German wine legislation places heavy emphases on standardisation and thoroughness, so much so that most of the country’s vineyards are delineated into and registered as ca. 2,600 Einzellagen (literally: individual vineyards). Due to its northerly latitude and climate, quality level of German wine is traditionally determined less by yields, alcohol content or maturation, more by ripeness in terms of must weight.
Since its foundation in 1910 as Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (“VDNC”; literally: Association of German Natural Wine Auctioneers), Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter (“VDP”; literally: Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates) has been a beacon as much as a standard-bearer of the finest German wines. Covering all 13 wine regions in Germany, each with a regional chapter, the VDP includes ca. 200 member-estates. Essentially a private institution, VDP sanctions stricter regulations on top of existing national legislation. In addition to lower yields and higher must weight, VDP generally requires ecologically responsible viticulture and prohibits GM substances.
Representing 5 percent of the country’s hectares under vines, the VDP is responsible for merely 3 percent of harvest volume, yet 6.5 percent of sales volume. An average VDP estate typically possesses 25ha under vine, producing some 150,000 bottles per year. Whereas 23 percent of German vineyards are planted with Riesling, the percentage of VDP vineyards planted with Riesling stands at 55 percent. Depending on the regions, up to 20 grape varieties are allowed to be used in the production of Großes Gewächs/Große Lage and Erste Lage wines, whereas the requirements for village-centred Ortswein and region-centred Gutswein are relatively more relaxed.
Ratzenberger Bacharacher Riesling Sekt Brut 2008
A wholly German, single-varietal vintage Winzersekt from the town of Bacharach. Luminous citrine with light golden reflex, the invigorating nose offers pomelo peel, green apple, cut grass and white flowers. With bright acidity and clean minerality, the brisk palate delivers grapefruit peel, lime, rock salt and lees. Medium-bodied at 13 percent, the elegant entry carries onto a precise mid-palate, leading to a linear finish.
Ratzenberger Steeger St. Jost “S” Riesling Trocken VDP Große Lage 2012
Limpid citrine with radiant sunshine reflex, the floral nose presents lemon, Tianjin pear, custard apple, seashells and daffodil. With abundant acidity and saline minerality, the energetic palate supplies lime, green apple, pineapple, rock salt and frangipane. Medium-full bodied at 12 percent, the citrusy entry continues through a sprightly mid-palate, leading to a clean finish.
Ratzenberger Steeger St. Jost Riesling Trocken VDP Großes Gewächs 2011
Rich citrine with bright golden reflex, the aromatic nose furnishes Williams pear, peach, pineapple, green almond and kerosene. With generous acidity and saline minerality, the saturated palate provides grapefruit, apricot, guava, sweet ginger and rock salt. Full-bodied at 14 percent, the fleshy entry persists through a potent mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish.
To discover the well-kept secret of Mittelrhein, contact Mr Martin Palmer; W: www.finegermanwines.hk; E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain,
France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages