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Robin Garr

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German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Robin Garr » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:21 pm

Okay, here's a German wine label. The wine is affordable ($15 in a market where prices usually range on the high side of the median). It's really quite good: Aromatic, crisp and balanced, with plenty of zippy acidity to balance the sugars. And speaking of "sugars," it is definitely not dry. Delicious, full of tangerine and mango, or maybe honeysuckle, or maybe both, and a shot of slatey minerality, a lot to like in a Mosel Qualitätswein. But not dry.

Now, who can help me explain the label in simple terms to readers who, mostly, like wine and want to know more but who really aren't up to a six-page, high-tech thread?

I'm particularly interested in the word "Estate" on the front label, and the absence of the extensive small print that most people expect from German wines. There's not even much tech info on the back label beyond "Qualitätswein" and APNr 16490171209. What has changed here, and when? What does the "Estate" tell us? (I thought it was limited to dry wines, for example, but this wine's not dry.) And so on.

Thanks in advance ... I'll probably write this up tomorrow, and since German wine law is not my strong point, I'd like to make sure I've got it right. And simple. Did I mention about keeping it simple? :mrgreen:
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David M. Bueker

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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:26 pm

Estate tells us that the winery owns the vineyard land where the grapes were grown. AFAIK there are no other ramifications of the word in German wine law.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Robin Garr » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:49 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Estate tells us that the winery owns the vineyard land where the grapes were grown. AFAIK there are no other ramifications of the word in German wine law.

And the word is in English is ... ?? Anglophone marketing? Trendiness of English in the world of the Internet? Or something else?

I had the impression that permission to use "Estate" as a standalone substitute for ... QbA? was something new.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Fredrik L » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:06 pm

Robin, read this:

http://www.rudiwiest.com/knowledge/howto_readlabel.htm

What he says about calling wines "Estate" instead of QbA could be true for your winery - which was unknown to me - too!

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Jim Grow » Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:02 pm

The last 2 digits of the APRn are the year of bottling and IIRC not the vintage date which can be the same or 1 to several more digits less. This is only important usually for some extreme dessert wines that may take a long while to ferment and therefore be bottled.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:51 pm

Fredrik L wrote:Robin, read this:

http://www.rudiwiest.com/knowledge/howto_readlabel.htm

What he says about calling wines "Estate" instead of QbA could be true for your winery - which was unknown to me - too!

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L


But it does not mean anything other than owned vineyards. It's just a label simplification. And the Wiest represented wineries were not the only ones using it. Most of the rest of their explanation is marketing.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:42 pm

I like the Rudi link but have to wonder about this statement>

If you look on any bottle of German QmP wine you will see one of these harvest levels noted. Remember that they only indicate the approximate "body" of the wine, they have nothing to do with quality, or the degree of dryness. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that all Kabinett, Sp�tlese, or Auslese wines are "sweet", they can be also very dry.

I have not found many Spatlese or Auslese that could be described as "dry". Is the writer referring to trocken or feinherb?
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:00 pm

Yes Bob, although Salil and I shared a 1990 auslese the other night that while not labeled as feinherb could certainly have made that claim.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Lars Carlberg » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:56 am

Robin, do you have an image of the back label? This would help with some more details. "Estate" translates to "Weingut," but doesn't designate whether the wine comes from von Schleinitz's own vineyards or from purchased grapes. If on the back label, you find the word "Gutsabfüllung," then we know that it's an "estate-bottled" wine. If the word is only "Abfüllung," which translates to "bottled by," the wine could include purchased grapes, musts, or wines. It looks like a basic "estate" Riesling from this producer. If it were dry, the wine would most likely indicate this on the front of back label. Qualitätswein plus the name of the region is the new way of writing QbA.

Rudi Wiest's label description page is a little outdated. As for the statement about Prädikats, they forgot to include "...they can be also very dry [with the designation trocken]."
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Fredrik L » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:12 am

It sure looks like a label made for the American market. According to their website "Estate" is their Gutsriesling, made of their own grapes from their own vineyards, and its intention is to represent the style they are looking for.

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Lars Carlberg » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:56 am

Fredrik L wrote:It sure looks like a label made for the American market. According to their website "Estate" is their Gutsriesling, made of their own grapes from their own vineyards, and its intention is to represent the style they are looking for.

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L


Thanks, Fredrik.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Tim York » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:23 am

Robin Garr wrote:Thanks in advance ... I'll probably write this up tomorrow, and since German wine law is not my strong point, I'd like to make sure I've got it right. And simple. Did I mention about keeping it simple? :mrgreen:


Robin, if you can write up an explanation of present day German wine labelling which is both accurate and simple, you'll be a super hero :D .
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:16 am

Lars Carlberg wrote:Robin, do you have an image of the back label? This would help with some more details. "Estate" translates to "Weingut," but doesn't designate whether the wine comes from von Schleinitz's own vineyards or from purchased grapes. If on the back label, you find the word "Gutsabfüllung," then we know that it's an "estate-bottled" wine. If the word is only "Abfüllung," which translates to "bottled by," the wine could include purchased grapes, musts, or wines. It looks like a basic "estate" Riesling from this producer. If it were dry, the wine would most likely indicate this on the front of back label. Qualitätswein plus the name of the region is the new way of writing QbA.


Then there's the lovely twist that happened to Johannes Leitz a few years ago. He had outgrown his cellar, and rented space to make some of his wines, from owned vineyards (!!), and was forced to put abfüllung on the label because of the rented cellar space.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Victorwine » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:18 am

I don’t know David, when looking at pictures of terraced German vineyards on precipitous slopes (sometimes angled 60 degrees or even steeper) you don’t really notice any wineries. In Germany it should be about who grew the grapes and made the wine when it comes to “Estate”.

Salute
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:14 pm

Victorwine wrote:I don’t know David, when looking at pictures of terraced German vineyards on precipitous slopes (sometimes angled 60 degrees or even steeper) you don’t really notice any wineries. In Germany it should be about who grew the grapes and made the wine when it comes to “Estate”.

Salute


I agree. Wasn't questioning that at all, just relaying what happened to Johannes.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by wnissen » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:35 pm

You know Robin, for the mass wine drinking audience, I would tell them to ignore the "estate" designation on German wine. The tendency of quality German estates to own their own narrow slices of many disparate vineyards causes "estate" to mean even less than it does in other regions. Sure, there are wines that are assembled from co-ops or in bulk, but those tend to be strictly low-end product.

When I think of true estate-bottled wines, they are grown in vineyards that are contiguous to the winery. That is, it's an actual estate, as in a single piece of land. For a number of reasons this isn't practical for most wineries in most regions, so legally all it means in the U.S. is that the winery makes and bottles wine from vineyards that it owns, in the same appellation as the winery. http://www.ttb.gov/pdf/brochures/p51901.pdf Pretty toothless already, if you ask me.

Honestly, the best translation for the word "Estate" on a German wine is "entry-level."

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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:57 pm

Walt,

Have you tasted the Donnhoff "Estate" Riesling lately? Pretty stunning stuff to be labeled as "entry level." In fact the label "entry level" devalues the wine, even if it is the least expensive for sale on these shores.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Lars Carlberg » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:04 pm

If Estate, Gutswein, Gutsriesling, entry-level, basic, or generic bottling, there are some stellar values out there. I instantly think of Schloss Lieser, Weiser-Künstler, Immich-Batterieberg, Van Volxem, and so forth. Many of these "entry-level" Rieslings, even if from purchased grapes, come from steep slate slopes and old vines. Moreover, the wines have plenty of ripeness nowadays, so that chaptalization is less common than before.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Bill Hooper » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:22 pm

Von Schleinitz sells a very large portion of thier production to the USA, hence the english 'Estate' label here. Estate means just as much in Germany as it does in Burgundy or elsewhere: A cuvee of wines produced from owned or rented parcels and from good producers they often represent great value. Some of the vineyards farmed by Von Schleinitz are ridiculously steep (the Winningen Uhlen clocks in at 70%). Some of that juice probably finds its way into the estate riesling.

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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:15 pm

Does von Schleinitz still sell a lot of wine to the USA? This is another producer that I no longer see around since they left the Theise portfolio.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Bill Hooper » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:25 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Does von Schleinitz still sell a lot of wine to the USA? This is another producer that I no longer see around since they left the Theise portfolio.


They've jumped around a bit (Terry, Rudi), but Thomas Hähn lives in the US and does a great job promoting the family winery to regional distributors. Konrad visits often as well. They, like many Mosel Weingüter, aren't very big.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by wnissen » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:14 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Walt,

Have you tasted the Donnhoff "Estate" Riesling lately? Pretty stunning stuff to be labeled as "entry level." In fact the label "entry level" devalues the wine, even if it is the least expensive for sale on these shores.

No, sorry. I tried a 1998 in 2006 and found it undistinguished, so I never bothered to follow up.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:24 pm

Too bad. '98 was not my favorite vintage for lower level wines.
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Re: German Label challenge: Help me explain this simply

by Bill Hooper » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:33 am

wnissen wrote:
Honestly, the best translation for the word "Estate" on a German wine is "entry-level."


Actually, many producers make a Liter-bottle Riesling (among other varieties) as thier entry-level wine. Most of these aren't exported, but can be good value -though most of it is used to mix with mineral water.
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