A Wine Cellar guide to German wines

Germany

Old world | Cool continental

Germany incorporates some of Europe’s northern-most vineyards and has a long tradition of excellence. Vines have been planted near the Mosel River since Roman times and many of the top producers were initially monastic. The country’s stylistic diversity is arguably unmatched by any other wine region.

Mosel is one of Germany’s most important fine wine regions and is particularly well known for Weisser Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner (white varieties) and Spätburgunder. The climate in Mosel is cool continental, so variations between high and low temperatures are significant, resulting in the risk of frost, especially after summer rain. Rieslings from Mosel are renowned for their acidity and upfront fruit and are typically lighter than wines from Rheingau and other regions. Soil types range from limestone and sandstone to quartz.

Common white varieties

Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Elbling, Grauburgunder/Pinot Gris, Weissburgunger/Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Scheurebe and Gutedel/Chasselas.

Common red varieties

Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Blauer Portugieser, Trollinger, Blaufränkisch/ Lemberger and Schwarzriesling/Pinot Meunier.

Quality Classification

There are four broad quality bands for German wines:


  1. At the highest level are those that are classified as Prädikatswein. Ripeness is a key indicator of quality, so Prädikatswein are classified further into six Prädikats according to initial sugar levels. The sub-categories are, in ascending order, Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and finally the luscious Eiswein (ice wine).
  2. The tier below Prädikatswein is Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA). To qualify, wines must be produced in one of Germany’s specified wine regions, or Anbaugebiete, of which there are 13.
  3. Below the QbAs are the Deutscher Landwein, which are similar to France’s Vin de Pays.
  4. Lastly, is the lowly Deutscher Wein.

Did you know?

Over 65% of the country’s vineyards are planted with white varieties. Germany takes its white wines very seriously and what makes them so compelling is that they age extremely well.

Our recommendations

Did you know?

Pinotage is a South African-born variety. It was created in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and has given rise to the Cape Blend, which is generally made from Bordeaux varieties along with a small percentage of Pinotage.

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