Germany makes some of the most thrilling wines on the planet and we’ve recently put our heads together with Wines of Germany to show our customers what a fascinating journey German wine is (Click here for offers on the German range). It has a unique approach to winemaking and produces some of the very best wines in the world. Known for its beautiful Riesling wines which can be exhilarating and bone dry to lusciously sweet, Germany is also now making its mark on the world stage with Pinot Noir. It is the third largest Pinot Noir producer in the world and until recently most of it stayed in Germany. Not any longer! We’ve managed to get our hands on a very special one – perfect if you want to show your friends and family something new.
If you’ve always wondered how to tell what style of wine is in your bottle then look no further!
Understanding German wines
German wine labels are incredibly easy to understand when you know what you are looking for. Back in the 1930s physicist Ferdinand Oechsle tweaked the method of weighing grape must to determine sugar levels and therefore ripeness in grapes. This was formalised and incorporated into quality wine production, with each harvest of quality wine grapes designated a ripeness category. In ascending order of ripeness, these are:
So when you see these terms on a label, you’ll know how sweet the grapes were when they were picked. Simple! Another way is to look at the ABV which will give an indication of how much of that sugar was fermented, suggesting the level of sweetness in the wine. The higher the ABV the drier the wine and the lower the ABV the sweeter. You may also see the word ‘trocken’ appended to one of the above. That literally means ‘dry’ and is referring to style. Not to be confused with ‘trockenbeerenauslese’ which is the sweetest category – this translated means ‘dried berries selection’.
Germany has some of the most stunning wine landscapes in the world from the steep slopes of the Mosel valley to the long, thin strip of Baden covering various landscapes from Switzerland and beyond northern France. So it comes as no surprise the diversity of wine styles that Germany offers. Here’s a little more focus on some of the country’s key regions…
The steep slopes of Mosel’s best vineyards are hugely influential on arguably the two most important factors in wine – price and quality. The wines here aren’t the cheapest, but it’s a costly business farming land this steep – machinery can’t stay upright so everything is done by hand which is the most expensive way, but is also the best way to ensure only the best grapes are picked. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The wines from the Mosel are known for their racy acidity and lively fruit character.
Just north of Rheinhessen and south of the eastern tip of the Mosel valley is Rheingau, a region of good production levels with very good diversity. Thanks to some southern facing slopes, some of Rheingau’s vineyard sites have a slightly higher than average temperature. And along with a touch more annual rainfall, these conditions allow Riesling to flourish and give the wines a beautiful steely backbone.
A long, narrow strip of a region that starts down in Switzerland and runs North, parallel with the French border, and beyond. Due to its geographical shape, it’s no surprise that it’s a region with many different local climates, so it has wines of all varieties. But perhaps most of note is its red wine production which makes up well over 40% of its total production – second most after Wurttemberg’s whopping 70%. The white wines here are aromatic and round, while the reds are full-bodied and spicy.
Certainly not the biggest region geographically, but it is the region with the most area under vine. Once with a reputation for producing large volumes of bulk wine, Rheinhessen now has a focus on quality and has some remarkable wines to prove its worth. It’s a region known for its young dynamic wine producers and without looking too hard, you can find some of the most interesting Rieslings and Pinot Noirs in the world.
Pfalz runs south of Rheinhessen down to the French border, running parallel to Baden which is just over the river Rhine. It’s Germany’s second most vine-planted region and is blessed with a huge variety of soil types and altitudes, so it has massive potential to produce wines of high quality in a wide range of styles. It’s also one of the country’s warmer regions giving the whites a fuller, riper style and providing an ideal environment for top-end red wine production.
There’s no better way to complete your journey through German wine country than to taste! Click here to pick and choose from some exceptional quality wines of all styles with some generous discounts to help you on your way!