2002

German Wine Vintage – Outstanding and Large

December 2002

MAINZ, Germany – A year-end report by the Deutscher Weinbauverband (German Grape Growers Association) confirms an above average volume of production and high quality grapes in every quality level of German wines.

Preliminary figures estimate the 2002 harvest at 10.8 million hectolitres, a 19 per cent increase over the 2001 harvest of 9.1 million hectoliters. The harvest yield is also approximately 7 per cent higher than the average for the past 10 years.

The 2002 wines in the cellar have a pronounced fruitiness growers attribute to favourable growing season, and relatively cool weather during the harvest that combined to foster a slow, cool fermentation in the cellar.

Must weights are above average in the 2002 vintage and there is a good supply of riper Prädikat (QmP) wines – wines with higher fruit flavour concentration and intensity to produce Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese wines. And for the first time in many years, polar temperatures in Germany in the second week of December, resulted in Eiswein being harvested in all regions and in the same week by producers who took the risk to leave grapes to freeze on the vine.

Ideal harvesting conditions in Germany gave way in mid-October to wet and variable weather conditions in many parts of Germany that forced many growers to put the 2002 harvest temporarily on hold. However, grapes remained healthy and continued to ripen thanks in part to quality-oriented practices by producers in the vineyards that included stringent pruning and selective harvesting practices.

In the cellar, although grapes were plump, higher pith content resulted in less juice extraction. Values for fruit acids and extracts were above average and the red wine varietals in the 2002 vintages are producing German red wines that are deep in colour.

Armin Göring, Director of the Deutsches Weininstitut in Mainz says: “This years large and quality wine harvest is just what is needed to meet the ongoing renaissance of German wine drinking at home and abroad. For Canadians, wines from the 2002 vintage are expected to arrive in the market by the fall.”

 

Wine Region

Total

Hectolitres

QbA

Percentage

QmP

Percentage

Ahr

55,000

65%

35%

Baden

1,275,000

45%

55%

Franken

410,000

20%

80%

Hess. Bergstrasse

33,000

30%

70%

Mittelrhein

51,000

15%

85%

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

1,150,000

20%

80%

Nahe

420,000

50%

50%

Pfalz

2,650,000

55%

45%

Rheingau

296,000

30%

70%

Rheinhessen

3,200,000

55%

45%

Saale-Unstrut

25,000

N/A

N/A

Sachsen

16,500

75%

25%

Württemberg

1,260,000

65%

35%

TOTAL

10,841,500

50%

50%

Source: Deutscher Weinbauverband(German Wine Growers Association)

 

2002 Eiswein Harvest in Germany – Exceptionally Good

January 13, 2003

MAINZ, Germany – Polar temperatures throughout Germany in the second week of December provided ideal conditions for one of the earliest Eiswein harvests in recent years for Eiswein producers in virtually all 13 wine regions of Germany.

The 2002 German Eiswein harvest – relatively early by German standards – enabled the maximum number of frozen bunches to be harvested before they fell prey to the elements of nature.

Eiswein harvested in 2002 included a wide range of varietals, particularly Riesling. The racy acidity in Riesling provides the ideal balance for the sweetness of Eiswein resulting in a potentially better balanced mouth feel.

Although no more than a few hundred producers throughout Germany risk waiting for minimum cold enough temperatures ( – 7 degrees Celsius) before Eiswein can be harvested, early reports suggest they were rewarded with excellent degrees Oeschle ( sugar level) in the grapes harvested.

Oeschle levels (approximately 1 Brix on the North American scale is equal to 4 degrees Oeschle) in initial reports from producers in various regions included:

  • Bürgerspital (Franken) – Riesling Eiswein at 203 degrees Oe.
  • Hans Wirsching (Franken) – Silvaner Eiswein at 185 degrees Oe.
  • Domdechant Werner (Rheingau) – Riesling Eiswein at 180 degrees Oe.
  • Kloster Eberbach (Rheingau) – Spätburgunder Eiswein at 195 degrees Oe.
  • St. Hofkeller (Franken) – Spätburgunder Eiswein at 202 degrees Oe.
  • Schloss Proschwitz (Sachsen) – Traminer Eiswein at 200 degrees Oe.
  • Schloss Westerhaus (Rheinhessen) – Riesling Eiswein at 205 degrees Oe.

Unlike Canadian Icewine production, the total volume of German Eiswein production is very limited. Few producers in Germany are willing to risk leaving grapes on the vine knowing that in many winters in Germany the microclimates of the river valleys rarely create sub-zero weather temperatures. And most of the production ranges from less than a hundred litres to usually no more than 600 litres.

By way of comparison, more than 364,000 litres of Ontario Icewine were produced in 2001.

With these limited volumes, most producers in Germany reserve their Eiswein for regular customers or Eiswein collectors. German Eiswein that is occasionally available in some export markets is usually presented as a special feature of a particular producer whose wines are regularly offered by the special wine retailer.

Eiswein was first produced by accident in the Franconia region of Germany in 1793. For much of the past 210 years, Eiswein in Germany remained a special wine feature of producers – an opportunity to challenge the elements and produce a very special wine to showcase in a very special year.

As with Icewine produced in Canada under VQA regulations, German Eiswein by law is made from grapes left to freeze on the vine. The grapes are harvested at the coldest point of the day – usually before dawn – and often the decision to pick is made only hours before.