German Wine Tasting Notes

german wine

German wine, in particular German Riesling, is another of our favorite wines in the world. While some people are initially turned off but the sweetness in some of these wines, they are really missing the point. The complexity, acid, minerality, finesse and balance of the best of these wines can be astonishing, more than adequately balancing out the residual sugar in the wine. These can be profound wines that age forever. They can also be quite confusing to beginners as German wine is often labeled with the name of the village and vineyard along with the grape, most commonly Riesling but can be others as well, and the pradikat level for the top wines. The village is usually the first word, with -er at the end. The second word is the name of the vineyard in that village. So for example, Wehlener Sonnenuhr means it comes from the Sonnenuhr vineyard in the village of Wehlen.

The pradikat level is a level of ripeness, and therefore usually sweetness, of the grapes at the time of harvesting. Different wines are made from different levels of ripeness. The lowest is the Kabinett, usually steely and just off-dry. The continue up through spätlese, and auslese. While auslesen can be quite sweet, it isn't until you get to the next level, beerenauslese (BA), that you are truly in dessert wine territory. In fact, a lot of auslesen can be great with certain foods, particularly spicy foods! After beerenauslese is trockenbeerenauslese (often abbreviated TBA). There is one other level that is only occasionally made...Eiswein, or "ice wine" is made in years when the grapes freeze on the vine. The frozen grapes are immediately pressed and the ice crystals filtered out. The remaining juice is very concentrated in sugar and produces a vivid, sweet dessert wine.

For more introductory info about various wine regions including German wine, see our Wine Regions page!

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The Poor Man's Guide to Fine Wine

November 15, 2007
Dönnhoff Kreuzuacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Spätlese 2006
Donnhoff is one of the currently best makers of German wine. Based in the Nahe valley. This wine is from the Krötenpfuhl vineyard in Kreuzuach. Spätlese is the second lowest pradikat level, slightly riper and sweeter than a Kabinett.

This was less aromatic than the Felsenberg which followed at this point. However, it is sweeter with more stoniness and less grapefruit seed. Similar character overall with these exceptions. Very pretty but needs a lot of time. This is a baby.

Dönnhoff Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spätlese 2006
This showed pretty melon and white stones with a bright, sweet grapefruit flavor and a grapefruit seed finish. Quite nice, but also very young and will only get better.

Dönnhoff Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spätlese 2003
Corked! Too bad.

von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Abstberg Spatlese 1997
I love this old domaine in the Ruwer river valley! Abstberg is their most famous site. They only produce Riesling.

This German wine was a "core of the earth" wine. Smoke, petrol and flint. Just beautiful! I could smell this wine all night. In the mouth, stoney, smokey, honeyed rocks. Long and silky. Just great. Words cannot do justice.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Gold Kapsule #12 2005
Another very famous domaine, and this is their most famous vineyard. The Gold Kapsule is a select bottling of their Auslese which is very sought after.

This was fresh with ripe honeydew mellon and white granite in the nose. Super young but just pure, fresh and crystalline. The mouth is also so pure with a creamy texture which is really amazing and unique. Complex fruits of apricot, honeydew, etc. This is outstanding. Extremely young though and only just hinting at the greatness it can become with more time in the cellar.

Check back as we will post more German wine tasting notes periodically as we are fortunate enough to taste them!

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