Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Germany’s Top Wines – The Berlin Riesling Cup 2011 Ranking

Pictures: Berlin Brandenburg Gate, Martin Zwick and Christian G.E. Schiller with Winner Philipp Wittmann

This is a very special ranking of German wines, at least for 2 reasons. First, it includes only dry ultra-premium Rieslings, mainly Grosses Gewaechs wines. So, (1) the whole segment of red wines (accounting for about 1/3 of German wine production) is excluded (2) as is the segment of fruity sweet and noble sweet Rieslings (which are so popular in the German export markets) and (3) as is the non-Riesling white wine segment, which is being pushed by many in the German wine industry. Second, and this makes this ranking so interesting, it is a very early ranking, basically the first one after the release of the wines in September.

Berlin Riesling Cup

The Berlin Riesling Cup is the baby of Martin Zwick. The first large tasting of the Grosses Gewaechs wines of a vintage takes place a bit less than a year after the harvest, in the city of Wiesbaden in early September, with a group of perhaps 100 national and international wine journalists, at the invitation of the VDP (GG-Vorpremiere). Martin Zwick is one of them. On the basis of his impressions and those of others, he then selects what he believes are the top wines from the Grosses Gewaechs wines presentation in Wiesbaden, adds a few other super-premium Rieslings from non-VDP producers or Grosses Gewaechs wines not presented at the VDP tasting in Wiesbaden and invites a few days later a group of journalists, sommeliers, wine-dealers and Riesling lovers to Berlin for a blind tasting of his selection.

This year, he selected 35 wines, up from 30 wines the years before. As in previous years, the list included well known names as well as a couple of newcomers. By definition, the 35 wines represent a subjective selection, but I think it probably includes all ultra-premium Rieslings who could be the grand cru top wines of the 2010 vintage. 2 bottles come on the table. It is a blind tasting. Martin always has a good attendance, because the Berlin Riesling Cup tasting coincides with the official VDP Grosses Gewaechs presentation in Berlin.

Martin Zwick alias BerlinKitchen

I know Martin through his blog 'BerlinKitchen' and various internet fora. On BerlinKitchen you will find tasting notes from wines around the world, wine-related articles and videos, podcasts with winemakers and recipes with step by step. Martin Zwick used to publish under the name Martin Barz, but he changed his name after he got married.

For those, who understand German, here is a quote from his web site: „Martin Zwick ist ein weltläufiger westberliner weinkenner, winewriter & weinliebhaber - wird von winzern [und foodbloggern] umgarnt - sein depot gehört zu den besten des landes - kein bedeutendes weinevent ohne seine nase / liebt aromen und clafoutis, gute gespräche und große gewächse / verhält sich stets blumig angenehm im abgang / freundliche begegnung bei der berlin-lesung von stevan pauls buch monsieur, der hummer und ich - in der kochbuchhandlung kochlust, in der alten schönhauser straße in mitte / ein sehr höflicher, von röstaromen und tanninen umgebener genießer“ Gerald Angerer

Berlin Riesling Cup 2011

Winner: 2010 Wittmann "Morstein" GG


1 Morstein Wittmann 94,55
2 Schönleber Halenberg 94,00
3 Schaefer-Froehlich Halenberg 93,86
4 Morstein Keller 93,73
5 Hubacker Keller 93,68
6 Pechstein Bürklin Wolf 93,23
7 Heerkretz Wagner Stempel 93,23
8 Wittmann Brunnenhäuschen 93,18
9 Jesuitengarten Bassermann-Jordan 93,18
10 Pettenthal Kühling-Gillot 93,05
11 IDIG Christmann 92,91
12 Battenfeld-Spanier Am schwarzen Herrgott 92,82
13 Kirchenstück Bürklin Wolf 92,77
14 Pechstein von Winning 92,68
15 Dellchen Dönnhoff 92,00
16 Felseneck Schaefer-Froehlich 91,90
17 Keller Abtserde 91,73
18 Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle 91,68
19 Fritz Haag Juffer Sonnenuhr 91,41
20 Emrich-Schönleber Frühlingsplätzchen 91,27
21 Rothenberg Kühling-Gillot 91,20
22 Jesuitengarten von Winning 91,14
23 Keller G-Max 90,64
24 Loosen Würzgarten AR 90,40
25 Rebholz Ganzhorn 90,36
26 Breuer Schlossberg 90,32
27 Eckhard Huff Rabenturm 90,09
28 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch 89,50
29 Mosbacher Ungeheuer 89,50
30 Domberg K-H. Schneider 89,44
31 Morstein Alte Reben Seehof 88,95
32 Leitz Schlossberg 88,95
33 Battenfeld-Spanier Frauenberg 88,82
34 Horst Sauer Eschdorfer Lump 88,64
35 Künstler Hochheimer Hölle EG 88,55

Grosses Gewaechs Wines

The term Grosses Gewaechs was introduce a few years back by the VDP for use by its members only.

Grosses Gewaechs wines are always fully fermented, dry wines from Erste Lage vineyards. The Grosses Gewaechs label is thought to resemble the Grand Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines refer to a top dry wine from a top vineyard. About 150 sites have been officially deemed Erste Lage, capable of making a great growth, or Grosses Gewächs.

As a rule, Grosses Gewaechs wines are always sold as QbA wines – Qualitaetswein besonderer Anbaugebiete, although as a condition they must be at least at Spaetlese level in terms of sugar content at harvest. QbA wines, under German law, are allowed to be chaptalised, with the purpose of increasing the alcohol content of the wine.

In addition to Grosses Gewaechs wines, there is also the concept of Erstes Gewaechs wines. Erstes Gewaechs and Grosses Gewaechs basically mean the same thing, but for some reasons the latter is used in the Rheingau and the former in all other wine regions. Importantly, in Hessen, Erstes Gewaechs is not a term reserved only for VDP winemakers, but all winemakers can produce an Erstes Gewaechs wine, if the wine meets the quality requirements.

Some Comments

Remarkably, the 4 top wines all come from either Morstein (Rheinhessen) or Halenberg (Nahe). Remember, this was a blind tasting. More generally, the Nahe and the Rheinhessen regions performed very strongly. By contrast, the performance of the Rheingau disappointed. My Rheingau favorite Weingut Kuenstler from Hochheim is # 35 of 35.

schiller-wine - Related Postings

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

1.International Riesling Symposium

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

The 100 Best German Winemakers 2010 – Handelsblatt online and Vinum

Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Wrap-Up: 4 Extraordinary Riesling Tastings at the 1. International Riesling Symposium at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany

Tasting with Wilhelm Weil the 2010 Weingut Weil Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

Annual White Wine Presentation of the VDP Wine Makers from the Nahe, Ahr and Rheinhessen Regions in Mainz, Germany

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany


  1. Vielen Dank, Christian. Here are some impressions, photos from the last year event with 2009 GGs. Very, very nice report by my friend Thomas Iversen from Copenhagen.


    Martin Zwick

  2. P.S. I will send you an invitation for next year, promised.

  3. Martin: To send me an invitation is dangerous! I may show up. My wife is planning a Bordeaux Tour with some wine friends from Hochheim in early September 2012, so I probably will be on this side of the Atlantic and join you. Cheers. Christian

  4. hahaha.......don´t worry, you have to come.

    Martin "BerlinKitchen"