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Current trends in wine country Germany


German viticulture has undergone a very dynamic development in recent years. Greatly contributing to this is the young generation of vintners who have increasingly taken over responsibility in the whole of the German wine industry. The "Generation Riesling" initiative established by the German Wine Institute (DWI) ten years ago now boasts some 500 members.

They are highly trained, internationally oriented and go new ways without ignoring the experiences of their parents. Using vineyard and cellar techniques that are gentle on the wine and environment, these young people in charge focus uncompromisingly on quality. This comes with up-to-date communication and intelligent marketing, from label design to modern vinotheques and events, which also increasingly appeal to young consumers.

Ecological viticulture on the increase
A growing number of German wine producers now cultivate their vines according to ecological or biodynamic principles. The area under vine in ecological viticulture has more than tripled in the last ten years. “At present over 8,000 hectares of German vineyard are farmed ecologically. This corresponds to a share of roughly eight percent of the total vineyard area”, explains DWI managing director Monika Reule. Yet many wine estates remain very modest about their ecological farming methods, regarding them as nothing out of the ordinary.

Demand for authentic wines
Consumers are placing increasing emphasis when buying wine on quality, regionality and authenticity. This fits in well with the trend in the German wine sector to grow and make wine as naturally as possible. Minimal intervention is becoming the motto in the wine cellar. Singular wines fermented with ambient yeasts which express their terroir and origin, as well as the fingerprint of the producer, are increasingly becoming the new German quality standard in the higher-price segment. Happily, the outstanding 2015 vintage has provided a very good basis for this style of wine.

Light wines with light cuisine
Light-bodied, elegant wines that are low in alcohol are the hallmark of German wine producers, which is also becoming more important internationally. In Germany´s wine regions – at the northern end of the world´s viticulture -, grapes have a very long time to ripen and are thus able to build up an especially large range of aroma compounds. This is why white wines are so full of flavour despite their lightness, with a pleasant interplay of fresh natural acidity and aromas typical of the variety. They make an excellent accompaniment to light food and a more health-conscious diet.

Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris increasingly popular
The grape varieties Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) and Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) have posted the biggest rise in German vineyard area in recent years. Germany is now the world’s largest producer of Pinot Blanc with 4,800 hectares of plantings and the second largest producer of Pinot Gris with over 5,600 hectares.

Both varieties are highly valued especially because of their excellent suitability to many types of cuisine. Due to their typically mild acidity they are also a perfect choice for wine lovers looking for an alternative to Riesling. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are available in a wide variety of styles, from fruit-driven entry-level wines to complex top growths aged in barriques.

German red wines competitive internationally
Benefitting from climate change and optimized quality management on the part of the producer, German red wines have experienced a real quality boost in recent years and are attracting ever more accolades in international competitions.

Roughly one third of the domestic vineyard is planted with red varieties, above all the international trend grape Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder). With almost 12,000 hectares, Germany is the third-largest producer of Pinot noir in the world. Pinot Noir – like Riesling – belongs to the so-called “cool climate” grape varieties which are ideally suited to cultivation in Germany, producing great wines with long aging potential.

Red wine cuvees are increasingly seen on producers´ wine lists. They are made from the red Pinot varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Précoce (Frühburgunder) or St. Laurent, as well as global players such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, which now also thrive in Germany´s wine regions.

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