Grosses Gewächs - your thoughts?

The Grosser Ring is among the groups and individuals who seem less than enthralled about the Grosses Gewächs classification, the former with a statement:

It is with great scepticism that we observe the movement to establish ‘Erstes Gewächs’ (‘First Growth’) or ‘Grosses Gewächs’ as a sort of ‘Super-Prädikat’ above and beyond the existing qualitative designations. A new appellation only makes sense if the consumer understands and trusts it. Without this understanding and trust, a new wine designation only sows confusion and aggravation.

Grosses Gewächs commands a premium, typically, over other German wines, often significant. Some have argued it was simply a move to establish a greater respect for German wines, so that they, too, have a ‘First Growth’ signature of some sort, as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and even California (as ‘cult’) have - essentially, a marketing ploy.

I’m a big fan of GG, and wonder what your thoughts on it are, as it is relatively new to the market, and not yet fully accepted.

This wording of that quote confuses me:

… ‘Grosses Gewächs’ as a sort of ‘Super-Prädikat’ above and beyond the existing qualitative designations…

I thought the prädikat designations were quantitative, rather than qualitative, in nature, no? The term “Super-Prädikat” doesn’t really make sense to me.

‘Super’ is indeed quantitative, ‘Super’ is short for Superlatively More Expensive ! Since GG skips the prädikat process and are Qualitätswein, just like Tuscan wines with Cabernet can’t be DOCG, rather Super-Tuscan, ones has to assume that producers follow the letter of the ‘recommendations’ made by VDP (see below). I assume the VDP test body would be equivalent to the tasting process for prädikat wines.

I am not sure how that last rule affects quality…

Perhaps ‘super’ in this case means ‘outside’, as in outside the Pradikat guidelines.

The inferences that it is just more expensive, for no legitimate reason, are what intrigue me.

Interesting supposition, Todd. If true, I guess I’m then struck by the Grosser Ring’s odd choice of the words “above and beyond”. Of course, something could be getting lost in translation, too.

I am sitting here in Ho Chi Min City at the airport and waiting for my flight to Frankfurt. I just had been reading through all the questions, concerning the Grosses Gewächs and the VDP rules. This is a very complex issue, which I am happy to dive in and to give my thoughts after I am back in Germany. My flight announcement just came through and I have to leave the forum now for the next 15 hours!

Looking forward to it! Safe travels!

The VDP classification system is basically a 2-track classification system.

For the sweet-style wines, the old system with the predicats continues to apply. TBA is the highest predicat.

For dry wines, a kind of Bourgogne classification applies, with all wines being marketed as QbA (thus, they can be chaptalized). Here are the 4 quality layers (as of the 2013 vintage):

• VDP Grosse Lage (cf. Grand Cru in Burgundy)
• VDP Erste Lage (cf. Premier Cru in Burgundy)
• VDP Ortswein (cf. Village in Burgundy)
• VDP Gutswein (cf. Bourgogne régional in Burgundy)

Looking forward to your feedback/thoughts, Ernst!

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I think it is very important that Germany is rediscovering their old traditions, which includes to emphasize their traditional vineyards and the traditional grape varieties.
-The Rheingau and the Mosel have the two oldest vineyard classifications maps (Bordeaux is a winery classification, not a vineyard classification) in the world so the history is there. The map I use for the the Mosel is from 1868 and was produces by the Prussian government. I wished the VDP would have kept the whole classification as simple as it is in Burgundy, adjusted to the German Prädikatsystem! The VDP should have kept the symbol 1 with grapewine (1:.) behind the vineyard name as a logo for the Grand Cru/first growth vineyards. That would have made it simple to everybody in the world to recognize a German grand Cru vineyard.
I still like the idea of the VDP, that the Prädikatnames are reserved for the traditional fruity style Rieslings with some residual sweetness and that the dry wines do not bear a Prädikat anymore. I do not really understand why we need an additional Logo GG with grapewine to indicate a dry wine. Why we do not simply write dry on the label instead GG, which for my opinion everybody in the world would easily understand.
My recommendation for grand Cru/1rst growth vineyards would be as follows:

Dry Riesling:
Wehlener Sonnenuhr1:. , Riesling Dry

Fruity Riesling with some residual sweetness:
Wehlener Sonnenuhr1:. , Riesling Kabinett
Wehlener Sonnenuhr1:. , Riesling Spätlese
Wehlener Sonnenuhr1:. , Riesling Auslese

Sounds pretty good to me, but precedence trumps logic most of the time.

In the new VDP scheme, the predicats are no longer central indications of quality, but just an indication of a sweetness range. The central indicator of quality is - like in Burgundy - the narrowness of the terroir: Gutswein - Ortswein - Erste Lage - Grosse Lage.

Christian,

The pradikats give zero help on sweetness and you knows that. There’s kabinett out there with the sweetness of dessert wines.

David,

in the new VDP scheme, the Prädikats are to be used exclusively for wines with residual sweetness. Specific taste profiles for the Prädikats are to be determined region by region. Members are to refrain from using Prädikats for dry and off-dry wines, “thereby enabling the Prädikats to resume their traditional meaning”, as stated by the VDP.

For more on the new VDP scheme, see:

http://schiller-wine.blogspot.com/2012/07/vdp-refines-its-classification-system.html

Christian,

That I already knew, but you said “indication of a sweetness range” and the pradikats are useless in that regard these days. Talk to me again if the VDP ever puts a cap on RS in kabinett.

For Kabinett, the VDP has set the sweetness range of 18 to 65 grams per liter sugar.

Yay!!!

Done anything with spatlese?

Not that I know of, but the Kabinett range is quite broad. There’s a big difference between 18 and 65 grams per liter sugar. Moreover, how can a VDP producer indicate a difference? And, as discussed before, how does a producer highlight a light, unchaptalized Riesling under 18 grams of sugar and below?

Complete agreement.

The Swiss are doing some amazing GG wines. Particularly Gantenbein.