VDP goes Rotterdam 2023, Great wines of Germany.
Last May part of our team went to Rotterdam for an exhibition of some of Germany’s top wineries and wines, members of the German VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter). This showcase took place in the “Van Nelle Fabriek” and brought to light a wide spectrum of high-quality wines, mainly Riesling and Spätburgunder (Germany’s key varietals).
In this article we are highlighting some of the wineries and wines (including their scores) that impressed us most, but in all fairness this list could have been much longer.
Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter
Recently we published an extensive article on the German VDP, the biggest collective of quality winemakers in Germany. To read more about this click here.
With over 200 wineries the VDP has established a firm positioning of German wines in the (inter)national market. One of the reasons behind this is the clear classification system, which we will briefly explain, in order to better position the wines we reviewed.
The guiding principle for the VDP classification is: the narrower the appellation of origin, the higher the quality. There are four levels of classification for dry wines:
• VDP.ERSTE LAGE®
• VDP.GROSSE LAGE®
The last two translate to premier cru and grand cru like we know from Burgundy, France. Wines that are fruity and noble sweet still bear the traditional Prädikat designations.
Our VDP selection
As mentioned we had a hard time selecting our favorites after the event. The producers did not make it easy, as they brought some of their best wines with them. We hope however that we can give you a solid impression of the greatness that was on display.
Weingut Van Volxem (Mosel-Saar).
Situated in the historical center of Wiltingen, Van Volxem is a one of the most prestigious wineries in the Saar valley. As a formal abbey, it does cultivate vineyards on the best plots in the Saar, like for example the Grosse Lagen (‘Grand Cru’s’) Scharzhofberg, Goldberg and Klosterberg. After the French revolution, the domain came into the hands of the Belgian winemaker Gustav van Volxem and in the year 2000 Roman Niewodniczanski – descendant of the Bittburger family – took over the domain. Niewodniczanski’s quest is to show the different terroirs again. In general, the style of Van Volxem could be described as lush and ripe, but the wines we tasted showed us that such a description would oversimplify the magnificence of wines of Van Volxem.
Van Volxem Weissburgunder trocken.
2022 | VDP.Gutswein | Weissburgunder | DWA score: 91 (HJ).
Van Volxem was the first winery to introduce Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) in the Saar. Apple, lime, soft white fruits and wild flowers. Soft, round and accessible, with clean acids and a long saline aftertaste.
Van Volxem Saar Riesling trocken 2022.
2022 | VDP.Gutswein | Riesling | DWA score: 91 (HJ).
Estate wine made out of +30 years old vines. Aromatic nose with pure and concentrated fruits like green apple and lime, combined with mineral herbaceous tones. Concentrated fruity, strong and characterful, with focused and lively high acids.
Van Volxem Saar Riesling trocken.
2021 | VDP.Gutswein | Riesling | DWA score: 92 (HJ).
Same wine as the previous wine (Van Volxem Saar Riesling trocken 2022), on the understanding that this wine has aged one more year on the lees. The wine has the same flavor profile as the ’22, but shows more roundness, depth and complexity.
Van Volxem Wiltinger Riesling trocken.
2021 | VDP.Ortswein | Riesling | DWA score: 92 (HJ).
This wine is classified as a village wine, but the grapes are coming from the Braunfels vineyard, which actually is an Erste Lage (Premier Cru) vineyard. Beautiful pure en intense fruit like ripe stone fruits and pineapple and some smokey and spicy tones like fennel and pepper. Intense ripe fruits go hand in hand with the clean and powerful acids and a savory texture.
Van Volxem Bockstein GG.
2021 | VDP.Grosse Lage | Riesling | DWA score: 94 (HJ).
Bockstein is a relatively colder Grosse Lage. The cold Devon slates are causing the specific characteristics of this wine. Precious and clean nose with lime, zest, unripe pear and mint. Well-structured wine with razor-sharp acids and an electrifying energy, all surrounded by small and complex layers of herbs and ripe white fruits. Great wine with great aging potential.
Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein (Mosel).
Founded in 1980 by Reinhard Löwenstein and his wife vrouw Cornelia Heymann, Heymann-Löwenstein is one of the most respected Mosel wineries. Nowadays their daughter Sarah Löwenstein is in charge of the winery. Just like her parents, she approaches winemaking and terroir in a holistic perspective. The vineyards of Heymann-Löwenstein are situated on breathtaking steep slopes, with the Grosse Lage Röttgen as particular highlight. Heymann-Löwenstein is known for its traditional wine-making techniques, including spontaneous fermentation and long maceration. Although the main grape is Riesling Heymann-Löwenstein also produces some Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir en Chardonnay.
Heymann-Löwenstein Stolzenberg GG.
2021 | VDP.Grosse Lage | Riesling | DWA score: 94 (HJ).
South oriented Grosse Lage Stolzenberg, gray-brown slate. Vinified with wild yeasts in wooden barrels, long aging on the lees. In the nose a bit closed, namely pure citrus fruits, blossom and fresh green herbs. On the palate pure and pure and intense, giving a tingling energy and a very long-lasting aftertaste with flavours like candied lemon, lemon curd, turmeric and elderflower.
Heymann-Löwenstein Röttgen GG.
2021 | VDP.Grosse Lage | Riesling | DWA score: 95 (HJ).
Spectacular steep southeast oriented Grosse Lage Röttgen, with blue slate. Vinified with wild yeasts in wooden barrels, long aging on the lees. Concentrated, opulent fruit, namely citrus dominated and tropical. Wonderful seductive acids, mineral, salty and tannin-like structure, very long-lasting aftertaste. Outstanding wine.
Weingut Rings (Pfalz).
Although the history of Weingut Rings goes back to the sixties, the star of Rings really is rising since the takeover in 2008 by the Rings-brothers Andi and Steffen. They were regarded as rising talents and nowadays Rings really is a winery to consider. In 2015 Rings became VDP-member. Situated in a new build winery in Freinsheim (Mittelhaardt, Pfalz) they are focusing on Riesling (25%) and Spätburgunder (25%). They also cultivate varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder).
Rings Kallstadt Riesling trocken.
2021 | VDP.Gutswein | Riesling | DWA score: 91 (HJ).
Estate wine from vineyards in Kallstadt, with limestone soils. Direct and pure fruit, smokey and herbaceous. Rich and ripe start, chalky minerality, great acidity-level and a long-lasting aftertaste. Value for money.
Rings Ungsteiner Nussriegel.
2021 | VDP.Erste Lage | Riesling | DWA score: 94 (HJ).
Erste Lage with a clay soil and a warm micro-climate. Expressively stony en smokey aromas. Hedonistic ripe and rich fruit, wonderful tight and clean acids, powerful texture and a salty aftertaste. Outstanding wine.
Rings Pfalz Spätburgunder trocken (Fassprobe).
2021 | VDP.Gutswein | Spätburgunder | DWA score: 92 (HJ).
Estate wine with grapes from vineyards in Kallstad and Freinsheim. Aged in re-used French barriques for 12 months. Well-made clean, elegant en juicy Spätburgunder with tons of fresh fruits.
Rings Kallstadt Spätburgunder (Fassprobe).
2021 | VDP.Gutswein | Spätburgunder | DWA score: 92 (HJ).
Estate wine from vineyards in Kallstadt, limestone soils. Aged in new and re-used oak. Aromas of vanilla, oak, a touch of stable, cherry, strawberry and blueberry. Relative full bodied Spätburgunder with ripe velvet fruit, seductive acids and subtle herbaceous wood ripening influences.
Weingut J.J. Adeneuer (Ahr).
Weingut J.J. Adeneuer is situated in the middle of the Ahr valley. Covering only 560 hectares of vineyards, the Ahr is one of Germany’s smallest wine-growing areas. The vineyards are situated on steep south facing slopes. Although it is Germanys most northern wine region, protected by the hills of the Eifel, benefiting southern exposition and the warmth of dark slates, the Ahr is a real Pinot-paradise. Together with Werner Meyer-Näkel and Jean Stodden, Adeneuer has put the Ahr Valley on the map. Together with his brother Frank, Marc Adeneuer cultivates 15 hectares of Steillagen, of which one of the Ahr’s most famous vineyard: Warporzheimer Gärkammer.
Adeneuer Rosenthal Ahrweiler
2020 | VDP.Grosse Lage | Spätburgunder | DWA score: 93 (HJ).
Relatively less steep Grosse Lage Rosenthal in Ahrweiler. Slate soil with a top layer consisting out of clay and loess, causing more ripeness compared to the vineyards on the steep slopes. Ripe en full bodied style Spätburgunder, juicy, soft and approachable, without any loss of tension.
Adeneuer Gärkammer Warporzheim.
2020 | VDP.Grosse Lage | Spätburgunder | DWA score: 95 (HJ).
One of the best vineyards of the Ahr valley. 1,2-hectare steep slate slope, also called the Romanée Conti of Germany. Old vines of the famous Burgundy Kästenholz clone. Aged on re-used Burgundy pieces. Clear fruit like cherry, blackberry and blueberry and red herbaceous red fruits. Concentrated juice, crystalline seductive acids, mineral underlayer, ripe and soft tannins and a fresh herbal touch. Well balanced wine that will improve with time.
Weingut Dönnhoff (Nahe).
Weingut Dönnhoff is an estate and is often regarded as one of Germany’s very best producers, famous for the high-quality Riesling, with 28 ha. It has nine VDP. Grosse Lage, including the iconic HERMANNSHÖHLE. Now, the grandchild of the estate’s founder, Helmut Dönnhoff took over the vineyards in 1971 and purchased steep vineyards, which was not common at that time, producing exceptional wines in the vineyards.
2022 | VDP.Gutswein | Riesling trocken | DWA score: 90 (KU).
Fresh and pure. Green apple and citrus, and a hint of floral.
2022 | VDP.Erste Lage | Riesling trocken | DWA score: 91 (KU).
More complex flavor profile, with apple, citrus, and minerality. Delicate acidity is balanced with fruity notes.
2016 | VDP.Grosse Lage | Riesling trocken | DWA score: 95 (KU).
Exceptional concentration, opulent fresh stone fruits aromas, and a hint of developing notes (honey). Refreshing acidity is counterbalanced. Rich texture, with minerality on the long finish. Complex and elegant.
2022 | VDP. Grosse Lage | Riesling Kabinett | DWA score: 91 (KU).
Clear golden color. Green apple, white peach, citrus. Great balance between off-dry and fresh acidity.
2018 | VDP. Grosse Lage | Riesling Spätlese | DWA score: 92 (KU).
Ripe intense aromas of apricot, floral, tangerine, and intense minerality. Sweetness on the palate is balanced with high acidity.
Weingut A. Christmann (Pfalz).
Weingut A. Christmann has a distinguished philosophy of focusing on authentic and artisanal wines and exceptional terroir to make it happen. They have downsized the vineyards and fundamentally changed the product range in 2022, concentrating on VDP.ERSTE and VDP.GROSSE LAGE, other than that, with “AUS DEN LAGEN’ in each variety. After more than 16 years of organic and biodynamic cultivation, their vineyards in the absolute top location of the southern Mittelhaardt can produce the highest quality of Riesling and Spätburgunder, resulting in one of the hardest wines to obtain.
Aus den Lagen Riesling.
2021 | VDP.Gutswein | Riesling| DWA score: 90 (KU).
“Second Vin” wine in international meaning, sourcing grapes from several best vineyards. Hand-picked, carefully selected, and spontaneously fermented. Ripe stone fruit aromas are defined and balanced with their racy acidity, with a citrusy, refreshing finish.
2021 | VDP.Erste Lage | Riesling| DWA score: 93 (KU).
More concentrated, with more on the fresh tropical side. Defined minerality is counteracted to fruitiness. Vibrant high acidity.
2021 | VDP. Grosse Lage | Riesling| DWA score: 97 (KU).
Ripe yellow stone fruits and herbal nuance are lifted by bright minerality, smokiness, and a hit of yeasty character. Complex and focused. The concentrated flavor is balanced with high taut acidity.
Aus den Lagen Spätburgunder.
2020 | VDP.Gutswein | Spätburgunder trocken| DWA score: 92 (KU).
Fermented with 20-30% whole clusters, 18 months matured in barrel (20% new wood)
Ripe yet not fruit-forward red fruits (cherry, strawberry, berry) with herbal notes. Fragrant and elegant. Silky smooth tannins. Refreshing acidity.
2020 | VDP.Erste Lage | Spätburgunder 1G| DWA score: 95 (KU).
Fermented with 20% whole clusters, matured in barrel (20% new wood). Multiple, layered, flavors ranging from red cherry, red berry, violet, a hint of spice, and herbs, with earthy and savory notes. Structured by high racy acidity and smooth tannins, yet integrated. Long finish with nice minerality.
Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz (Pfalz).
Ökonomierat Rebholz has taken over the ‘Natural wine idea’ from Hansjörg Rebholz’s grandfather. Its philosophy is that they want to interfere as little as possible – no de-acidification, enrichment, or fining. Since 2005, biodynamic viticulture is the standard, which seems to impact the quality of their wines directly.
2021 | VDP.Ortswein | Riesling trocken| DWA score: 88 (KU).
Fruity, approachable Riesling. Stone fruits, pungent citrus, hints of oyster shell, and fresh herbs. Well-structured by racy high acidity.
2017 | VDP. Grosse Lage | Riesling GG | DWA score: 96 (KU).
KASTANIENBUSCH has iron-rich red slate soil. Spicy, earthy aromas give complexity, counterbalancing intense fruit aromas. The concentrated, rich texture is balanced with zesty acidity. Great depth.
2022 | VDP.Ortswein | Weißer Burgunder trocken| DWA score: 87 (KU).
24 hours of skin contact. Fermented in a stainless-steel tank. Fruity with green and citrus fruits. Comfortable bitterness and fresh acidity.
Ökonomierat Rebholz Chardonnay.
2020 | Chardonnay trocken | DWA score: 90 (KU).
Green fruits and acacia, with citrus notes on the finish. A hint of reductive, flinty, and smokiness gives complexity. Structured by refreshing acidity. Elegant Chardonnay.
It is a privilege to have so many great German wineries visiting us in the Netherlands for this event. We were happy to see some of our personal favorites, but also discovered some new gems while catching up. German wineries continue to improve the quality of their wines, and the identity is shaped much clearer now, which is also because of the work the VDP puts in.
If you are looking for your next great Riesling or Spätburgunder just be sure to check if the VDP eagle is featured on the bottle, and you will not be disappointed!
This event was covered by our own Kazumi Uejo, Hermen Jansen and Niels Aarts. We would like to thank all wineries present at the event and the VDP for the excellent organization and their hard work and commitment towards German wines.