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We tasted almost 400 wines this year for our "BEST OF Grosses Gewächs". In the case of the whites, the 2012 vintage was almost exclusively on the programme; in the case of the reds, it was mainly wines from the 2011 and 2010 vintages, as well as a few older examples that are only now coming onto the market. As always, we only evaluated those Grossen Gewächse that we were able to taste in our tasting room in Erlangen. So if you are missing wines, unfortunately they have not been presented to us by their producers, or at least not yet. We are constantly completing the list as more Grosse Gewächse arrive at our tasting room. If you would like to be kept up to date, it is best to subscribe to our tasting telegram (register on the homepage and then click on "e-mail services" in the user profile - box at the top left).

We tasted every wine at least twice; but many samples were also re-tasted by us again and again over a period of days if we had the impression that they needed particularly much time and air. We made videos of most of these re-tastings, which you can find in our Youtube channel if you want to get an idea of our work.

The Rotenfels massif on the Nahe% Home to the top vineyard Traiser Bastei, among others. (Photo: Weinland Nahe)

The year of finesse

2012 not only produced an exceptionally long line of first-class dry Rieslings, the year is also a milestone in terms of style. The best wines this year possess an elegance and race that we have not often experienced in recent years. Many of them are virtually ideal for the variety and their respective origins. It is precisely their delicacy that makes the wines even more clearly distinguishable in their personality than we are used to. In some areas, one has to search a long time for mediocre wines, in others, at least the tops are of enchanting quality. All in all, we cannot remember ever having experienced a vintage with such a large number of top growths, every single one of which is worth having in the cellar.

With the Franconian Silvaners, the picture looks more mixed, but it is worth looking out for the best wines. The qualities of the Burgundy varieties, for which 2012 offered less ideal conditions, also fluctuate noticeably. Nevertheless, there are some first-class Pinot Blancs and Pinot Gris in the Southern Palatinate, in Baden and not least in Württemberg, which has been extremely successful this year.

Some of Germany's best red wines come from the Ahr - here the view of Altenahr. (Photo: Shapefruit AG)

Emancipation in red

In the German red wine scene, two camps seem to be moving further and further apart at the moment. On the one hand, the wines are becoming more and more refined, independent and full of character - and that relatively independently of the respective alcohol content. Here, one is increasingly approaching the Burgundian model without denying one's own origins. The other side continues to rely on high alcohol, partly overripe grapes and, last but not least, a lot of wood. This style undoubtedly has its supporters; however, it hardly fulfils the aim of a Grosses Gewächs to offer a clear reflection of its respective origin.

At the same time, the use of wood is obviously decreasing in general and in part significantly. But we still have the impression that unsuitable wood is often used, especially in Burgundies, because too many wines still come across as brittle, smoky and bitter - and rarely lose this woody bitterness with age. It seems to us, however, that many producers are becoming more and more sensitive here as well.

In the meantime, Lemberger has taken a firm place among Germany's top red wines. Where people avoid underchallenging wine drinkers with soft flatterers and rely on the strengths of the basically emphatically tart variety, Lemberger is now giving Austrian Blaufränkisch a run for its money.

Steffen Christmann% President of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP); the association members are allowed to call their dry wines of the highest quality level "Grosses Gewächs"% as long as they meet the respective specifications. (Photo: VDP)

To the "BEST OF Grosses Gewächs white" (PDF document)

BEST OF Grosses Gewächs red" (PDF document)

All Grossen Gewächse tasted this year

All white Grosses Gewächse tasted this year

All red Grosses Gewächse tasted this year

All Riesling GGs tasted this year

All Silvaner GG tasted this year

All Weißburgunder GG tasted this year

All Pinot Gris GG tasted this year

All Spätburgunder GG tasted this year

All Lemberger GG tasted this year

All Frühburgunder GG tasted this year

To the series of articles "The new VDP Classification".

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