Posts Tagged ‘Klassifikation av vin’

As the German Wine Institute just announced, Germany’s wine production will be a 25% less than last year’s. With some estimated 7 million hl, this year’s crop will be the country’s lowest in 25 years. The quality though is foreseen to be good, at least 25% of the total production will give ‘Prädikatsweine’ (wines with the prädikat Kabinett, Spätlese, etc…). Some record 250 Oechsle degrees of Trockenbeerenauslese wines were harvested. But due to the low quantities, not much Eiswein is expected.

The forecast for the European wine production seems to be approx. 7 % under the average of the past 5 years, so the institute claims.

That the quantities are low, I get to hear from many vintners around me here too. And that much extra work had to be invested, due to the weather situation. So 2010 better tastes really good, don’t you agree?


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German wines tend to have a reputation of being too sweet, still. And, yes, some of the most famous German wines belong to the sweet categories. But in 2008, out of 8 million hl produced quality wine, 3.3 million hl were dry wines. Here are a few key figures to hopefully help you understand your German wine label a bit better.

Dry or not dry
First of all, it is a good thing to know that (generally) the word ‘trocken’ will tell you that the wine is dry. A bottle of German wine that does not state ‘trocken’, is not dry. Wines with up to 9 g/l residual sugar are in accordance to German wine law dry wines. With the residual sugar being max 2 g higher than the acidity (i.e. 7 g res. sugar are possible for a wine with 5 g acidity). German top dry Riesling wines have max 4 g of residual sugar. But even wines with 6 g res. sugar can seem less sweet in taste, because the acidity is high and aromas of fruit and/or minerality are intense. (Do not go by numbers only, it is always worth tasting first.)

Wines that are not dry are distinguished as follows:
halb-trocken (half-dry), 12-18 g/l residual sugar;
feinherb, 18+ g/l, but clearly lower than halbsüss;
halbsüss (medium), 12 – 45 g/l res. sugar;
süss (sweet), 45+ g/l.

Official Classifications, regulated by German wine law:
Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (Q.b.A): must be 100% of one of the 13 German regions. Grape must must have at least 51-72 degrees Oechsle (link), (the minimum weight varies between grape varieties and the regions – which doesn’t make it less complicated). QbA wines can be chaptalized, under regulations.

Prädikatsweine may not be chaptalized. Following are the different stages:
Kabinett (from 67-82 Oe): fine, light wines made of ripe grapes, lower abv.
Spätlese: (from 76-90 Oe) ripe, elegant wines with fine fruit, harvested later (=spät)
(Note here: the common misunderstanding is that a Spätlese wine will be sweeter than a Kabinett. So is not the case. It is rather so that a Spätlese wine will have more body than the little brother.)
Auslese: (from 83-100 Oe) fine wines from very ripe grapes which are hand selected
Beerenauslese: (from 110-128 Oe) full-bodied wines of over ripe grapes, Botrytis affected, wines can be stored for many years
Trockenbeerenauslese: (from 150-154 Oe) raisin-like dried, Botrytis affected grapes give sweet wines that can be stored for many decades
Eiswein: (from 110-128 Oe) frozen grapes harvested at minus 7°C
All categories can be made ‘trocken’, but mostly the last categories are not dry wines.

Since 2000, the terms ‘Classic’ and ‘Selection’ were newly established. Classic indicates a wine of a for the region typical grape variety, with minimum 12% abv and max 15 g/l residual sugar. (These wines may not necessarily state ‘trocken’.)

The top dry wines are marked with ‘Selection’ or ‘Erstes Gewächs’ (Rheingau), which come from best vineyards with low yields .

Deutscher Landwein (Vin du Pays) is a simple wine, dry or off-dry.

The lowest standards for a German wine are found in the ‘Deutscher Wein ohne Herkunftsbezeichnung’ (German wine without indication of origin), which has replaced the German table wine.

VDP classifications
The VDP (Verband der Prädikatsweingüter) is the créme-de-la-créme of the German wine world. (See one of our next posts.) They are now leaving (at least partially) the Prädikatswein-system to classify their wines by vineyards instead. Their own regulation foresees that the very best wines are referred to as ‘Grosse Gewächse’ from ‘Erste Lagen’, the German Grand Crus, so to say. The vineyards belong to the very best sites of Germany. Those wines (the Rieslings) will typically be having around 3 to 3,5 g/l residual sugar, when ‘trocken’ (max 4 g). While those wines are by German wine law classified as ‘QbA’, the must weights are equivalent to Spätlese quality wines. VDP wines with residual sugar above the 4 g/l will be referring to the Prädikate, and not labelled as ‘Grosses Gewächs’.

Zum Wohl.
Heike Larsson


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