Terry Theise Germany 2013 Vintage Report

I left Germany for Oregon in mid-August 2013, so my firsthand experience of working the vintage is confined to everything up until that point. We all knew that it was going to be a bizarre year as far back as April. It was the latest bud-break and subsequent flowering in as long as anyone could remember and even in the Pfalz, it was evident that a November harvest was looming.

The silver-lining of the slow development was that there was absolutely zero pressure to get time-sensitive work finished (except for spraying of course) and we could really take our time making sure that canopy and ground-prep was spot-on perfect, as was the cellar-work for vintage 2012 that was still resting in cask and tank.

Another telltale slapped me when I visited twenty or so producers in Franken, Sachsen, and Saale-Unstrut in June only to see that they were weeks further along than we were -an historical exception. By the time I left, development was a month retarded and I was second-guessing my decision to move before I could see how it all played out in 2013. Luckily, I was rewarded with a vintage just as challenging, but for much different reasons here in Oregon. Never a dull moment in winemaking.

Talking with friends and colleagues back in Germany, Terry’s assessment seems about right. There was much talk of having to tolerate a little botrytis in dry wines (even those other than Riesling like Weißburgunder and God forbid Spätburgunder) and I’m sure that Südzucker cleaned-up with all of the chaptalization that took place at some addresses. But I’m eager to taste the wines. It has been some time since a truly small vintage (I mean in stature, though the yield is miniscule in ’13 as well) has come along.


As always, it’s difficult to generalize. Some Mosel producers appear to have some outstanding 2013s, others were less fortunate. I don’t think it was all “small” either. Overripeness was an issue for many producers.

Last month, I was in the Pfalz and got to taste at Karl Schaefer and Jülg. The wines tasted fine.

I must say I read the first paragraph of Terry’s write-up as - I cannot tell you this, but buy 2012s and skip 2013.

Yeah, I picked up a good bit of faint praise for 2013.

I’ve read a lot of Terry’s reports over the years, and it seems obvious that 2013 is one of the worst vintages in the last 15 years. If I buy it will be from Nahe.

Yep, everyone please avoid the auction in 2013 at all costs…


Again, it depends on the village and the grower. There are some excellent Mosel wines in 2013. On the Saar, VOLS and von Othegraven impressed me.

Lars, did you taste with Oliver Haag yet? I have already secured some double mags from there for our son of the vintage.

Russell, I have yet to taste Fritz Haag’s 2013s. But I haven’t tasted a lot of producers’ 2013s. Most of them are bottling their first wines now and in the coming weeks and months.

Yeah. I hate to generalize and wouldn’t do so regarding quality, but perhaps just the personality of the vintage. I’m just passing on what I’ve been told. Based on what I saw before I left though, I find it hard to believe that there was overripeness on clean bunches without botrytis to jack-up the Oechsle. A month behind in August and a cool finish to the season doesn’t produce overripeness like we had in 2011, 2009 etc. But of course the site, yield, fertilization regiment, and soil cultivation choices would greatly influence the results.


I am very promising regarding 2013. Of course it is too early to make a final judgement, but the wines show so far a remarkable acid-structure which means very balanced&ripe, also vivid but not peaked. Quite slim&sublime wines, cool-climate wines.
I really like! But never forget, small quantity.


Tasted several yesterday, and was happily surprised at the good quality, good acidities, in general lower ripeness levels. Some beautiful wines that I think traditionalists will quite enjoy.

Interesting. Several friends who attended a different tasting were not impressed at all - at all.

Well, I was pretty selective, actually focusing more on Austria (where my buying is more concentrated), but Donnhoff wines were really elegant and beautiful, Kruger Rumpf, few others where I did small samplings. I’m tired of ripe, fleshy wines, so finding something different from that was gratifying.

If you’re tired of ripe, fleshy wines then 2012 Germans are the real deal.

I visited and tasted an admittedly small sampling of wine in the Mosel and Rheingau end of May. My impression was not “the worst vintage in 15 years”. I enjoyed the wines very much at Loosen, Maximin Gruenhaus, August Kesseler and at Emrich-Schoenleber. I liked the acidity, the texture (high extracts) and they had good fruit intensity. I would buy more 12s though as long as they are available. I love the vintage.
In 13 the dry wines were not as interesting as the 12s but it’s still kind of early to judge.
One wine I enjoyed very much was the inaugural 2011 Spaetburgunder from Maximin Gruenhaus (can you spell global warming?). I’m going to grab a case of mags for the cellar. I also brought home a bottle of his “Fusion” an oaked Riesling that was different and interesting. Kind of like a Leflaive Puligny only made with Riesling.
I’m looking forward to tasting a larger group of 13s in the fall when the wines have knit together a bit better. I’m not writing them off yet.

I think '13 will be a bit of a victim of coming directly after '12, which I agree is really outstanding and my favorite recent vintage by far. I tasted quite a few '13s recently, from Terry’s portfolio, and my main takeaway was how variable the wines were. I do think some producers made really outstanding wines (such as Donnhoff), while others seemed to struggle a bit, especially with trocken Rieslings. I did find some trockens that I thought were very nice, though; A.J. Adam’s Hofberg completely amazed me. I like the elegance of '13, and I’m looking forward to owning some of the wines, but I’ll be sure to taste first except in very rare cases where I basically can’t do that.

'13 in Austria seems to be a whole different story.

Now that’s damning with faint praise!

Yep 2013s are all rubbish, don’t touch them, especially in magnum and at the auctions.


I buy magnums. Never bother with the auctions. Too little margin in quality for too much margin in price.