Riesling: how "ripe" are GG grapes?

I’ve read media that said all GG are trocken, but what about their ripeness?

I’m surprised that bit has been left out in a lot of the reading I’ve been doing as I start to learn riesling. The Wine Bible mentions only “fully ripe” grapes are used in GG, but what does that mean? Auslese? Trockenbeerenauslese?

I’m pretty new to the grape and have read quite a lot about the various systems, old and new. And just when I thought I was starting to understanding things, I noticed that I wasn’t seeing pradikat levels (eg: ripeness) on any GG bottles :sweat_smile:

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GGs are by VDP agreement not allowed to carry a Prädikat (like Spätlese trocken). They are, again by definition, the dry wine from a Grosse Lage (so a German Grand Cru). As far as ripeness, they must be at least Spätlese level. But a GG can never carry a designation like “Spätlese trocken” or “Auslese trocken.” Only estates not in one of the associations that use GG can do that.

Please note, too, that dry in the context of German wine generally means up to 9 g of residual sugar per L. That is more than many dry wines from other regions may have, though most GGs have less than 9g.

Finally, don’t stress about the German wine law so much: try to taste as widely as possible and see what you like based on style and producer. It’s a fun journey. Please also take advantage of the expertise on this board. There are true Riesling encyclopedias out there on WineBerserkers!

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I hear this a lot in from wineries and winemakers and I think it’s a deliberate way to try to mislead and uplift your own product. For me, it’s one ascending scale from unripe to raisins and there is no window when they’re “fully ripe”. It’s up to the winemaker to decide when that desired “ripeness” is for his style.

If that’s not true, then how do we explain Champagne having any nuance or flavor at all? It’s obviously picked at unripe sweetness levels by most winemaking standards.

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Thanks for sending me down this rabbit hole!

Found a great video on the VDP website presented by Caro Maurer MW:

The site itself doesn’t really specify ripeness in the requirements list, only “physiological ripeness.” Which I assume is open to interpretation. In the US, that term is used mostly to describe when the pips and stems achieve ripeness or turn from green to brown. I bet it means something slightly different in Germany…

Guildsomm states that GG wines must carry Spatlese ripeness, but GS is not the VDP!

Who knows German and can call up a winery???

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You don’t even have to know German. You can email many of them in English and get a fairly quick response.

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Spätlese–Auslese

Well, the exact definition of “ripeness” depends a bit on the association. VDP has been Spätlese level, Bernkasteler Ring (a much smaller group of estates), Auslese level. But by Auslese we are talking 90 Oechsle which is a must weight that qualifies for Auslese but that is today often picked as a Spätlese.

You can find Steffen Christmann complain about the Bernkasteler Ring requirements here in his quest for a unified labeling law. Of course, Christmann is the VDP president, so he clearly wants to advance the VDP vision of GG at 80 or so Oechsle.

In general, though, you can expect a GG to have 12.5-13.5% alcohol, with perhaps a half degree on either side these days. You’re not going to see an 11% GG (the must weights and the requirement for a dry wine down to 9g/l sugar exclude that possibility) and no one or virtually no one is trying to produce 15%+ GGs.

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I am under the impression thay they’re usually equivalent to legal Auslese level.