The Wines of Germany
Germany is famous for it’s Riesling wines, though they grow several other varietals, including a red wine called Spatburgunder, which is their Pinot Noir, grown all over their 13 appellations. Despite a third of the country’s wine production being red, what we find most here on our shores is their famous Riesling grape. The climate and terroir is conducive to white wine making, and in addition to Riesling, there are several good white wines of German origin- Muller Thurgau is considered to be an everyday value wine. The varietal is a cross between Riesling and a grape known as Madeleine Royale, a bit easier to grow in colder climates. Pinot Gris is known as Grauburgunder, and Pinot Blanc is called Weissburgunder (and Klevner). Both of these varietals show more stone fruit than any given Riesling. There’s Silvaner, Gewurztraminer, Kerner (another grape cross between Riesling and a red varietal known as Schiava) which offers a more savory flavor with hint of peach. Scheurebe is a rich, sweet white with flavor of leechee nut and clove. Germany also grows Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but most are not exported to the states.
The six categories of German “qualitatswein” Riesling which are ranked dry to sweet are in the following order: Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese. The Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese are dessert wines, often higher priced, with higher levels of sweetness.
In the late 18th century in Germany, Riesling grapes were left on the vines due to a delay in the message from the abbey where they were grown, with permission to pick. The wine was made anyway, but found to be sweeter and of excellent quality. A new method was created. This is different from ice wine or “eiswein” where the grapes are allowed to freeze on the vines before picking, which also intensifies the flavors and maintains a high residual sugar level. Eiswein is more difficult to produce, as are the very sweet Trockenbeerenauslese, and are therefore more costly than regular Rieslings. The yields from the vineyards are lower, and the timing of picking is critical. Some wineries are actually picking and freezing the grapes themselves- this is not traditional, although these wines will still taste great. Our neighbors to the North in Canada make many “Ice Wines” using different varietals, ether allowing freezing on the vines, or by freezing by machine.
Rieslings are made all over the world these days, however the varietal originated in the Rhein region of Germany. Thought to have traveled to France via the Romans, the grape has deep roots in the Rhein River Valley and Alsace, France. Alsace was originally a German territory in 921, then became part of France in 1552. Taken over by the Germans in 1870, then it went back to France. Despite Germany annexing Alsace in 1940, it has been a French territory since the end of WWII in 1945. The roots remain the same- the terroir offers some of the richest Riesling in the world
Here at Ed’s, we have Riesling from all over the world. Here’s a couple of interesting German wines we have on our shelf.
Schloss Vollrads Rheingau Riesling QbA offers a mineral bouquet with flavors of green apple and fresh peaches. Schloss Vollrads is an historic property along the Rheingau dating back to the 1200’s. We offer many selections from this highly rated Riesling proprietor. I give it two bones.
Thomas Schmitt Riesling Kabinett grown in the Mosel Region, part of the Schmitt Sohne Wine family this Riesling is grown in mineral rich soil on steep slopes with great sun exposure. I give it three bones.
Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer is from the Pfalz region, clean, fruity, and light with flavors of apricot, spice and aromatics of rose petals. Gewurz means spice in German, so just a hint of spice finishes on the tongue of this fine selection. I give it two bones.
German whites are great summer sipping wines, generally lower in alcohol and fresh and clean tasting to enjoy at the pool, while we wait out the last few weeks of summer heat. These wines pair well with Asian foods, salty foods and pungent cheeses. We still offer curb side pick-up, so give us a call and we can prepare your order for you! Hope to see you soon here at Ed’s