Koehler-Ruprecht leaves the VDP

Yesterday, a press release announced that Koehler-Ruprecht is going to leave the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter), effective with the 2013 vintage.

Thanks, that’s interesting. Any idea why the VDP made these changes? Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but there must be a reason.

Good for them!

You’re welcome, Peter. This happened over time and for different reasons. Certain chapters and members of the VDP are in favor of the new classification, others are less enthusiastic.

The more cracks in the VDP the better IMO. They have managed to simulateously destroy tradition and stifle innovation. All in the name of further confusing the customer.

One problem is that the VDP keeps changing its rules for labeling and classifying wines. Most members are confused.

Really good write up on both the history and reasons for the classification and why KR chose to leave in the latest issue of Mosel Fine Wines. 15 pages but I finally have some understanding of why things have developed to the current confusing state.

Free subscription if you sign up.

I applaud Koehler-Ruprect, & agree with the 2 issues they keyed on.

Allowing GG’s to be Chaptalized is a mistake IMHO.

Also agree that allowing only one GG (or Trocken) per each Einzellege to carry the Einzellege name is/was a silly way to try & (over)simplify the classification system.

Thanks to Jean Fisch & David Rayer, Lars Carlberg, & Martin Zwick for bringing this to light for us with rusty (or poor) German language skills.
Bravo! to Dominik Sona & Bernd Philippi!

I may have to crack an “R” or “RR” soon to celebrate, & show solidarity. :slight_smile:



Why? Are so many 1er and Grand Cru Burgundies the worse for having been chaptalized? The great old ones especially?

Doug, I don’t think chaptalization is bad either, but the history of top German Riesling and the VDP is based on unchaptalized wines, formerly called “natural wines.”

Exactly. If the GG wines are supposed to represent the best of what Germany has to offer (at least for those who believe trocken is inherently superior), then allowing tricks that would not be allowed for “lesser” wines is illogical and disingenuous.

David, I think some of the reasons for leaving off the Prädikats for dry German Rieslings has a little to do with taste profiles. In other words, if there’s a Prädikat on the label, then the wine will have noticeable residual sugar. The VDP didn’t see a need for keeping Kabinett/Spätlese/Auslese trocken and halbtrocken.

That’s not what I am talking about Lars. I find it disingenuous that they would allow chaptalization while basically trying to consign the unchaptalized wines to the dustbin of history.

Whatever they are thinking it is wrongheaded, and the credibility of the VDP is strained at best and more likely shattered for me. I have one purchase commitment for. 2013 GG wine and then I am done.

Though the VDP focuses on GG, they do highlight the sweet Prädikat wines still. For example, there are tasting events for fruity Spätlese, as well as the various auctions, in Germany. To be fair, I’d recommend for those who are interested to read the VDP’s detailed history and classification at vdp.de.

Trying to keep from getting blacklisted by the VDP?

Wow, that’s pretty extreme not to even want to buy any more GG’s, David. Surely you understood all along that they could be chaptalized. I understand what you and Lars are saying, but here’s my take.

When the VDP started with their stand against sugar additions, it was being done not only to enrich the must and boost final alcohol, but also to sweeten the final wine, which I think most people agree is not suitable for quality wine. Even the must enrichment purpose was being completely abused, with grapes harvested at high yields and less than full phenolic ripeness, then sugar being dumped in to boost the final alcohol so it seemed like real wine to those who didn’t know the difference. It was important at that time to take a stand against those ridiculous practices in order to promote and ensure the production of quality wine.

I don’t mean to pretend that I am saying anything either of you doesn’t know, but I think that sets the stage for these points. That type of thinking is no longer relevant. Any producers of high quality German wines these days would only use must enrichment judiciously, and I doubt that any of them are breaking the law by sweetening with sugar rather than sussreserve. The major and widespread problems that caused their early crusade are simply not issues today among the large number of widely respected producers. The VDP reserves the right to kick members out, and I think they would exercise that right on a member making GG’s that have obviously been messed with. When must enrichment is used reasonably, it doesn’t give that impression. I doubt that it has been practiced much if at all since the GG designation existed anyway because at the ripeness levels involved, there is no benefit to having extra alcohol in a wine fermented to the level of trocken. I’m sure there are a small number of exceptions, but the more pragmatic winemakers would have had no reason up until maybe 2013.

I guess I’m just not that caught up in the history of this organization to now have a problem with this detail. I think it’s far more stupid to not allow multiple GG bottlings from the same site, producer, and vintage, which is one of the reasons for Koehler-Ruprecht leaving, and understandably. In fact, there are a bunch of other reasons for having problems with what the VDP has done that I think are far more valid and worthy of disagreement. The fact that they have faith that their members want to produce quality wines is not one of them. For the most part, I think that is true. If you want to talk about how the VDP keeps changing their rules and nomenclature to the extent that even the producers can barely follow, in the name of clarity for consumers when it actually provides the opposite, I’ll be right there with you. Getting all worked up over the potential to enrich the must of a GG wine is something I just don’t understand or agree with. Maybe you can help me to understand as I know you both have far deeper knowledge of these issues than I do. I still might not agree, and doubt that I will, but I always appreciate the opportunity to learn something and think about German wine. Feel free to correct any errors in what I have said, but I am confident that the larger point does make sense.

I don’t care if Koehler-Ruprecht is in the VDP or not. I think it’s good to have some top producers not in the organization. The VDP has some great points about the current state of German wine law, and yet they make all of these rules which keep changing and seem not to be doing much (any?) better themselves. It reminds me of so many areas of politics where groups like to take a stand and point out problems and yet are unable to actually make any improvements. I also see the trocken-is-best dogma and I think that is ridiculous. Still, I’m not going to say I am against the VDP for not feeling the need to hold on strongly to views that have lost much of their relevance. Most of the other things they were against back then and through the years are still completely relevant, but that is another topic.

Do you think that the VDP is reading this wine forum? And why should I be afraid of being blacklisted by the VDP? If so, I wouldn’t have published my article on Koehler-Ruprecht leaving the VDP. Did you read it and my comments? I know that the VDP and many of its members read my website. Likewise, I’ve been critical in other (free) articles on my site, such as “Unlocking the Kabinett” and “Wine Atlas of Germany.”

I just felt your reaction is a little extreme, especially for someone who likes Dönnhoff’s GGs. As I pointed out, the VDP sends invitations for tasting events that focus on Spätlese and other wines. It’s not just the GG category that gets promoted by the VDP.

I should add that I also wrote some critical remarks about this topic under “1971.”

Doug, I agree with your take on this.

Curious to know how many wineries have been asked to leave the VDP?

I know of one who was asked to leave because of quality.

Robert, I don’t know. In the Grosser Ring (VDP Mosel-Saar Ruwer), there are a few wine estates that are lagging behind in quality. There are also estates which should have been admitted in the Grosser Ring, but were blocked by certain members or factions (Mosel vs. Saar). The VDP Pfalz and Rheinhessen are generally more open to admitting new estates.