Monday, January 26, 2009

Von Buhl 2005 Armand Riesling Kabinett (With Intro To German Wines)

Finally, my last "country-level" exam for wine certification! What I never realized is just how different Germany's wine classification is different from most of the rest of the world. Here German law makes classification a mix of region of origin, whether sugar has been added, and the ripeness of the grapes. The most recent overhaul of the German wine classification system occurred in 1971 creating four levels of "quality":

  • Deutscher Tafelwein: German table wine.

  • Deutscher Landwein: German country wine. Grapes must come from one of 19 Landwein regions and must be either dry or off-dry.

  • Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA):Quality wine from a specific region. This is the lower of the two "quality" levels. Wines are produced exclusively from allowed varieties in one of the 13 wine-growing regions and the region must be shown on the label.

  • Prädikatswein (until last 2007 these wines were known as Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP)). Prädikatswein range from dry to very sweet (though most often dry or off-dry unless specifically stated)and always contain a noticeable amount of residual sugar. These wines are considered the top-quality wines.

  • Confused? Wait, it gets more fun. Depending on the amount of sugar level in the grape must there is a second classification:

  • Kabinett: Fully ripened light wines from the main harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity.

  • Spätlese: Literally "late harvest", typically semi-sweet and more full-bodied than a Kabinett but not anywhere nearly as sweet as a dessert wine.

  • Auslese: "Select harvest", semi-sweet or sweet wines (some botrytis allowed), covers the largest category of German quality wines.

  • Beerenauslese: "Select berry harvest", made from hand-selected extremely ripe, botrytis-affected grapes producing rich dessert wines.

  • Eiswein: "Ice wine", wine made from grapes frozen on the vine. Very concentrated wines with sugar levels at least that of Beerenauslese.

  • Trockenbeerenauslese: Something like "dry berry select harvest", these are the intensely sweet dessert wines.

    And this is just for starters! To save your sanity I'll stop here and get on with the specific wine tasted.

    Von Buhl 2005 Armand Riesling Kabinett is a Prädikatswein (or since it is a 2005, a QmP). This is a German Riesling, highest quality designation and lowest sugar classification. To be more specific, this is a semi-sweet wine, low alcohol (9.5%) and lovely racy acidity. Very clear and clean looking, this light wine is pretty tasty. The nose delivers an undertone of petrol covered by layers of peach and pineapple that bring to the mouth a lovely ripe stone-fruit flavor accompanied with very nice acidity with a medium-length finish that makes we wish I had some spicy Thai food. When you factor in the price it makes a great introduction to German wines (and a lovely certification companion).

    Wines Reported On In 2009: 68
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