Tuesday, 22 May 2012 18:21

Germany

German wine is primarily produced in the west, and many of the best vineyards cling to steep, south-facing slopes along the river valleys of the Rhine and Mosel and the Mosel's Saar andRuwer tributaries, with the oldest plantations going back to the Roman era.

Approximately 60 percent of the German wine production is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate,  where 6 of the 13 regions (Anbaugebiete) for quality wine are situated. Germany has about 252,000 acres or 1,020 square kilometers) of vineyard, which is around one tenth of the vineyard surface in Spain, France, or Italy.

The total wine production is usually around 9 million hectoliteres annually, corresponding to 1.2 billion bottles, which places Germany as the eighth largest wine-producing country in the world. White wine accounts for almost two thirds of the total production.

While primarily a white wine country, red wine production surged in the 1990s and early 2000s, primarily fuelled by domestic demand, and the proportion of the German vineyards devoted to the cultivation of dark-skinned grape varieties has now stabilized at slightly more than a third of the total surface. For the red wines, Spatburgunder  the domestic name for Pinot Noir is in the lead.

Germany produces wines in many styles: dry, semi-sweet and sweet white wines, rosé wines, red wines and sparkling wines, called Sekt.  The wines have historically been predominantly white, and the finest made from Riesling grapes.  The slate-soil vineyards of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Rheingau regions produce Rieslings with a purity and intensity rarely equaled elsewhere. Rieslings from the Mosel tend to be delicate and mineral-laden, those from the Rheingau are usually drier and fuller-bodied. 

The hilly terrain of the Rheinhessen region yields many low-quality sweet wines, but excellent bargains lurk. Some of the best, Scheurebes and Silvaners-two other German varietals=are made here, particularly in the Rheinterrasse subregion. The warmer Pfalz, Nahe, and Baden regions produce lusher Rieslings, as well as a range of interesting wines from other grapes, including Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) and Berurztraminer. Some of Germany's best Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) wines come from Baden and Pfalz, while Baden in the south produces most ot the country's Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder).

The vast majority of German wine qualifies for one of two "quality" designations, most of it falling into the Qualitatswein (QbA) category. This includes everything from bulk wine such as Liebfraumilch, to solidly made value bottlings. QmP wines, a big step up from QbA, are held to higher standards; they ar ranked by the grapes' sugar levels, or ripeness, at harvest, from Kabinett (least ripe), to Spatlese, Auslese, and Beerenauslese (BA) all the way up to incredibly ripe, and sweet Trockenbeerenaulsese (TBA). Classic and Selection on labels denote wines that are high quality and dry. Classic wines are usually made with a single variety and bear the name of the producer and vineyard. Source: Wikipedia, Food and Wine' Wine Guide 2012).

 

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