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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 29, 2020

German Wines: A Closer Look

German Wines: A Closer Look

, I had an exciting opportunity to attend a webcast titled "German Wines: A Closer Look with Anne Krebiehl, MW and John Szabo, MS". As part of attending this webcast, participants were sent a fabulous selection of eight wines (listed below) so we could taste along with Anne and John.

Map of German Wine Regions

While most would think that Germany is all about (mostly sweet) Riesling, and rightly so as it is by far the most widely planted grape in the country, this tasting offered an excellent opportunity to showcase some German wines made with other varietals, with Anne leading much of the conversation. In addition to tasting some dry Riesling, we also got to taste a pair of white wines that shine in Germany - Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) and Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder). Germany grows the most Pinot Blanc of any country, and the 3rd most Pinot Gris. Although not widely known, Germany also makes red wines - 33% of all plantings within the country are red varieties - and all tend to be of the lighter variety. We tried a pair of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) wines - Germany's most widely planted red grape and 3rd most globally - as well as Germany's most full-ish bodied red, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch).

Kaiserstuhl, Baden
Germany is known for it's vineyards that are planted on steep slopes, and just about all of these slopes border rivers that helped shape the landscape. All thirteen wine regions in Germany are located within 4 degrees latitude and have varied climates and soils, creating wines that are diverse and in a wide array of styles. We tasted wines from six wine regions - Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Baden, Ahr, Württemberg, and Mosel. Rheinhessen is the largest winegrowing region in Germany and is known as the "land of a thousand hills" as it hugs the Rhine River. Pfalz is located south of Rheinhessen and has a slightly warmer climate, producing rich, voluptuous wines. Baden is a long, warm and sunny stretch of land spanning 400 km from north to south, running along the Rhine, in the southern most part of Germany, and produces food-friendly wines primarily with Burgunder (Pinot) grapes - Noir, Blanc, and Gris.

The Ahr Valley, with its steep vineyards are located along the Ahr River that joins the Rhine River to the east, and is located south of Bonn. Ahr is known as Germany's red wine paradise, especially for its Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). Württemberg is another region known for its red wines - it is located adjacent (to the east) of Baden and south of Franken. The area in Württemberg is rural and hilly, and the vineyards are scattered over a fairly large area.

Wines of Germany by Anne Krebiehl, MW

The last region we touched upon is the world renowned Mosel, located along the Mosel River, south of Ahr and connecting to the Rhine in the east. The valleys of the Mosel River, along with its tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer, have been settled since Roman times and have very steep, slate slopes. World class Riesling from Mosel are fragrant and minerally with finesse, vibrant acidity, and impeccable balance, ranging in styles from dry to the lusciously sweet Trockenbeerenauslese, or TBA.

It was also interesting to learn that light ripens grapes, not heat. This happens gradually and naturally in Germany because the vineyards are located at higher altitudes, along with autumns that are long and sunny. Additionally, because Germany is a bit northern in latitude, the sunlight is a little less intense, resulting in heat that hits the grapes at slightly lower temperatures. Combining long sunlight hours with lower temperatures helps create wines with moderate alcohol levels and body, crisp acidity, and lots of aromas - all qualities very apparent in German Rieslings as well as other wines.

All eight of the wines we tasted are available for purchase in one way or another - either via LCBO or Agent. After the webcast, attendees were also sent a copy of Anne Krebiehl's book that was published last year - The Wines of Germany. Overall, it was a very informative webcast and I was very pleased to have to the opportunity to attend. Thank you, Wines of Germany Canada!

Tasting Notes:

WITTMANN WEISSER BURGUNDER TROCKEN 2017 - Qualitätswein, Rheinhessen, Germany (#11654) (XD) - $24.95
This organic Pinot Blanc was grown on limestone soils around Westhofen, handpicked. and vinified in a minimal interventionist style. It has a lovely, well-balanced, and complex nose offering stone fruit, lemon citrus, and fennel aromas flecked with limestone mineral and orange notes. Nicely concentrated on the essentially dry, medium+ bodied, balanced, and crunchy fruited palate with fresh, succulent acids, and flavourful citrus, yellow fruit, white floral, and fine mineral notes. Touches of waxy notes linger on the long, minerally finish. Released in LCBO VINTAGES April 4, 2020. Agent: Brand New Day Wines & Spirits. Score: 90+ pts

Wittmann Weisser Burgunder Trocken 2017 (90+ pts)A. Christmann Riesling Trocken 2017 (90 pts)

A. CHRISTMANN RIESLING TROCKEN 2017 - Pfalz, Germany (XD) - $25.01
From predominantly Buntsandstein soils. Spontaneous ferment in large, used barrels and stainless steel tanks. Screw cap. Fresh and fruity nose delivers notions of apricot, ginger, melon and white pear with hints of petrol and stony-earthy minerality. The medium-full bodied palate is impressively concentrated and slightly crunchy with fresh, balanced acidity and a dry, honeyed flavour profile surrounding notes of lemon, white floral, apricot, and stony minerals. Very good length on the dry, crisp, minerally, and pithy finish. Certified biodynamic. Agent: CGU Fine Wines. Score: 90 pts

WEINGUT DREISSIGACKER GRAUBURGUNDER ORGANIC 2018 - Rheinhessen, Germany (#726066) (D) - $30
Screw cap. From loam soils, this Pinot Gris was partially barrel-fermented and has an elegant, perfumed, peach and stone fruit aromatics with a stony mineral underpinning. It's medium+ bodied on the slightly off-dry palate supported by fresh, vibrant acidity. More peach and mineral notes on the flavour profile. Stony notes linger on the long, juicy finish. Agent: DBINO. Score: 90 pts

Weingut Dreissigacker Grauburgunder Organic 2018 (90 pts)Salwey GBR RS Spätburgunder VDP Ortswein 2016 (91 pts)

SALWEY GBR RS SPÄTBURGUNDER VDP ORTSWEIN 2016 - Kaiserstuhl, Baden, Germany (#710193) (XD) - $44.75
The 2016 vintage was outstanding for reds, and this Pinot Noir was grown on volcanic ash, weathered basalt, and loess soils. Pretty pale ruby colour. The medium-high intensity nose offers earthy, raspberry, cherry, and beetroot aromas that mingle with spice and mineral underpinning. The palate is light-to-mid weighted with fine raspberry, cherry, spice, and mineral flavours supported by light, fine-grained, and textured tannins that have some structure, gaining volume with each passing sip. Racy acids provide freshness. Well-balanced throughout with raspberry, spice, earth, and cherry notes lingering on the long finish. Enjoy over the next 5 years. Available online at Agent: Angyal Agency. Score: 91 pts

JEAN STODDEN SPÄTBURGUNDER JS 2017 - Qualitätswein, Ahr Valley, Germany (XD) - $60.76
Elegant, fragrant, and appealing nose of red cherry, earth, spices, and floral. It is medium+ bodied on the structured palate with lovely sweet spice, cherry, and earthy flavours supported by juicy, balanced acidity. Some dark berry and beet root notes add complexity on the mid-palate. Glossy, ripe tannins are full, refined, and smooth, with some tannic grip coming through with each passing sip. Complex earthy, cherry, beet root, spice, and mineral notes linger on the long finish. Enjoy to 2027. Agent: CGU Fine Wines. Score: 91+ pts

Jean Stodden Spätburgunder JS 2017 (91+ pts)Graf Neipperg Lemberger Schwaigener Ruthe GG 2016 (91 pts)

GRAF NEIPPERG LEMBERGER SCHWAIGENER RUTHE GG 2016 - Württemberg, Germany (XD) - $67.60
This Lemberger has complex spices with a mix of red and black fruit aromas, accented by earthy, stony minerality. It is light-to-medium weighted on the palate with fine-grained, lightly structured tannins and lovely black cherry, red berry, currant, and spice flavours Nicely balanced throughout with fresh acidity, while the long, curranty, stony finish has a minerally aftertaste. Agent: Angyal Agency. Score: 91 pts

From 50-80 year old vines on grey slate, partially terraced soils. The medium-high to highly aromatic nose offers notions of citrus, floral, ginger, apple, peach, and melon with slatey mineral and touches of mealy aromas. The rich, medium+ bodied palate is gently sweet with vibrant acidity, making this Riesling essentially dry. Complex citrus, apple, ginger, beeswax, and orange flavours with a mineral underpinning. A touch of bitterness on the long, dry, crisp finish. A complex wine that changes a lot as it warms in the glass. Certified Biodynamic. Released in LCBO VINTAGES Classics May 7, 2020. Agent: The Livng Vine. Score: 91 pts

Clemens Busch Marienburg Falkenlay GG Riesling Trocken 2016 (91 pts)Hofgut Falkenstein Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese Feinherb 2018 (92 pts)

Riesling planted in the 1960's on weathered grey slate, very poor soils. Lovely, fragrant minerally, petrol nose joined by honey, lemon drop, peach, and citrus aromas. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with impressive depth and concentration. Medium sweet, lemon citrus, honeyed, apple, peach, and touches of mineral flavours are balanced with bright, zesty acidity. Citrus, peach, and honey with fine mineral notes linger on the finish, with excellent length. Will age 15+ years easy. Agent: Chalk, Slate, Gravel. Score: 92 pts


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