Thursday, August 20, 2015

best of riesling 2015, Germany

Picture: best of riesling 2015 - The Winners (Photo: Meininger Verlag)

The best of riesling Competion 2015 took place earlier this year in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in the Pfalz Region in Germany. The annual best of riesling competition is organized by the Meininger Verlag in Neustadt, with the Ministry of Wine of the Land Rheinland Pfalz backing the event.

 Picture: best of riesling 2015

This year, 1838 Rieslings entered the competition, with German Rieslings accounting for 97% of the wines. Thus, essentially, it was a best of german riesling competition.

There were 8 categories this year.

Riesling Gutswein Dry up to 12% Alcohol
Riesling Lagenwein Dry up to 12% Alcohol
Riesling Gutswein Dry exceeding 12% Alcohol
Riesling Lagenwein Dry exceeding 12% Alcohol
Riesling Fruity-sweet
Riesling Noble-sweet
Riesling Aged Dry
Riesling Aged Noble-sweet

Dry and Fruity-sweet and Noble-sweet Riesling

Many wine drinkers, in particular outside of Europe, when they see a Riesling on the shelves, have the association of a sweet-style wine. This is however misguided. Rieslings as a rule are dry wines. Of course, there are the famous sugar-sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein and Schilfwein wines from Austria and Germany, the Sélection de Grains Nobles from France, the icewines from Canada and other Rieslings, made from botrytized, dried or frozen grapes.

The grapes that go into these wines have such a high sugar content that there is nothing you can do to make dry wines out of these grapes. They inevitably produce nobly sweet wines. But apart from these specialty wine, which account for only a tiny share of total production, Riesling grapes in Germany, Austria, Alsace, the US and Australia have normal sugar content at the time of fermentation and tend to produce dry wines, when fully fermented. Category 6 and 8 were noble-sweet Rieslings.

However, modern cellar methods allow winemakers in Germany (and elsewhere) to produce wines with a bit of residual sugar with these grapes. These are exceptional wines, essentially made by not letting the fermentation going its full course so that natural sugar remains in the wine. Alternatively, German winemakers are allowed to add sweet-reserve (sterilized grape juice) to increase the sweetness level in the wine, but today, this is mostly done, if at all, for fine tuning the residual sweetness. These fruity-sweet wines are the wines that are so popular among the fans of German wine in the world. These sweet-style wines have lost popularity in Germany, although there appears to be a comeback, but in any case remain very popular outside of Germany, for example in the US. Anyway, they are very present in Germany’s export markets, but account only for a small share of total German wine production. These were the fruity-sweet Rieslings in category 5.

All other wines were dry Rieslings (categories 1, 2, 3, 4, 7). Steffen Christmann, the President of the VDP, the German elite wine maker association, estimates that 95% of German wine beyond a price point of Euro 15 is dry.

Gutswein and Lagenwein

Another classification that played a role in the best of riesling Competition 2015 was the distinction between Gutswein (Estate Wine) and Lagenwein (Vineyard Wine). This distinction is reflecting the new classification of German wines that the VDP, the German association of about 200 elite winemakers, is in the process of introducing.

What is a Gutswein – Estate Wine? Gutswein is a term introduced and used by the members of the VDP association, Germany’s elite winemakers. A Gutswein is an entry level wine of a VDP member.

In sharp contrast with the standard classification system of the Law of 1971, the VDP classification system is based on the terroir principle. The pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest (which dominates the standard German wine classification of 1971) has moved to the backburner in the VDP system. Instead, following Bourgogne, the terroir principle has taken center stage. Effective with the 2012 harvest, the VDP classification system consists of 4 layers. (In brackets, the equivalent quality classes in the classification system of the Bourgogne):

• VDP.Grosse Lage (Grand Cru in Burgundy)
• VDP.Erste Lage (Premier Cru in Burgundy)
• VDP.Ortswein (Village level in Burgundy)
• VDP.Gutswein (Bourgogne régional in Burgundy)

Note that for some legal reasons, the VDP has started to use the terms Grosse Lage, Erste Lage, Ortswein and Gutswein with the pre-fix VDP.

The organizer of  best of riesling 2015 grouped the wines into entry-level wines (Gutswein) and higher quality wines (Lagenwein), which had to come from a single vineyard to qualify for the latter.

For more background information, see:
Steffen Christmann (Weingut A. Christmann) and Wilhelm Weil (Weingut Robert Weil) Presented the New Wine Classification of the VDP, Germany
German Wine Basics: Grosse Lage and Grosslage (and Grosses Gewaechs)
VDP.Grosses Gewaechs, Erstes Gewaechs, Spaetlese/Auslese Trocken, … Labeling Dry Ultra-Premium Wines in Germany
Approaches to Classifying German Wine: The Standard Approach (the Law of 1971), the VDP Approach and the Zero Classification Approach

best of riesling 2015: The Winners

Kategorie I: Riesling Gutswein trocken bis einschließlich 12,0 Volumenprozent Alkohol (Riesling Gutswein dry up to 12% Alcohol)

1. Platz: 2014 Emil Bauer Riesling trocken, Weingut Emil Bauer und Söhne, Landau/Pfalz
2. Platz: 2014 Kneisel Riesling QbA trocken, Weingut Kneisel, Grünstadt/Pfalz
3. Platz: 2014 Krieger Riesling trocken, Weingut Thorsten Krieger, Rhodt unter Rietburg/Pfalz

Kategorie II: Riesling Lagenwein trocken bis einschliesslich 12,0 Volumenprozent Alkohol (Riesling Single Vineyard Wine dry up to 12% Alcohol)

1. Platz: 2014 von Winning Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling, Qualitätswein trocken „VDP.Erste Lage“, Weingut von Winning, Deidesheim/Pfalz
2. Platz: 2014 Karl Wegner Bad Dürkheim Fronhof Riesling Kabinett trocken, Weingut Karl Wegner & Sohn, Bad Dürkheim/Pfalz
3. Platz: 2014 Bopparder Hamm Ohlenberg Riesling trocken*, Weingut Weingart, Spay/Mittelrhein

Kategorie III: Riesling Gutswein trocken ab 12,5 Volumenprozent Alkohol (Riesling Gutswein with more than 12,5% Alcohol)

1. Platz: 2013 KULT Riesling „Réserve“ trocken, Collegium Wirtemberg, Stuttgart/Württemberg
2. Platz: 2014 Schäfer Limit Riesling Alte Reben trocken, Weingut Schäfer, Neustadt/Pfalz
3. Platz: 2014 Schädler Ruppertsberger Riesling „R“ trocken, Hofgut Schädler, Ruppertsberg/Pfalz

Kategorie IV: Riesling Lagenwein trocken ab 12,5 Volumenprozent Alkohol (Riesling Single Vineyard Wine with more than 12,5% Alcohol)

1. Platz: 2014 Buhl Deidesheimer Kieselberg Riesling trocken, „VDP.Erste Lage“, Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl GmbH, Deidesheim/Pfalz
2. Platz, 2013 Gutzler Westhofener Morstein Riesling trocken, „VDP.Grosse Lage“, Weingut Gutzler, Gundheim/Rheinhessen
3. Platz: 2013 Himmel Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Spätlese trocken „Stückfass“, Weingut Himmel, Hochheim/Rheingau

Kategorie V: Riesling restsüß (halbtrocken , feinherb, lieblich, süß) (Riesling fruity-sweet)

1. Platz: 2014 Riesling „Quarzitschiefer“ feinherb, Weingut Gorges-Müller, Burgen/Mosel
1. Platz: 2014 Mußbacher Eselshaut Riesling Spätlese süß, Winzergenossenschaft Weinbiet eG, Neustadt/Pfalz
3. Platz: 2014 Abtei St. Hildegard Riesling Classic, Klosterweingut Benediktinerinnen Abtei St. Hildegard, Rüdesheim am Rhein/Rheingau

Kategorie VI: Riesling edelsüß (Riesling noble-sweet)

1. Platz: 2012 Stettener Stein Riesling Eiswein, Weingut am Stein, Ludwig Knoll, Würzburg/Franken
2. Platz: 2012 Cleebronner Michaelsberg Riesling Eiswein, Weingärtner Cleebronn-Güglingen eG, Cleebronn/Württemberg
3. Platz: 2013 Bopparder Hamm Feuerlay Riesling Auslese „VDP.Erste Lage“, Weingut Matthias Müller GbR, Spay/Mittelrhein
3. Platz: 2013 Hörsteiner Abtsberg Riesling Beerenauslese, Staatlicher Hofkeller Würzburg, Würzburg/Franken

Kategorie VII Riesling trocken gereift (Jahrgang 2004 und älter) (Riesling dry and aged)

1. Platz: 2003 Burger Wendelstück Riesling Auslese trocken, Weingut Paul Knod, Burg/Mosel
2. Platz: 2004 Erbacher Schlossberg Riesling „VDP.Erste Lage“, Weingut Schloss Reinhartshausen, Eltville-Erbach am Rhein/Rheingau
3. Platz: 2003 Hattenheim Wisselbrunnen Riesling „VDP.Erste Lage“, Weingut Schloss Reinhartshausen, Eltville-Erbach am Rhein/Rheingau

Kategorie VIII Riesling edelsüß gereift (Jahrgang 2004 und älter) (Riesling noble-sweet and aged)

1. Platz 2004 Bopparder Hamm Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Weingut Weingart, Spay/Mittelrhein
2. Platz: 1999 Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese, Weingut Nick Köwerich, Leiwen/Mosel
3. Platz: 2002 Deidesheimer Leinhöhle Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan GmbH, Deidesheim/Pfalz

Previous Years Winners

For the winners of previous years, see:

best of riesling Competition 2014: The Winners, Germany

best of riesling Competition, 2013, Germany

Best of Riesling 2012 - The Winners, Germany

Best of Riesling Awards 2010

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