Friday, March 17, 2023

The New German Wine Law of 2021 - Tasting at the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter), presented by Annette Schiller

Annette Schiller led a wine tasting at the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter) explainging the new German Wine Law of 2021. 

In a nutshell, the new law moves the German wine classification from the sweetness to the terroir principle. 

Invitation: The New 2021 Wine Law in Germany - Tasting Our Way Through the Classification System

Please plan to join the German Wine Society on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at 7:00 pm for a presentation on the new German wine law and classification system, and tasting of wines to illustrate the new system, by our own Annette Schiller, who has brought some of these wines back from Germany just for us.  This is our first in-person event of 2023, and just the way to bring our knowledge of German wines up to date for all the events to come.  Registrations for this event are due by Tuesday, March 7, 2023, and the price is $50 for GWS members, $57 for non-members.  Please be aware that, due to limited supply of some of the wines, we have a maximum cap of 40 for attendance at this event.  Reserve early to avoid disappointment!

Did you ever complain about the difficulty in understanding the label of a bottle of German wine?

Those days are finally over, since on November 26, 2020, the German parliament passed a new German wine law, which took effect January 27, 2021.  The most important point of the new wine law is that a new hierarchy to determine the quality of the wine was introduced. The emphasis shifted from the sugar level of grapes at point of harvest as quality measure to the wine’s geographic origin and how narrowly it is defined. The bottom line is: the narrower the origin, the higher the quality. This concept follows the “terroir” principle, well-known from the classification in Burgundy and elsewhere.  We will explore the quality levels by tasting several wines moving up in the quality pyramid as well as tasting the same wine within the same quality levels in the dry and sweet versions. 

The list of wines for this event, presented below organized by categories in the new wine law, includes wines of various quality levels up to and including GG as well as sweeter Pradikat wines. 

A tasty buffet of cheeses, bread, crackers, charcuterie, grapes and veggies will be provided to accompany the wines.

We look forward to seeing all of you on Saturday evening!   Come prepared to take notes and improve your knowledge of German wines in a most pleasant way.  There may be a mystery wine at the end giving you the chance to test what you have learned.

Carl Willner
President and Secretary
German Wine Society Capital Chapter 

The Tasting

Carl Willner, President: On March 11, 2023, the German Wine Society Capital Chapter met for its first in-person event of 2023, Annette Schiller’s presentation on the New German Wine Law of 2021. 
This presentation was accompanied by 15 German wines, many of which Christian and Annette brought back from Germany for the event.  
We held the event at the clubroom of Klaus Teuter’s apartment building in Van Ness, which proved just large enough for the strong turnout we got for this event. We had 42 people attending, including 23 members and 19 non-members, an unusually high turnout of non-members likely attributable to Annette notifying her list of contacts about the event.  Many of the non-members were attending a GWS event for the first time.  Indeed, turnout was so large that we reached the capacity limit for the event before the registration deadline and had to cut off registration early.  

Annette’s presentation on the New German Wine Law was very thorough and knowledgeable, and greatly aided by the choices of wine to illustrate her points, including how a dry GG or EG wine and a sweet pradikat-level (Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese) wine can be produced from the same vineyard.  It was a challenge to keep the wines in sync with the presentation, though, with only 2 pourers having to get each wine to 21 people each, but it appeared that all the wines were served to all guests, and there were a number of good questions from the audience about them.  
After tasting the 14 wines on Annette’s list, which were representative of almost all of the categories in the Wine Law of 2021 (we lacked only a Landwein), we tried a mystery wine to test our knowledge.  This wine was revealed as a 2021 Haltenheimer Riesling Kabinett from the Rheingau, an Erste Lage with 10.5% alcohol produced by Balthasar Ress.   It appeared that about half the room correctly guessed Rheingau as the region, with most others going for the Mosel, but fewer realized that it was a Kabinett, many guessing it was a trocken including very experienced tasters such as Ken Kelly at my table.
List of Wines


I. Deutscher Wein – Germany – No Further Indication of Provenance

Pink Riesling, Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler

II. Landwein - Protected Designation of Geographical Origin

III. Protected Specific Origin: 
Anbaugebiet - Winegrowing Area

2021 Riesling, Trocken, Weingut Schreiber, Rheingau
2020 Riesling, Dry, Weingut Dr. Loosen, Mosel, VDP
2020 Riesling, Kabinett, Weingut Dr. Loosen, Mosel, VDP
2020 Huxelrebe, Spätlese, Weingut Geil, Rheinhessen

Region - Region
2020 Niersteiner Gutes Domtal, Weingut Adolph Müller, Spätlese

Ortswein – Village wine

2021 Hochheimer Riesling, Trocken, Weingut Schreiber, Rheingau
2020 Kiedricher Riesling, Trocken, Weingut Robert Weil, Rheingau, VDP
2021 Hochheimer Riesling, Kabinett, Weingut Schreiber, Rheingau

Lagenwein – Single Vineyard wine

Erste Lage – Premier Cru (if dry: Erstes Gewächs)

2017 Kiedrich Turmberg, Riesling, Trocken, Weingut Robert Weil, Rheingau, VDP

Große Lage – Grand Cru (if dry: Grosses Gewächs)

2021 Hochheimer Reichestal, Riesling Trocken, Weingut Schreiber, Rheingau
2020 Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Trocken, GG, Weingut Dr. Loosen, Mosel, VDP
2021 Hochheimer Reichestal, Riesling Spätlese, Weingut Schreiber, Rheingau
2020 Erdener Treppchen, Riesling, Auslese, Weingut Dr. Loosen, Mosel, VDP
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