- 2016 Vintage Report
- 2015 Vintage Report
- 2014 Vintage Report
- 2013 Vintage Report
- 2012 Vintage Report
- 2011 Vintage Report
- 2010 Vintage Report
- 2009 Vintage Report
- 2008 Vintage Report
- 2007 Vintage Report
- 2006 Vintage Report
- 2005 Vintage Report
- 2004 Vintage Report
- 2003 Vintage Report
2016 Vintage Report
A (again) much too warm winter but a relatively cool March led to a relatively normal budbreak of the vines in late April.At the beginning of May it was a bit unpleasant, when we had night-time late frosts, which did not add any significant damage here in the Rheingau – totally different in other regions in Europe,where many wine producer had to experience almost a total loss.
Also in May, a hailstorm drew across the western part of Hallgarten, where also our Sauvignon Blanc, our best Spätburgunder area was affected. This unfortunately had the consequence that hardly any grapes were harvested in this Spätburgunder parcel. Stressful was the development from the end of May, as there were strong, hourly recurring rain showers over several weeks. This was an excellent development period for one of our worst harmful fungi in viticulture – the wrong mildew or also called vine peronospora. Especially the weeks before and after flowering (the beginning of the flowering in 2016 was in the middle of June) are extremely sensitive and the rainfall that has never been in this intensity before has made plant protection almost impossible.
In addition to the leaves, the fungus mainly affects the young inflorescence, from which the later grapes develop. A large part, however, was attacked by the vine peronospora and thus died.The Spätburgunder was affected even more intensively than the Riesling, so that we could already expect higher crop losses at the time.
The remaining vine development continued in the long-term average and we could expect a harvest beginning from early October. Then, however, the unexpected happened: at the end of August / beginning of September an unpredictable heat period began, which gave more energy to maturity, the sugar storage and the acid reduction – however, some grapes were also affected by sunburn, which slightly reduced yields. In the middle of September we began with the harvest of Frühburgunder, with considerable losses in yield but a wonderful quality at flavor and color. After a few days break we went on with the early varieties Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc and the first Riesling for sparkling wine. Following the annual Hattenheimer event “Naturpur”, the Riesling and Spätburgunder harvest began. In dry, fantastic conditions, we were able to harvest very healthy, aromatic grapes. Even though the quantity was somewhat lower, as expected, we were very satisfied with the qualitative result. Due to the long-lasting drought, there was hardly any putrefaction, which also made it more difficult to harvest noble specialties. After intensive selections at the beginning of November, we were still able to harvest different Auslese from VDP.GROSSE LAGE.
The highlight, which we have been waiting for since 2012 was in the night from 4.12. to 5.12.: In the morning at 5 o’clock the harvest of our ice wine. All helping hands have brought the frozen grapes at -7.5 ° as soon as possible to the estate. A wonderfully intense wine is the super result. 2016 will be remembered as a year of extremes.
2015 Vintage Report
As the autumn of 2015 ends it is time for the first balance sheet of the year. Once again the temperatures during the winter were not low enough and while pruning the grapes intended for the 2014 vintage ‘Riesling Eiswein’ in February, we had to cut the grapes and leave them on the soil. It appears that the rainfall of the previous autumn has provided the soils with enough water allowing the vines to develop well over the whole year despite long periods of dryness. The soils of sites of the ‘Hattenheimer Brunnen’ are generally always supplied well with water even in dry years, so that there were not even any problems over the summer. In 2015 the weather during the summer months was rather unusual according to the weather reports. On many days it was over 40° Celsius and there were two consecutive periods of hot weather.
Fortunately we payed great attention in the vineyards and already carried out a first, moderate defoliation directly after the flowering making the developing grapes a little more resistant. Otherwise they could have been severely affected by ‘sunburn’. The continuously unusually dry weather encouraged the small berries with a firm, aromatic grape skin. By august during the ‘Wiesbadener Weinwoche’ we were starting to get nervous – just as in 2014 – as there was still no rainfall. Then it finally rained although not with such an intensity that it could have been a problem.
Due to our wide range of grape varieties with their individual maturing points we ultimately had numerous dates of harvesting in autumn. We began very early on September 8th with the first Pinot Noir Précoces which were for the most part of their maturing process and grape sugar building in August still very much affected by very warm temperatures. As a result the grapes were very low in acidity but had a great must weight with a full flavour and a deep colour. Over a period of two weeks we retracted a very good yield. After that we began harvesting the small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Scheurebe, Ehrenfelser and red Riesling which were all completely healthy with good Oechsle degrees and great acidity. Only at the beginning of October we began with the grape picking of the first Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. The beautiful weather made every day of the yield a sensation. It allowed us to dedicate time to the preselection and to harvest the vineyards according to the optimal ripeness of the grapes. Due to the bright sunshine the must weight still rose quite high but as the nights were very cold – the ‘Taunuskamm’ was covered in snow in the meanwhile – the acidity remained on a very pleasant, stable level. Just before a day with heavy rainfall we were able to obtain the grapes for the ‘VPD. GROSSE GEWÄCHSE’. Until October 26th we were harvesting our grapes and among these were even three ‘Trockenbeerenauslesen’ – the first since the vintage of 2011 – from our ‘VDP.GROSSE LAGE’ sites ‘Nussbrunnen’, ‘Wisselbrunnen’ and ‘Hassel’ as well as various ‘Auslesen’. Now we are hoping for the cold to come soon and a real winter so that we can hopefully harvest an ‘Eiswein’ for the first time since 2012.
Currently we are monitoring the wines during the fermentation and are looking forward to further development. Great things can be expected…
2014 Vintage Report
Reports pouring in from around Germany indicate that this year’s wine harvest is coming to an unusually rapid and early end. The next few days are expected to see many estates harvest their top quality berries in late-ripening varieties such as Riesling.
In conversations with the German Wine Institute (DWI), producers have indicated overall satisfaction with the quality of the harvested fruit.
The year began with an extremely early flowering, leading to significantly accelerated development of the vegetation. Despite the rapid harvest, ripeness levels for the collected fruit appear to be strong, suggesting a high-quality vintage.
The latest estimates see this year’s harvest yielding volumes slightly above the well-established annual national average of 9.2 million hectoliters of must. If those forecasts prove true, Germany’s winemakers will be able to both serve normal market demand and refresh inventories after the relatively small 2013 vintage.
In the DWI’s view, the rapid pace of the harvest was necessitated by a variety of difficult external factors that at times required rigorous, careful selection and manual harvesting in the vineyards. This included the first German sighting of the Drosophila suzukii, a fruit crop pest, leading to a highly accelerated red wine harvest in some regions. White wine varieties fortunately were unaffected by this new invader.
The weather conditions in September and October were also major factors, with periods of heavy rain and moist, warm temperatures demanding the lots of attention in the vineyards. Advance expenditures in higher efficiency harvesting and processing tools were especially valuable this year. A number of estates have made these investments in recent years in response to climate change and the extreme weather that comes with it. In an often tough year, the new equipment allowed many winegrowers to react quickly and head off problems.
2013 Vintage Report
Despite this year’s weather conditions, German wine growers are satisfied with 2013 vintage qualities achieved. Harvest is nearing its end, and it seems that total quantity of harvested grapes will be slightly below expectations.
According to the latest estimates of Deutsches Weininstitut (DWI), only 8,4 million hectolitres of wine must will presumably be harvested this year throughout Germany. Yields would thus be down seven per cent compared with a year earlier and nine per cent lower than the ten-year average of 9,26 million hectolitres.
Harvest results, however, differ significantly in the individual vineyard areas depending on grape varieties and climatic conditions. In the regions Rheinhessen, Franken and Saxony, for example, average yields at prior-year’s level are expected. Harvests in the Ahr and Saale-Unstrut region increased by 30 respectively 48 per cent and therefore reached average yields again after poor results in 2012. In the other regions, however, forecasts are significantly down compared with 2012 results, the Mosel region’s yields even being 25 per cent lower compared with the long-term average. This is why some wine-growing regions already announced price adjustments.
DWI managing director Monika Reule explained that due to unfavourable weather conditions during the blossoming period in June already Pinot varieties did not produce the desired quantity of fruit settings. In addition, quality improving reduction measures led to lower yields.
“Yet this year’s comparatively late moment of harvest influenced aroma development quite positively. Even young wines already have a very pleasant fruity note, and its moderate alcoholic strength perfectly fits to current market demands”, says Reule.
2012 Vintage Report
Up-to-date figures regarding volume
Germany’s wine makers are very pleased with this year’s grape qualities and content with a slighly smaller volume compared with the previous season. The German Wine Institute (DWI) announced that, according to latest estimates, the overall harvest volume of the 13 German wine growing regions will amount to nine million hectolitres.
This means that the yield will be only slightly below the level of the previous year and the ten year median of 9.25 million hectolitres.According to DWI managing director Monika Reule, the 2012 vintage is adapted well to the current market situation: „We are glad that Germany’s 2012 wines will tie in perfectly with the great 2011 vintage. With respect to volume in some regions and regarding particular grape varieties, we had hoped for more. All in all we are confident that we will be able to strengthen our market position domestically as well as internationally.” This confidence applies especially in view of the total European harvest estimates of 145.5 million hectolitres – a clearly substandard harvest result. According to current predictions, the volume of wine-must harvested in Europe will be eleven percent lower than in 2011 and 14 percent lower compared with the five-year median.
The moderate temperatures in summer, followed by a sunny autumn provided a very long ripening phase for the grapes in all of the German wine growing regions which greatly benefited the fruit and aroma characteristics.
„The state of health of the grapes picked this year was particularly pleasing as it provided best possible prerequisites for top wines in all quality grades. Wine lovers can look forward to distinctively fruity, well balanced white wines as well as colour intensive and full-bodied red wines of the 2012 vintage”, DWI head Reule concluded.
2011 Vintage Report
German wine producers are looking forward to a very good 2011 vintage which will be available in sufficient quantity in nearly all of the growing regions. The German Wine Institute (DWI) announced that the total amount harvested, according to the latest estimates, is expected to be about nine million hectolitres. Nationwide, this year’s yield is therefore around the average level of the past ten years and 30 percent above the exceptionally low – 7.1 million hectolitres – yield of the previous year. Only in Franken and Württemberg, where the frost in May caused heavy losses, will the yield be similarly low as in 2010.
According to the DWI managing director, Monika Reule, the vintage on the whole reflects the current market developments very well. “The vintners’ cellars were quite empty after the relatively small wine harvest of 2010, and the demand could not be satisfied to the full extent in all cases. We are confident to regain market share lost in the previous year with the 2011 vintage as this will have a very good ratio of price to wine quality.”
This is also indicated by the current Europe-wide harvest estimates which anticipate a slightly below-average harvest of wine must of about 164 million hectolitres. The yield would be on the same level as last year and about five percent below the five-year average.
“In view of the good harvest amount and supply situation, the wine sector expects largely stable wine prices for the 2011 vintage nationwide,” Norbert Weber, President of the German Winegrowers’ Association (Deutscher Weinbauverband) stated.
“In terms of quality, the 2011 vintage leaves nothing to be desired,” Weber was pleased to announce. “Thanks to the textbook autumn a large part of the harvest has reached predicate wine level. Wine lovers will get a lot of 2011 wine for their money and have a great choice in all quality levels,” said the President of the Winegrowers’ Association.
As regards the aroma, the young white wines already present themselves as extremely fruity, harmonious and well balanced. Their aromas are characterised by the full maturity of the vintage. Consumers can also look forward to color-intensive and dense red wines. In addition, the magnificent late summer has produced particularly good noble sweet specialities. Many vintners are also hoping to harvest ice wine this year.
2010 Vintage Report
Low volume, good quality
The German winegrowers expect the yield in this year to be the smallest of the last 25 years. Per the German Wine Institute (DWI), the estimate of the amount to be harvested in 2010 will only amount to 7 million hectoliters. This is approximately 25 percent less than last year’s harvest. Quality-wise, the 2010 vintage is considered to be good.
In all of Europe, an above-average yield of wine must is not expected. The prognosis is 165.5 million hectoliters, or six percent under the average of the last five years.
Quality-wise, the 2010 vintage is considered to be good. Approximately 25 percent of the total harvest of this year will be at the level of ‘Prädikatswein’/Quality Wine with Distinction.
“The reason for the unusually small yield is mainly due to the reduced fruit set caused by the low temperatures at the time of the blossoming,“ Norbert Weber, president of the German Winegrowers’ Association, explained.
Additionally, measures take to insure high quality such as the rigorous selection during the picking resulted in a reduction of the yield. This was necessitated by the extremely cool and damp weather we experienced in August in order to harvest the healthiest grapes possible. In some regions hailstorms led to further destruction of crops. “This was not an easy year for our winegrowers. It required nerves of steel and great patience to deal with the situation.” remarked the president of the Winegrowers’ Association. The patience of the winegrowers was rewarded with a Golden October which brought those late-ripening grapes such as the Riesling, the Silvaner and the Pinots an opportunity to soak up the sunshine.
The 2010 vintage wines will be less full-bodied than those of previous years. “This year’s white wines are characterized by the typical fresh fruitiness and vitalizing freshness which is so highly esteemed both here and abroad. Through the nourishment they receive from the good water and nutrients in the soil they present themselves as extremely extractive. The red wines will not be a disappointment to the wine lovers, either. They can look forward to first-class noble sweet wine specialties from this vintage year. Sweet dessert wines – Trockenbeerenauslese – with record high must densities of 250 degrees Oechsle were harvested,” emphasized Mr. Weber. In view of the tense situation as regards the reduced volume of the harvest, he assumes that not many winegrowers will take on the risk of leaving the grapes on the vine in order to produce ice wine this year.
2009 Vintage Report
After a year of nearly perfect weather, wine-growers in all 13 German wine-growing regions are extremely pleased with the quality of the 2009 crop. “This year will go down in history as a truly great vintage,” predicted Norbert Weber, president of the German Wine-growers’ Association/Bonn.
“Seldom have we been able to harvest such aromatic, healthy and fully ripe grapes as this year.” Many estates harvested grapes with must weights of well over 150 degrees Oechsle, the ripeness level necessary to produce the rarities Beeren- and Trockenbeerenauslese.
10-15% less volume than last year
According to the German Wine Institute/Mainz, the overall volume of this year’s harvest, estimated at 8.8 million hl, is some 10-15% less than last year and the past five-year average. In some regions, such as the Rheingau, Mittelrhein or Nahe, the deficit is estimated to be more than 20%. The size of the crop in Franken, though, was normal, and in the Pfalz, only relatively smaller than usual (-6%). The lower yields are attributed to uneven blossoming as well as the sunny, but dry, late summer weather. Severe winter frost was an additional factor in the easternmost regions, Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen, where this year’s crop was only about half of that of 2008.
Apart from individual estates’ price adjustments, German Wine-growers’ Association president Weber estimates that wine prices will remain more or less stable despite this year’s volume deficits. In fact, the size of this year’s harvest is in line with market conditions. Given preliminary estimates of the 2009 harvest in Europe as a whole – 173 million hl, or about the same as in 2008 – Germany has no reason to fear excessive market pressure from its European wine-producing counterparts.
Superb price-pleasure ratio
The German Wine Institute’s managing director, Monika Reule, sees the 2009 vintage as a great opportunity for wine enthusiasts in terms of a price-pleasure ratio. “The 2009 wines of all our wine regions offer superb quality, or value, for money. Many a wine of Spaät- or Auslese quality potential will be sold as QbA wines in order to meet market demands,” says Reule. She reckons with exceptionally fruit-driven, full-bodied and extremely well-balanced white wines and powerful, deep-colored and velvety red wines. It remains to be seen whether vintage 2009 will be crowned with the rarity Eiswein – but the excellent condition of the grapes still on the vine, i.e. healthy and ripe, bodes well. Mother Nature will decide.
2008 Vintage Report
Wine-growers Satisfied with Vintage 2008
Good and first-class qualities lie in the cellar / Crop yields ca. ten million hectoliters as in 2007
With very few exceptions, the grape harvest in Germany has ended. The crop yielded good to very good QbA and Prädikat wines in all regions. While the proportion of QbA in 2008 is somewhat higher than last year, top qualities with more than 200 degrees Oechsle could be harvested here and there.
At this writing, the overall harvest is estimated at 10 to 10.5 million hl, or about the same size as in 2007 (10.3 million hl). According to Monika Reule, managing director of the German Wine Institute/Mainz: “Thanks to positive domestic and foreign sales, the anticipated quality and quantity of vintage 2008 are just what the market needs.”
In all, growers are more than satisfied with the new vintage. “This year wine enthusiasts can look forward to lively, light white wines with a fresh, fruity acidity – the wine profile that is currently in vogue,” says Reule. “The reds are also promising and rich in color.”
Capricious weather during autumn proved quite challenging for wine-growers now and then.
After favorable conditions in summer, with a good mix of sunshine and rain, relatively cool temperatures and some periods of precipitation in September curbed the ripening process. Particularly Silvaner and lateripening varieties, suchas Riesling and Spätburgunder, profited from the sunny weather ater in autumn, which greatly fostered the development of typical varietal aromas. It remains to be seen whether vintage 2008 will be crowned with Eiswein.
2007 Vintage Report
German Wine Vintage 2007 – Excellent Qualities and Good Yields
A Look at the 13 Winegrowing Regions
Thanks to early bud burst and optimal autumn weather, German wine grapes had an unusually long growing season in 2007. This year’s harvest was relatively unhurried and took place over several weeks. Grape musts and young wines are showing well, with a fabulous wealth of aromas, high ripeness and extract levels, and a well-integrated, harmonious – yet marked – acidity. After last year’s small harvest, growers are also very satisfied with the size of this year’s crop: in all, estimated to be ca. 10.5 – 11 million hectoliters. A résumé of this year’s harvest in the 13 wine-growing regions, compiled by the German Wine Institute/Mainz, follows.
Rheingau growers began harvesting in mid- September, with young wines showing a prominent acidity. A month later, the Rieslings were more harmonious and riper, with higher must weights. Export-oriented – 7 – wineries that specialize in lusciously sweet wines harvested until the end of October. Already in October, a traditional wine estate achieved a record must weight of more than 300 degrees Oechsle. In some vineyards, grapes are still hanging – in hopes of an Eiswein harvest. Under ideal autumn weather conditions, every grower could harvest exactly what was needed for his/her portfolio. The end of the growing season was particularly favorable for the most important grape variety of the Rheingau, Riesling. It’s said to be a “typical” Riesling vintage. The region’s most important red variety, Spätburgunder, also achieved high ripeness levels at the hand of patient wine-growers. Growers welcome the above-average crop – many a wine on a price list was sold out. The yield was above 80 hl/ha, in all at least a total of 250,000 hl. The excellent quality of vinage 2007 is also reflected by increased demand for bulk wines.
2006 Vintage Report
German winemakers are optimistic about the 2006 vintage
The forecast is good for Germany’s 2006 vintage, given the current condition of the vines. The relatively cool spring time damped initial expectations but vine growth accelerated in July’s sunny spell. The German Wine Institute (DWI) has confirmed that the vines have reached a healthy level of development, in line with the average.
The grapes benefited from rainfall at the beginning of August after the very dry conditions of the previous month. At the moment the winemakers are looking forward to stable, sunny weather and a golden October which will allow the grapes to reach a high level of ripeness.
The early ripening varieties of white grape have already been picked for the production of Federweißer (lightly fermented grape juice). The main harvest for grape varieties such as Müller-Thurgau, Dornfelder or Weißburgunder, will start in mid-September. Germany’s most important grape variety Riesling is normally left on the vine until October or November. This long ripening period allows development of the intense aromas characteristic of this variety.
All in all, the grapes in the German wine regions are healthy, leading to predictions of a good German vintage 2006.
2005 Vintage Report
An otherwise relatively warm and mild winter made a brief appearance in February 2005, the only month with temperatures below the long term average. It is to be noted, that the winter 2004/2005 was – again – drier than normal. Hence, no floods, a special treat which was thankfully noted by all those living along Rhein and Mosel!
March was relatively warm and dry. April, May and June brought the usual central European weather mix but the overall temperature was higher and the precipitation lower than average.
Bud break occurred relatively early in April and flowering, too, started a few days earlier than normal but stretched for a longer period because of greater temperature fluctuations in the first half of June, leading to problems of poor pollination in vineyards which had started flowering early.
Mid June through end of July brought relatively “normal” weather patterns in Germany with no extremes though slightly higher than average temperatures in some regions (Mosel, Ahr, Mittelrhein) resp. temperatures well within the long term average in others (Nahe, Rheinhessen, Pfalz). The first two and a half weeks of August were noticeably cooler and wetter than normal, leading to mixed feelings and moderate expectations for the harvest.
As a whole, however, 2005 saw – again – less than the normal annual amount of rain. Where irrigation was possible, more producers were making use of it, though irrigation is still the exception to the rule and only a fraction of German growers are able to do it. Of all regions, the Pfalz had the most extreme lack of precipitation and experienced dry conditions similar to those of 2003!
Regional rainfall by means of thunderstorms made a significant regional and often only local difference. In the vineyards, pressure from various pests or fungi was moderate in 2005, making for a relatively uncomplicated growing season.
From the last week of August through the end of October, Germany experienced a unique streak of beautiful summer weather with almost ideal growing and ripening conditions which elevated the quality of the vintage to a level nobody had anticipated.
Substantial rainfall occurred in the week of September 10th and the resulting moisture spurred the growth of fungi, most prominently, botrytis.
From here, the regions started to take different developments: Areas with more earlier ripening grape varieties and with deeper, less well drained soils, were confronted with quickly spreading rot, not all of it noble. This necessitated additional work in the vineyards, dropping infected fruit for those waiting for top quality, resp. earlier harvesting for others.
Well drained, more rocky soils benefited from the much slower, steady development of noble rot. This slow growth of botrytis and a relatively high proportion of healthy grapes and healthy, green foliage, made for a significant difference to other vintages with heavy botrytis infections, like 1989 or 1976.
Nevertheless, some areas, particularly in the Pfalz, were confronted with serious challenges by grey rot after the September rains which required dropping of fruit before and diligent selections during the harvest. The very dry October with it’s dehydrating effect slowed down the development of botrytis. It also lowered yields .
Interestingly, most of the “Neuzüchtungen” like Mueller-Thurgau et al, the “work horses” for the commercial wines, all picked in September, were not much affected . Yields were lower than in 2004, prices higher. The Pinot family ( Blanc, Gris and Noir ) fared surprisingly well. It was Riesling, picked from early October, which was most affected by the rot!
The bulk of the 2005 German harvest had been brought in by the third week of October. The traditionally late “northern” regions started picking Riesling in the 2nd week to mid-October.
After the first days of harvesting it became obvious the 2005 harvest was much smaller than anticipated. Prices for grapes and juice on the open market increased quickly during the first days and leapt up further as the full extent of the shortage for QbA became evident.
The vast majority of the grapes across Germany qualified for QmP wines. The demand for QbA, despite downgrading high grade “Prädikat” grapes and juice, could not be filled during the harvest business with grapes and juice.
Estimates for the 2005 German harvest are for 8.947 million hectolitres (1 hectolitre equals 100 liters or 11.11 cases). This is 12 % lower than 2004.
The Mosel-Saar-Ruwer yielded 825,000.00 hectolitres which is 16 % down from 2004.
(source: German Wine Estates)
2004 Vintage Report
Final Harvest Report
Vintage 2004 Surpassed Expectations
The very good quality and quantity of the 2004 German wine harvest came as a surprise, considering that the past summer was fairly mediocre. Yet, for grapes, the weather was excellent – always warm enough, with a welcome shower now and then just when needed…..but never too much, and not least, a truly “golden October” full of sunshine just at the final stage of ripening.
Thanks to the overall healthy state of the grapes, wine-growers could take their time in determining the ideal time to harvest, despite occasional autumn rain and storms. At the same time, the variation between warm daytime and cool nighttime temperatures fostered the development of the grapes’ aromas, a phenomenon that helps lend German wines their unique, fresh fruity character. In several top sites in the Rhine, Mosel and Main river valleys, grapes were left on the vine until well into November in order to ripen sufficiently to yield top-quality and lusciously sweet dessert wines – particularly Riesling wines.
Young Wines Have a Pronounced Fruity Character
The first wines of the new vintage are showing well – sleek, racy wines full of fruit and fresh acidity. At this stage, they resemble the wines of the 2002 vintage. Red wines also benefited from the long ripening period. They are deep in color, compact and rich in substance. Norbert Weber, president of the German Wine-growers’ Association in Bonn, is certain that the wines of the 2004 vintage will make for many a positive surprise in the coming years.
Eiswein – Crowning Touch of the Vintage
Given the healthy state and sufficent size of the 2004 crop, and the demand for this specialty, many more wine-growers were willing to undergo the risk of leaving several rows or portions of their vineyards unharvested, hoping for an early frost. The lower the temperature is, the more concentrated the sugar in the grape juice. In the night of 10/11 December, a high pressure system cooled temperatures down to minus 7°C (19.4°F) – the minumum necessary to freeze the water content of grapes. This, and a second Eiswein harvest shortly before Christmas, added a crowning touch to what was already a surprisingly good vintage.
The general harvest in the Rheingau began in the second week of October with relatively high yields. Where growers practiced measures to reduce yields, higher must weights were achieved for both white and red varieites, and the aroma and color of red wines were much more intensive. The relatively dry weather in November enabled growers to harvest grapes of Beeren- and Trockenbeerenauslese ripeness.
2003 Vintage Report
Excellent growing conditions in virtually all wine regions of Germany in 2003 helped to produce another outstanding vintage for German wines. The 2003 harvest continues an uninterrupted string of fine vintages for German wines that now stretches well into the new millennium.
The annual harvest report by the Deutsche Weinbauverband (German Winegrowers’ Association) confirms a lower volume of production in 2003 – approximately eight million hectoliters of must – but ripeness levels expressed in degrees Oeschsle (brix on the North American scale) were well above average and exceptional.
As a result, an overwhelming majority of the harvest will produce higher quality Prädikatswein. And many of these wines, in particular, reportedly went into the cellars with record breaking starting must weights.
The QbAs and Kabinett wines are very impressive. The wines are vigorous, full-bodied with a very mild fruity acidity that clearly reflects the positive effects of the abundant sunshine during the growing season. This balance makes them very accessible and very drinkable at a young age.
German red wines, a fast growing wine segment in Germany that now accounts for over 25 per cent of production also greatly benefited from the abundant sunshine. German red wine varietals are described as very compact and intense in colour and should hold their own against top-quality counterparts on the international scene.
More of these wines should start to appear on the export markets.
Given the lower yields of the 2003 harvest, a high proportion of luscious sweet wines were selected by producers for Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines.
And many producers still were able to harvest some very exciting Eiswein. The last wave of Eiswein harvest took place in late January in the Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Nahe Regions.