Monday, June 4, 2012

Judging at “best of riesling 2012” in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in Germany

Every other year, the best of riesling competition takes place in Germany, organized by the Ministry of Wine of the Land Rheinland Pfalz and the Meininger Verlag in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in the Pfalz. In 2012, it was held for the seventh time.

For earlier events see:

Best of Riesling Awards 2010

“Hoffest” (Winery Party) at Weingut Heinrich Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau - Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winner

Best of Riesling Awards 2008

Picture: The Brother and Sister Team Owning and Running Meininger Verlag: Andrea Meininger-Apfel and Christoph Meininger

This time, I was honored to be invited to participate in the final tastings of the competition. This posting reports about the event, not yet the winners of best of riesling 2012; they will be announced on June 13 in Mainz, Germany. In fact, all the tastings were blind tastings and I have no idea who won.

Picture: The Judges of best of Riesling 2012 (Source: Meininger Verlag)

See also:

Judging at Wine Competitions in Virginia (USA), Pfalz (Germany) and Rheinhessen (Germany)


Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall, Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.

Categories of best of riesling 2012

There were five categories in this competition:

Category I – dry - up to 12,5 % alcohol
Category II – dry - over 12,5 % alcohol
Category III – medium dry
Category IV – fruity sweet with up to 80 grams per liter residual sugar
Category V – noble sweet with more than 90 grams per liter residual sugar (Botrytised wines and Eiswein)

Pictures: In the Tasting Hall with Ralf Kaiser (Weinkaiser) and Dirk Wuertz

Winners, Special Prices and Medals

In each of the 5 categories, a first, second and third place winner was selected.

This year, special prizes will be awarded for the: (1) Best European Riesling not of German origin, in Category I or Category II. (2) Best steep slope Riesling in Category I or Category II. (3) Best New World Riesling in Category I or Category II. (4) Best large production, entry-level Riesling in Category I or Category II.

Finally, the top wines will be awarded best of riesling medals as following: (1) Category I – TOP 100 (2) Category II - TOP 100 (3) Category III - TOP 50 (4) Category IV - TOP 50 and (5) Category V - TOP 50.

The Process

The selection process consisted of 3 stages.

First Stage

2372 wines were submitted from 11 countries, of which the large majority from Germany.

In the first stage, in which I did not participate, 165 judges tasted and rated all the wines. In order to go into the next round, a wine needed to obtain 88 to 89 points on the 100 points scale.

Second Stage

417 wines made it to the second stage. In the morning of May 30, 67 judges from 14 nations around the world, including myself, tasted and rerated these wines. The judges were divided into 10 groups. Each group had to taste and rate about 40 wines.

My group of 6 judges was comprises of 3 Germans, 1 Austrian, 1 French and me (from the USA).

Third Stage

The third stage in the afternoon of May 30 was “short and sweet”. Each of the 10 groups was presented with the top 5 wines in one of the 5 categories. Each of us had to pick his or her favorite wine. My group and second group had to pick the winner of the noble sweet wines. Again, this was all done blind, i.e. I have no idea which wine won.


The judges were treated to a nice dinner in the wine cellar of the Meininger Verlag Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in the evening before the final two rounds and to a dinner at (and presentation of the wines of) Weingut Reichsgraf von Buhl in Deidesheim in the evening after the final two rounds.

Picture: Weingut Reichsgraf von Buhl

Hambach Castle and Hambacher Fest in 1832

The event took place at the famous Hambach Castle, close to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, which is considered to be the symbol of the German democracy movement because of the Hambacher Fest which occurred here in 1832.

Pictures: Neustadt and der Weinstrasse and Hambach Castle

The Hambacher Fest brought together about 20-30,000 people from all ranks of society—workmen, students and members of parliament. The gathering had no immediate results, but is considered a milestone in German history because it was the first time that a republican movement had made its mark in the country. It also confirmed the establishment of the combination of black, red and gold as a symbol of a democratic movement for a united Germany. These colors are the colors of the modern flag of Germany.

schiller-wine - Related Postings

Best of Riesling Awards 2010

“Hoffest” (Winery Party) at Weingut Heinrich Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau - Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winner

Best of Riesling Awards 2008

Judging at Wine Competitions in Virginia (USA), Pfalz (Germany) and Rheinhessen (Germany)

1st International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

Celebrating the Rieslings of the Finger Lakes Region, New York State, US East Coast

Best German Dry Riesling - Weinwelt German Riesling Awards 2011 (2010 Vintage)

Best German Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2012

Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

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

Visiting Agnes and Fritz Hasselbach at their Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim, Rheinhessen, Germany

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

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

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

The Focus on Dry German Riesling – Daniel Hubbard Presents the German DSWE Portfolio to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter)

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

No comments:

Post a Comment