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  • January 23, 2016
  • Maximin Grünhaus Rejoins the VDP

  • by Lars Carlberg

2014_Gruenhaus_Herrenberg_Alte_RebenAs I mentioned in my earlier article, I ran into Carl von Schubert at the organic grocery nearby my flat yesterday. It was a coincidence, for I had just published that article ("The Big Get Bigger") not long before seeing him. He confirmed what I heard the day before, namely, that Maximin Grünhaus is a member of the VDP. Carl's grandfather had left the VDNV, a precursor of the VDP, because he deemed unnecessarily dogmatic their stance that all wines had to be naturrein, or unchaptalized.

The VDP was formerly called Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (VDNV), Association of German Natural Wine Auctioneers, up until 1971. Today, the VDP's high-end dry wine, called Grosses Gewächs (GG), can be chaptalized, which goes against their own notion of "natural wine."

Maximin Grünhaus has been following the VDP model. The Prädikats—which indicate unchaptalized wines—are only used for those Rieslings with more noticeable residual sugar now. Carl says that they only have to change a few minor things. Like rival VDP member Karthäuserhof before him, he already renamed his Spätlese trocken from the Abtsberg and Herrenberg vineyards to "Alte Reben trocken."

The addition of Maximin Grünhaus to the VDP is great press for the association, especially after the departure of Koehler-Ruprect in October 2014 (see "Koehler-Ruprecht Leaves the VDP" for more on this). Moreover, the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer association of the VDP, better known as the Grosser Ring, regains a former member that has the requisite pedigree, along with large, priviledged, and contiguous vineyard holdings—all of which are monopole sites. Abtsberg is already considered a "Grosse Lage," especially by those who back a Mosel vineyard classification.

Grünhaus belongs in the Grosser Ring. What's missing are a number of other top-flight producers. Many of the current Grosser Ring members don't have the same high-quality wines of nonmembers, such as Markus Molitor, Weiser-Künstler, or A.J. Adam, to name a few. In this regard, the Grosser Ring, especially on the Middle Mosel, has been too conservative in adding new members over the years.

Nonetheless, this is excellent news for both the Grosser Ring and Maximin Grünhaus. The only question is: Where will Carl put the VDP logo with the eagle and grape bunch on his label? As I kidded him about this, I told him that he should go back to the large-format front labels, which were still used on all the wines, except for Superior, a few years ago. I would also like to see natural corks for some of his light-style dry and off-dry (Kabinett) wines. ♦

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  • Andrew Bair says:

    Definitely good news for the VDP to get Grünhaus back. As for Molitor, Adam, and Weiser-Künstler: correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression has always been that the various regional VDP associations tend to favor estates with longer histories. In terms of quality, I don’t think many people in the Riesling community would dare argue that any of these three are somehow behind Vereinigte Hospitien or Dr. Fischer – to name a couple – in terms of overall quality. Then again, these producers made better wines in the past, and certainly have the potential for excellence in the future.

    Personally, I’m fine with the screw caps for the estate Rieslings.

    • I believe the VDP Pfalz and VDP Rheinhessen are more open-minded than the VDP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. I’d argue that Markus Molitor, A.J. Adam, and Weiser-Künstler would be among the top estates in the Grosser Ring.

      I don’t have a problem with entry-level Rieslings under screw cap, but I wish Maximin Grünhaus would put some of their light-style dry Rieslings under natural cork, not just the residually sweet Kabinetts, which, by the way, were more and more under screw cap. But, after some complaints, Carl has now decided to bottle these only with natural cork.

      • Al Drinkle says:

        Lars, your point is an important reiteration of what I’ve heard from certain growers in the Mosel. Namely that the Grosser Ring is overtly conservative in their initiation of additional members (almost certainly to their detriment), while other chapters of the VDP are a lot more supportive of young talent.

  • I should add that neither Abtsberg nor Herrenberg is officially listed by the Grosser Ring as a Grosse Lage in their classification. Because Maximin Grünhaus is now a member of the VDP, these two monopole sites will surely be rated as grand cru.

    Zeltinger Sonnenuhr is not listed as a Grosse Lage either.

  • On April 16, Renate von Schubert poured three 2015 Grünhaus wines at the fifth annual spring wine festival in Zurlauben. Johannes Weber and I had the pleasure to present a few 2015 Falkenstein wines next to her. When I asked her about the placement of the VDP logo, she told me that it would go on the capsules and screw caps.

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