Germany is known to many as the land of precision. A philosophy that extends to their winemaking in a very big way. Most wine-producing countries have a fairly decent set of rules that ensure good quality wines are made there yet the Germans have taken these rules and improved them dramatically. Everything from a set list of permitted grapes to calculations of sugar in the must (juice given from pressing the grapes).
Many people still think of German wines and Riesling as sweet and terrible – a view that comes from Liebfraumilch. Liebfraumilch was a style of a wine that hit supermarkets across the globe in the 1970s and 1980s that was cheap, sweet and nasty. Most forgot that Liebfraumilch was just a small part of what Germany could do – it was then, and still is, the home to some of the most alluring white wines in the world. Most of these wines are completely different in aromas, flavours and sweetness. German engineering and precision are the reason why Riesling can be the one grape behind all of these success stories.
A world without German Riesling would be a very sad one indeed. Outside of Riesling, Germany is also home to some cracking Pinot Noirs and aromatic whites made from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.
Main Grapes or styles
Riesling – the king of white wine. It is planted in every region of Germany and is made dry, off-dry, medium-sweet to lusciously sweet and occasionally as a sparkling wine. Germany have proved that Riesling can have aromas of peach to pineapple, lemon to almond, baked apples to crushed shells and dried apricots to golden syrup.
Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) – is the leading red grape varietal that is planted in Germany. It is predominately made in the regions of Baden, which is the warmest and driest of all regions. Here it makes concentrated, floral and complex Pinot Noirs that have an outstanding ageing ability.
Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) – is a minor grape compared to Riesling in the white wine scene of Germany. This being said Pinot Gris is making some incredibly flavourful whites in regions like Baden, Pfalz and the Rheingau.
Mosel – in the northwest of Germany and home to the world’s steepest vineyards. The Mosel is full of hills that twist and turn alongside of the Moselle rivers curves creating natural amphitheatres filled with vines. The top names in Germany’s national portfolio are found amongst this region including JJ Prum and Dr Loosen. Riesling is king and produces 85% of the wines made here.
Baden – a long stretch of land that extends from the Alsace region in France. Baden, thanks to the protection of the Vosges Mountains, is the driest and warmest region in Germany – making it the red wine hub. Pinot Noir makes the region’s most alluring wines, though Rieslng and Pinot Gris can be fantastic too.
Pfalz – is the experimental wine-hub of Germany. As a region it is home to a larger list of grapes, both red and white, than any other in the country. It is successfully producing whites from Riesling but produce the countries best examples of grapes like Muller-Thurgau and Scheurebe. Pinot Noirs produced here floral and exciting.
Climate and its effect on the wines made here
Germany’s cool climate has empowered a white wine world amongst its borders. It is home to over 2/3s of the world’s Riesling vines and has many wines produced from Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer and more. These wines have high acidities and a delicate balance between fruit and floral aromatics. Red wines are few and far between and only the warmest vineyards are reserved for the cause. Though red wines, predominately Pinot Noir, are minor compared to whites they are truly fantastic.