Ranking German Vintages 1980-2000

Lots of opinions about the German vintages from 2000 on and I have a pretty good handle on which I prefer in that range, but would be interested to get some takes on where people would rank the vintages in Germany between 1980-2000. Obviously very high for '83, '89, and '90 but interested in some of those remaining vintages, particularly ones that people feel are under the radar. I had a great '82 Haag Auslese last week so it got me thinking more about riesling from some of the “lesser” vintages.


Don’t know '80-'82 well enough to comment

'83 excellent, though many fewer good producers back then
'84 bleh - avoid
'85 was, and still is from good producers quite tasty.
'86 is unremarkable - at least the very few I have tried
'87 is only slightly better than '84, though I have had some good, if light, Prum wines
'88 is excellent in a classic style
'89 is an excellent, but heavy botrytis vintage
'90 is great
'91 is interesting with high acids and mostly low ripeness, but some wines are holding up ok
'92 unremarkable but the wines are holding on better than I would have thought
'93 under the radar, and very pleasant drinking
'94 under the radar and high acid with some high ripeness wines
'95 very good, though many wines have advanced quite quickly
'96 highly acidic, and in some cases oddly acidic - lots of malic
'97 very pleasant to drink now - much better balance than when first released
'98 excellent, and largely overlooked
'99 really soft - cellaring mine in the hope they might be interesting some day
'00 weird and lots of bad botrytis - best to avoid

Nice list, David. Agree, especially about 90, 95 and 97. For me, 96 has held up well.

I like '96 more now than a few years ago, but it is one of the very few German vintages that I have never liked more than when it was released. The 1996 Muller-Catoir Haardter Herzog Riesling Spatlese was ****ing mindblowing when it came out. It was never as good after its first year.

For the whole of Germany? Is there much point, the standard deviation must be huge.

Good point, Russell. The last example David gave is a case in point. I’m not going to generalize because I don’t know that I’ve had a statistically significant sample, but coincidentally, I’ve had several Muller-Catoir that were better young, perhaps more than I would expect.

So true, but if I consider the usual suspects…

No idea on Franken or Baden vintages.

Gene - thinking about the Donnhoff doesn’t age meme that ran around for a while, I actually preferred all the Catoir from the HGS era that I tried on release. Still love the wines with age (and I had better - still have a fair stash), but they have never hit me quite the same way after several years of aging.

Levi Dalton’s I’ll Drink to That podcast has an interview Justin Christoph who works for Acker and imports German wine. He walks through his view of vintages starting at 29:30.


A few interesting tidbits:

83 - a good not great vintage (some are more mature than 71s)
49, 53, 64 & 66 - were good (in addition to 59)
85 & 88 - underrated (88 due to the strength of 89 & 90)
95 - he really likes
94 & 97 - liked in Germany
after 97 - much more consistency

Well worth listening to the whole podcast (some interesting comments on 03)

Cool. Have not gotten to that particular episode yet.

The deviation probably was substantial. But frankly, you’ll not find much wine out there available today from 1980 to, let’s say, 1995 from Baden, Franken, Rheinhessen (Roter Hang excepted) and the Ahr.

For the Mosel I’d second 1988 as excellent. I prefer it to 1989. Vintages from the 1990s that I’m looking out for and which I still buy - when available - are 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1997 for off-dry Rieslings and 1990, 1998 and 1999 for dry Rieslings.

I will have to check out that podcast as well as i hadn’t listened to that episode either.

I’ve never been a fan of 89 (Auslese and up). I’ve been served many blindly over the years and can almost always pick them out for the their lack of acidity. They always seem flat to me.

Interesting. I don’t find them flat, but rather overburdened by their botrytis.

94 in the Mosel often great, strong, but good acidity, clean and generally good balance.
Generally, it is not easy to find dry wines from before 2000 and most of them are dead now. Exceptions are always a reason for joy.

Great information guys, thanks!

Now if only someone would also do 2001-2013…

Do a search. We have done at least 2000-2011 a number of times.