Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Australia’s 10 Best Winemakers (2014)

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Jeffrey Grosset, #2 on the List, at the 2014 International Riesling Symposium, Germany, see: Wines and Winemakers from Australia and New Zealand at the 2nd International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

Goodfood, an Australian food and wine journal, asked 100 winemakers, wine buyers and sommeliers across the nation: Who are the best living/working winemakers in Australia?

Here are the results.

1. Louisa Rose Yalumba Wines (Barossa Valley)
2. Jeffrey Grosset Jeffrey Grosset Wines (Clare Valley)
3. Vanya Cullen Cullen Wines (Margaret River)
Equal 4: Tom Carson Yabby Lake and Heathcote Estate (Mornington Peninsula/Heathcote); Stephen Pannell S.C. Pannell Wines (McLaren Vale)
5. Rick Kinzbrunner Giaconda Wines (Beechworth)
6. Tim Kirk Clonakilla Wines (Canberra)
Equal 7. Ed Carr Accolade Group (SA-based); Stephen Henschke Henschke Wines (Eden Valley)
8. Phillip Jones Bass Phillip Wines (South Gippsland)
9. Virginia Willcock Vasse Felix (Margaret River)
10. Larry Cherubino Larry Cherubino Wines (WA-based)

Pictures: Stephen Henscke, Christian G.E.Schiller and Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours,  at the 2014 International Riesling Symposium, Germany, see: Wines and Winemakers from Australia and New Zealand at the 2nd International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

The Top 3 Australian Winemakers

Goodfood also had nice write-ups about the top 3 winemakers, which I am copying:

1. LOUISA ROSE Yalumba

To her Barossa Valley winery colleagues she is Lou but to her admirers - and she has legions among her colleagues - she is a "rockstar", a "leader" and a "great communicator".

Louisa Rose's correct title is head of winemaking at Yalumba and the Hill-Smith Family Vineyards but in simpler terms, she is the custodian of both Yalumba tradition and innovation at the 165-year-old winery. It's a big task but one she has been groomed for since her first vintage at Yalumba in 1992 straight from her wine studies and her parents' vineyard in the Yarra Valley.

Her gifts as a taster and winemaker have been on display ever since.

She is acknowledged as one of the country's top riesling makers, the voice of Eden Valley riesling under Yalumba's Pewsey Vale label. And then there's viognier. It's her baby, the wine she is now most closely associated with, simply because Yalumba dared to believe the Rhone Valley white grape had a future in this country.
"She took on the winemaking challenge with gusto," recalls her mentor, former Yalumba chief winemaker, Brian Walsh. He considers Yalumba is the most influential producer of viognier in the world today due in large part to her work.

The great viognier project turned into an often frustrating search for flavour.

"Of all the grape varieties I deal with, viognier has relatively no flavour until it is ripe," she explains. "You've got to be patient and then one day you'll taste apricots and honeysuckle (in the grapes). Gorgeous!"

Walsh recruited Rose for her "intelligence" and "practicality" but soon found, he says, a person with a profound work ethic and ability to multi-task. She is not only chief winemaker but farmer, senior wine judge and wine industry representative on many boards and councils. As the chair of the board at the Australian Wine Research Institute, co-chair of the South Australian Wine Industry Council and member of the South Australian Agribusiness Council (among other out-of-hours pursuits) she is one of the most influential winemakers in the country.

● Signature wine? Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley viognier $50.
● Louisa Rose's top winemakers: Iain Riggs (Brokenwood), Sue Hodder (Wynn's), John Duval (John Duval Wines).

2. JEFFREY GROSSET Jeffrey Grosset Wines

"I would suggest there are few like him," says Stephanie Toole of her husband, Jeffrey Grosset.
Toole, a winemaker in her own right, acknowledges what everyone who has met the man behind Grosset Wines knows: that he is all consumed by wine.

"People talk about him being focused, disciplined and all of that but I guess until you actually live or work with the person you don't realise how true that is. I would say very little comes before wine - me and the kids included!"

Grosset is renowned for his remarkable ability to cipher the soils of his Clare Valley home into graceful, thrilling rieslings. He is enthralled by the grape, and drinkers, in turn, are enchanted by his interpretation of the classic white variety.

A son of the Clare Valley, he was recently inducted as a legend in the inaugural Clare Valley Winemakers' Hall of Fame. The award acknowledged not only his work as a winemaker but also as one of the leaders of the Valley's famous winemaker push in 2000, to embrace en masse the screw cap over the cork as the closure for Clare Valley riesling. The action sparked a screw-cap revolution across Australia and New Zealand.

With his attention to detail and perfectionist ways he is often compared with Australia's greatest riesling maker, John Vickery at Leo Buring and Richmond Grove.

Riesling was his first wine and love. It remains thus.

Plus he's a pretty dab hand at pinot noir and chardonnay, too.

● Signature wine? Grosset Polish Hill riesling $52.
● Jeffrey Grosset's top winemakers: Iain Riggs (Brokenwood), Louisa Rose, Vanya Cullen.

3. VANYA CULLEN Cullen Wines

Vanya Cullen questions, philosophises, inspires and leads but above all, she is by any standard an outstanding winemaker.

Everything she has done since choosing winemaking over a possible career in music in 1989 (she still possesses a fine singing voice) has been about improving the breed, making a better wine, discovering more about the connection of land and wine and life.

An environmentalist, she pursues biodynamic wine growing and making principles, as espoused by Rudolf Steiner. That means no synthetic chemicals in the ground or on the vines and no additions in winemaking.

"The soils are healthy, the vines are healthy and the fruit's healthy and that's what gives us sustainability and quality," she noted in a 2012 Q&A with Wine-Searcher.

"The role of the winemaker is then to be a custodian of the land - to get that aliveness from the land to the bottle."

She likes grapes grown in a natural state and is an enthusiastic believer in allowing things to go their own course. She positively loves wild ferments.

"With chardonnay, it gives the wine an extra dimension," she contends. "They're kind of mystery characters. I can't really define them, it's a subtleness and mouthfeel."

Her Kevin John chardonnay, named after her late father, a general practitioner and author of the world-famous Busselton Health Study (one of the first to highlight the link between reduction in heart disease and moderate drinking) is the epitome of the Margaret River style: warm and round with intensity of fruit but also surprisingly fine in structure.

Cullen looks to four essential ingredients in chardonnay grapes before picking. "The point at which I am happiest," she says, "is when I can taste that dusty, lemon-sherbet flavour, a little bit of cut pear, dried pear and fig."

Like her mother, the late winemaker and environmentalist Di Cullen, Vanya Cullen has a courageous spirit. Her take on the classic Margaret River red grape, cabernet sauvignon, is fittingly named Diana Madeline in her mother's honour.

It is easily one of the best reds in Australia: a seamless entity of subtle power and endless complexity.
A little like its maker.

● Signature wine? Cullen Diana Madeline cabernet sauvignon $130.
● Vanya Cullen's top winemakers: Louisa Rose, Jeffrey Grosset, Nick Farr.

See here for the original article in goodfood.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wines and Winemakers from Australia and New Zealand at the 2nd International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

Meeting Doug Lehmann of Peter Lehmann Wines at Pearson’s in Washington DC, USA/Australia

German Winemakers in the World: Wolf Blass in Australia

The World of Riesling in Seattle - Fourth Riesling Rendezvous in Washington State, USA

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Winemakers from Around the World at Straits Wine Company’s Wine Fiesta 2014 in Singapore

Pictures: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Christian G.E. Schiller at Straits Wine Company’s Wine Fiesta 2014 in Singapore, with Marina Bay Sands Hotel

From October 23 to October 26, 2014, over 70 wineries from all over the world presented their wines at the Singapore Wine Fiesta, the annual portfolio presentation of The Straits Wine Company. The wine fair was opened by a Winemakers’ Table Dinner on October 23, with the menu crafted by The Fullerton Bay Hotel Executive Chief Sandro Falbo. This was the seventh edition of Singapore Wine Fiesta.

Tickets for the dinner (including wine tasting) were sold at S$228 and for the wine tasting at S$55. Exchange rate at the time of my visit: S$1 = US$0.8.

Wine Country Singapore

When Robert Parker stepped down as editor-in-chief of The Wine Advocate at the end of 2013, he took three investors from Singapore on board and appointed Singapore-based Lisa Perrotti-Brown as editor-in-chief. This was another sign that Singapore was on its way to becoming a major player in the world of wine.

Singapore covers just 700 square km and has a population of a bit more than 5 million people. It is a very expensive city (and became the most expensive city in 2014 according to the Economist) and also a popular tourist destination; on average every day, there are 36,000 additional people on the island.

The restaurant, bar and club scene is amazing, ranging from inexpensive hawker centers to premium restaurants serving both eastern and western cuisine.

Pictures: Delicious Hawker Food in Singapore

Traditionally, Singapore’s wine market has been dominated by French wine. The selection of Bordeaux and Bourgogne wines, including older vintages, in the large number of wine bars and restaurants in Singapore is amazing. Today, the interest is shifting to other red wine regions. “But more importantly, white wines are increasingly popular and after the Sauvignon Blanc boom, finally fine Rieslings or Grüner Veltliners are offered by the glass in some of the top restaurants” says Michael Thurner, who founded Austria’s Fine Brands in Singapore.

According to the International Enterprise Singapore, a government agency, six countries account for more than 80% of import volume into Singapore. Australia and France are at the top with 31% and 26% of volume share, respectively, followed by Chile (9%), Italy (7%), US (6%) and New Zealand (6%). Spain, South Africa, Argentina and Germany each have approximately 3%.

Who’s buying? With US55.000, Singapore has a high per capita income, higher than Germany and the US, for example.

On the supply side, the number of importers has mushroomed in recent years. Berry Brothers and Rudd moved into Asia in 1998, establishing offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan, is now also present in Singapore. Berry Brothers and Rudd predicts that its Asia businesses will account for half its global sales in five years’ time, up from 15% currently. “People have always looked at Singapore as a small market rather overshadowed by China, Hong Kong and Japan. But people are realizing that it's not just an interesting market by itself, it’s a hub for Southeast Asia too,” said Simon Berry, chairman of Berry Bros.

The Straints Wine Company

The Straints Wine Company: Started in 2006, The Straits Wine Company is now Southeast Asia’s leading wine importer, retailer and distributor, with operations in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines. Offering a bespoke 360 wine solution, The Straits Wine Company has a comprehensive range of services that caters to any and all wine needs. From private wine parties to cellar planning, a trusted bottle shop to private client concierge, the Straits team of wine professionals is at your disposal. Our 12 retail wine bars across Singapore showcase a wide range of wines from around the world including Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Portugal, India, USA, Lebanon, Japan, Switzerland and many, many more. Whether you are wine beginner or an experience aficionado, we have a wine for you.

Pictures: Strait's Wine Company Staff, including the German Moritz Deyle, a Geisenheim University Graduate

Singapore Wine Fiesta 2014

The Singapore Wine Fiesta 2014 welcomed an estimated 10,000 visitors. They could taste some 300 wines (and also buy them, at special prices). The wine show offered a one-stop shopping, tasting and educational experience for everyone who loves wine – from the newbie to the connoisseur.

Those who wanted to boost their knowledge of wine could sit and sip with wine experts and winemakers who conducted free master classes every 45 minutes. There were 10 master classes a day by guest speakers, touching upon a wide variety of topics, ranging from the technicalities of viticulture to fun sessions which pair wines with local food.

Pictures: Many Masterclasses

One of the presenters was Joel Payne, chief editor of the Gault Millau Germany Wine Guide. After the trade show he will have to rush back to Germany as the 2015 Gault Millau WeinGuide Germany will be released in Mainz on November 5.

Picture: Joel B. Payne, Gault Millau Deutschland WeinGuide, Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Christian G.E. Schiller

To top off the experience, the Singapore Wine Fiesta was set amidst an unbeatable backdrop of Singapore’s rejuvenated city center, at Clifford Square. Visitors could enjoy a breathtaking view, including the iconic Marina Bay Sands building.

Pictures: Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Winemakers’ Table Dinner

Straits Wine Company’s Wine Fiesta 2014 began with a fantastic Winemakers’s Table Dinner on October 23, in which I participated with Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours.

The wines that I tasted on that evening included CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 (Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator), Vietti Barolo Lazzarito 2010 (96 points by Antonio Galloni), Marques de Murrieta Castillo Y’gay Gran Riserva Especial 2005 (96 points by Wine Advocate), Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Domaine Ste Claire 1998 Magnum and Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No.2 2007 (one of Australia’s most iconic winery).

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller Tasting CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2004

From Germany, Weingut Prinz von Hessen (Rheingau) and Weingut Richter (Mosel) presented their wines.

To celebrate the debut of the Women’s Tennis Association Finals in Singapore, which happened in Singapore in the same week as Wine Fiesta, the wines were accompanied by a bespoke tennis-inspired menu crafted by The Fullerton Bay Hotel Executive Chief Sandro Falbo.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Executive Chef Sandro Falbo

Pictures: Winemakers' Table Dinner

Participating Wineries

There were wineries from all over the world. Most of the wines were in the S$40 to S$100 price range. A few were at S$100 plus, which are listed below (Straits Wine Company’s Wine Fiesta 2014, before member discount)


AIX (Provence, France)
ALBERT PONNELLE (Burgandy, France)
Beaune Premier Cru - Bressandes 2011 (S$116)
CHATEAU DE CHAMIREY (Burgandy, France)
CHATEAU DE TRACY (Loire Valley, France)
Pouilly Fume - Haute Densite 2012 (S$136)
CHATEAU PATACHE D’AUX (Bordeaux, France)

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Pierre-Marie David Pouring Chateau Patache d'Aux

DELAS FRERES (Northern Rhône Valley, France)
Hermitage Rouge Domaine des Tourettes 2011 (S$146)

Picture: Joel B. Payne Pouring Delas Freres

DEUTZ (Ay, Champagne, France)
Brut Rose NV (S$102)
Brut Vintage 2007 (S$110)
Brut Blanc de Blanc 2008 (S$141)
Rose Vintage 2009 (S$123)
Cuvee William Deutz 2000 (S$211)
DOMAINE LAPORTE ((Loire Valley, France)
DOMAINE PAUL MAS (Languedoc, France)
DOMAINE DE VILLENEUVE (Rhône Valley, France)
JM BROCARD (Burgandy, France)
Chablis Grand Cru - Les Clos 2011 (S$119)
LIONEL OSMIN & CIE (South West, France)
PAUL JABOULET AÎNÉ (Rhône Valley, France)
Hermitage Blanc - Chevalier  Sterimberg 2008 (S$126)
Hermitage Rouge - La Petite Chapelle 2009 (S$177)

Picture: Francois Thienport Pouring his Wines

WOLFBERGER (Alsace, France)


BARONE RICASOLI (Tuscany, Italy)
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione - Castello di Brolio 2010 (S$2010)

Picture: The Wines of Barone Ricasoli

BRAIDA (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbera d'Asti - Bricco Dell'Uccellone 2011 (S$128)
CEVICO (Romagna, Italy)
COLLAZZI (Chianti, Italy)
Tusacan IGT Collazzi 2011 (S$108)
COL VETORAZ (Veneto, Italy)
TENUTA FANTI (Tuscany, Italy)
GD VAJRA (Piedmont, Italy)
Barolo Bricco Delle Viole 2009 (S$133)
MARCO FELLUGA (Collio, Italy)
MASSERIA LI VELI (Puglia, Italy)
MONTE DEL FRA (Veneto, Italy)
PININO (Tuscany, Italy)
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007 (S$125)
SETTESOLI (Menfi, Italy)
Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2010 (S$114)
VIETTI (Piedmont, Italy)
Barolo Castiglione 2010 (S$111)
Barbaresco Masseria 2010 (S$169)
Barolo Lazzarito 2010 (S$2010)
VIGNETI (Piedmont, Italy)
VILLA M (Piedmont, Italy)


BODEGAS MANO A MONO (La Mancha, Spain)
BODEGAS NAIA (Rueda, Spain)
BODEGAS FELIS CALLEJO (Ribera del Duero,Spain)
Felix Callejo 2006 (S$189)
C.V.N.E. (Rioja, Spain)
Rioja Gran Reserva Imperial Cune 2004 (S$175)
Rioja Reserva Dalmau 2009 (S$129)
Rioja Gran Reserva Especial - CastelleY'Gay 2005 (S$136)

Picture: Ivan Aquino Pouring Marques de Murrieta

RAVENTOS I BLANC (Catalunya, Spain)
VINA PEDROSA (Ribera del Duero,Spain)
Gran Reserva - Vina Pedrosa 2006 (S$147)


PRINZ VON HESSEN (Rheingau, Germany)
LAURENZ V (Niederösterreich, Austria)

Picture: Madelene Ganter Pouring Prinz von Hessen and Laurenz V

TERRAS D'ALTER (Alentejo, Portugal)


ALTOS LAS HORMIGAS (Mendoza, Argentina)

DECERO (Mendoza, Argentina)
DE MARTINO (Maipo, Chile)
Cabernet Sauvignon - Familia 2008 (S$101)
Carmenere - Armida 2009 (S$123)
DOMBEYA & HASKELL (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
CHIMNEY ROCK (Napa Valley, USA) 
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (S$131)
Bordeaux Blend 2011 (S$162)
ESSER (Napa Valley, USA)
PANAMERA (Napa Valley, USA)
SANFORD (Santa Barbara, USA)
Pinot Noir  - Sanford & Benedict Vineyard 2011 (S$108)
TERLATO (California,USA)


BROKENWOOD (Hunter valley, Australia)
Shiraz - Quail 2012 (S$121)
CLARE WINE CO. (Clare Valley, South Australia)
FERNGROVE (Frankland River, Western Australia)
GLAETZER (Barossa Valley, South Australia)
Shiraz - Amon - RA 2012 (S$121)
HUNGERFORD (Hunter Valley, Australia)
HENTLEY FARM (Barossa Valley, South Australia)
Shiraz - The Beauty 2012 (S$114)
Shiraz - The Beast 2011 (S$142)
Shiraz - Clos Otto 2011 (S$230)
KAESLER (Barossa Valley, South Australia)
KIRRIHILL WINES (Adelaide Hills, South Australia)
LEEUWIN ESTATE (Margaret River, Western Australia)
MCHENRY HOHNEN (Margaret River, Western Australia)
NASHWAUK (McLaren Vale, South Australia)
OAKRIDGE (Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia)
Chardonnay - 864 2012 (S$111)
Syrah - 864 2010 (S$102)
ODDFELLOW (Langhorne Creek, South Australia)
ROCHFORD (Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia)
WARRAMATE (Yarra Valley Australia)
WOODSTOCK (McLaren Vale, Australia)
YARRA YERING (Yarra Valley Australia)
Dry Red Wine No1 2008 (S$130)
Dry Red Wine No2 2007 (S$102)


ARA (Marlborough, New Zealand)
BABICH (Marlborough, New Zealand)
CARRICK WINES (Central Otago, New Zealand)
LAWSON DRY HILL (Marlborough, New Zealand)
MUDDY WATER (Waipara, New Zealand)
CJ PASK (Hawke's Bay, New Zealand)
PODERI CRISCI (Waiheke Island, New Zealand)
URLAR (Gladstone, New Zealand)

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Angus Thomson Pouring his Urlar Wines

Bye Bye

We stayed until the very end. It was such an amazing event.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Deputy Managing Director Jochen Becker-Köhn and Export Director Nicolas Pfaff of Weingut Robert Weil in Singapore

Bass River Winemaker Dinner at Merchants Wine Cellar in Singapore

High Tea at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore

Street Food in Singapore: Dinner at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center

Wine in Indonesia 

3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux

Monday, October 27, 2014

The new (VDP) Wine Classification in Germany: Tasting Weingut Robert Weil Wines from Gutswein to Grosse Lage Wine

Pictures: With Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil, and his Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

I recently had the chance to taste 6 wines of Weingut Robert Weil, the VDP producer of world class Rieslings in the village of Kiedrich in the Rheingau. Weingut Robert Weil is a leader in terms of implementing the new classification of the VDP, the association of about 200 elite winemakers in Germany (Verband Deutscher Praedikatswein Produzenten). The 6 bottles covered all 4 quality levels of the new VDP classification.

Wine Classification Systems in Germany

Although many people think that there is only one wine classification system in Germany – the classification system of the Law of 1971 – this is not correct. True, the classification system of the Law of 1971 with its pyramid of ripeness of the grapes at harvest (Qualitaetswein, Kabinett, Spaetlese, Auslese …) at the center is the standard classification system in Germany and the vast majority of winemakers in Germany use this approach. A large number of winemakers, however, have moved away from the standard, in particular the producers of premium and ultra-premium wines. Importantly, the powerful group of German elite winemakers – the VDP – has conceived its own classification system and is developing it further. The latest modifications are those that came into effect with the vintage of 2012.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Wilhelm Weil at Weingut Robert Weil

The VDP Wine Classification Matrix

Wilhelm Weil: “The new VDP Wine Classification System is basically a matrix classification.” On one axis you find the different quality levels of the wines, along the Burgundian terroir approach, with estate wines, village wines, first growth (premier cru) wines and great growth (grand cru) wines.

Following their colleagues in the Bourgogne, the terroir principle has taken center stage in the VDP classification. Effective with the 2012 harvest, the VDP classification has the following 4 quality 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.

On the other axis, you find the sweetness levels: Trocken, Kabinett, Spaetlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese as well as Eiswein. Please note that in the new VDP classification system the Prädikats have lost their critical importance that they have in the traditional classification system of 1971 and that they have changed their meaning. In the VDP classification system, they have become an indicator for the sweetness range of the finished wine, while in the traditional classification they are an indicator of the sugar content of the grapes at harvest. Generally, in the new VDP classification system, the Prädikats are to be used exclusively for wines with residual sweetness, “thereby enabling the Prädikats to resume their traditional meaning”, as stated by the VDP.

VDP.Grosse Lage - The Peak of the Pyramid

VDP.Grosse Lage is the peak of the terroir-based pyramid, equivalent to Grand Cru in the Bourgogne. These are the very best vineyards of Germany. Note: For a Grosse Lage vineyard, like in the Bourgogne, you don’t use the village name on the label, just the name of the vineyard.

Maximum yield is at 50hl/ha. The grapes have to be harvested by hand while the sugar content of the grapes at harvest has to be at least at Spätlese level. The grapes can be fermented in a dry, fruity-sweet and noble-sweet style.

A dry wine from a VDP.Grosse Lage is designated VDP.Grosses Gewaechs and labeled Qualitätswein Trocken. A Grosses Gewaechs wine is from 2012 on the ultra premium dry wine made from a Grosse Lage vineyard.

A fruity or noble sweet wine from a VDP.Grosse Lage is labeled with one of the traditional Prädikats: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese.

Examples: 2013 Weingut Weil, Kiedrich Graefenberg, Riesling Trocken GG and 2013 Weingut Weil, Kiedrich Graefenberg, Riesling Auslese

VDP.Erste Lage - First Class

VDP.Erste Lage designates first-class vineyards with distinctive characteristics, equivalent to Premier Cru in the Bourgogne. Erste Lage vineyards provide optimal growing conditions, as evidenced over a long period of time.

They are planted with traditional varieties. Maximum yield is at 60hl/ha. The grapes have to be harvested by hand while the sugar content of the grapes at harvest has to be at least at Spätlese level.
A dry wine from a VDP.Erste Lage is labeled Qualitätswein trocken. Note that there is no “VDP.Erstes Gewaechs” designation.

Examples: 2013 Weingut Weil, Kiedrich Turmberg, Riesling Trocken and 2013 Weingut Weil, Kiedrich Turmberg, Riesling Trocken

A fruity or noble sweet wine from a VDP.Erste Lage is labeled with one of the traditional Prädikats: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese.

Third: VDP.Ortswein - Sourced from Superior Soils

A VDP.Ortswein originates from a village's best vineyards that are planted with grape varieties typical of their region, equivalent to a village wine in the Bourgogne. Maximum yield is at 75hl/ha.
A dry VDP.Ortswein is labeled Qualitätswein Trocken.

Example: 2013 Weingut Weil, Kiedricher, Riesling Trocken

A VDP.Ortswein with residual sweetness is labeled with one of the traditional Prädikats.

Fourth: VDP.Gutswein – Entry Level

VDP.Gutsweine are the entry-level wines in the VDP's hierarchy.

Example: 2013 Weingut Weil, Rheingau Riesling Trocken

Key Elements of the VDP Classification System to Remember

First: Use of the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese only for fruity-sweet wines - As a major innovation, the VDP members have dropped the traditional Prädikats for dry wine. Only wines that have a noticeable level of sweetness carry the traditional Prädikats like Kabinett, Spaetlese or Auslese. Thus, if you see Spaetlese on the label of a VDP member wine, you can be sure that it is a fruity-sweet Spaetlese. “Spaetlese Trocken” or “Kabinett Trocken” does not exist anymore among the VDP members. If you still find it - and you may indeed find it on the shelves - it is due to the number of exceptions which are in force for the transition period.

Second: The Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese no longer indicator of ripeness at harvest, but indicator for sweetness of the finished wines - In the 1971 Classification, the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese are an indicator of ripeness at harvest. Thus, for instance, you can have a fruity-sweet Spaetlese and a dry Spaetlese. In the VDP classification, the Prädikats Kabinett, Spaetlese and Auslese are an indicator of sweetness of the finished wine (and not of the ripeness at harvest).

Pictures: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, at Weingut Robert Weil

Third: All dry wines up to the highest quality level labeled Qualitaetswein Trocken - All dry wines up to the highest quality level – the Grosses Gewaechs wines from a Grosse Lage vineyard – are labeled Qualitaetswein (QbA) Trocken. A wine made from grapes harvested at Spaetlese level and fully fermented to complete dryness, for example, is marketed as QbA wine. And the level of quality would be indicated by the terroir concept (Gutswein, Ortswein, Erste Lage, Grosse Lage).

This of course does not make it easier for wine consumers to read and understand German wine labels, because the Qualitaetswein denomination has a completely different meaning in the standard classification system. There, it indicates that this wine is an entry-level wine of basic quality. In the VDP classification, Qualitaetswein does not mean anything, as in the VDP system even the ultra-premium dry wines are labeled as a QbA.

Fourth: Grosses Gewaechs ultra-premium dry wine - The dry counterpart of the fruity-sweet Spaetlese and Auslese wines of the VDP are the dry Grosses Gewaechs wines. These are ‘Grand Cru” wines made from grapes from a Grosse Lage vineyard, harvested at Spaetlese or Auslese level in terms of sugar content and fully fermented so that they become dry. The Grosse Gewaechs label is thought to resemble the Grand Cru designation in neighboring France. Here and there, these wines are dry.

Obviously, the Grosses Gewaechs label has become obsolete. Grosse Lage Trocken says it all. You do not need the predicate Grosses Gewaechs. But the Grosses Gewaechs label is well established in the market and recognized by wine consumers.

Fifth: No single vineyard wines below Grosse Lage and Erste Lage - In the VDP classification, only Grosse Lage and Erste Lage vineyards appear on the label. If a wine comes from a vineyard that is not in the exclusive circle of Grosse and Erste Lage, the label will not carry any vineyard name. Instead, it will be either a village wine (with just the village and the name of the winery on the label) or an Estate wine (with just the name of the winery on the label).


The VDP is the world’s oldest association of wine estates in the world. In fact, it is the only one of its kind worldwide. No other country has a national organization of the top wine makers of the entire country.

In 1910, four regional wine-growers’ associations joined forces to form the Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (i.e. estates that sold their “natural” [unchaptalized] wines at auction). These organizations – from the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, founded in 1897 and 1900, respectively, and their counterparts in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Pfalz regions, both founded in 1908 – were the forerunners of today’s VDP. At this time, fine German wines enjoyed a heyday. They were among the most expensive wines, on the tables of imperial houses as well as leading hotels and restaurants.

Throughout the past century, the quality-driven goals and strict standards of the VDP have played no small part in shaping the viticultural and winemaking practices in Germany. With their stringent statutes and their establishment of a German vineyard classification, the 200 members of the VDP have served as role models and justifiably can be viewed as the vanguard of the nation’s producers of top-quality wines.

For more on the new VDP Classification, see:

Steffen Christmann (Weingut A. Christmann) and Wilhelm Weil (Weingut Robert Weil) Presented the New Wine Classification of the VDP, Germany
Approaches to Classifying German Wine: The Standard Approach (the Law of 1971), the VDP Approach and the Zero Classification Approach
Stepping up: From 3 … to 4 Quality Levels - The New 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
The VDP - the Powerful Group of German Elite Winemakers - Refines its Classification System, Germany

Criticial Voices

The new VDP classification has a lot of support in the German wine scene. On a recent Germany wine tour by ombiasy, almost all of the non-VDP members we visited, had adopted the VDP classification. But there are also critical voices. In fact, 3 winemakers have left the VDP because of the new classification, including Weingut Tesch and Weingut Köhler-Ruprecht.

One of critical voices is Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen. Here is a quote from a recent interview that Ernst Loosen gave to the wine searcher. com.:

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, in Washington DC

wine-searcher: What do you think of the new German vineyard quality classifications – Grosse Lage, Grosses Gewaechs, etc.?

Ernst Loosen: It's a nightmare. I am not against classification, but we don't make it simple for the consumer. And then every few years we change the whole system. From a marketing perspective, this is the most horrible thing you can do. They hate me, the whole VDP, because I am always criticizing this bloody bullshit. But I am out there in the world every day having to explain this whole stupid system to consumers. Everyone says: "Stop talking, we can't take it anymore!" I get the impression that the VDP really hates customers.

Notwithstanding his critical talk, Ernst Loosen has fully adopted the VDP classification for his Weingut Dr. Loosen wines. 

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Christian G.E. Schiller's Review of the Book: Ralf Frenzel (ed.) - Riesling, Robert Weil. Tre Torri, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2013, in: Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 9, 2014, No. 1, Cambridge University Press

Weingut Robert Weil, Kiedrich, Rheingau, Germany: Super Sommerfest/Summer Party 2014

Weingut Robert Weil Goes Facebook, Germany

German Riesling and International Grape Varieties – Top Wine Makers Wilhelm Weil and Markus Schneider at Kai Buhrfeindt’s Grand Cru in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Tasting with Wilhelm Weil the 2010 Weingut Weil Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

The German Winemakers at the 4th Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, USA

The 2nd International Riesling Symposium in the Rheingau, Germany

Steffen Christmann (Weingut A. Christmann) and Wilhelm Weil (Weingut Robert Weil) Presented the New Wine Classification of the VDP, Germany

3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux