door | 28 aug 2023 | Internationaal, Nieuws

The dry top wines of the VDP celebrate their vintage debut

When wine lovers see a bottle bearing the “GG” initials and characteristic eagle logo of the VDP
(Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter), they know immediately what’s inside: a world-class dry
wine from one of Germany’s finest vineyards. Only those vineyards classified as VDP.GROSSE LAGE®
offer the optimal terroir on the one hand and decades of proven performance on the other needed to
bring forth outstanding wines.

These remarkable wines are raised under the strictest of quality criteria and must pass a
comprehensive gauntlet of sensory tastings. After all, they are intended to serve as the quintessential
expression of the high standards for VDP.growers of their wines. They are shaped not just by intensive
hand labor, meticulous yield regulation, a concentration on varieties suitable for their sites, and
encouraging terroir character in the glass. Grand wines are inherently products of time, best revealing
their true potency to the patient. This is why roughly twelve months are allowed to pass after harvest
before the white VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® wines are released on to the national and international
markets, on September 1st of each year. And some VDP.winegrowers wait even longer. Their reds are
granted at least two full years before they are bottled for drinking, although it is understood that they
will benefit from years, if not decades, of further time to mature.

On average, roughly 3,000 bottles are produced from the 599 GGs (2023) that successful pass
through the testing and analysis process. At an average price of 45 euros and many spanning up to
225 euros or more, their success shows not only that a knowledgeable public is willing to pay for a
bottle of fine wine, but also just how effectively premium German wines have claimed the mantle as
worthy of such cost.

Sneakpreview VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® 2023

Even before market launch of the current vintage of wines bearing the coveted VDP.GROSSES
GEWÄCHS® label, another crucial hurdle remains: the “Vorpremiere (Sneak Preview) VDP.GROSSES
GEWÄCHS®” in Wiesbaden’s Kurhaus. It draws top tasters from the domestic and international stages,
representing renowned wine publications, specialized retailers, and star hospitality establishments
alike. Over three days, this expert audience is granted an exclusive — and intensive — initial
introduction to the vintage.

At the Vorpremiere VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS®, the wines are served at their ideal temperature, in the
correct sequence, and brought by order to the taster’s spot. They are organized by origin, allowing
wines from the same site to be tasted side by side across different estates. The VDP pioneered a
procedure that has since drawn numerous international imitators: each individual bottle is pre-tasted
by wine professionals prior to serving. 46 refrigerators have been set up to keep this year’s 83 flights
of approx. 460 GGs cool before delivery to the tasters’ tables. 50 servers have been engaged to tend
to the needs of the roughly 200 tasters from 25 different countries.

Even with a year (or two) of maturation under their belts before market launch, these wines are
always still very young at the tasting. Only guests with a world-class knowledge of Germany’s sites and
years of tasting experience are capable of forecasting the potential in these wines, how they will give
voice to their terroir and develop over time, and when they will be ready to drink in the coming
years… or decades. With this time frame in mind, some VDP.winegrowers go a step further and only
send their wines onto to the market as “Late Releases.” Such wines are held back for an additional
two or even five years before presentation to the public. This process underscores the passion for
perfection on the part of these winegrowers and emphasizes just how much they see the maturation
process for their grand terroir wines as an essential part of their philosophy.

A retrospective, and look ahead, on successful site classification

As the Vorpremiere VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® in Wiesbaden approaches, the VDP can now take stock
on a fascinating past twelve months. A year ago marked 20 years of the VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® —
an anniversary celebrating two decades of German grand crus that inspired emotional retrospectives
on the early days of that success story. The association looks back proudly on 30 years since the start
of classification and 20 years since the introduction of VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS®. It is clear that their
many sacrifices, lengthy discussions, and willingness to accept incremental change ultimately played a
crucial role in the current success of VDP wines. It is also clear that the journey hasn’t yet reached its
final destination.

“Twenty years later, the members of the VDP met at Jagdschloss Platte near Wiesbaden to celebrate their
Großes Gewächs wines — and it was more than just a thrilling party. It was a triumphant celebration,
because the GG very likely represents the grandest success story ever in German winegrowing.”

-Jakob Strobel y Serra

In fact, those retrospectives on the VDP’s role as a vanguard for Premier Crus and Grand Crus in
Germany served as a timely reminder of the importance of patience and sensibility in recent months
as the German Wine Law has undergone significant, and often difficult, revisions. The revision of the
VDP’s own classification history in the event of the anniversary, but also the dialogue with the
neighbours from France and Austria as well as the developments in wine law, strengthened the
internal questioning process and the determination to take the next step together in the VDP.

We embrace the idea that historical assessments, which understandably formed a starting point for
early classification efforts, will be de-emphasized in favor of an evaluation of actual recent
performance in and with the vineyards. It is with this in mind that the VDP heads towards the next
stage of classification. A classification document is to be created for each site and each VDP.member
estate, attesting to the strength of the site and its wines based on the historical, qualitative, and
economic relevance, as well as its reputation. This will frame classification in a more multidimensional and transparent way: a vineyard’s proven reputation, not its mere potential, will take
precedence. It is an approach which establishes a unity between the vineyard and the skill of the

Here you can read more about the opportunities and challenges inherent to the upcoming changes to
the German Wine Law for the overall German wine market and the VDP in particular.

The Vorpremiere VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® in Wiesbaden is once again showing us that “GGs” from the VDP
have developed into calling cards for German viticulture and enjoy an outstanding reputation
internationally. They are the result of decades of passion, innovation, and hard work on the part of our
winegrowers and represent a symbol for the deep connection between vineyard and the people who work
them. All of which reinforces us in our mission of bearing the unique nature of top vineyards and wines from
Germany out into the wider world.

-Steffen Christmann

How are the white wines from the 2022 vintage presenting so far?

To taste the new GGs inherently means reviewing the weather conditions during that vintage. For the
2022’s, a warm spring spared growers from late frost damage and the vines progressed quickly during
that season. Warm days in May drove canopy growth and flowering moved forward apace. Quick and
precise vineyard management was required to keep step with nature as she worked her vine magic.
The summer that followed will be remembered for many hours of sun and an extended dryness, even
drought, that massively accelerated ripening. Sites with good water supplies found the summer to
their liking, while younger vineyards showed signs of stress. As in 2018, the hot summer days led in
many regions to a late August start to harvest. Growers engaged in meticulous selection in advance of
the main harvest, often seeking to reduce yields in reaction to the dryness to achieve the highest
quality standards. In some cases, the VDP.GROSSE LAGE® sites were harvested before other
vineyards, as their ideal exposures and beneficial interplay between soil and climate encouraged the
fruit to mature fast. The rain in autumn turned the harvest into a race against time at some points.
Choosing the right moment to launch harvest was crucial in bringing in optimally ripe fruit without
compromising on quality. Unstinting manual labor and precise selection were unavoidable, but our
member estates are largely reporting healthy and ripe fruit despite conditions that were at times
downright difficult.

Now, 12 months later, the white VDP.GROSSE GEWÄCHSE® wines embody as a more refined vintage
with round acids and lovely concentration. A fine example of just how well our winegrowers have
learned to handle to warmer and dryer years.

How is the 2021 vintage presenting for the reds?

The grape harvest of 2021 actually came unusually late. Why? If you look back to early 2021, warm
temperatures in spring were nowhere to be found. As a result, bud break began later in the vineyards.
The growth of the vines was further slowed by relatively cool weather. Spring such as it was had
barely come to an end when the warm days finally arrived in June, but explosive growth coupled with
plentiful rain pushed winegrowers to the limits of the skills. The summer itself was also far from what
we’d imagined. Rainy day upon rainy day was good for nature in general, replenishing crucial water
reserves, but in no way made things easier for winegrowers. August, typically one of the warmest
months, was surprisingly cool, which further delayed harvest. The warm and dry September seemed
to want to make amends, lending the grapes the time they needed to mature. The 2021 vintage of
whites has been celebrated in the wine world for its razor-sharp acidity and tension. Anticipation of a
fantastic 2021 vintage of reds is corresponding high.

This year’s reds reflect the weather conditions unmistakably. The vines had plenty of water, cool
temperatures, and much attentive care by our winegrowers, allowing the grapes to hang longer on
the vines; the result are wines with cool but distinctive aromatics and a fascinating acidic backbone.

On the the tasting impressions of the professionals will be continuously published.

VDP.Die Prädikatsweingüter
VDP.Die Prädikatsweingüter is the world’s oldest association of premium winegrowing estates
and home to around 200 of Germany’s most talented winegrowers. Across diverse regions and
philosophies, all share one common thread: a tireless dedication to the timeless ideal of
handcrafted wines that express their origins. Bottles as inimitable as their makers. Joined under a
symbol revered the world over: the VDP.Eagle