What are German Grosses Gewach?

Where do they fit in the whole Kabbinet, Spatlese, Auslese etc levels?
Thanks

The Grosses Gewachs wines have to be dry, hence they do not take the kabinett etc designation. But don’t feel bad being confused about this. I’m not sure even the German know all the intricacies and details. Below is the link to the official VDP site.

http://www.vdp.de/en/classification/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (WFS)

It basically means “grand cru” and is applied to dry wines. Its a classification system seperate from the pradikat levels (kabinett, spatlese, etc). FWIW, there is no law that defines GG, it is defiend and used by the VDP producers.

I can think of a few producers that used to make a “Spatlese trocken” that now bottle that wine as a GG. However, I do get the sense that a large number of GGs are the equivalent of Auslese trocken.

Not since 2006, for the most part, and that was largely because of the exceptional nature of that vintage. 2004s and 2005s are mostly well balanced like Spätlese trocken, 2003 is another matter. And there are a few producers that can do Auslese trocken well, including Karthäuserhof, Gunderloch, Künstler, and Koehler-Ruprecht; most cannot (I think Künstler and Gunderloch have abandoned the practice).

Literally “Great Growth.” Used by the VDP in the Rheingau to designate dry wines from the vinyards they have decided warrent the title. Other areas use “Estes Gewachs” or “First Growth.” These have low and rigidly designated amounts of residual sugar.
Not a legal requirement, however, to label your wine as such. Some producers don’t participate because they think the designations are too rigid. A few more grams of sugar per liter in the Mosel with their generally higher acidity is not the same as in the Pfalz.
There is overlap with Spatlese Trocken or Auslese Trocken. Some producers have even bottled the same wine under both labels, more for their local customers who are used to the Trocken designation.

Are we using the legal definition of auslese here or the trendy definition in which a whole lot of spatleses so qualify? Anyway, I don’t know the proportion but I’m sure I’ve had a number of GG’s that qualify either way. One of the '05 Wirschings at 15% alc. or thereabouts comes to mind…

Franken, Württemberg, and Baden will have higher alcohols than the rest of Germany and there are always individual exceptions. And Franken (where Wirsching is located) seems to be the one area where there still remains a core of producers dedicated to producing very ripe GGs (so that I generally prefer the non-GG Spätlese trockens from the same vineyard and same producer in Franken, which is allowed there, but not, e.g., in the Pfalz [at least unless you know how to get it unofficially]). But I taste +/- three hundred GGs/EGs each year from all over Germany (and for the majority, I also see the analyses, although I’m not much of a numbers guy for wine), so I think I have some idea of what I am talking about. Even in very ripe 2009, there are rather few GG/EG at 13.5º or above.

You’ve got it backwards. The Rheingau has legal protection for the use of Erstes Gewachs. Other areas use Grosses Gewachs (and then there is Erste Lage).

In general: “Grosses Gewächs” - Spätlese trocken

Eric Ifune wrote:
Literally “Great Growth.” Used by the VDP in the Rheingau to designate dry wines from the vinyards they have decided warrent the title. Other areas use “Estes Gewachs” or “First Growth.”


You’ve got it backwards. The Rheingau has legal protection for the use of Erstes Gewachs. Other areas use Grosses Gewachs (and then there is Erste Lage).

Oh well,
drinking too much! pileon

For anyone who subscribes to The World of Fine Wine, there is a very good article about Grosses Gewachs by Joel Payne in the latest issue.