Germany - The Growing environment and Grape Growing - Grape Varieties

9 important questions on Germany - The Growing environment and Grape Growing - Grape Varieties

German wine production was focused on varieties that could tolerate the cool conditions. Which were these and how is it's % spread?

  • Riesling and German crosses: Müller Thurgau, Scheurebe, Kerner, Dornfelder (b).
  • Focus on white 61% (23% Riesling)
  • 39% black, improved by: better clones of Spätburgunder and Dornfelder, vineyard management, winemaking techniques, increasing temperatures.

How much of the vineyard area is covered in Germany by Riesling?

One-quarter, 25%. Germany is the world's largest producer of Riesling.

What are the characteristics and main factors of German Riesling?

  • Germany is synonymous with Riesling (23% of vineyard area) and is the world’s largest producer.
  • Can survive and need cool climate and special soil
  • Late budding, relatively frost resistant however late ripening so sun exposure and dry autumns important.
  • Full range of styles, sparkling to sweet, high quality, retains high acidity, provides good balance in sweet wines, can produce high levels of sugar, susceptible to botrytis.
  • Pronounced intensity and great aromatic complexity (with age – toast, honey, petrol).
  • Has good ageing potential
  • Does well on slate

Müller Thurgau has 13% plantings in Germany and was one of the earliest German crosses, what are its other specifications?

  • Also known as Rivaner,
  • One of the earliest German crosses (Madeleine Royale x Riesling)
  • Earlier ripening than Riesling, high yields, lower acidity, less structure and character than Riesling
  • Grows anywhere
  • In inexpensive blends as Liebfraumilch
  • Simple floral and fruity notes (elderflower)
  • For early drinking

Spätburgunder is Germany's most planted black grape and rises in popularity, how much is planted and what makes it unique for Germany?

  • 11,5% of plantings
  • High quality, complex and dry Pinot Noir
  • 1/3 largest planting in the world (11.000ha in Germany) of Pinot noir
  • Suited for Germany: early ripening, retains more flavours in cooler climates
  • Mainly in warm Baden and Württemberg
  • Often with oak ageing; less new but more larger oak is used.

Dornfelder has become the second most planted black variety in Germany in the past 30 years. What are its characteristics?

  • 8% of plantings
  • significant black German cross (Helfensteiner x Heroldrebe)
  • 2nd most planted
  • More Rot resistant and easier to grow vs SpB and Portugieser.
  • Deep in colour, high in acidity with fruit and floral notes.
  • 2 different styles: easy fruity drinking or more complex (lower yields, fermentation/maturation in oak)
  • Most planted in Rheinhessen and Pfalz

Silvaner (in Germany) is called Sylvaner in Alsace. It's in decline, why is this?

  • It is lower in acidity and less aromatic than Riesling.
  • Produces large amounts of simple, inexpensive wines with subtle fruit aromas that can range from green fruit to tropical fruit.
  • However, where yields are controlled, in Franken in particular, it can produce high-quality, dry, medium- bodied wines with medium to medium (+) acidity and a distinctive earthy characteristic.
  • It has been overtaken by Grauburgunder and Weissburgunder.

Grauburgunder in Germany has overtaken Silvaner. What are its characteristics?

There are now sizeable plantings in Rheinhessen, Pfalz and particularly in Baden. Both Grau- and Weissburgunder can produce very good quality wines, some of which are aged in oak. Grauburgunder particularly likes heavier soils and can
produce wines with medium acidity and aromas of stone fruit and tropical (sometimes dried) fruit and honey. In style, they range from dry and medium-bodied to fuller-bodied, sweeter wines (often labelled as Ruländer).

What is the synonym for Lemberger?


Mainly simple, fruity wines for drinking young, especially in Württemberg. However, some higher-quality examples are now being produced from lower-yielding sites, particularly from Lemberger.

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