Why Germany can now reclaim its place among the great wine producers
At the end of the nineteenth century Germany’s wines, particularly its Rieslings, were among the most expensive and sought after in the world. Less than a century later, fuelled by reliance on technology, increasingly nonsensical wine laws and scandal involving adulterated wines, German wine had become a byword for sweetish plonk. It has been a steep climb but now Germany’s producers are reviving the wine industry with exciting, high-quality wines.
The wines of Germany, a new book from Infinite Ideas’ Classic Wine Library by German wine expert Anne Krebiehl MW, offers a tour round this new German wine landscape. In assessing the damage inflicted by the last century, she notes that, “it is only now that Germany is emerging from the convulsions of the twentieth century to become its true self and allow the uniqueness of its vineyards and diverse landscapes to take centre stage”.
On that stage are three key players: the reclaiming of Riesling in its true form, the increasing viability of red wine, particularly Spätburgunder, and the revival of traditionally crafted Sekts. Sweetness in wine had long been the “German curse”, as Krebiehl puts it, with increasingly lax laws seeing light and aromatic Rieslings lost in a sea of Liebfraumilch, but today’s producers, notably in the Mosel, are turning out the most “thrilling, diverse, alluring, unique and spine-tingling” Rieslings in the world. Climate change, whilst not entirely problem free for Germany’s growers has allowed a third of its hectarage to be devoted to red wine grapes. Other producers have recently begun unpicking the damage to the international reputation of Sekt inflicted by mass production, creating artisanal Sekts that sit perfectly with today’s fashion for the boutique and hand-crafted and benefit from the current popularity of sparkling wines.
Krebiehl refers modestly to her book as “a sketch” but in fact it provides an exceptionally thorough overview of German wine culture, past and present. She profiles a significant cross-section of producers in all wine regions, from the famed Mosel slopes to the lesser known regions of Sachsen and Saale-Unstrut, and it is through their stories that we gain the clearest view of where German wine has been, where it is now and where it’s heading.
While Krebiehl is clearly a genuine enthusiast for German wines she also notes that changes are needed if Germany is to continue its climb back to the top. Updates to the confusing wine law will play an important role in the continuing revival as, guided by the work of membership organizations such as the VDP, it moves to a more provenance-based and easily understandable model. The book’s overall tone is optimistic; Krebiehl is excited about the future for German wine and hopes the book will inspire readers to begin their own vinous explorations.
About the author
German-born but London-based, Anne Krebiehl MW is a freelance wine writer and lecturer. She is the contributing editor for Austria, Alsace, Burgundy and England for US Wine Enthusiast and also writes for trade and consumer wine publications such as The World of Fine Wine, Decanter, The Buyer, Falstaff and Vinum. She lectures, consults and judges at international wine competitions and is a panel chair at the International Wine Challenge. She completed her WSET Diploma in 2010 and was admitted to the Institute of Masters of Wine in September 2014. Anne has helped to harvest and make wine in New Zealand, Germany and Italy.
The wines of Germany was published by Infinite Ideas on 23 September 2019.
ISBN: 9781906821852, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 326pp, colour plates, maps.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from email@example.com; 07802 443957
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