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  • April 19, 2017
  • “What Is ‘Classic’ German Riesling?”

  • by Lars Carlberg

In the online magazine PUNCH, the Brooklyn-based wine writer Zachary Sussman asks “What Is ‘Classic’ German Riesling?” For many people, it’s the “fruity” style—the so-called classic residually sweet wines. But the VDP has been pushing its premium dry wines, known as Grosse Gewächse (GG), in order to “return Germany's outstanding dry wines to their previous renowned status.” Find out what Zachary learns from his talks with various wine importers, growers, writers, and critics. ♦

  • In April 2011, Zachary Sussman wrote a short piece titled “When Dry is Sweet,” which talks about a few dry Mosel Rieslings at Chambers Street Wines.

  • Håkon Aspøy says:

    I liked Sussman’s article. Great to see some actual numbers on “the dry wave”. I have for some time been looking for such exclusively dealing with the Mosel, but so far I’ve had little luck. Lars, do you have any ideas where such statistics could be found? Håkon

  • Håkon Aspøy says:

    I did, but I found was percentages of dry wines produced in the Mosel for each year, and I had to check vintages individually. Numbers were also limited to only a few years back, whereas I was looking for a graph illustrating the development of at least the last three or four decades. I’ll try to write them an e-mail directly. Thanks.

  • John Haeger says:

    The good news is that the data you seek does exist, at least from 1971 and later. It is gathered for each vintage by the Landwirtschaftskammer for each wine-producing Bundesland on the basis of paperwork submitted when producers apply for AP numbers. I have some data for the period 1985-2012, for the Land of Rheinland-Pfalz. I have it in tabular form and graphed, but only as a printout on paper, not as manipulable data. On pp. 42-59 of Haeger, Riesling Rediscovered (University of California Press, 2016) I summarize key data. I also have what purports to be analogous data for Hessen from 1989 to 2012, tho the categories of dryness and sweetness have not been summarized quite the same way. Note that the data I have is Riesling=specific, excluding other varieties and multi-varietal blends.

    I obtained what I have for Rheinland-Pfalz via DWI, which requested it from the Landwirtschaftskammer. For Hessen, the data was supplied to me by a single well-connected Rheingau producer, but the upstream source is not documented. The Hessen data present percentages only, where the Rheinland-Pfalz data is in hl. This last probably overweights the overall importance of lieblich wines in recent years because a few Kellerei lieblich bottlings (destined for supermarkets and export) are produced in giant quantities.

    If you would like to see what I have, I’d be glad to share it. Just use the “contact” button on my website ( and I will send the data as an e-mail attachment.

    Note that data before ca. 1985 may be hard to obtain from any of the Landwirtschaftskaemmer even though it exists; that was a period largely without information technology; shelves of paper documents that has not been converted into digital files may be all there is.

  • Håkon Aspøy says:

    Thank you very much, both Lars and John. John, I have contacted you through your website as you suggested. Håkon

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