There’s more to German Wine than Riesling…

When one thinks of German wine, Riesling most often come to mind and that makes sense considering 22 percent of the wine produced in Germany is Riesling.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good dry Riesling but there is more to German wine than just Riesling.  After all, 88 percent of German wine produced is something other than Riesling.

Germany produces 1.2 billion bottles of wine a year making it the eighth largest wine producing country in the world.  In Germany,  two thirds of wines produced are white varietals including Riesling.

I was recently invited to participate in a #winestudio tasting on Twitter hosted by Tina Morey of Protocol Wine Studio & Jeff Marazoni of Rudi Wiest imports on “Germany’s Lesser Known Varietals”.  Over the course of four weeks we talked and tasted six unique German wines, four whites and two reds from Franken, Pfaltz and Wurttemburg. The varietals included Silvaner, Scheurebe, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Lemberger.

Franken is located in north west Germany in the state of Bavaria. You may know this region for its beer or the unique wine bottle it uses for its wines called the Bocksbeutul. Only wines from Franken can be bottled in the Bocksbeutul, a short squat bottle that is shaped like a round flask. Some say it’s shaped like this to prevent the bottle from rolling away from it’s owner while others say it is modeled after a goat’s testicle.  Use of the bottle is protected by law of the European Union so when you see this bottle you know the wine comes from Franken Germany.

Franken is known for it’s Silvaner which was first planted in the region in 1659.  It can be made sweet or dry.  Scheurebe thought to be a cross between Riesling and another unknown grape is also grown in Franken but it makes up less than 2 percent of Germany’s total vineyard area.

The 2011 Graf von Schonborn Schloss Hallburg Silvaner Dry, Estate from Franken has a great crispness tasting of ripe juicy apples. It is dry with nice acidity. It retails for $18 a bottle and would be great paired with food or enjoyed alone.

The 2012 Wirsching Scheurebe Kabinett Dry, Iphofer has great floral aromatics and tastes of yummy stone fruit. It is dry with nice minerality and acidity and would be great with spicy food.  Because this is a unique varietal with a great flavor profile and a fun bottle shape, (the Bocksbeutel) , this would be a great wine to bring to a dinner party or give as a gift, that is if you can keep yourself from drinking it.  It retails for $27 a bottle

The 2012 Graf von Schonborn Schloss Hallburg Pinot Gris, Estate is organically farmed. It has great depth and a nice minerality and acidity. This would be great paired with fish or on it’s own on a nice warm summer day. It has lots of character due to the gypsum, limestone soil it’s grown on and it might just change your opinion of Pinot Gris.  It retails for $20 a bottle

Pfaltz is the second largest wine region in Germany with over 10,000 wine growers. Located in western Germany between the Rhine river and the low-lying Haardt mountain range, this region has many similarities to Alcace its neighbor to the south.

The 2012 Rebohlz Pinot Blanc Dry, Estate from Pfaltz is biodynamically farmed. It has spice, minerality and citrus with nice mouth feel and complexity. This wine retails for $20 a bottle. The Rebohlz family has been making wine since the 16th century but in spite of their long history, they are quite forward thinking making delicious “natural” terroir driven wines.

The 2011 Becker Pinot Noir Dry, Estate is one of Rudi Weist’s best sellers. Grown in chalky limestone in Pfaltz, this wine is considered one of the best Pinot Noir’s in Germany.  It has great cherry berry fruit flavors with nice finesse and elegance and at $20 a bottle is a great value

Wurtemburg in southwest Germany is known for its red wines. In fact, in Germany Lemberger is only grown in Wutemburg. Compared to some estates in Germany where wine has been made since the 1600’s Rainer Schnaitmann is a newcomer only making wine since 1997 but that has not stopped him gaining a cult following. His wines are eco-friendly and in 2014 were certified organic.

The 2011 Schnaitmann Lemberger Dry, Estate has a nice dark deep color and big bold fruit flavors balanced with spiciness and tannins. This wine retails for $20 a bottle and would pair well with barbeque and lamb.

What was revealed to me as part of this tasting is that there are some unique amazing wine varietals from Germany besides Riesling,  not all German wine is sweet, (be sure to look for dry or trocken on the label),  and although the general focus when it comes to German wines are white varietals, there are some wonderful red wines made in Germany that offer great price for their quality.

Thank you to Rudi Wiest for the opportunity to taste and discuss these wines.

All of the wines discussed above are part of Rudi Wiest Selections import portfolio. If you would like more information on these wines contact Jeff Marazoni at Prost!

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2 Responses to “There’s more to German Wine than Riesling…”

  1. Paula says on :

    Certainly, I love seeing attention being given to German wine, Riesling or not. However, it seems important to say that the bocksbeutel is not entirely unique to Franconia. It can also contain Greek wine, some Italian wine, and most importantly, wine from northern Baden as well, an entirely different wine-growing region in Germany.

    glad you tried some great wines!

  2. Jeff Marazoni says on :

    Thanks for the nice write up Melanie!

    The #winestudio Twitter tasting series was a lot of fun and it seemed many learned and enjoyed at the same time which is what sharing wine with friends, new and old, should be all about.