of the German vineyards, has allowed it to create wines unlike any others in Europe. Traditionally the wines have been overwhelmingly white and the finest made from Riesling in sweet and semi-sweet style. However, as of late much more German white wine is being made within the dry fashion.

German wine is primarily produced in the west of Germany, along the river Rhine and its various tributaries, with some plating going back to the Roman era. Germany has around 252,000 acres of vineyard with a total wine production is usually around 10 million hectoliters annually, making Germany the ninth-largest wine-producing country in the world. With White wine accounting for almost two thirds of the total production.

Regions of Germany

The Ahr is one of Europe’s most northern wine regions and also one of the smallest in Germany. Know for its impressive wines; Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is the dominant grape variety in the  (80% of the wine of the region are made from it).

The Mosel has some of the most beautiful and recognisable wine country. Stretching from the corner of Luxemburg and France up to the Rhine. The Mosel, is Germany’s fourth largest winegrowing region with about  9,000 ha of vines, predominantly planted with Riesling vines

The Mittelrhein is a stunning region of vertical, terraced vineyards , full of  medieval castles and ruins clinging to rocky peaks amid the Rhine Gorge, making it one of the most visually recognisable wine regions. With three-quarters of the vineyards are planted with Riesling grape. This region is also know for its production of  Sekt (Sparkling Wine).

The Rheingau is one of the most famous wine regions of the world. Rich in tradition dotted with medieval castle and full of aristocratic winegrowers. The region is known for  Riesling grape and is seen as the birth place of grape ripening practices  (Prädikate).  Spätburgunder is also grown here.

The Nahe region is named after the river that flows into the Rhine.  The Nahe is one of the smaller German wine regions.  The region is able to produce varied wines from, particularly few grape varieties due to the remarkable range of soil.  Reisling, Rivaner and Silvaner thrive here.

This is Germany’s largest wine region, containing around 1/4th of German vineyards,  Steep vineyards, varied soils and the mild weather make it possible to grow a large variety of  grape. Including the world’s largest acreage planted with the ancient variety Silvaner. 

 With around 23,000 hectares of vines Pfalz is Germany’s 2nd largest wine growing region. Its climate is similar to that of Western Neighbour and it is one of warmiest of the German regions. 45 white and 22 red grape varieties are grown, with approximately 60% of the total area under vine planted with white wine grapes and 40% with red.  Pinot Noir is one of the most important red varieties grown in the Pfalz, while the region also has more Riesling grown here than anywhere else.

The smallest German wine region, it takes its name from an old Roman trade route. Riesling and Pinots are the most prized grapes in this region, producing wines similar to those of the Rheingau.

Franken is a the hilly region east of Frankfurt, that follows the Main River. Wines in Franken are distinctive for  the traditional flat, round bottle (Bocksbeutel). The region is known for stunning Silvaner wines, while its cool climate also beneifts Riesling.

Red wine dominates Württemberg but  Riesling is easily the most important white variety and the region is known for its cooperatives with more than 50 selling about 80% of all Württemberg wines.

This Germanys most southern region. Reaching around 240 miles along the  Rhine from Bodensee to Heidelberg. This is a region with a rich tradition of food and its wines reflect this. Expect dry Burgundian style Reds and Whites. Plantings of Pinot Noir as well as Rivaner vineyards along with other classic whites such as Riesling and Silvaner.

One of the countries oldest wine regions with wine have been cultivated since the 1st century. It is among the most northern of Europe’s  wine regions. With a cooler climate, and variable  weather; vines are planted on stone terraces that help temper the climate. Most of the wines here are from white varietals and vinified in a dry style.

Sachsen is the most eastern wine region, most of the vineyards are between Dresden and Diesbar-Seusslitz.  Many of the small vineyards are planted on stone terraces. The proximity of the Elbe River helps temper the climate. Gewürztraminer is a speciality here.

Grapes

  • Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
  • Frühburgunder (Pinot Noir Précoce)
  • Dornfelder
  • Portugieser
  • Trollinger
  • Schwarzriesling
  • Blauer Lemberger
  • Domina
  • Cabernet-Sauvignon
  • Regent-Traube
  • St. Laurent
  • Merlot
  • Syrah / Shiraz
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec / Côt
  • Acolon
  • Riesling
  • Müller-Thurgau (Rivaner)
  • Silvaner
  • Kerner
  • Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc)
  • Grauburgunder
  • Chardonnay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Gutedel
  • Huxelrebe
  • Elbling
  • Scheurebe
  • Ortega
  • Hintergrund
  • Bacchus
  • Morio-Muskat
  • Faberrebe
  • Viognier

Quality designations

Qualitätswein

This wine must be from one of the 13 wine-growing regions and the region must be displayed on the label. It is a entry level wine made for everyday drinking (although some top dry wines are officially Qualitätswein although they would qualify as Prädikatswein). Qualitätswein wines can range from dry to semi-sweet, and the style is often indicated on the label. 

Prädikatswein

This is the top certification of German wines. These prominently display a Prädikat (ripeness level designation) on the label.  Prädikatswein range from dry to intensely sweet. These wines have to be produced from designated grape varieties in one of the 39 subregions of one of the 13 wine-growing regions (required to be displayed on the label)

Ripeness of grapes is measured in Oechsle, and, according to Mr. Eilers, goes from least ripe to ripest like this:

Made from fully ripened grapes. This is a a light,   low-alcohol wine made from fully-ripened grapes. Typically these wines are drank young and are typically semi-sweet.

This term may have originated as indicating the winemaker felt it was good enough to put in his own cabinet rather than offer it for sale.

 67-82 °Oe

Spätlese means “late harvest,” as, compared to Kabinett. The grapes are riper as they picked at least 7 days after normal harvest  They can be made dry or have some sweetness often offset by the high acidity

76-90 °Oe

Meaning “selected harvest.” These grapes very ripe often hand selected, and many times are slightly affected by botrytis. These wines are normally age very well. More often than not sweet, these can also be made into powerful dry wines

83-100 °Oe

Meaning berry selected. These wines are  made from overly ripes and individually selected from bunches. Typically these grapes have been affected by botrytis and so make rich dessert wines.

110–128° Oe

Made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine, making an extremely concentrated wine. They must reach the same sugar level as Beerenauslese.

110–128° Oe

These grapes are raisin-like at the time of picking and are often affected by noble rote. Because of their rarity these wines are the most expensive German wines. Due to the high sugar concentration the wines have a low alcohol content.

150–154 °Oe

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