Trading in The Ever Popular Sauvignon Blanc For The German Riesling

Wine Tales | Written By, Life on the Island |

Dear Readers of My Inner Voice


Like I have done for the last 4 years, I travelled again to Germany, the home of Riesling. Germany however is also my place of birth, and where I began my knowledge of wines. As one travels through the famous wine areas of Germany, they are in fact travelling through 400 years of ‘wine history’, in fact, one winery by the name of StaatlichHofkeller in Wuerzburg was able to prove they had been making wine for 900 years!

During my 5 day visit, I voyaged through Nahe, Mosel, Rhenhessen, Rhenpfalz and Franken (where I was born). Through such regions we were able taste around 170 wines from 15 different wineries, 13 of are apart of the VerbandDeutscherPraedikatsweingueter (VDP) or the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates, a group reserved for high quality wineries. There are about 200 wineries that are a part of the VDP, which classifies their wines in a similar way to wines in Burgundy, France- below I try to briefly explain these classifications. There are of course other wineries that sit outside the VDP which make wonderful wine, but as the VDP sets certain rules and regulations, these wineries prefer to be their own ‘masters’. Still, all the VDP wineries are mentioned in the GaultMillau’sWeinGuide, a huge honor for any winery. Before I begin, I would like to express my deepest thanks to the VDP who sponsored transportation and also organised several wine tastings for us. Another thank you goes to Mrs. MarliesGrumbach, ambassador for German wines in Asia who helped us immensely on our short trip.


These classifications can be found on the top of each bottle of wine from VDP wineries:

1. VDP Gutswein are regional wines, they come from a winery’s holdings within a region. There are dry, demi-sec and sweet versions. To find out, the best thing to is to check the alcoholic content: low alcohol wines are sweet, whilst those above 11% will mostly be dry. Regional wines amount for 50% of the whole production.
2. VDP Ortswein describes a wine from the village’s best vineyards that are planted with a grape variety typical for the region. These ‘terroir’ wines account for 30% of the whole production.

3. VDP ErsteLage classification is designated for first class vineyards with distinctive characteristics. If the wine is dry then the label will say “trocken” (dry), without a Praedikat (ripeness level designation). If there is a natural residual sugar level, i.e. the wines are less alcoholic, then this will be noted in the old traditional Praedikats: Kabinett, Spaetlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. These wines take up 15% of the whole production.

4. VDP Grosse Lage, or when dry the Grosse Gewaechs (or GG) with the compulsory ‘trocken’, designates the very best vineyards of the region in Germany and are reserved for the best wines Germany makes, they reflect site-specific characterists. Similar to the ErsteLage, if the wine has natural residual sugar then it is called Kabinett and so on. These wines amount to only 5% of the whole production.

Other wineries outside of VDP classification remain with the old system, meaning you only need to read the labels to know about them. We have: tafelwein (table wine), regional wine, Qualitaetswein (quality wine) and Qualitaetswein with the ‘dry’ Praedikat, halbtrocken (demisec or off-dry), or those without a label, meaning it will be a sweet wine: Kabinett (fully ripened light wines from main harvest), Spaetlese (later harvest) and from Auslese (select harvest), Beerenauslese (select berry harvest), to Trockenbeerauslese (dried select berry harvest) to Eiswein (ice wine). It may seem that Germany has complicated labelling systems, but once understood, choosing your wine becomes a real treat. If you still can’t remember, don’t worry, if you’re going to a good restaurant, you will have your friendly Sommelier to help!

In the Nahe, Mosel, Rheinhessen, Rheinpfalz regions the most commonly made wine is the Riesling and in Franken it is the Sylvaner, but also the Riesling. The Riesling may not have the wonderful fragrance a Sauvignon Blanc but in the mouth and in its after taste the ‘longness’ is far more concentrated than that of the wines of Marlborough or Loire. Its freshness and creaminess does help fish or seafood dishes to explode in your mouth and gives much more life to such a dish. Of course it should be an ErsteLage or Grosses Gewaechs wine to compete with the Sauvignon Blanc wines. Also have in mind that sometimes the Sauvignon is produced in small barrels or fermented there and this does give the wine a power that no creation from a chef can stand up to. No Riesling ever was put or made in small barrels they lay mostly in so called Fudder 15 000 litre barrels or even bigger ones which are aged, thus, no wood, smoke or other foreign tastes or aromas are a part of the Riesling wines.

As we are comparing wines from the new and old world, I must add that the Rieslings from each of these cannot be compared. My inner voice tells me that such a comparison is not plausible. The soil differences of Australia and Germany mean that even when you take the best Riesling of Australia and a German ErsteLage, the tastes are still worlds apart. I urge you to try for yourself.

Like in all the other wine countries we went to in previous years, Germany was also a graceful host. We were accommodated in such wonderful houses, such as the Mönchhof in Ürzig, which lookes over the Mosel River, or the 300-year-old former monastery in Deidesheim, which has now become the Kaisergarten (Emperor Garden) Hotel and is owned by the winery of the Reichsrat von Buhl. We tasted wines and ate fabulous food in famous wineries. The winery of J. J Pruem, for example, served us some sumptuous smoked trout, spicy pumpkin soup and beef in a Riesling sauce, this was beautifully accompanied by some of the winery’s selected sweet wines. The winery of Gunderloch invited us for a lunch in the village where game and goose was a speciality, which matched the Grosse Gewaechse of the winery. It was the wild board sausage and sauerkraut in the Bürgerspital Foundation winery, such an enjoyable classic. The ÖkonomieratRebholz and Krebs-Grode were also wonderful hosts!

Now I would like to mention some of the wines which I liked the most from each winery. Actually in the last 7-8 years Germany has consistently produced high quality wines. A good Riesling also lives easily up to 15\20 years. Also Germany produces the lightest wines in the world especially in the categories of demi sec and sweet wines, between 6.5% to 10% alcohol only.

• SchlossgutDiel, DorsheimerGoldloch Grosses Gewaechs dry Riesling 2008
• SchlossgutDiel, DorsheimerPittermaenchenOrtswein dry Riesling 2008

– DönnhoffHermanshöhle Grosses Gewaechs dry Riesling 2013
– DönnhoffGutswein off-dry Riesling 2013

• MönchhofÜrzigigerWuerzgartenSpaetlese Riesling 2008
• MönchhofÜrzigigerWuerzgartenAuslese Riesling 2008

• Dr. Loosen Gutswein, St. Johannis Hof, Bernkastel, Riesling 2012
– Dr. Loosen, ÜrzigerWürzgarten, Grosses Gewaechs dry AlteReben, Riesling 2012

• Joh. Jos. PrümWehlenerSonnenuhrOrtsweinSpaetlese Riesling 2007
• Joh. Jos. PrümGraacherHimmelsreich Grosses GewaechsAuslese Riesling 2007

– ValckenbergLiebfrauenstiftKirchenstueck Estate Wine, Riesling 2011
– ValckenbergWeingutLiebfrauenstift, Dry Riesling 2011

• DomaineGunderloch, Nackenheim, Jean Baptiste, OrtsweinKabinett Riesling 2010
• DomaineGunderlochNackenheim, Grosses GewaechsAuslese Riesling 2008

– VereinigteWeingüter Krebs-Grode, EimsheimerSonnengang, Schwarzerde, Pinot Grigio dry 2011
– VereinigteWeingüter Krebs-Grode, GunterblumerKreuz-Kapelle, Loess, Riesling dry 2011

– Dr. Wehrheim, Mandelberg Grosses Gewaechs White Burgundy 2013
– Dr. WerheimSiebeldingerSpaetburgunder, Ortswein red 2012

– OekonomieratRebholz, Ganzhorn Grosses Gewaechs dry Riesling 2008
– OekonomieratRebholz, Kastanienbusch Grosses GewaechsAuslese, Riesling 2013
– Georg Mosbacher, WachenheimerGeruempel, ErsteLage dry Riesling 2012
– Georg Mosbacher, UngeheuerForst, Grosses Gewaechs dry Riesling 2012

– Reichsrat von Buhl, Sparkling wine brut, Riesling 2013
– Reichsrat von Buhl, UngeheuerForst Grosses Gewaechs dry Riesling 2013

– Juliusspital, Wuerzburger Stein ErsteLage dry Riesling 2013
– Juliusspital, Wuerzburger Stein Grosses Gewaechs dry Sylvaner 2013

– Buergerspital, RandersackerTeufelskellerErsteLage dry Riesling 2013
– Buergerspital, Würzburger Stein – Harfe Grosse Gewaechs dry Silvaner 2013

– StaatlicherHofkeller, OrtsweinWürzburger RieslanerKabinett dry 2012
– StaatlicherHofkellerWürzburger Stein Grosses Gewaechs dry Silvaner 2012

– Wines with this sign are not available
yet in Indonesia
• Wines with this sign should be available in Indonesia.

HaraldWiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the Asian inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 42 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for six consecutive years since its opening six and a half years ago.



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