True confession time: I’m starting my D3 studies ‘early’ because as I’m working through my D2, I’m finding that I need real life references as to how the D2—Wine Business—material works in today’s wine industry. It’s like fate that the below question came at the bottom of a newsletter from the Napa Valley Wine Academy. So, I’ve decided that, in an effort to connect the dots between D2 and D3, I’m going to ask this question of every region I study.
Explain how wine law and regulation influence the style, quality, and price of wines from Germany.
Would that I could have a bottle of every single wine variety. I bet I could learn a whole heap that way (not to mention have a whole heap of fun). But, alas, the money tree seems to be in its dormancy. So the title of this post is a bit mis-leading, as I won’t be physically tasting through these wines, but more putting together what I can gather from my readings about the style and structure typical to these varieties, as it pertains to German winemaking.
Afterwards, I want to take a walk through a few of the other notable wine producing regions of Germany and talk about what non-Riesling grapes thrive best there and why. Sound fun? Totally. Let’s go…
I don’t know why, but I found that, during my WSET Level 3 studies, starting with Germany was really helpful. Maybe because the regions are completely foreign to me; the wines not regularly available in my area. Perhaps, embarking on a whole new adventure was the way to jump in. And, now, studying for my Diploma, I find the country calling to me again.
When I first started posting about my studies, I began with an exploration of major German regions via the country’s most popular grape. The kind of “dry” tasting notes, if you will, gave me a good idea of what kind of climate and terroir each individual region has. (See German Riesling: Location Matters) But Diploma studies are so much more detailed.
Indeed, this exploration, though it follows the same path, is going to dive a bit deeper and, for fun and educational purposes, I want to actually experience a few of the wines myself to see if I can actually taste what I’m reading about. Hence, “Taste and Learn.”
These two premium quality wines have very different characteristics. Under the headings below explaining how what happens as the grapes develop, up to the point when they are crushed, has a direct impact on the style and quality of these two wines.
Riesling. Oh Riesling. You poor stereotyped varietal. While I’ve had some fun and, for lack of a better word, tasty Rieslings from the States, I have to say that, for the most part, what our New World has done to the variety is a bit of a shame. What’s more, is I feel like there’s a bit of a stigma surrounding German wines — a few sweet Gewürztraminers and suddenly folks think everything from the cool Rhine region is sweet. When, in fact, it is just the opposite. For the most part Germans tend to make (and enjoy) the dryer style wines (and warm beer, but that’s a different story).
Lucky for me I made a new friend at a local wine shop. A sommelier whose specialty is German and Austrian wine. So when I asked him to pour my anything he recommended that would help me discover the area, he asked “how do you feel about Riesling.” My response, “As long as its as dry as God intended it.” So this is what he poured me. This is what I bought. This is what I enjoyed again and can’t wait to enjoy again.