Labels on German Auction Wines

A recent purchase of my first Auction wine - 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Spatlese - has led to a new question. The label does not say ‘Auction’ - so I’m assuming there is another mark/word on the label the signifies that it is an Auction wine?? [scratch.gif]

Nice first go. Love Schaefer.

I would think the AP number would be unique to that lot. Not sure where you find the guide to those though.

Thanks Chris - so there isn’t a universal indicating factor across all German labels? Much like Spatlese or Auslese for ripeness?

Those levels are dictated by government policy. Most everything else is up to the whims of the particular house. I’m not familiar with the auction wines in particular but for special bottlings there are several ways producers distinguish from the regular. Gold capsules, long capsules, stars(asterisks). Sometimes just different AP numbers tell the take with no indication on the label otherwise.

Good luck. [wink.gif]

Maybe they should start selling decoder rings for German label designations… headbang

There is one already, and it’s available for free! Check the front section of Terry Theise’s import catalog (available for download here), where he explains how to read German labels, including the all important AP numbers. Sometimes there are stickers attached to the bottles designating the auction, but depending on how the bottles get here, there might be no sticker at all. So the safest bet is to distinguish by AP numbers. Some producers do have proprietary systems though. At Zilliken, for instance, the auction version of a wine will always have an AP number one lower than the regular version. So if there’s a regular and an auction Spätlese, the regular might have AP#8 and the auction AP#7. Dönnhoff also uses a gold capsule on his auction Spätlese. But there is not general system for designation. The word for auction,by the way, is Versteigerung, and an auction wine is a Versteigerungswein.

As far as your bottle of Schaefer goes: Theise’s 2006 catalog indicates that he imported two regular 2005 Graacher Domprobst Spätlesen from Schaefer, one AP#7 and one AP#8. On Cellartracker, people have entered two other 2005 Graacher Domprobst Spätlesen, AP#1 and AP#10, although there’s not a single bottle in stock of either of those. There are two entries for a 2005 GD Spätlese auction. One has AP#6 and one is without an AP# (the wine most certainly has one, it just isn’t in CT). I would hazard a guess that there was only one GD Spätlese presented at auction, and that all bottles are AP#6. If that’s what your bottle has, and assuming you trust the CT entry, you’ve got the auction bottling.

To be certain, you’d need to ask someone who has actual auction data, or the producer. You could contact Jean Fisch and David Rayer at (a free online publication that is an excellent source of tons of Riesling knowledge), to see if they have auction records at hand. They have reported on more recent auctions, so I would guess one, if not both of them were also in attendance when your bottle was auctioned.

Hi Mike,

The AP number will tell you if this is indeed the auction bottling of Domprobst spatlese. The 2005 auctioned off by the Schaefers in Trier in the fall of '06 was AP #1. My bottles also have the VDP auction sticker on the neck- a white circle that indicates that it was auctioned off at the Trier auction. But the AP number is all you need to check, as every bottle auctioned off in any of the auctions in Germany will have a unique AP number assigned solely to the auction bottling. When I write up the auctions, I try to make a note of each AP number on the wines served and include them in my articles on the auctions. If you are not familiar with reading the AP numbers, the last two digits in the number will refer to the year that the wine was bottled (your Schaefer will have 06 for these two digits), and the next two will be the lot number- and should be 01 or simply 1 (my bottles are buried in long-term storage and not handy to look at right now). BTW, nice first auction purchase- this is a great, great wine.

All the Best,



Trust John. I only extrapolated from information available to me.


Did you taste a GD Spätlese #6 or have any idea what that wine is?

Hi Jamie,

I have in my notes from visiting the estate to taste the 2005s in March of 2006, that AP #6 was to be a Graacher Domprobst Auslese, rather than a Spatlese. This was one of three Domprobst Auslesen presented that day, and the most fruit-driven of the three. The other two (AP #s 10 and 11) had more of the slate/petrol drive of the Domprobst to go along with the crystalline fruit of this vintage at Weingut Schaefer. At the auction in Trier that September, the other Schaefer 2005 offered up was a Goldkapsel Auslesen (AP #2), so I suspect the Spatlese AP #6 is just a typo. But the Schaefers may have changed things around after my visit, as it was very early on and I do not believe that the official paperwork had been put through yet on the 2005ers when I was there.

All the Best,


Thanks, John. Interesting. I managed to unearth Schildknecht’s review, and he also designates the Domprobst Spätlese auction as AP #1. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time a German wine was miscategorized in CT.

Thanks guys! The bottle went strait to the storage locker, so I’ll need to retrieve it and check the AP number. Looks like I should also spend some time going through Terry Theise’s catalog.