Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson in Berlin on the Occasion of the VDP 100th Anniversary

Picture: Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson at the VDP Presentation of Grosses Gewaechs Wines in Berlin

Germany’s Prädikat Wine Estates – the members of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Praedikatsweingueter) - celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the VDP in 2010 in Germany’s Capital Berlin during September 4 to 6, 2010. I was happy and proud to participate. There were a number of events, but at the center was the official ceremony in the Berlin Cathedral, preceded by a reception at the Neues Museum and followed by a birthday party in Berlin’s top restaurant Gendarmerie.

The most prominent guests were Jancis Robinson, the wine columnist of the Financial Times, and Hugh Johnson. In particular, Jancis was one of the speakers at the Grand Ceremony of the VDP in the Berlin Cathedral, while Hugh Johnson addressed the audience at the Presentation of the Grosses Gewaechs Wines.

I have given a run-down of the whole series of events here and have reported in more detail on the event: 70 Galleries - 200 Winemakers - 1000 Wines here and on the official ceremony in the Berlin Cathedral here. This posting focuses on Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson.


The VDP is the world’s oldest association of wine estates in the world. In fact, as Jancis Robinson said in her speech in the Berlin Cathedral, it is the only one of its kind worldwide. No other country has a national organization of the top wine makers of the entire country.

In 1910, four regional wine-growers’ associations joined forces to form the Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (i.e. estates that sold their “natural” [unchaptalized] wines at auction). These organizations – from the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, founded in 1897 and 1900, respectively, and their counterparts in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Pfalz regions, both founded in 1908 – were the forerunners of today’s VDP. At this time, fine German wines enjoyed a heyday. They were among the most expensive wines, on the tables of imperial houses as well as leading hotels and restaurants.

Throughout the past century, the quality-driven goals and strict standards of the VDP have played no small part in shaping the viticultural and winemaking practices in Germany. With their stringent statutes and their establishment of a German vineyard classification, the 200 members of the VDP have served as role models and justifiably can be viewed as the vanguard of the nation’s producers of top-quality wines.

Germany’s prime white wine variety, Riesling, has long been the grape of choice for VDP members. Other, traditional varietals are also cultivated, e.g. the ancient white varietal Silvaner (particularly in Franken and Rheinhessen), and members of the Pinot family, including Germany’s all-important red wine grape, Spätburgunder , and the white wine grapes, Weiss- and Grauburgunder (Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, respectively).

Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson in Berlin

Grosses Gewaechs Presentation

Hugh used his speech at the Grosse Gewaechs Praesentation to repeat his opposition against the Hochmoselbruecke, a large bridge that is planned to be built over the Mosel valley.

Picture: Hugh Johnson speaking at the Presentation of the Grosses Gewaechs Wines

Picture: Hugh Johnson speaking with VDP President Steffen Christman at the Presentation of the Grosses Gewaechs Wines

Pictures: Hugh Johnson tasting the Wines of Schlossgut Diel with Armin Diel and of Weingut Battenfeld-Spanier with H.O.Spanier

Picture: Hugh Johnson after an interview

Picture: Jancis Robinson tasting the Wines of Weingut Christmann

Ceremony in the Berlin Cathedral

In her speech at the Berlin Cathedral, Jancis had 2 main messages for the VDP: First to simplify the labels. Second, do not forget to produce good wines for daily consumption - the Gutswein according to the VDP’s new classification system.
Picture: Jancis Robinson speaking in the Berlin Cathedral

Party at the Gendarmerie

Pictures: Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson at the Party at the Gendarmerie

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