Aug 29

Germany shows its first 2007 Grand Crus

Tag: Länder,Regionensigi.hiss @ 12:12

by Joel B. Payne

For the fifth year straight year, the Verband der Deutschen Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), the association of Germany’s finest estates, presented its members 2007 Grands Crus to a select group of journalists at the spa in Wiesbaden on 23 and 24 August.
What started as a small gathering with only 108 wines from the 2002 vintage has turned into a major event, with 276 Grosses Gewächs, as they are called in German, from 110 estates and 171 sites being shown this year. Over a hundred journalists from the four corners of the world were present to assess the highlights of what portends to be a very good to excellent vintage in Germany.

As always, Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian journalists turned out in numbers as these wines have already garnered a strong following in those countries. The Polish and Russian markets, which are developing positively, were also well represented. Eva Raps, the executive director of the VDP was especially pleased with the turnout from other emerging markets. In particular, the „developing interest in dry German wines shown by the many Asian markets present here bodes well for the future,“ she said.

The 200 members of VDP own 4,000 hectares of vines, representing 4% of the German vineyard area, but account for only 2% of total production. From the 2007 vintage, a total of 1.1m bottles qualified as Grosses Gewächs, representing almost 3% of the volume turnover of the 143 members of the VDP participating in the grand cru programme. However, the wines, which retail in Germany for between €20 and €50 ($29-73), account for 9% of their sales in value.

Although only the finest vineyards are selected for Grosses Gewächs, the regional chapters in both Rheinhessen and the Nahe regions have taken the logic one step further. The members of the VDP in those two appellations allow the use of vineyard sites on the label only for Grosses Gewächs, which are bottled with the number one – signifying first growth – and a bunch of grapes as trademark logo embossed on the bottle and printed on the label. The dry wines from the middle and entry level segments are sold with either only the mention of a village or merely the grape varietal. In addition, on the Nahe the use of predicates such as Kabinett and Spätlese is now reserved only for late harvest Rieslings with a minimum amount of residual sugar.

Steffen Christmann, the president of the VDP and owner of the eponymous estate in the Pfalz explained the late launch of the Grosses Gewächs, which cannot by statute be sold until September after the previous harvest, very simply. „All the great wines of the world mature gracefully. We want to ensure that our Grosses Gewächs are made and bottled to show their true colours over time, which precludes an early presentation.“ However, as many of the wines are sold out before bottling, the growers are considering holding a barrel sampling next spring, like those done in Bordeaux, to give key players a better idea of the quality of the vintage before the wines are offered on a pre-arrival basis.

The official presentation of the 2007 Grosses Gewächs for the trade and consumers will take place at the Daimler Financial Services in Berlin on the 6 September 2008.

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