New VDP Classification System in Germany

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Christian G.E. Schiller
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#1 Post by Christian G.E. Schiller » June 3rd, 2013, 4:55 am

I released today an article about the new VDP classification system in Germany, introduced by the VDP, the 200 or so elite German winemakers.

In sharp contrast with the standard classification system of the Law of 1971, the VDP classification system is based on the terroir principle. The pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest has moved to the backburner in the VDP system. Indeed, for dry wines the pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest has been completely eliminated in the VDP classification system. Following Bourgogne, the terroir principle has taken center stage. And here, the VDP has moved from a 3 tiers quality ladder to a 4 tiers quality ladder in its recent modifications, effective with the 2012 harvest.

I have tried to summarize the main elements to remember of the new VDP classification below. What do you think? Anything missing?

First: Use of the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese only for Fruity-Sweet Wines

As a major innovation, the VDP members have dropped the traditional Prädikats for dry wine. Only wines that have a noticeable level of sweetness carry the traditional Prädikats like Kabinett, Spaetlese or Auslese. Thus, if you see Spaetlese on the label of a VDP member wine, you can be sure that it is a fruity sweet Spaetlese. The label with “Spaetlese trocken” does not exist anymore among the VDP members.

Second: The Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese no longer Indicator of Ripeness at Harvest, but Indicator for Sweetness of the Finished Wines

In the 1971 Classification, the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese are an indicator of ripeness at harvest. Thus, for instance, you can have a fruity sweet Spaetlese and a dry Spaetlese. In the VDP classification, the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese are an indicator of sweetness of the finished wine (and not of the ripeness at harvest).

Third: All Dry Wines up to the Highest Quality Level are Labeled Qualitaetswein trocken

All dry wines up to the highest quality level – the Grosses Gewaechs wines from a Grosse Lage vineyard – are labeled Qualitaetswein (QbA) trocken. A wine made from grapes harvested at Spaetlese level and fully fermented to complete dryness, for example, are marketed as QbA wine. And the level of quality would be indicated by the terroir concept (Gutswein, Ortswein, Erste Lage, Grosse Lage).

This of course does not make it easier for wine consumers to read and understand German wine labels, because the Qualitaetswein denomination has a completely different meaning in the standard classification system. There, it indicates that this wine is an entry-level wine of basic quality. In the VDP classification, Qualitaetswein does not mean anything, as in the VDP system even the ultra-premium dry wines are labeled as a QbA.

Fourth: Grosses Gewaechs – Ultra-premium Dry Wine

The dry counterpart of the fruity-sweet Spaetlese and Auslese wines of the VDP are the bone dry Grosses Gewaechs wines. These are ‘Grand Cru” wines made from grapes from a Grosse Lage vineyard, harvested at Spaetlese or Auslese level in terms of sugar content and fully fermented so that they become bone-dry. The Grosse Gewaechs label is thought to resemble the Grand Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines are bone-dry.

Fifth: No Single Vineyard Wines below Grosse Lage and Erste Lage

In the VDP classification, only Grosse Lage and Erste Lage vineyards appear on the label. If a wine comes from a vineyard that is not in the exclusive circle of Grosse and Erste Lage, the label will not carry any vineyard name. Instead, it will be either a village wine (with just the village and the name of the winery on the label) or an Estate wine (with just the name of the winery on the label).

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#2 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 3rd, 2013, 5:17 am

Gun...meet foot...again.

So have they set the finished wine sweetness levels for the pradikats yet?
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#3 Post by J a y H a c k » June 3rd, 2013, 5:25 am

Well, it took me 44 years to understand the old system, from my first bottle of Liebfraumilch in college to the Zilliken GG (see note thread elsewhere this forum) last week. If they think I'm going to learn a new system, forget it. I'll buy California wine where the labels mean something. newhere
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#4 Post by StevenB » June 3rd, 2013, 6:13 am

Christian, thanks for the summary. I've added some comments below. After thinking about it, I feel like this is all fine in theory, but the denominations of VDP members in the 2012 vintage show that everyone still cooks its own soup. It may take years to have a halfway consistent denomination practice in the VDP. And until that is the case, they'll probably have revised it again.
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:In sharp contrast with the standard classification system of the Law of 1971, the VDP classification system is based on the terroir principle. The pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest has moved to the backburner in the VDP system. Indeed, for dry wines the pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest has been completely eliminated in the VDP classification system. Following Bourgogne, the terroir principle has taken center stage. And here, the VDP has moved from a 3 tiers quality ladder to a 4 tiers quality ladder in its recent modifications, effective with the 2012 harvest.
Well, this is only partly correct. Also the 1971 law was based on a "terroir principle" in that it allowed the vineyard to be printed on the labels as long as those vineyards are enrolled in the "vineyard roll". What's new is that the VDP attempts to differentiate sites by quality into "Große Lagen" (equal to Grand Cru in Burgundy), "Erste Lagen" (equal to Premier Cru in Burgundy) and other vineyards which do not get printed on the labels. And some chapters of the VDP such as Mosel, Mittelrhein and Rheinhessen decided not to use the four-tier structure (generic, village, premier cru, grand cru), but only a three-tier structure (generic, village, grand cru).
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:As a major innovation, the VDP members have dropped the traditional Prädikats for dry wine. Only wines that have a noticeable level of sweetness carry the traditional Prädikats like Kabinett, Spaetlese or Auslese. Thus, if you see Spaetlese on the label of a VDP member wine, you can be sure that it is a fruity sweet Spaetlese. The label with “Spaetlese trocken” does not exist anymore among the VDP members.
Correct for Spätlese and Auslese Trocken. But for Kabinett trocken, there are several exceptions. Some examples: Knipsers Laumersheimer Kapellenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken or Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett trocken, both still used in the 2012 vintage. And there are lots of other examples for such exceptions.
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:The dry counterpart of the fruity-sweet Spaetlese and Auslese wines of the VDP are the bone dry Grosses Gewaechs wines. These are ‘Grand Cru” wines made from grapes from a Grosse Lage vineyard, harvested at Spaetlese or Auslese level in terms of sugar content and fully fermented so that they become bone-dry. The Grosse Gewaechs label is thought to resemble the Grand Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines are bone-dry.
Well, "bone dry"... As before, the threshold is 9 g/l residual sugar, which - as I believe - has now also been adopted by the VDP Rheingau (was 12 g/l residual sugar before). That's "legally dry", nothing more, nothing less.
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:In the VDP classification, only Grosse Lage and Erste Lage vineyards appear on the label. If a wine comes from a vineyard that is not in the exclusive circle of Grosse and Erste Lage, the label will not carry any vineyard name. Instead, it will be either a village wine (with just the village and the name of the winery on the label) or an Estate wine (with just the name of the winery on the label).
Yes, and to add to it, in principle, the VDP has also resolved on the "Einwein" principle, meaning that you can only produce one dry wine naming the vineyard from that same vineyard. As an example, Schäfer-Fröhlich used to have "Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs" and "Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Qba trocken", the first being the Großes Gewächs and the second being the "second wine" from the same vineyard. This should, in principle, no longer be permissible according to the VDP. But apparently, some VDP-members still practice it (e.g. Emrich-Schönleber, also with the 2012 vintage).

Here are some examples of confusing 2012 Riesling denominations from VDP members I've seen:

- Bassermann Jordan categorizes its village wines as "VDP Erste Lage" because the wines come from one single vineyard: http://www.bassermann-jordan.de/de/wein ... ken-2.html
- Karl Schaefer bottles two dry Rieslings from the Wachenheimer Fuchsmantel, the "regular" one + the "Quetschenbaum"
- Acham Magin doesn't use the village denomination, but fantasy denominations and prints the Prädikat on the label. Examples: "Sommertraum Riesling Spätlese trocken" and "Eruption Riesling Spätlese trocken" (the latter being an inofficial "second wine" from the Forster Pechstein).
- The same at Pfeffingen with the "Terra Rossa", being the "second wine" of the Ungsteiner Weilberg GG, only from a different parcel of the vineyard.
- Schäfer Fröhlich now has village Rieslings such as "Bockenauer Riesling", but also dry Rieslings in the same price class named after their soils, e.g. "Vom Vulkangestein"

I can't help myself. With all the exceptions and fantasy names used by the VDP members, I find it more confusing than before [welldone.gif].
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#5 Post by Bill H o o p e r » June 3rd, 2013, 11:41 am

Hi Christian,

A few thoughts:
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote: In the VDP classification, the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese are an indicator of sweetness of the finished wine (and not of the ripeness at harvest).
This is not correct. Under German wine law, any wine that wants to receive an Amtliche Prüfungsnummer (AP-Nr), must conform to minimum must-weight standards as indicated by the Prädikat, VDP or not. Though there are no upper Oechsle limits on Prädikat –in theory, the tasting judges could decide to penalize a wine for having too much weight, but the Amt has pretty low standards and I can assure you that it doesn’t happen.
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:All dry wines up to the highest quality level – the Grosses Gewaechs wines from a Grosse Lage vineyard – are labeled Qualitaetswein (QbA) trocken. A wine made from grapes harvested at Spaetlese level and fully fermented to complete dryness

The dry counterpart of the fruity-sweet Spaetlese and Auslese wines of the VDP are the bone dry Grosses Gewaechs wines. These are ‘Grand Cru” wines made from grapes from a Grosse Lage vineyard, harvested at Spaetlese or Auslese level in terms of sugar content and fully fermented so that they become bone-dry. The Grosse Gewaechs label is thought to resemble the Grand Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines are bone-dry.
This is also not completely correct. They are Legally Trocken (g/l Total acidity + 2 = maximum residual sugar in g/l up to 9, plus 1 g/l tolerance. If a wine has 5 g/l TA, it can have a maximum 8g/l RS and still be labelled Trocken). 'Fully Fermented' or 'Bone-dry' implies zero g/l sugar, while legally dry (up to 10g/l) is a bit different.

How is it all shaking out? It is true that the VDP has relegated the Prädikats to usage only on sweet wines, but I have seen a few 2012 Kabinett and Spätlese Trocken wines from VDP members –they have citied a waiting period to wean the customers off the old system and Koehler-Ruprecht has firmly stated that they won’t change their labels. But for the most part members are following the rules and you will see many of your favorite wines undergo a label change in 2012. Most of the Qualitätswein feinherb or sweet wines will now be Prädikatswein, and the Kabinett or Spätlese Trocken from unclassified (not Erste Lage or Große Lage) vineyard X will now be labeled Qualitätswein.

Some producers have gotten creative: Bassermann-Jordan has gone to a capsule-color system to denote their internal quality classification, while their labels are completely correct by VDP standards. I tasted a ‘UK’ (Ungeheuer Kabinett) from von Winning/Deinhard a few weeks ago. Plenty of soil, and fantasy, and soil-fantasy labels.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#6 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 3rd, 2013, 1:17 pm

So instead of just grabbing my favored kabinett halbtrockens or kabinett feinherb I will have to decipher fantasy names or new nomenclature. That is such great, consumer friendly progress! Does the VDP brain trust completely consist of people who hate their customers, or is this some strange form of German love?
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#7 Post by Peter Kleban » June 3rd, 2013, 1:48 pm

Christian, IMHO this system is much too confusing. The main problem is that the same words are used to describe different things, depending on whether the wine is VDP or not. The customer has to be a terminology expert to remember the difference--or even realize that there is one.

Why create headaches? It's already bad enough between German and Austrian wines, which use the same words in different ways.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#8 Post by Isaac James Baker » June 3rd, 2013, 1:51 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:So instead of just grabbing my favored kabinett halbtrockens or kabinett feinherb I will have to decipher fantasy names or new nomenclature. That is such great, consumer friendly progress! Does the VDP brain trust completely consist of people who hate their customers, or is this some strange form of German love?
Deciphering German wine is a perpetual two steps forward, one step back kind of process. Fortunately, German rieslings deliver and keep me coming back, but this shit ain't easy!

Just to clarify, these changes are for VDP members only? Also, are they binding or can individual VDP members tweak language in minor ways?

Interesting post... looking forward to more comments. Cheers.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#9 Post by Peter Gatti » June 3rd, 2013, 7:09 pm

Jesus God! I've been selling estate German wine since '79, and every time the Germans revamp the praedikat regulations, they screw it up worse than before, even with the avowed intent of regularisation and simplification. Just shoot me. Or better yet, have the rules committee (*) shoot themselves!

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#10 Post by StevenB » June 4th, 2013, 1:30 am

As the others in this thread, I have difficulties understanding the new VDP classification. In addition, In my view it has several elemental flaws which will not make it work as it was intended by the VDP. The classiciation is obviously based on the classification system in Burgundy. However, in my humble opinion there are such elemental difficulties between a region (Burgundy) and an entire country with several regions (Germany) that the transition of the Burgundian system does not properly work.

1. Burgundy is based on mostly two grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In Germany, as "fine" grapes you have mostly Riesling and Pinot Noir, but also Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Lemberger (these are the ones open to a "Großes Gewächs" labelling) + the "aromatic" varieties such Scheurebe, Rieslaner, Muskateller, Gewürztraminer or Sauvignon Blanc + further grapes with some significance (Chardonnay, Auxerrois, Portugieser). This makes a "one size fits all" solution more difficult than in Burgundy.

2. Riesling is a different grape than Chardonnay. Chardonnay in Burgundy is for the most part (exception e.g. Chablis) made in the same basic style: fully fermented, malolactic fermentation, aged in wooden barrels. Riesling is a grape that allows so many more variations in lightness and sweetness, especially in a country such as Germany with its different climates. With or without botrytis, light dry (Kabinett trocken), medium bodied dry, full bodied dry (Großes Gewächs), off dry wines where the fermentation was stopped, off dry wines which were fermented until the fermentation stopped, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Auslese gold capsule, BA, TBA, Eiswein. The variations are endless. Also this makes a "one size fits all" solution more difficult than in Burgundy.

3. Soils all over Germany are more varied than in Burgundy. In Burgundy, for the most part it's limestone with different variations to it. In Germany, you have different soils in most regions: red, grey, blue slate, sandstone, granite, volcanic, quartz, limestone, clay, etc. If you buy - let's say - a Village Puligny-Montrachet, you don't have to ask. You know that most will come from argilo-calcaire soils. If you buy - let's say - a Riesling from Birkweiler (Pfalz), it can come from red slate, sandstone, Keuper, limestone or clay soils. Producers wish to differentiate and that's probably why Rebholz and Wehrheim have two or three village wines from Birkweiler, differentiating between soils. Also this variety in soils makes a "one size fits all" solution more difficult than in Burgundy.

4. The classified vineyards in Germany are much bigger and much more varied than in Burgundy. Obviously, in Burgundy there are vineyards that are widely considered as too big and partly not up to their classification (e.g. Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeot, Corton) or as better than their classification (e.g. Clos St. Jacques, Les Amoureuses). But for the most part, it seems like the classification is fairly widely accepted both by growers and by consumers. In Germany, not only some, but many vineyards that are classified as "Große Lage" (Grand Cru) are huge. The Morstein, known for its wines by Keller, Wittmann, Seehof or Gutzler, is 144 ha big, of which around 50 ha are considered to be of good quality. It's planted not just with Riesling, but also with all other sorts of varieties. And this is just one example of many.

5. Burgundy has a classification based on a law which applies to everyone having holdings in the classified vineyards while the vineyard classication of the VDP is made by the VDP themselves. Each new member gets its Grand Cru vineyard (Große Lage) based mostly on his/her own assessment. Never heard of the Berghauptener Schützenberg or Abtsberg, the Laufener Altenberg, the Michelbacher Apostelgarten, the Großheubacher Bischofsberg, the Roxheimer Berg, the Weyher Michelsberg, the Martinsthaler Wildsau, the Ingelheimer Pares, the Dienheimer Tafelstein, the Freyburger Edelacker or the Gundelsheimer Himmelreich? These are all VDP Große Lage (Grand Cru) vineyards with only one member having holdings in such vineyards. In my view, it's impossible to sell the huge amount of Grand Cru vineyards to the world. On the other hand, how do you want to tell a VDP member that his/her prime vineyard should not be Grand Cru simply because it's not so well known or there are no other members being known for its wines from such vineyard?

As much as I would like a little simplifcation in the labeling of German wines, I believe this new VDP classification with all its exceptions will cause two problems for each problem it was meant to solve. Obviously, the VDP needs to be given time to explain it to the trade and consumers, to talk its members into actually adhering to it and to make vineyards known for their quality (e.g. by taking on new members or - as hard as it is - shedding off some members). Yet, I'm doubtful that the architecture of the classification really is the right one for the reasons stated above.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#11 Post by Gerhard P. » June 4th, 2013, 2:21 am

Well, seriously I gave up on German wines some 12+ years ago, mostly because
1) I do not like wines with residual sugar vm (except real dessert wines) - and one couldn´t be sure from reading the label how the wine will actually taste -
and
2) because of the confusion vineyard designations, "Grosslage" (Village) looked the same as "Einzellage" (climat) - and the multiple variations - even conerning different "fudres" only distinguishable by the proof-number ...

However:
reading thru your explanations (BTW thanks a lot) I think this concept is (on paper) a step into the right direction, but practice will tell ...
One question for instance remains: what is "bone dry" ? The usual 7+2 rule for the rs is certainly far from really dry - 5-6 grams, somtimes even 4-5 gr can definitely be tasted ... and all above 7 gr (no matter the acidity) isn´t "dry" for me ...

I admit Burgundy is only not very easy to understand, but
a) there are (mostly) only two grapes (Pn + Ch) -
b) wines are always dry
c) several very confusing details (certainly not all) have been revised ... e.g. "Grand Cru" and "1er Cru" now has to be clearly indicated on the label ...

BTW: Fantasy names were never and nowhere forbidden for wines - when either good or comercially attractive products they can get very successful !
Liebfrauenmilch was one,
La Chapelle is another,
Mouton-Cadet ...
I´m sure there are many US-examples, too!
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#12 Post by Christian G.E. Schiller » June 4th, 2013, 7:46 am

Isaac James Baker, this classification applies only to the 200 or so members of the VDP. However, these are the German elite winemakers. Furthermore, their share in the premium export market is very high, I guess. Most of the wines (except for Blue Nun and that stuff) you see in the US, Canada and Asia are from VDP producers. Also, many of the non-VDP winemakers are adopting the VDP concept.

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#13 Post by Peter Kleban » June 4th, 2013, 7:54 am

Gerhard P. wrote:Well, seriously I gave up on German wines some 12+ years ago, mostly because
1) I do not like wines with residual sugar vm (except real dessert wines) - and one couldn´t be sure from reading the label how the wine will actually taste -
and
2) because of the confusion vineyard designations, "Grosslage" (Village) looked the same as "Einzellage" (climat) - and the multiple variations - even conerning different "fudres" only distinguishable by the proof-number ...
If even a native German speaker (I guess I can safely assume that for Gerhard :-) ) doesn't find the labeling clear, there is a real problem here. Good language expresses ideas clearly, simply, and intuitively. This just doesn't do it.

(Not that Burgundy is any better, mind you.)
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#14 Post by John Morris » June 4th, 2013, 8:11 am

Perhaps they should just revert to Gothic script so foreigners would be spared the trouble of even trying to decipher the labels.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#15 Post by Peter Kleban » June 4th, 2013, 8:24 am

John Morris wrote:Perhaps they should just revert to Gothic script so foreigners would be spared the trouble of even trying to decipher the labels.
[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

And it would give such a feeling of bourgeois solidity! (Heavy furniture and all that, you know.)
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#16 Post by scott c » June 4th, 2013, 11:11 am

Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:Isaac James Baker, this classification applies only to the 200 or so members of the VDP. However, these are the German elite winemakers.
That's quite a generalization! There are definitely elite winemakers in the VDP, but there are also elite winemakers who are not in the VDP (Selbach-Oster, A J Adam), and winemakers in the VDP who are not elite (too many to list, but to throw out a random example: Prinz Salm).
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#17 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 4th, 2013, 11:31 am

The VDP has done some good things. I just have a hard time remembering what they are.

Having a labeling system that is mandatory for a tiny fraction of a country's wineries is frankly ludicrous, especially since it is for the ones that should stand out based on quality. If a new system was really needed then it would have to provide some insight to the ocean of dreck that is still eing produced.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#18 Post by Bill H o o p e r » June 4th, 2013, 12:32 pm

Steven, I’m sorry for not reading your initial post on this subject. You brought up many of my points. To yours:
StevenB wrote:1. Burgundy is based on mostly two grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In Germany, as "fine" grapes you have mostly Riesling and Pinot Noir, but also Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Lemberger (these are the ones open to a "Großes Gewächs" labelling) + the "aromatic" varieties such Scheurebe, Rieslaner, Muskateller, Gewürztraminer or Sauvignon Blanc + further grapes with some significance (Chardonnay, Auxerrois, Portugieser). This makes a "one size fits all" solution more difficult than in Burgundy.
The VDP (which is a country-wide organization) rightly IMO, allows the different regions to focus on grape varieties that have local/historical significance. While Württemberg can (and does) produce excellent Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), I’m not convinced that the Mosel could do so (for an example.) Franken has a long history with Silvaner and most of the best vineyards planted there (especially in the Maindreieck centered around Würzburg) are planted to it. The VDP classification is in effect, a blend of the Burgundy and Alsace systems, which are the two French Grand Cru systems that make the most sense. You could argue that Alsace has too many GCs or that some Burgundy PC/GCs don’t live up to the price-tag, but they are both far more sensible than the classifications employed in Bordeaux and Champagne –both of which are completely useless (especially in Champagne and Right-Bank Bordeaux.) There are not many objections to the fact that different French regions have completely different models and I think that the VDP classification of Germany is easier to understand because it is Country-wide.
StevenB wrote:2. Riesling is a different grape than Chardonnay. Chardonnay in Burgundy is for the most part (exception e.g. Chablis) made in the same basic style: fully fermented, malolactic fermentation, aged in wooden barrels. Riesling is a grape that allows so many more variations in lightness and sweetness, especially in a country such as Germany with its different climates. With or without botrytis, light dry (Kabinett trocken), medium bodied dry, full bodied dry (Großes Gewächs), off dry wines where the fermentation was stopped, off dry wines which were fermented until the fermentation stopped, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Auslese gold capsule, BA, TBA, Eiswein. The variations are endless. Also this makes a "one size fits all" solution more difficult than in Burgundy.
The VDP has also allowed for regional differences in this respect. The Prädikats really aren’t applicable to most regions outside of the Mosel, Mittelrhein, somewhat in the Nahe, and also to some extent the Rheingau. In the other nine Weinbaugebiete, dry wines are the overwhelming norm for VDP Estates (and also increasingly in those first four).
StevenB wrote:3. Soils all over Germany are more varied than in Burgundy. In Burgundy, for the most part it's limestone with different variations to it. In Germany, you have different soils in most regions: red, grey, blue slate, sandstone, granite, volcanic, quartz, limestone, clay, etc. If you buy - let's say - a Village Puligny-Montrachet, you don't have to ask. You know that most will come from argilo-calcaire soils. If you buy - let's say - a Riesling from Birkweiler (Pfalz), it can come from red slate, sandstone, Keuper, limestone or clay soils. Producers wish to differentiate and that's probably why Rebholz and Wehrheim have two or three village wines from Birkweiler, differentiating between soils. Also this variety in soils makes a "one size fits all" solution more difficult than in Burgundy.
Embrace the diversity. Overwhelmingly, the producers in Germany feel that the best expression of terroir is achieved in a dry wine that can’t hide behind or be blurred by residual sugar. I completely agree. Sugar can overwhelm terroir just as much as new oak can.
StevenB wrote:4. The classified vineyards in Germany are much bigger and much more varied than in Burgundy. Obviously, in Burgundy there are vineyards that are widely considered as too big and partly not up to their classification (e.g. Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeot, Corton) or as better than their classification (e.g. Clos St. Jacques, Les Amoureuses). But for the most part, it seems like the classification is fairly widely accepted both by growers and by consumers. In Germany, not only some, but many vineyards that are classified as "Große Lage" (Grand Cru) are huge. The Morstein, known for its wines by Keller, Wittmann, Seehof or Gutzler, is 144 ha big, of which around 50 ha are considered to be of good quality. It's planted not just with Riesling, but also with all other sorts of varieties. And this is just one example of many.
I agree, but that is a result of the 1971 Wine law that the VDP Klassification is trying to amend. This is also the reason that that many VDP estates (as well as many other German estates) produce all of these ‘terroir’ or ‘Soil-type’ wines from either unclassified vineyards or as a 2nd wine from Große Lage sites (some of which, in the Pfalz in particular can represent a very good value.)

StevenB wrote:5. Burgundy has a classification based on a law which applies to everyone having holdings in the classified vineyards while the vineyard classification of the VDP is made by the VDP themselves. Each new member gets its Grand Cru vineyard (Große Lage) based mostly on his/her own assessment. Never heard of the Berghauptener Schützenberg or Abtsberg, the Laufener Altenberg, the Michelbacher Apostelgarten, the Großheubacher Bischofsberg, the Roxheimer Berg, the Weyher Michelsberg, the Martinsthaler Wildsau, the Ingelheimer Pares, the Dienheimer Tafelstein, the Freyburger Edelacker or the Gundelsheimer Himmelreich? These are all VDP Große Lage (Grand Cru) vineyards with only one member having holdings in such vineyards. In my view, it's impossible to sell the huge amount of Grand Cru vineyards to the world. On the other hand, how do you want to tell a VDP member that his/her prime vineyard should not be Grand Cru simply because it's not so well known or there are no other members being known for its wines from such vineyard?
OK, and agreed. But while even seasoned Burgundy aficionados can rattle off all of the Grand Cru vineyards (some of which also don’t deserve it), most don’t know all of the Premiere Crus without the ‘1er Cru’ label on the bottle. There are definitely many GL vineyards in Germany, and Grand Crus in Alsace that should probably be 1er Cru instead. At the same time, there are a few vineyards in Germany that should be Große Lage and aren’t –many Wachenheim vineyards (Gerümpel, Böhlig, Altenburg z.B.) come to mind because Bürklin-Wolf won’t use the nomenclature –and the Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker has so many prime parcels within that should be broken-up and re-evaluated.
StevenB wrote:As much as I would like a little simplification in the labeling of German wines, I believe this new VDP classification with all its exceptions will cause two problems for each problem it was meant to solve. Obviously, the VDP needs to be given time to explain it to the trade and consumers, to talk its members into actually adhering to it and to make vineyards known for their quality (e.g. by taking on new members or - as hard as it is - shedding off some members). Yet, I'm doubtful that the architecture of the classification really is the right one for the reasons stated above.
It is far from perfect, but Germany has painted itself into a corner as a sweet-riesling producer and the system of must-weight as an indication of quality needs and has received an overhaul. This has largely been rectified by a classification model that may be complicated (in fact, I know that there are a lot of VDP wineries that struggle with it), but likely helps the producers to make and market the wines that they feel are the best expression of their vineyards and the hard work that we all undertake in the pursuit of fine-wine production even if that means a few concessions. I should say too that I don’t write about dry Riesling so much as a vehicle to convert the choir (I love off-dry Mosel Riesling. Couldn’t live well without!) but to give people who dismiss Riesling as merely sweet something to think about instead of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Gris as a viable dry option for their cuisine.
To David: The fantasy (Soil) names for second wines have been effective for a number of years anyway. Personally, I think that Riesling from a specific soil-type is a much better indication of what the wine tastes like than the name of an unknown vineyard on the label.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#19 Post by Peter Kleban » June 4th, 2013, 12:33 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:The VDP has done some good things. I just have a hard time remembering what they are.

Having a labeling system that is mandatory for a tiny fraction of a country's wineries is frankly ludicrous, especially since it is for the ones that should stand out based on quality. If a new system was really needed then it would have to provide some insight to the ocean of dreck that is still eing produced.
+1. But you're dealing with a culture that is obsessed with regulations, and has the bureaucracy to match (there is, as a result, so much jargon that they have a special term for it: "Amtsdeutsch"= bureaucratic German).
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#20 Post by Christian G.E. Schiller » June 5th, 2013, 6:44 am

In a nutshell, I would say,

the new VDP classification system is strictly terroir-based, following the Bourgogne appraoch with 4 quality levels: Estate wine - Gutswein, village wine - Ortswein, premier cru - Erste Lage - and Grand cru -Grosse Lage. This applies to all wines, both dry and fruity-sweet. There are the 4 quality levels for wine made by a VDP member.

Then we have the sweetness levels: Trocken, Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese. The Praedikats no longer are indicators of quality, but have been relegated to indicators of sweetness. Auslese is sweeter than Spaetlese and Spaetlese sweet than Kabinett and then are the dry wines. The descriptions "halbtrocken" and "feinherb" have become redundant.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#21 Post by StevenB » June 5th, 2013, 7:29 am

Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:In a nutshell, I would say,

the new VDP classification system is strictly terroir-based, following the Bourgogne appraoch with 4 quality levels: Estate wine - Gutswein, village wine - Ortswein, premier cru - Erste Lage - and Grand cru -Grosse Lage. This applies to all wines, both dry and fruity-sweet. There are the 4 quality levels for wine made by a VDP member.

Then we have the sweetness levels: Trocken, Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese. The Praedikats no longer are indicators of quality, but have been relegated to indicators of sweetness. Auslese is sweeter than Spaetlese and Spaetlese sweet than Kabinett and then are the dry wines. The descriptions "halbtrocken" and "feinherb" have become redundant.
Christian, in a nutshell: most of your nutshell is incorrect.

1. As said before in this thread. Some German wine growing regions have opted for a three-tier-system: e.g. Rheinhessen, Mittelrhein, Mosel. So it's a four tier system in some regions and a three-tier-sytem in others.

2. Not printing a vineyard on the label if it's not a "Große Lage" or "Erste Lage" is optional and will be determined by the regions themselves. So it could well be that some regions will also allow printing a vineyard on the label even if it's not a "Große Lage" or "Erste Lage". In addition, since the VDP members determine the "Große Lage" or "Erste Lage" vineyards themselves, it's pretty obvious what will happen.

3. The Praedikate were never an indicator of quality. They were an indicator of minimum Oechsle level. I admit though that it was perceived by the public for a long time that higher Oechsles mean higher quality. But there are no changes with regard to the meaning of the Praedikat levels. They mean the same as before - Oechsle level.

4. The description "feinherb" was never an official one. "Halbtrocken" was and is. But it has not become redundant. While the VDP resolved that it's mandatory to print "trocken" on a wine if it's legally dry, writing "halbtrocken" on the label is optional (you can just leave it out).
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#22 Post by Peter Kleban » June 5th, 2013, 8:20 am

I can only wonder: How many PhD theses will this create?
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#23 Post by Jim Brennan » June 5th, 2013, 8:27 am

Embrace diversity... dry wines are best [paraphrased].

Nice!

This is called cognitive dissonance.

Having said that, it's hard to disagree with the fact that the categories coming out of the 1971 Pradikat system are highly flawed.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#24 Post by Lars Carlberg » June 5th, 2013, 10:55 am

Steven's replies are excellent. Although I agree with most of Bill's points, I'm a little more skeptical than he is of the VDP's classification system. Nevertheless, the 1971 Prädikat system is inadequate.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#25 Post by James Wright » June 5th, 2013, 3:53 pm

the best thing to come out of the 1971 wine law is the Nahe.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#26 Post by StevenB » June 6th, 2013, 2:22 am

I agree that the 1971 wine law is inadequate. I also think that the VDP classification has some good aspects to it. The creation of the "Große Gewächse" category for dry wines from the best vineyards is generally a good thing for example, regardless of whether one likes the style or not. It's narrower than the Alsace Grand Cru system (in that the wines have to be legally dry) and similar to the Grand Cru category in Burgundy. With the presentation of the "Große Gewächse" in Wiesbaden and Berlin in September, the VDP has managed to create a good marketing scheme and I feel like - at least in Germany - in some upscale restaurants and also by consumers, the Große Gewächse are widely accepted and appreciated.

Further, I think that it's generally ok to have estate wines and village wines below the Große Gewächse or - where there's a four tier system - below the Große Gewächse and the wines from the "Erste Lagen".

The problem really is that - as said above - the VDP regional chapters determine themselves which vineyards are deemed worthy to produce a Großes Gewächs (Große Lage) or a wine from an Erste Lage.

And one thing I don't understand at all is the complete abandonment of restrictions on chaptalisation for dry wines as practiced by the VDP. After all, the VDP is named "Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter" and is the successor to the "Verband deutscher Naturweinversteigerer" founded in 1910. Why was it named "Verband deutscher Naturweinversteigerer"? Because its members wanted to promote their wines, the most important aspect of quality of which was that they're not chaptalized (see here for the history of the VDP: http://www.vdp.de/en/association/histor ... l-history/).

Even though the VDP requires its members to have at least Spätlese Oechsle levels for its dry wines from Große and Erste Lagen, there are no restrictions on chaptalizing anymore. None, zero, not for the Große Gewächse nor for dry wines from Erste Lagen nor for the Ortsweine and the Gutsweine. While before, you could somehow assess a style and be sure that the wine was not chaptalized when it was labelled "Kabinett trocken", now all you can do is trust the producer that it did not chaptalize. I really think that - given the history of the VDP - this is a disgrace. Not that I suspect that the top producers chaptalize their Große Gewächse and not that I think that chaptalizing is generally devil's work. But I do wonder why the VDP does not restrict chaptalizing.

Their new system promotes the uniformity of styles in dry wines. Look at current VDP estate wines. They pretty much all come in at in between 12 and 13% Vol. alcohol, year in year out. On the other hand, you have Kabinett trockens or sometimes even Spätlese trockens with alcohol levels well under 12% Vol. alcohol. I recently had two absolutely marvellous dry Kabinetts from 2004: Dr. Thanisch - Erben Thanisch - Bernkasteler Doctor and Holger Dütsch Neuweierer Altenberg, the first at 10.5% Vol., the second at 11.5% Vol. You sometimes even see dry Kabinetts at under 10% Vol. alcohol. Not that low alcohol is necessarily and for itself desirable. But I just like that style - not just in off-dry, also in dry - light, weightless, rooted in where they come from, delicate and delicious. The new VDP system, abandoning Kabinett trocken wines from classified vineyards (except for some exceptions), is trying to promote not a style of origin, but a style of producer-specificity and "mini Großes Gewächs" wines. Therefore, at least on the lower two levels of the pyramdid, I think they are less "terroir-based" than before. And this eliminates a shade of grey that I'll certainly miss and which will drive me to non-VDP members who still have respect for "Kabinett trocken" as category and wine-style.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#27 Post by Russell Faulkner » June 6th, 2013, 4:19 am

I buy more German wine than anything else, but can't get even slightly excited about this.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#28 Post by Stan Y. » June 6th, 2013, 4:57 am

StevenB wrote:Their new system promotes the uniformity of styles in dry wines. Look at current VDP estate wines. They pretty much all come in at in between 12 and 13% Vol. alcohol, year in year out. On the other hand, you have Kabinett trockens or sometimes even Spätlese trockens with alcohol levels well under 12% Vol. alcohol...But I just like that style - not just in off-dry, also in dry - light, weightless, rooted in where they come from, delicate and delicious. The new VDP system, abandoning Kabinett trocken wines from classified vineyards (except for some exceptions), is trying to promote not a style of origin, but a style of producer-specificity and "mini Großes Gewächs" wines. Therefore, at least on the lower two levels of the pyramdid, I think they are less "terroir-based" than before. And this eliminates a shade of grey that I'll certainly miss and which will drive me to non-VDP members who still have respect for "Kabinett trocken" as category and wine-style.
+1

I am very glad to see this articulated, that "weightless, rooted in where they come from, delicate and delicious" style is exactly what I like. I don't follow German wines like I do some other things, but have wondered why I do not care as much for my favorite since this system went into effect (Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett) and this discussion has helped me understand better.
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#29 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 6th, 2013, 6:21 am

Steven,

I almost agree that the Grosses Gewacs is a good creation. I would agree if two thing were to happen:

1. Someone other than the parties iwth a vested interest decide what truly are GG eligible vineyards (you address this above)
2. If the classificaiton is supposed ot be for dry wines then make them actually dry. Lower the RS bar to 4 g/l or something like that. 9 g/l is too high. As Gerhard mentioned it is easily tasteable as not being dry.

I guess what I am saying is that they need to have the guts to do it right, not to just create some complicated framework to protect the status quo of some influential producers.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#30 Post by Christian G.E. Schiller » June 6th, 2013, 9:43 am

StevenB, my "nutshell" is very useful: it is the broad picture. I am a member of the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) and a member of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim (Rheingau). I can assure you that almost nobody in the Washington DC group and very few in the Hochheim group could talk with you about the new VDP classification. To educate lovers of German wine, you have to start with the broad picture and then move on to the exceptions. And I am sure there will be many exceptions and you are refering to some of them. Potentially, the VDP system can turn out to become a huge mess.

Second, VDP members are now free to chaptalise their dry wines up to the highest level and they do. I think this is a very important aspect of the new VDP classification. At the same time, all German winemakers had always the option and still have to add sterilyzed juice after fermentation to their fruity-sweet wines up to the highest quality level and they do. So, drinking a Spaetlese, Auslese, you could never be sure that the winemaker had not added juice after the fermentation, at least for fine tuning.

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#31 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 6th, 2013, 10:00 am

Christian,

Are you implying that the large number of top producers who publicly eschew suesreserve are in fact actually using it?
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#32 Post by Bill H o o p e r » June 6th, 2013, 10:39 am

I would actually say that the issue of chaptalization is pretty moot in this age for GGs. It is absolutely no problem to get to 85+ Oechsle (11,4% alc.) from a ‘Grand Cru’ vineyard and I don’t know of any VDP-Pfälzers (or those from Baden or Rheinhessen or even the Rheingau) who chaptalize GGs. Does this happen in other more northern Weinbaugebiete? I don’t know.

As for GG residual sugar: setting the bar lower (like 4 g/l) would in some vintages, exclude spontaneous fermented wines from GG-status, many of which toe that line and come in around 5 or 6. Doing that would certainly restrict the yeasts used for fermentation to the commercial variety (or require temperature-control and additives), and many producers feel that their native yeast populations are almost as much a function of terroir as the soil itself, not to mention favoring less-intrusive cellar practices. As it stands, I like the vintage and stylistic diversity that a little room provides in that 0-10 g/l range, which is still pretty dry especially when the higher acidity of some German Riesling is accounted for.

These days too, most German Riesling producers are striving for 12-13% alc. by vol. (and can label any of these 12,5%). The trick is to achieve the maximum physiological ripeness before the Oechsle creeps too high and many producers are turning to radical vineyard-management techniques and even Organic/Biodynamic measures to help to achieve this.

Good discussion!
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#33 Post by Doug Schulman » June 6th, 2013, 11:16 am

Christian G.E. Schiller wrote: Fifth: No Single Vineyard Wines below Grosse Lage and Erste Lage

In the VDP classification, only Grosse Lage and Erste Lage vineyards appear on the label. If a wine comes from a vineyard that is not in the exclusive circle of Grosse and Erste Lage, the label will not carry any vineyard name. Instead, it will be either a village wine (with just the village and the name of the winery on the label) or an Estate wine (with just the name of the winery on the label).
This seems like a terrible idea. They say they want to focus on terroir, but they then say that only the terroirs they choose can be labelled specifically.
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#34 Post by Odd Rydland » June 6th, 2013, 11:26 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote: Fifth: No Single Vineyard Wines below Grosse Lage and Erste Lage

In the VDP classification, only Grosse Lage and Erste Lage vineyards appear on the label. If a wine comes from a vineyard that is not in the exclusive circle of Grosse and Erste Lage, the label will not carry any vineyard name. Instead, it will be either a village wine (with just the village and the name of the winery on the label) or an Estate wine (with just the name of the winery on the label).
This seems like a terrible idea. They say they want to focus on terroir, but they then say that only the terroirs they choose can be labelled specifically.
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#35 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 6th, 2013, 12:27 pm

You know as the weather continues to warm, those "less than worthy" sites are going to look better and better. Print the site names, and let the consumers decide which ones are good or great or not so good. To have the VDP making pronouncement a for the consumer seems rather old fashioned to me.
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#36 Post by Lars Carlberg » June 6th, 2013, 12:47 pm

Again, I agree with Steven's comment above, especially the light dry to off-dry wines. It's odd that certain VDP members don't want GGs to be restricted to non-chaptalized wines as well. As he says, chaptalization isn't a bad thing, but the VDP should highlight this tradition for their dry wines, too. Bill makes a good point in regard to sponti wines. Why restrict the residual sugar to under 4 grams of sugar per liter? A dry Saar Riesling with 10 or 11 grams can taste drier than a Pfalz Riesling with only 4 grams. Of course, there has to be a cut-off point for "dry," but some of the best Mosel Rieslings are slightly above 9 grams and still taste dry. In addition, the ranking of sites as "Grosse Lage" is pure marketing. There are plenty of vineyards that -- depending on the specific site, vines, vintage, and grower -- remain unranked but have great potential.

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#37 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 6th, 2013, 12:56 pm

Lars,

What is your threshold for tasting RS? Mine is around 4 g/l. Above that a wine may finish dry, but doesn't start that way. Not that I don't like a little more RS in trockens, but they don't taste dry to me.
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#38 Post by Lars Carlberg » June 6th, 2013, 1:03 pm

David: It depends on the vintage and the wine. You also have to factor in the acidity level, the pH value, as well as the dry extract. I don't think you can isolate the RS level. I've just spent the last few days on the Ruwer and Saar, and there are plenty of wines above 4 g/l RS that taste dry.

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#39 Post by Charlie Carnes » June 6th, 2013, 1:07 pm

scott c l a f f e e wrote:
Christian G.E. Schiller wrote:Isaac James Baker, this classification applies only to the 200 or so members of the VDP. However, these are the German elite winemakers.
That's quite a generalization! There are definitely elite winemakers in the VDP, but there are also elite winemakers who are not in the VDP (Selbach-Oster, A J Adam), and winemakers in the VDP who are not elite (too many to list, but to throw out a random example: Prinz Salm).
Agree Scott, Ulli Stein, Gunther Steinmetz, and Weiser-Künstler, three of my favorites, are not in as well, thank goodness. I was upset that Peter Lauer joined. But oh well I still will buy the wines. I just hate the idea that there is a club or group of 200 "elite" wine makers. I hate the human nature that has to group together and classify things, in this context at least. Maybe the VDP will hire Michele Rolland to consult with all 200 members to further homogenize the product. (OK, maybe that is a little harsh)
To say that "These are the German elite winemakers", especially in the context of comparing the VDP to Burgundy's system would be the same as saying that all Grand crus are the best wines that are in Burgundy, that they are better than all Premier crus, which are better than all villages, etc. It just doesn't work that way. In the end, I think the consumers can be hurt by this as much as they can be helped.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#40 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 7th, 2013, 5:48 am

Lars Carlberg wrote:David: It depends on the vintage and the wine. You also have to factor in the acidity level, the pH value, as well as the dry extract. I don't think you can isolate the RS level. I've just spent the last few days on the Ruwer and Saar, and there are plenty of wines above 4 g/l RS that taste dry.
It does depend. Many things do. But I find more than 4 or 5 g/l tastesble on entry, even if the wine finishes dry. If trocken is some badge of honor then why blur the edges. If the wines need the exra RS for balance (they often do) then admit that truly dry wines are not what is being sold. Right now trocken is a concept, not a fact.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#41 Post by Lars Carlberg » June 7th, 2013, 6:58 am

David, it's not necessarily a question of need, but often where the spontaneously fermented wine ends up. It's difficult to compare, for example, Rheingau dry Rieslings with Mosels. A light Saar Riesling with a pH value of 3 or under, 8.5 per mil acidity, and 10 grams of sugar per liter can taste very dry on entry. I just spent the morning at Falkenstein tasting a couple of cask samples and bottles from 2012. They have wines above 5 grams of sugar that are dry. It's not a concept, but a fact.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#42 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 7th, 2013, 7:20 am

They taste dry to you. So many times I have heard about wines, even with high acids, tasting dry with 5 to 9 g/l of RS, and I always get the sweetness on entry. That has been especially true over the last several years as I have become hypersensitive to sweetness I still like it, but really pick it up at low levels.

Anyway, my overall point is not to use a word-trocken-unless the wine truly is dry. Right now it is used too subjectively in my opinion. Whether we are speaking of a Mosel or a Rheingau wine is irrelevant as the same word is used everywhere. Only the deeply initiated care about the subtle nuances that make up most of this discussion.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#43 Post by Bill H o o p e r » June 7th, 2013, 9:28 am

Respectfully, I think that many of you are missing the point. The members of the VDP are not unhappy about being members. The VDP is for each and every one of them a very useful MARKETING organization. The sole purpose of the VDP is to help the producer-members to sell wine. The producers have a voice in the matter of rule-changes and are free to leave at any time if they disagree with those changes. That they don’t leave speaks very firmly about the advantages of being part of the group. Furthermore, most producers don’t want a larger selection of wines to sell. It is both a production and marketing nightmare. Many of the village wines and practically all of the estate wines are blends from different parcels within a village or a vorlese harvest from all of their holdings. Unless a vineyard is well-known enough to command a greater price than your village wine, why bother with the small tank-capacity (it takes a hell of a lot more work to make twenty different 500 liter batches than it does one 10 thousand liter batch, not to mention sell them all), limited commercial appeal, and distribution problems (more sample bottles, having to re-sell on your list placement, etc.) that it entails. In the RARE cases where a producer does have a bone to pick, they come up with a fantasy, or soil-type, or parcel name for that wine. I don’t see the problem in that.

The VDP is not in place to promote all of Germany’s vineyards. It is up the individual independent non-VDP producer to take on the challenge of marketing their own vineyards on their own. Do you expect the NFL to promote the CFL teams?

If the wines from an unclassified vineyard from a VDP-member can consistently prove its worth (as far as demonstrating unique properties and not being destroyed by frost every few years), I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be promoted to Erste Lage.

And why hold the Germans to a higher standard than the rest of the world regarding legally dry wines with some residual sugar? Do you think that all California Chardonnay, Alsace Pinot Gris, Hermitage Blanc, Chablis, Italian Pinot Grigio, Vouvray Sec, Brut Champagne, Austrian Grüner Veltliner and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc –not to mention many red wines are under 4 g/l residual sugar? Hardly. Yet we don’t question the dryness of these wines. That discussion is almost unique to Riesling.

Lastly, I would never proclaim that all of the greatest German wineries are even VDP members but I think that with very few exceptions, the consumer of German wine is at least assured of a pretty damn good bottle of wine bought from those producers who claim membership. The structure isn’t perfect (exhibit A being this thread involving some of the very biggest Riesling proponents), but it is far better than what was in place before. There are many non-VDP producers in Germany following this model not because they want to gain membership, but because they think that the system will help them also sell wine.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#44 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 7th, 2013, 9:55 am

Bill,

Two things:

Not all top Chardonnays or Pinot Gris sport the word trocken on the label.

Having yet another classification system for German wines makes things more confusing, regardless of what great marketing it is .
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#45 Post by Christian G.E. Schiller » June 7th, 2013, 10:12 am

Of course, there are many outstanding wine producers among the 30.000 or so German wine makers. But I think your best bet to catch

the top 1000: go to Gault Millau
the top 200: go to VDP membership list
the top 100: go to Handelsblatt online and Vinum list
the top 10: go to Gault Millau with 5 stars.

My red wine favorite in Germany - niche wine producer Moebitz - is not on any of the lists. Still I think these are good and reliable listings.
Last edited by Christian G.E. Schiller on June 8th, 2013, 5:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#46 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 7th, 2013, 10:34 am

Hmph
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#47 Post by Bill H o o p e r » June 7th, 2013, 12:50 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Bill,

Two things:

Not all top Chardonnays or Pinot Gris sport the word trocken on the label.

Having yet another classification system for German wines makes things more confusing, regardless of what great marketing it is .
Yes, but dryness is implied in those other wines. The only reason that German Riesling stands out from the rest is that it has become, in every market to some extent (Germany and abroad), heavily associated with sweetness for a good part of the modern era. Now we are faced with a big challenge: not to overcome that reputation, but to somehow work in tandem with it and to try to get people to understand that Riesling can also compete with any of the great dry white wines of the world, as it did historically. And really, this goes for every Riesling-producing area of the world –one of the probable reasons that Riesling is so cheap (outside of Germany, Austria, and Alsace) is that there is so much consumer confusion about what it is and potential wineries don’t want to deal with the headache of selling it. This VDP-model hopes to contribute to the clarity of the matter. Whether or not it is successful, time will tell.

Parallel classification systems are always confusing. But really, Riesling Spätlese Trocken is confusing (not to mention Auslese Trocken). Even Germans associate Spätlese with sweet.

And which vineyard or quality classification isn’t confusing? They all have either too much or too little information.

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Bill
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#48 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 7th, 2013, 1:04 pm

Bill-you are never going to convince me. I've been through so many German wine labeling fads (Charta, Classic,Selection,etc) that the various authorities have lost all credibility with me. I give this one five years until they come up with something else.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#49 Post by James Wright » June 7th, 2013, 4:28 pm

if Beuker did not exist, then some clownish and otherwise insignificant and defnitely minor deity would have to invent him.

nb Germans do not shoot themselves in the foot. they shoot themselves in the knee.
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New VDP Classification System in Germany

#50 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 7th, 2013, 4:48 pm

Oh James...such a rapier wit. Thankfully I know what wines you rep, so I can avoid them.
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