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How to Select German Fine Wine

When speaking with consumers about how to identify better quality German wines, the following are three factors we point out to help them separate the best from the rest.

1) The Winery…

A key factor in selecting of any bottle of wine is knowing if the winery who made it has a reputation for quality. While learning what regions and varietals you enjoy is a great place to start, knowing the better wineries in those regions and for each of the varietals will allow you to select better bottles.

When selecting German wines, knowing the winery is crucial.  Afterall, great wine making is more challenging in Germany’s cool climate vs. warmer regions of the world. In addition there are several German estates with similar names.  Take these three wineries for example, JJ. Prüm vs. Dr. F. Weins-Prüm vs. S.A. Prüm.  In this instance, even saying “I like Prüm Riesling” wouldn’t be enough. Which Prüm?

Bottom line, it is always better to know the full name of the winery.

2) The Vineyards…

After the winery, the vineyard where the wine was grown is also a key factor when trying to select better German wines.  A great vineyard encompasses key physical factors such as special soils, micro-climate and sun exposure.  Add to this the fact Germany is positioned so far to the north, so the vineyards play an even greater roll in character of the wine. While wines from the Mosel valley are delicate and filigreed, the wines from the Pfalz are earthy and more volumenous due to these climate and soil differences.

Within the regions, individual vineyard sites then make for great differences as well. Great vineyard sites such as the Wehlener Sonnenuhr or the Forster Jesuitengarten have proven over centuries to produce the best wines of the area, if made by a knowledgable wine maker.

A note on vineyard sites:
There are many great vineyard sites in Germany, but you have to be aware of one simple fact — many wineries, with varying standards, might be producing wine from the same “great” vineyard.  The single vineyard wines from top wineries are true gems of German wine making. The top wineries frequently own the best portions of these vineyards, use low yields, and a diligent selection to achieve great quality.

A perfect example of this lies in the beautiful Mosel valley, it is the small town of Piesport. Wine made from the village of Piesport is called Piesporter, and Piesporter just happens to be one of the most bastardized names in all of German wine. If you have ever dabbled in German wine you are sure to have seen “Piesporter Michelsberg,” unfortunately most of these wines have nothing to do with the town of Piesport. Piesporter Michelsberg is a sub-region of the Mosel surrounding Piesport, not a vineyard.

The best vineyard in Piesport is the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen. However there are over 350 different wineries making wine from the Goldtröpfchen.  This goes back to our point above in #1 –> if you want the best, you have to look for a top winery, such as Reinhold Haart.  Reinhold Haart’s wines are made from the best portions of the Goldtröpfchen vineyard.

3) Quality symbols…

German labels can contain a lot of information, so they can be hard to understand for those who are just learning about the regions and estates.  However, there are two logos any consumer can use as a filter to find top wineries:

First, is the VDP logo.  The VDP is the premier growers association in Germany.  The symbol represents an exceptionally high quality standard and is either found on the capsule or label, and sometimes on both.

The Rudi Wiest Selections’ logo.  Anytime you see a bottle with our logo, it means we have personally tasted and hand picked the bottle.  Every bottle of wine imported by Rudi Wiest Selections bears the quality seal of Rudi Wiest Selections.