Germany's 2021 vintage - as seen through the lens of Weingut Keller

Dennis, and yet it’s a small report compared to The Riesling Report on Weingut Keller… Can you imagine? :wink:

Thanks Rodrigo, more notes and impressions on German wine coming soon.

Charlie, I warned you…this is only for the seriously wine passionate people without a life. You need time to read it. If just interested in impressions on the actuall wines, scroll down and ignore my take on the vintage, the winery in general and my steamy account on how I lost my virginity in the Abtserde vineyard, thanks to Julia Keller. [blush2.gif]

Paula, feedback will come - but still remains second priority at the moment. That’s the main draw-back of not being a full-time professional wine critic - ahhh, the time (!) I would have to taste and publish extensive reports with impressions and news from the wineries… So the answer to your question, I have no time whatsover to roam the German country side to taste many non-VDP estates (with some notable exceptions). Although the VDP estates are just the icing on the cake, I think most wine lovers passionate enough to hang around at wine forums like this, are most often familiar with and drink these (VDP) very wines. I too was at the excellent Mainzer Weinbörse and as always, despite me running between the estates with fours glasses at a time (to speed up the tasting and make room for comparisons), I barely had time to scratch the surface of so many fun and interesting wineries. I wish we would have five days, instead of two - and even that wouldn’t be enough to taste them all. Instead, I need to find those small gaps in my schedule as a full-time teacher, when I can make quick commando raids to Germany in my spare time and with those limited restirictions try to to taste has many wines and possible. At least I finished my short trip according to plan, by spending a lovely afternoon with Rebecca when tasting the portfolio at Dr Crusius and then with Maximin the last day at Maximin Grünhaus, only to quickly return to Frankfurt…to miss my flight. Staaau and total chaos at the airport resulted in a “fun” experience sleeping overnight on the floor at the airport. But then again, as they say, it’s passion, isn’t it?

The tasting with the Haag family (Schloss-Lieser) was so much fun, with the biggest surprises to me being the wonderful feinherb lineup this year. Crispy, salty and simply delicious. Looking forward to the GGs on my next trip. The re-tasting at Willi Schaefer was “boring”. I mean, what can you say? Wine after wine like a delicate feather barely touching your palate… I could basically have finished their production on my own (if Christoph and Andrea would allow me). Tasting with Oliver at Fritz Haag was, as always, an absolute delight and some of the wines this year (the 2021 vintage), mark my words… I’ll be stocking up (for medicinal purposes, of course…). When residual sugar meets slate salinity and minerality, combined white the peach aromas of the Brauneberg Juffer site, it creates…magic. Tasting at Dönnhoff (two days) was just one big confirmation that some of their wines this year are simply outrageously delicious. I was particularly pleased with the Weissburgunder S this year but then…some of the Rieslings… OMG. Dr Heger, Künsler and Meyer-Näkel were full of suprises. So much to report on!

But more on that later, now my lunch break at work is over and it’s time for the main priority - setting grades for about 200 students. Deadline today and tomorrow. [dash1.gif]

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My students have FINALLY been kicked out of school and are now on a path taking them to the next educational lever. Once they are finished, they’ll be able to say: "Still confused, but on a higher level."

So, a perfect opportunity to reply to the always interesting (and valuable!) discussion about German wine. To digress just for a second, I find it funny that German wines seem to be some of the most discussed among winelovers and consumers on wine forums all over the world, yet the state German wine reviews from professional wine publications still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to coverage and timing. Therefore, Kudos to you Paula, that you are roaming the Germann countryside and attending fabulous wine events such as Mainzer Weinbörse (I was there too and enjoyed every second - wished it would have been two more days). We need more passionate professional wine critics with a boots-on-the-ground mentality, visiting Germany (like attending the Weinbörse) and also knocking on the doors of wine estates. It’s through personal visits and meetings with winemakers, where news and ideas are exchanged, the best reports on wines and vintages will emerge, in my opinion.

As for for the rain remarks, I seem to be not alone in feeling it has, perhaps, been a little exeggerated. At least if you look at the facts (and facts DO matter). Stephen Bitterolf echos my sentiment with his own outcry: "The few preliminary vintage reports I’ve read I find maddening. The rain, the rain, the rain, the rain – as if any of this tells you anything, really." In fact, his excellent vintage report on Germany are full of quotes I wholeheartedly agree with, based on my own observations from my four occasions visiting Germany this year (with me heading there for a fifth visit soon) and talking to the winemakers. I understand it’s difficult not to be emotional about the devastating flooding in the Ahr, with so much death and destruction. It truly breaks your heart. I’ve heard horrible stories of people holding on to branches literally fighting for their lives and estates having lost most of their equipment and inventory but also stories of heroism with many winemakers from other regions rushing over, personally offering their assistance with both people from their own wine estates and also equipment. However, facts remain - and those are that 2021 saw less rainfall than even a highly regarded vintage like 2019.

What actually happened, are the very same thing I usually teach in my Science classes, that with climate change, we will see a trend of more oscillating extremes, although averages might remain the same in some parts of the world. Even a monthly percipitation of 0, 0, 0, 0, 500 mm will render the same average as 100, 100, 100, 100, 100 mm. It’s the timing if the rainfall that will affect the outcome. Flowering was late, followed by cool and rainy weather, so should the rainy weather continue into autumn, we would have a “problematic” vintage, to say the least! As was the case, the Indian summer in September and blue skies and cold nights not only saved the vintages but created some wines that happen to be some of the best wines I’ve had the pleasure to taste. Particularly wines that are locked into a wild dance of residual sugar, acidity, salinity and minerality. What the rains durimngh summer DID, aside for the terrible flooding, was creating a sometimes “impossible” task for the winemakers. Imagine, you go out spraying in the vineyard on Monday and on Tuesday the rain has flushed all that effort away. You go out again on Wednesday and then on Thursday…I think people will get the picture. Not to mention how not-so-fun it was actually working in the muddy conditions inside the vineyards. And then the mildew, that fortunately came early enough to mostly cause considerable reductions in yields but reductions nevertheless. So, imagine a vintage with three times the work while at the same time a halving of harvest yields - things could have been better. Except for the fact that for those who did the hardship work in the vineyards and stayed with low yields, they had some of the most singular examples of wines in thier cellars. Now is the time for people to taste them and share impressions - it will be fun to compare! :slight_smile:

One thing that I don’t agree on (but how fun would discussions be if we would all in unison nod in agreement on every topic?), is the expression "Acid freaks unite" - despite the apparent freshness, I actually don’t feel it’s a particularly “acidic” vintages. Remember other cool vintages like 2004 or 2008? And even 2010, 2013, 2017 - but maybe not as pronounced as the vintages from early 2000s. Some very truly acidic in their youth (and look at the beauties they have become now…) but the 2021 vintages offer an aciditity that is so utterly beautifully integrated already now from the start. I’ll quote Stephen again since he basically mimics my own take on the vintage: “For vintage 2021, the acidities, in general, are strong; they are brisk, yellow- and green-toned jewels (in the best way), herbal and incisive. Yet the very low pH levels for many of the 2021ers mean that these tenacious acids feel even more lucid, more reverberating, longer, more present, more persistent. On the other hand, the lower yields also mean the dry extracts are also very high in 2021; the uptake of minerals and especially potassium, was dramatic. These dry extracts act to buffer the intensity of the high acid and low pH combination.” Amen to that. And all those numbers and technical details aside - more importantly - by now I have also tasted the wines at numerous estates (not just at Manzer Weinbörse but mostly personal visits to the the wineries) and my impressions so far is Wow-Wow-Wow! :slight_smile:

Kudos to you, Paula, and to all others who actually take their time and make an effort writing about German wines. I think there are many, many wine lovers out there who would like to know more about their favourite wines and estates and would love to receive additional input. Hopefully we’ll meet on the road this summer, because I for one, will jump into my car and bounce like a pinball between the various estates, VDP and non-VDP, and share my impressions here and in The Riesling Report this year.

In my humble opinion, this will be a vintage that we will remember for a long, loaway part of the bottles and give the key to your neighbour, with firm instructions not to give you the key until a particular a priori established date, no matter how much you beg.


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School has finally ended, so now you (we) can get on with your German wineries and wines review! The suspense is excruciating!

However, my dentist has forbidden me to drink any of the 2021s German whites because the pH is so low, it dissolves my teeth to nubs.
Fortunately my dental insurance covers implants and dentures! (Orders another case of Kabinett Trocken…) [bye2.gif]

Thank you, Miran, for your kind words and insightful observations. We are in agreement that “It’s through personal visits and meetings with winemakers, where news and ideas are exchanged, the best reports on wines and vintages will emerge, in my opinion.” And trust me when I say that while what you might be reading is the recent report on the fairs, that’s only because these last two months have seen the culmination of 2 years of delayed fairs. The other 10 months I’m visiting, talking, and walking with those growers. It really is the only way.

As for the rain: I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. The overall numbers may not reflect it, but it was the focused and copious amounts in a short time frame that feel in certain regions that were indeed catastrophic (südpfalz, for example). And I would argue that for those living in it, and trying to make a living from it, it set an impossible situation. As you said, the labor was three times the average year for half (or less) of the normal results. This is not sustainable. Yes the wines are stunning, but either the prices need to be drastically raised to make it sustainable or something else needs to give. Thus, I for one, can not simply celebrate. I love great wines as much as the next person, but I want to see the whole ecosystem survive.

As for the Ahr, the stories are heroism are heartwarming indeed; but if you were there pulling bodies out of the mud, seeing an entire valley lost, and a population in utter shock with no idea how to rebuild; if you return a year later to see a valley facing a decade of labor ahead of them to get halfway to the point where they were, the continued trauma, the suicide numbers, the ghost towns. Well, for us boots on the grounders, precipitation numbers be damned, when it comes to 2021, the rain that led to that night is going to be what we remember.

Hi Miran!

Sorry to bother but may I ask if there is a “regular” '21 Scheu Kabinett besides your mentioned 2021 Scheurebe Kabinett “Alte Reben”?

Many thanks


Yes there is, but no Trocken this year. Which makes me very sad and Miran very happy.

Miran, I’m not sure how I missed this psychedelic, kaleidoscopic, free associative minor masterpiece. For a mathemetician, you aren’t shy with the words.

And in the spirit of your amusing video asides, I offer you this as a Keller acolyte:

I find this perplexing. Mildew destroys the canopy as well as the fruit, impeding ripening. I really struggle to imagine any circumstances where a severe attack of mildew can be spun as a good thing for a vineyard. Is this something many producers claimed was the case?

This report just made me rather thirsty!

Quite a write-up! I brought in a young associate to read it and brief it for me. My secretary is now looking for some of these bottles.

Such work…


I hope Paula will respond.

However its a wineboard so I am going to take a guess and say because there was so much fruit dropped to fight the mildew once the weather warmed and we saw a fantastic turnaround in the last month before harvest, the fruit that remained became more concentrated. Not necessarily that one would hope for mildew especially because of the reduced yields which were severe in many cases with some organic producers losing as much as 90% of their crop.

Mildew is never a good thing.
However, this being a forum, one must allow for writer’s ‘artistic liberties’ and not everything can be taken as 100% gospel.

In case you don’t know the writer is the German Wine Critic for Jancis Robinson, Founder of Trink and lives in Germany and is very connected with all the growers.

Yes, thank you.
This being a forum, there are many who read these comments with varying degrees of knowledge and easily can become confused, which is why I directed my post to the third person “one” and not directly to the esteemed Mr. Kelley “you”, whom I would never presume to be confused on the subject.

Let’s also not forget how easily it is to misconstrue a post on a forum; the writer is in one frame of mind and the reader is in another. Sorry if I am misinterpreted, I am writing short and quick as I jump between chores and errands as I prepare for work tomorrow and eventually going to bed (it is 21:30 in the evening here).

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I believe the writer in question is Paula who is the German-wine specialist for Jancis Robinson, not William who is the Burgundy/Champagne/Bordeaux editor for Robert Parker.


so, there are 2021 Scheurebe

Kabinett (off-dry)
Kabinett “Alte Reben”


Is that it, are there more Scheu’s or am I missing a point (or a wine)?


I also hope Paula will respond. But to address William’s question directly as to producers claiming this, I can quote some from the MFW report.

Selections from the very long text by Jean and David:

“The heavy rains in July proved a defining moment but, unlike in other regions, did not affect the region equally: Cooler regions fared better.
After a short heat wave at the end of June, massive rain totaling over 200mm fell down during the two first week of July, much more than in 2020, 2019, and 2020 combined. This led naturally to quite some outbreaks of rot (in particular Peronospora), but its effect varied a lot, as Christian Hermann noted: “In our area, the Erdener Treppchen got hit quite hard but the neighboring Ürziger Würzgarten much less so.” The reports from the Saar were more positive: No grower we spoke to saw massive impact from the July rains and the ensuing outbreak of rot. As one grower noted: “The Saar is cooler, sometimes it is an advantage!” However, across the Mosel, organic growers reported enormous losses in terms of yields due to Peronospora.”

“Yields proved quite varied, but overall, they remain fair to normal (also in contrast to other German wine regions).
The outbreak of Peronospora in July led to quite some stress and also reduction of yields (they are particularly dramatic at organic estates). But the outbreak was far from uniform: In some vineyards it was heavy, in others hardly noticeable. The cooler Saar as a whole was also comparatively spared. The result is that the impact of the rains on yields was not as big as that reported from other regions in Germany. Some Estates even had completely normal yields.”

"Readers should plunge upon the brilliant fruity-styled wines, which have the lightness of the finest vintages ever in the region.
We have tasted a fair share of wines by now and we are still under the impression of the fruity-styled wines. These wines have the lightness of the
1990s and the fruit precision and zest of grand modern vintages. Already now, some of these wines are candidates for wine perfection. While
stylistically, the result may vary from a tad ripe to slightly underripe in terms of flavors and from intense to less intense in term of texture, most of
these wines will offer grandiose drinking pleasure in a few years (keep in mind only one proviso which we address here below: de-acidification).
While there are many mesmerizing Kabinett, the full magic happens at Spätlese level!

All eyes have been on Kabinett in recent years, and there are also some truly great Kabinett in 2021. But this is often at the expense of other
categories. Here we would like to draw your attention to the so unique Spätlese, a truly shunned category, but which more than delivered in 2021,
as the additional touch of ripeness allowed it in order to have a residual sugar / acidity couple often close to perfection!"

So, Peronospora was really an issue in the relatively warmer vineyards of the Middle Mosel, not in the cooler Saar, and presumably not so much in Mosel vineyards like Richter’s Elisenberg which is relatively cooler (though I have no direct information on this). I’ve gathered some of their quotes by the Mosel winemakers and underlined what I think are relevant parts. (Though I’m no farming expert.)

Quote by Christian Hermann (Weingut Dr. Hermann – Middle Mosel) -

“The Erdener Treppchen was particularly hit by Peronospora and we had a lot of work to fight against it, but all our efforts paid off in the end, even though we lost 40% of our yields there. Yields proved normal in Ürzig, Kinheim, and Piesport so that our average yields at the Estate are just below 60 hl/ha. We only started our harvest on October 14 under really good conditions with clean and fully ripe grapes, even though the Oechsle levels were not hugely high and thus great to produce refined and light-weighted wines, something which I’m really looking for.” –

MFW uniformly rated his Erdener Treppchen wines at the top of their categories in his collection.

Quote from Konstantin Weiser (Weingut Weiser-Künstler – Middle Mosel) -

“The growing conditions were quite wet, especially the summer, and this brought a > heavy Peronospora pressure in our vineyards, especially after the flowering. We therefore had an important reduction of our yields. The weather proved cool and the acidity levels remained on the high side. > Fortunately, sunny and dry weather arrived in September and essentially lasted until the end of the harvest. We actually started on October 4 and were finished by October 25. We had the help of a lot of people, which allowed us to do > strict and necessary selections in order to only bring in perfectly ripe and clean fruit. > I really like the acidity in the wines and I had never experienced such a vintage before. It is a very special vintage for Kabinett. We also adapted the wines and for instance there will be no Grosse Eule in 2021, as the grapes were just so beautiful to produce fruity-styled wines.”

Quote from Alex Loersch (Weingut Loersch – Middle Mosel):

“The results are really very good. We had great harvest conditions and were able to produce all quality levels in our line-up. The wines are elegant and refined with good acidity levels. The weather proved cool and wet during summer but turned out to be great as of September. > I delayed the harvest as long as possible as the acidity levels were still on the high side. > We started on October 10, but it was even still early. So, we decided to do some pre-harvest and selections and really only started on October 14. The selection we did at the beginning directly allowed us to bring in Auslese, at up to 105° Oechsle. However, the botrytis proved overall rare and grapes proved beautifully clean and healthy. We harvested each vineyard bit by bit, starting in Dhron as the acidity levels proved lower there. Yields proved quite low, at only 40-45 hl/ha and in addition to the long waiting time, it brought us superb quality. I had no fear that the grapes would rot so we would take the necessary time to do our selections. > We even brought in Kabinett fruit towards the end of the harvest from the Apotheke. > We were also able to do some strict selections in order to bring in some botrytized grapes from the Hofberg and the Apotheke. > You really had the feeling that ripeness and Oechsle were coming with more hanging time, while the acidity levels were just slightly lower. > Harvest was completed on November 5, except for some grapes we lead in the Altärchen for Eiswein and which we could harvest on the morning of December 22. I believe that 2021 is a typical Kabinett vintage. But it is also the first time ever that we were able to harvest all Prädikat levels in one vintage!”

Quote by Constantin Richter (Max Ferd Richter – Middle Mosel):

“I find the 2021 wines even better than our 2020s as they prove even finer and lighter. The vintage started with dry conditions, and March and April were sunny but cool, which led to later bud break. May brought a lot of rain and thus good water levels in the soils. Flowering only started at the end of June, so that everything was put delayed. The summer proved rainy, > causing considerable infection of fungus disease. We had to fight against it until the end of August, which caused us to have reduced yields. In addition, the ripening process was still quite retarded. > Hopefully as of the beginning of September, the weather turned out to be really superb with dry, sunny, and warm days. We started our harvest on October 11 and were over at the beginning of November, except for some grapes which we let for Eiswein in our Mülheimer Helenenkloster parcel. > The grapes were clean physiologically fully ripe, due to the long vegetation cycle, yet had low levels of Oechsle > so that the bulk of our harvest is QbA and Kabinett and we only have small amounts of Spätlese and Auslese. We were also able to harvest small quantities of fully botrytized fruit in the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. We eventually were able to harvest frozen grapes on December 22."

I short, I think as William puts it, there were a lot of issues ripening grapes. And a lot of selection and hang time was needed. And it was the warmer and drier fall that allowed for that hang time that got them ripe, not the concentration from clipping moldy bunches (nor do producers seem to be claiming this). But, again, I’m no expert.

Very interesting! Thanks for the digest.

I don’t mean to me rude but I think you are mixing things up or saying the same thing I am confused : ) For reference I spent two weeks in Germany in August 2021 and just came back from 10 days visiting 20 growers. Up until the weather turned in late August 2021 growers were in the vineyards constantly removing rot, when the vintage turned there were a lot less grapes hanging which caused them to be more concentrated. The same thing happens when growers intentionally drastically drop fruit however when it is forced the wines can lose acid and are out of balance. From what I tasted the 2021 wines are ripe but also very light and perfectly balanced, at least at the top growers.

In theory there could be higher Pradikat wines. I only tasted the Kabinett and the Alte Reben which is a newer wine. KP specifically mentioned there will not be a Trocken in 2021 (I think Miran snuck into the winery and stopped the fermentation).

Hopefully Miran can chime in.

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Again I’ll quote Jean and David:

2021 yielded wines with moderate alcohol content, firm acidity, great freshness, and often remarkable intensity. After reading the text on growing conditions, the resulting wines have an alcohol lightness not seen in many years if not decades. In addition, the wines show quite some zest and comparable freshness. In many ways, this is how Mosel wine is expected to be and these wines do bring a smile on the face. What proves remarkable is that most wines combine the above with quite some aromatic intensity. > The rain during the summer made for huge levels of dry extracts > and this allows to buffer off the acidity and make the wines show a lot more depth and complexity than just limedriven raciness and linearity from firm acidity on the palate.

Here’s a quote from Johannes and Erich Weber (Hofgut Falkenstein — Saar)

“2021 was a vintage like we knew them from the past, when the weather was temperate, punctured with a few really sunny days, but overall rather mild. Spring was not overly hot and we did see a bit of frost around the Ice Saints in May. July was rainy but this was nothing unusual until recently! After years of starting our harvest in September, we only started our Riesling harvest on October 10. Unlike other recent years, the good but overly warm weather allowed us to wait and optimize the timing of our pickings even more. In the end, we only finished our harvest around mid-November. What impresses me most in the wines is not so much the bright acidity but the fact that > the water during the growing season gave the wines a high level of dry extracts. This adds enormous presence to the wines. > Our wines have marked acidity but this is what we are looking for as well and I really enjoy the result!”

Quote from Florian Lauer (Weingut Peter Lauer — Saar)

“Unlike other parts of Germany, the Saar did not suffer from massive Peronospora outbreaks in July. The reason is simple: it is much cooler here. This means that we had a rather normal vintage with normal yields. The acidities are firm > but the rains during the summer made for high dry extracts levels, which contribute to buffer off the acidity. > Harvest was quite late when compared with other vintages. We only started on October 1 and finished on November 11. We were able to produce everything up to Spätlese but there is no Auslese this year. All in all, I’m quite excited about the vintage: It reminds me a little bit of 2004 but mostly to vintages from the early 1990s, when the wines were not overly ripe nor made from extremely low yields. Yet the result was terrific.”

Notice both Peter Lauer and Falkenstein are Saar producers, where there was little Peronospora. And yet both are claiming high dry extracts which give presence to the wines, what you call concentration.

If the concentration were a matter of the cuttings done due to mildew then you’d expect it in the Middle Mosel, where yields were low due to Peronospora, but not in Saar where some places had normal yields. Yet you have it in both because the cause is the rainy summer producing high levels of dry extracts, not the pruning.

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