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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Tim York » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:17 am

Bill Hooper wrote:
Kelly Young wrote:
Bill Hooper wrote:
A lot of producers are also trying to simplify the range of offerings. Not many producers want a wine list with 40 different wines on it- It gets redundant to list a kabi, Spätlese and Auslese trocken from 6 different vineyards.

Cheers,
Bill


But I thought part of the whole idea of fine wine, certainly for most folks who value the idea of terroir (sorry I know that's a whole 'nother discussion), is to differentiate the Dieserkleinishceweinberg Sonnenuhr Auslese Trocken from the Dasandereweinberg Himmelreich Auslese Trocken.


Thats not what I mean. We love to make single vineyard wines (as long as the vineyard is interesting) but without Prädikat, the vineyard becomes the focus, not the 5 or six different wines made from it Kabinett thru TBA. One could even go so far as to say that producing 6 different Prädikat wines from a single source diminishes the influence of terroir. No one is going to harvest all of the vinegar and botrytis and throw it into the press with the healthy grapes in search of ‘true terroir’ of course.

Cheers,
Bill


There's another thing I don't get here. Why not produce just one wine from the site, if that's what you really want to do, but give it the appropriate "prâdikat", as Bürklin-Wolf used to do? It wouldn't at all diminish the focus on the vineyard, it would give more information to the consumer and would mesh in with the prädikat system rather than compete with it.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:23 am

Tim,

Selbach-Oster used to do this with their Schmitt, Rotlay and Anrecht bottlings. They are specific parcels that are picked in one go, and become a direct reflection of what that site produces. They used to have a pradikat! Not anymore. :( Of course I have the advantage of being able to read the Terry Theise catalog to get a really good idea of what I will be buying/drinking.

Have you even seen the Theise catalogs? Even though you don't drink a lot of wines from producers he represents, you have had some. Might be an interesting read. It's more wine writing than sales pitch.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:25 am

Lars - again you are just digging deeper. Folks in the cities, versus those in the sticks. Probably not worth pursuing, as we have divergent views.

But anyway - how do you reconcile the fashion for dry riesling versus the ever present sweetness in modern cuisine that clashes with dry wines?
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:34 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Tim,

Selbach-Oster used to do this with their Schmitt, Rotlay and Anrecht bottlings. They are specific parcels that are picked in one go, and become a direct reflection of what that site produces. They used to have a pradikat! Not anymore. :( Of course I have the advantage of being able to read the Terry Theise catalog to get a really good idea of what I will be buying/drinking.

Have you even seen the Theise catalogs? Even though you don't drink a lot of wines from producers he represents, you have had some. Might be an interesting read. It's more wine writing than sales pitch.


Tim, I guess one problem is selling a wine labeled Auslese Riesling trocken, whether in Germany or abroad. The other is trying to simplify the Prädikats for only sweet wines, thus avoiding the terms for dry and off-dry.

David, a client does have to know that Schmitt, Rotlay, Anrecht, and Bömer have noticeable sweetness, but don't have a Prädikat.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Bill Hooper » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:41 am

Tim York wrote:There's another thing I don't get here. Why not produce just one wine from the site, if that's what you really want to do, but give it the appropriate "prâdikat", as Bürklin-Wolf used to do? It wouldn't at all diminish the focus on the vineyard, it would give more information to the consumer and would mesh in with the prädikat system rather than compete with it.


Hi Tim,

I guess one is just supposed to learn that the Wachenheimer Altenburg makes a lighter-bodied, more delicate wine than the more exotically aromatic, richer, Basalt-based Forster Pechstein (to use two Bürklin examples). Do we need a Prädikat to tell us that Pommard is heftier than Volnay?

Cheers,
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Tim York » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:42 am

Lars Carlberg wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:Tim,

Selbach-Oster used to do this with their Schmitt, Rotlay and Anrecht bottlings. They are specific parcels that are picked in one go, and become a direct reflection of what that site produces. They used to have a pradikat! Not anymore. :( Of course I have the advantage of being able to read the Terry Theise catalog to get a really good idea of what I will be buying/drinking.

Have you even seen the Theise catalogs? Even though you don't drink a lot of wines from producers he represents, you have had some. Might be an interesting read. It's more wine writing than sales pitch.


Tim, I guess one problem is selling a wine labeled Auslese Riesling trocken, whether in Germany or abroad. The other is trying to simplify the Prädikats for only sweet wines, thus avoiding the terms for dry and off-dry.

David, a client does have to know that Schmitt, Rotlay, Anrecht, and Bömer have noticeable sweetness, but don't have a Prädikat.


Lars, why do we have to avoid the terms for dry and off-dry? On the contrary I think that's what consumers need. The International Riesling Something proposed an admirable sliding scale of dryness/sweetness, but AFAIK :twisted: nobody outside the New World has taken it up. Of course, the term "dry" is subject to a sweetwards drift and I have seen some "moelleux" described as "off-dry", but that's another rant :evil: :evil: .
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:42 am

That was my point Lars. But how does someone who does not know those wines understand that with no pradikat or other indicator.

Don't get me wrong, as I am a huge fan of the wines, but it is not easy for the regular consumer.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:48 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Lars - again you are just digging deeper. Folks in the cities, versus those in the sticks. Probably not worth pursuing, as we have divergent views.

But anyway - how do you reconcile the fashion for dry riesling versus the ever present sweetness in modern cuisine that clashes with dry wines?


I don't mean to ignore those who live outside metropolitan areas. But if you work as an importer, you usually sell wines to distributors and visit cities. That's all. In Germany, importers or even retailers can sell nationwide and ship to households via Deutsche Post, similar to US Postal Service.

As for the table, it just depends. Of course, bone dry Rieslings don't match with certain dishes.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:50 am

David M. Bueker wrote:That was my point Lars. But how does someone who does not know those wines understand that with no pradikat or other indicator.

Don't get me wrong, as I am a huge fan of the wines, but it is not easy for the regular consumer.


Yes, that's a problem.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Tim York » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:58 am

Bill Hooper wrote:
Tim York wrote:There's another thing I don't get here. Why not produce just one wine from the site, if that's what you really want to do, but give it the appropriate "prâdikat", as Bürklin-Wolf used to do? It wouldn't at all diminish the focus on the vineyard, it would give more information to the consumer and would mesh in with the prädikat system rather than compete with it.


Hi Tim,

I guess one is just supposed to learn that the Wachenheimer Altenburg makes a lighter-bodied, more delicate wine than the more exotically aromatic, richer, Basalt-based Forster Pechstein (to use two Bürklin examples). Do we need a Prädikat to tell us that Pommard is heftier than Volnay?

Cheers,
Bill


Bill, if in Burgundy wine of different sweetness levels were prevalent, I think that a prädikat system might indeed help, combined with a dryness/sweetness sliding scale.

Your Chenin parallel is more apt; here I fully agree that producers should provide systematic dryness/sweetness information and I wouldn't be against a prädikat system. The trouble is that some of the producers who do indicate "sec", "demi-sec", etc. have a very broad concept of the terms. For example, under Pinguet some of Huet's "sec" contained up to 12g/l of RS. One has to know the producer :twisted: . At Foreau "sec" means bone dry, at Huet it means "tendre", at Blot "sec" is not used but all his range is nearly bone dry except where other specified, at Chidaine one has to know the cuvées......
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Tim York » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:01 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Tim,

Have you even seen the Theise catalogs? Even though you don't drink a lot of wines from producers he represents, you have had some. Might be an interesting read. It's more wine writing than sales pitch.


Wow! 132 pages just on Germany. I'll set aside some time to read through it.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:02 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:
Tim York wrote:There's another thing I don't get here. Why not produce just one wine from the site, if that's what you really want to do, but give it the appropriate "prâdikat", as Bürklin-Wolf used to do? It wouldn't at all diminish the focus on the vineyard, it would give more information to the consumer and would mesh in with the prädikat system rather than compete with it.


Hi Tim,

I guess one is just supposed to learn that the Wachenheimer Altenburg makes a lighter-bodied, more delicate wine than the more exotically aromatic, richer, Basalt-based Forster Pechstein (to use two Bürklin examples). Do we need a Prädikat to tell us that Pommard is heftier than Volnay?

Cheers,
Bill


Bill, my problem with this is limiting a grower to one dry or off-dry wine per site. (I'm leaving out sweet wines, because the VDP allows Prädikats.) German Riesling isn't Burgundy. Why should a grower have to downgrade his or her Kabinett trocken/feinherb from a Grosse Lage to a village or basic wine, often with some fantasy name? The VDP set-up ignores the light, dry to off-dry Rieslings. What about all the wines with lower must weights and RS levels below 18 g/l RS? The focus seems to be on either GG or relatively sweet (i.e., 45 g/l RS and up).
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:32 pm

Tim York wrote:
Lars Carlberg wrote:
Lars, why do we have to avoid the terms for dry and off-dry? On the contrary I think that's what consumers need. The International Riesling Something proposed an admirable sliding scale of dryness/sweetness, but AFAIK :twisted: nobody outside the New World has taken it up. Of course, the term "dry" is subject to a sweetwards drift and I have seen some "moelleux" described as "off-dry", but that's another rant :evil: :evil: .


Tim, I almost missed your question. I'm not advocating that growers avoid these terms, even though I've complimented those who have gone their own way by avoiding the 1971 Wine Law straightjacket. You're right. A consumer should have some indication of the sweetness level without knowing the grower's wines.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Bill Hooper » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:33 pm

Tim York wrote:Bill, if in Burgundy wine of different sweetness levels were prevalent, I think that a prädikat system might indeed help, combined with a dryness/sweetness sliding scale.


But Tim, that is the point. Dry Riesling (especially in regions besides the Mosel and Rheingau) are the most prevalent wines from the greatest producers.

Lars, I see your point, but I imagine another reason that the VDP has this rule is to encourage producers to use only the best quality grapes to promote their best vineyards (while allowing them to use the botrytis grapes in an Auslese, BA or TBA instead of throwing them out). As you know, some of the Kabinett produced these days is in effect a Vorlese.

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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Bill Hooper » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:33 pm

btw, Great discussion everyone. Thanks to all involved!
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:39 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:
Tim York wrote:Bill, if in Burgundy wine of different sweetness levels were prevalent, I think that a prädikat system might indeed help, combined with a dryness/sweetness sliding scale.


But Tim, that is the point. Dry Riesling (especially in regions besides the Mosel and Rheingau) are the most prevalent wines from the greatest producers.

Lars, I see your point, but I imagine another reason that the VDP has this rule is to encourage producers to use only the best quality grapes to promote their best vineyards (while allowing them to use the botrytis grapes in an Auslese, BA or TBA instead of throwing them out). As you know, some of the Kabinett produced these days is in effect a Vorlese.

Cheers,
Bill


Agreed. Yet the clear emphasis is on dry GG wines. I remember Max von Kunow of von Hövel saying that his 2010 Scharzhofberg GG, which is very good, was frowned on by other VDP GG producers as being too light. Moreover, he had this in a simple 33-cm green Mosel bottle. He made, the story goes, another wine that was quite high in alcohol and bottled it as GG and got rave reviews.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Tim York » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:55 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:
Tim York wrote:Bill, if in Burgundy wine of different sweetness levels were prevalent, I think that a prädikat system might indeed help, combined with a dryness/sweetness sliding scale.


But Tim, that is the point. Dry Riesling (especially in regions besides the Mosel and Rheingau) are the most prevalent wines from the greatest producers.



Most prevalent with some producers, perhaps, but sweeter wines remain very prevalent in Germany and most export markets associate Germany with them much more than with the dry. By contrast I know of hardly any sweet wines in Burgundy (other than Thévenet). Their situations are not at all comparable, IMO.

I persist in believing that the German producers are doing themselves no favours outside Germany itself and a small non-German geek community by this labelling confusion.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:01 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:
Tim York wrote:Bill, if in Burgundy wine of different sweetness levels were prevalent, I think that a prädikat system might indeed help, combined with a dryness/sweetness sliding scale.


But Tim, that is the point. Dry Riesling (especially in regions besides the Mosel and Rheingau) are the most prevalent wines from the greatest producers.



Never mind that many of those producers used to make a range of fantastic sweet wines! Wittmann used to make a number of great spatlesen to name just one producer. Now I cannot find them to save my life.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Bill Hooper » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:46 pm

Tim York wrote:
Bill Hooper wrote:But Tim, that is the point. Dry Riesling (especially in regions besides the Mosel and Rheingau) are the most prevalent wines from the greatest producers.



Most prevalent with some producers, perhaps, but sweeter wines remain very prevalent in Germany and most export markets associate Germany with them much more than with the dry. By contrast I know of hardly any sweet wines in Burgundy (other than Thévenet). Their situations are not at all comparable, IMO.

I persist in believing that the German producers are doing themselves no favours outside Germany itself and a small non-German geek community by this labelling confusion.


Tim, that is absolutely true…for now. In a few years time, that perception will likely change as more of the dry wines find their way to foreign shores –Germany already exports more than a third of total production, much of it dry.
David, Indeed. But if there was really a large enough market for those wines one would think that they would be produced.

If the choices are too daunting and confusing at retail, why aren’t the wines simply broken up on the shelf in different categories:
Light and fruity/Sweetish? (Feinherb/Halbtrocken Kabinett, etc.)

Fruity/Sweet? (Heavier Kabinett and Spätlese, lighter Auslesen etc.)

Light and Dry (Estate QbA, and Kabinett Trocken, etc.)

Dry and fuller-bodied (Spätlese Trocken, GG)

Dessert (Full-on Auslesen, BA, TBA, Eiswein)

It is more about flavor than the label. A little more work for retailers, but we’re all in this together –and they’d certainly sell more wine. Hell, I’d be happy to fly/drive over and reset the shelves myself!

Cheers,
Bill
Last edited by Bill Hooper on Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:16 pm

Bill - are you back to using "fruity" as a misnomer for sweet?
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Bill Hooper » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:29 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Bill - are you back to using "fruity" as a misnomer for sweet?


Awwwlright, point taken. But I think that the idea has merit even if the category-language needs work.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:37 pm

I think wine shops need to man up and spend time talking to consumers about the wines. That would fix a lot of problems.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by David Creighton » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:50 pm

someone mentioned the international riesling foundation sweetness scale, but no one took it up. is this in use in germany at all? it seems that would solve the problem of the consumer knowing how sweet a predikat wine was.
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Re: OK, so WTF with German wine classification?

by Lars Carlberg » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:03 pm

David Creighton wrote:someone mentioned the international riesling foundation sweetness scale, but no one took it up. is this in use in germany at all? it seems that would solve the problem of the consumer knowing how sweet a predikat wine was.


David, for the 2011 vintage, Maximin Grünhaus uses a similar sweetness scale. Yet most producers don't use one. As we discussed above, the VDP wants to keep the predicates for sweet wines.
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