Wines of Germany

Last night we attended the Wines of Germany event here in Toronto. The event was held at Roy Thompson hall in downtown. The event was very well done with a nice assortment of wine as well as plenty of very well done food. The lineup to get the food was silly but they kept it flowing right through the night. Most of the wines are not available in Toronto except by consignment. Some day it would be nice if someone would take the C out of LCBO (control). What do they think, if alcohol was convenient we would all become alcoholics? Once again, I do digress …

I do not have a lot of experience with German wines so this was an excellent opportunity!

One of the first wines we encountered was something I had not had before Silvaner. This grape use to be the most planted grape in Germany and is similar to a Riesling. They are rated the same way as a Riesling Kabinett (least ripe, least sweet), Spatlese, Auslese (see below for more). In this event I was able to taste the various levels and get a mental handle on the various sweetness. As expected most of the wines were white but the Germans are also making some Pinot Noirs. So for me, here were the standouts:

  • Weingut Jean Busher 2007 Silvaner Edition “S”. This wine had a very long finish for a white. Nice and complex with a bit of sweetness and strong minerality. Very good. I would give it easily a 90 or so.
  • Binz and Bratt 2007 Pinot Noir/Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was spot on what I envision for a Pinot Noir. It had the usual earthy tones, light in bouquet and color easily a food friendly wine. I would give it an 88-89. We were told it was worth around $22.

Some of the Pinot Noirs exhibited the classic poor quality dill flavor. I’ve found this in the past in some Niagara wines (Peninsula Ridge for one). Some refer to this as “weedy”.

So all in all it was a great time, for a VERY reasonable price!.

From my web page summary of Karen McNeil’s Wine Bible
In Germany wines rarely fully mature. As such German wines are very different from most countries. They are made to hit precision and finesse. If you want big and powerful do not buy German wines.

Germans do nothing to mold or shape wine and seek to highlight the natural flavours of the grape. They never use commercial yeast and do not age in new oak. They do not fine or clarify there wines.

  • Reds account for only 18%. rarely blend
  • Reisling is the best and most common grape
  • red wines are most loved by Germans
  • produces 3% of worlds production
  • Wine legislation
    • QBA (Lowest quality)
    • QMP highest class. Chaptalization not allowed.
  • there are 6 levels of ripeness for German wines (sweeter as they go up):
    • Kabinett (least ripe, least sweet)
    • Spatlese
    • Auslese
    • Beerenauslese
    • trockenbeerenauslese (made only in exceptional years)
    • eiswein (ice wine)
  • some other useful terms: trocken (bone dry) and halbtrocken (dry 1.8% sugar)
  • German wines live on the edge of ripeness so vintage charts are quite important. Far more important than other countries
  • almost all of the 90’s were good years for German wines
  • the high acidity of German wines mean they age well
  • best wines come from Mosel Saar Ruwer
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